I, like a lot of you who have busy families, often find myself searching for fast convenient meals that taste great but don’t take a lot of time. Utilizing your slow cooker is great for those days where your efforts are spent elsewhere and you don’t want to compromise by not having a home cooked meal.
My family is pretty easy going when it comes to flavours, but we do like to try out new and interesting ideas. I came across a ‘Tower of Chicken Quesadilla Bake‘ recipe from 365 Days of Easy Recipes when searching for some family friendly meal ideas. It was the inspiration for the layered chicken fajita bake. I have made the slow cooker chicken fajita freezer meal before and it is in the usual rotation from the stock pile of emergency meals for those ‘don’t have time to make dinner’ days.
I’m not going to lie, it is a nice break to take the crock pot out in the morning and know that dinner is ready when we get home. It is especially nice to have this option on days that include running to lessons for the kids or those days when you just want to focus on something else.
In the late fall I usually do a bulk shopping trip and plan out several freezer meals that we enjoy during the cold months when all we want to do is hibernate.
Making the freezer meals up all in one night usually takes me a couple of hours and purchasing enough ingredients for 2 of each kind. It helps with not repeating the same meal and cuts down on the prep time as you can make 2 of the same recipe instead of 1. Most recipes also call for ingredients that are half the amount of the items you purchase, so you might as well make 2. Since there are a lot of chicken and ground beef based freezer meals I purchase a box of chicken breasts and bulk sized ground beef. Making up meatball based freezer meals means you can use all the beef to make up and bake them all at the same time.
These time saving tips really do work. The last time I made up freezer meals it took only 2 hours to make 10 of them. I know what you are thinking, 2 hours!? Seems like a lot of time. Well if you break it down it is 12 minutes per meal. And for our family of 2 adults & 1 kid the 10 meals is actually 24 if you include the left overs as well. So each meal would be 5 minutes! I don’t think you can get any faster than that.
The chicken fajita freezer meal listed below makes a full small round crock pot serving. So you know in advance you will have leftovers of the chicken fajita recipe after you use it in the bake. It can be reserved to be added onto nachos or to make regular fajitas for another meal. Salsa, sour cream a my cilantro sauce make for great condiments to dip in or pile on.
What a great way to save some time and goodness we could all use a bit more of that.
Take a bite out of 4 layers chicken fajita goodness!
- 4 large chicken breasts, frozen
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- 5 Soft flour tortilla shells
- 1 small can green chilies, chopped
- 1 cup salsa, drained
- 5 cups shredded taco cheese blend
- 3 green onions, diced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- Spray the interior of the crock pot with oil. Place the chicken breasts and black beans in the crock pot. Cut the peppers and onion into slices and add to the chicken. In a small bowls mix in the chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Add spice mixture and chicken stock to the crock pot. Set crock pot on high setting for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours
- Once cooked, shred the chicken with a fork. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and the water. Add it to the crock pot mixture and stir. The cornstarch will slightly thicken the juices.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray oil the interior and line the bottom of a spring form pan that fits the tortilla shell diameter with parchment paper. Add 1 tortilla shell on the bottom. Layer it with the green chilies and salsa. Top with 1 cup of the chicken fajita mixture and 1 cup of cheese. Repeat until the last tortilla shell is added, then add only 1 cup of cheese. *store the remaining chicken fajita mixture in the fridge for other uses or freeze in small portions to use on nachos or in regular fajitas.
- Place a drip pan or tin foil the bottom of the spring form pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Set the broiler on 400 degrees and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the top tortilla shell and cheese is crisp. Remove from oven and let cool slightly until set. Remove from the spring form pan and use a serrated knife to cut into wedges. Garnish with the cut green onions and tomato. Serve with sour cream, salsa and cilantro sauce.
If you want to prep this as a freezer meal - place chicken, beans, chicken broth, onions, peppers and spices in a freezer bag. Store it in the freezer until ready to cook and place in the prepared crock pot.