Chicken Taquitos with Avocado Crema


Yes, yes, here are the long-promised Taquitos!  This has become a recipe that I come back to time and time again.  Whenever I roast a chicken, I know that I can use the leftovers to mix up a batch of freezer-friendly taquitos.  I am actually planning to make another batch tomorrow.  This week is our county’s public school Spring Break.  While many families are off to vacations, there are plenty who are staying in the area and my company is hosting a Spring Break acting camp.  We revamped the program last year and now offer a unique benefit of allowing parents to sign their children up on a day-by-day basis.  This draw does come with a fair amount of extra work, so I am expecting to be spending several hours prepping after teaching each day.  Next week’s meals are all about ease and speed!  The taquitos will be perfect to grab for lunch.


As mentioned in my last post, we’ve moved!  M and I are quickly settling in to having our own place.  We found a complex that is exactly between our workplaces.  It means a significantly shorter commute for me and a bit more time in the car for M.  Since driving serves as his main time to decompress, this actually works out perfectly!  We specifically chose this complex for its amenities, which are lengthy.  Walking paths, a dog park, community gardens, fitness classes, gyms, pools, and sports courts are spread over our complex, and we have tested out most of the amenities.  M and I made a pact to take as much advantage of those amenities as we can, if order to balance out our investment in rent.  Since our students are on Spring Break, we are off from our Saturday rehearsals for a few weeks, so I woke up early and headed to the PiYo fitness this morning.  And died.  Oh man, I have done plenty of yoga and tried a few online pilates videos, but this class was intense!  I stuck it out and then ran over to the community garden next door for a gardening class.  I have been researching square foot gardening ever since we signed up for our spot in the garden, so the content was mostly information that I already knew.  But I learned things specific to our garden that was helpful, even as I froze in this 30 degree weather.  All in all, we have been really happy in our new place!


Inside the apartment, we are down to one last box.  That box is full of spices.  No joke.  For all the issues with our past two rentals, both had great pantries.  Our townhouse’s pantry was huge!  Honestly, I would not be surprised if the original owners had the choice of a half bath on the main floor, or a pantry.  And they chose the pantry.  So it was tough to move into our house, which has a very reasonably-sized pantry.  But the pantry was there and had nice deep shelves.  Our new apartment has a galley kitchen and no pantry at all.  The limited cabinet space meant we had to look at other options for food storage.  We settled on a small, 5-foot cabinet.  I was hopeful that I could fit everything inside, but it was stuffed!  So we need to order one more, which will allow us space for all of our food, drinks, and baking supplies.  So that is the final major piece that we are waiting on.


Food storage aside, adjusting to a galley kitchen has been more work than I expected.  Every house I have lived in has had a large, open kitchen.  While I have a look-through that keeps me from feeling too closed off, I have just two small squares of counter space for prep after bringing in my KitchenAid mixer and our convection/toaster oven.   I’m slowly reassessing how much I spread out during prep time and I am learning to corral my dirty dishes and clean up as I go.  Even in my new tiny kitchen, these taquitos keep things tidy.  Mix up the filling in a large bowl and fill and roll the tortillas right on the baking sheet!  1 cutting board, 1 bowl, and 1 baking sheet.  That’s all you need!  I also like using mashed beans as the ‘glue’ in this filling.  Its has more protein than the usual cheese mixture that is normally used to bind the filling together.  I’ve included a little bit of cheese, because you always need some cheese, but the beans are a perfect compromise.  The spice list is long, but you could easily substitute a taco or fajita seasoning mix in place of the individual spices.  The best part about the ingredients all being precooked before joining the mixing bowl is that you can taste as you mix up the filling and adjust the spices to your preference!


Chicken Taquitos with Avocado Crema

Serves: about 6 | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes

For the Taquitos

  • 1 1/2 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/3 c. onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c. cannelinni beans
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, loosely packed
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on your spicy preference)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3. tsp hot sauce (depending on your spicy preference)
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 18-20 corn tortillas
  • Olive oil or oil spray
For the Avocado Crema
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, loosely packed
  • 1/3 c. Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Make the Crema

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Taste and add more salt or lime juice, if needed.  Cover with plastic wrap by pressing the wrap to the surface of the sauce.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the Taquitos

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly oil.

Lightly sauté diced onion and cannellini beans until onion is translucent.  Add garlic and cook for another minute or two, until fragrant.  Remove pan from heat, stir in cream cheese.  Mash the bean into the onion cheese mixture, stirring well, until the cream cheese is incorporated.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add shredded chicken, spinach, shredded cheese, all spices (cilantro, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, salt, and black pepper), lime juice, and hot sauce.  Mix to combine.  When the onion and bean mixture is cool enough to handle, mix into the chicken mixture.  I found this to be best done with my hands (hence allowing the onion mixture to cool).  The entire mixture should be uniform, with the softened cream cheese and beans binding the rest of the ingredients together.  When you squeeze the filling between your fingers it should hold together, but the mixture should not be ‘wet’.

Warm tortillas 2-3 at a time in the microwave for about 25 seconds, or in a warm, dry pan on the stove for a few minutes.  Warming the tortillas makes them pliable.  Gently, spoon about 2 Tbsp of the chicken mixture slightly off center in the tortilla.  Shape the mixture into a rough log shape, running from one edge of the tortilla to the other.  Wrap the tortilla around the mixture and place, seam-side down, on the oiled parchment paper.  Continue until all of the chicken mixture and tortillas are used up. Place about 1/2 inch about on the baking sheet, all seam-side down.  Try not to move the wrapped tortillas–the tortillas will get less pliable and more prone to cracking as they cool.   Light spray or brush the taquito rolls with oil.

Cook on the middle oven rack for 10 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and gently turn over each taquito.  The seams should hold together.  Lightly spray or brush with oil once more. Return to oven to bake for another 10 minutes.  Serve hot with the avocado crema.  Leftover taquitos may be stored once completely cool, loosely packed in a tupperware with paper towels in between the layers, in the refrigerator for up to three days.  Store avocado crema as mentioned above (with saran wrap pressed against the surface).  Taquitos may also be frozen on a cookie sheet, then combined into a bag.  Cook from frozen at 450 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, until heated through.  I do not recommend freezing the crema.