mexican chicken casserole goes to college

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Mexican Chicken Casserole

Okay, this is pretty simple. So simple that the pictures can do most of the talking!

Because I was only making enough for my son to take to his apartment, I didn’t use as much chicken or other ingredients. I used a small-ish casserole dish. It measures about 7×10-inches.

I started by putting a little olive oil on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Then, a layer of crushed tortilla chips:

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About 2/3 of a can of black beans (drained and rinsed): *I could have used the whole can, but decided this looked like enough.*

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About 2 cups of frozen corn:

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In a large plastic zipper bag, I combined 1/4 cup flour with the following taco seasoning spices:

  • cayenne
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika
  • oregano
  • sugar
  • salt

*If you want this to be gluten-free, omit the flour.*

Since this is being made into a casserole, I cut 2 large chicken breasts into pieces. These pieces were tossed in the flour and spice mixture, then placed in the casserole dish:

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On top of the chicken went about 1 cup of salsa:

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Then more crushed tortilla chips on top:

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I put a few bits of butter on top (about 2 tablespoons total) or I could have drizzled 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I covered with foil then baked at 350F for 30 minutes. After that time was up, I removed the foil then continue to bake for 10 minutes. Then I removed it from the oven and topped with an additional cup of salsa and a few handfuls of Mexican cheese. This was returned to the oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the cheese melted.

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I then removed it from the oven and admired the glorious melted cheese!

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I waited for this to cool a little while, then divided it into 4 equal sections. Each one was put into a freezer-safe container.

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Now he has 4 dinners ready to go!


Another Thanksgiving recipe to get us ready for the big day this week. Stuffing … my favorite part of the meal! And easy to make in the slow cooker, saving valuable space in the oven for the turkey and other sides.

food with pictures

I shall start by saying that I am fully aware the name of this should be “dressing” rather than “stuffing” since stuffing is meant to stuff inside the turkey, and dressing is meant to be cooked on the side. I have always called it stuffing and will continue to do so. That is my prerogative. And now to continue with the post. 🙂


When I was in 7th grade I took Home Ec class. That would be Home Economics to you young people. Or what they now call Teen Living or FACS (Family And Consumer Sciences). In the fall of that 7th grade year we were in the kitchen section, and in the spring we went to the sewing room. I enjoyed both, but especially the times we cooked. No surprise there.

That fall, prior to Thanksgiving, the class was making all the components of a typical Thanksgiving feast…

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latin chicken — again

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Shortly after starting this blog I posted the recipe for Latin chicken. It’s a great meal and one of my favorites. Because this recipe was posted when the blog was new and had only a small handful of followers (2? 3?), I thought I’d post it again.

So, here is the recipe again, with a few additional photos. Please try this recipe! Seriously, it is sooooo good!

*Note: I always, always, always make this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I goofed and purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts last week. I prefer this recipe with the thighs, though it was still very good made with white meat.


Latin Chicken (with black beans and sweet potatoes)

1. In crock pot (slow cooker), combine:

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2. In a plastic zipper bag combine the following:

  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Add a small amount of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over med-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides; about 5 minutes. Place chicken in crock pot on top of beans and sweet potatoes.

3. Lower the heat, and in the same pan whisk together:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin

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Pour this mixture over the black beans, sweet potatoes, and chicken in the crock pot.

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Cook on high for about 5 hours.

When serving, squirt fresh lime over each serving and sprinkle on chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

latin chicken

scalloped potatoes with ham

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From my previous post you know that I use the ham bone from my Easter ham to make bean soup.  Now this recipe will show you what I do with all the leftover ham.

This dish is pure comfort food for me. It’s one of my most favorite meals from childhood. Problem is that for years, each time I made it, I would do it differently (that’s because I’d call my mom the day after Easter each and every year and she would give me suggestions on how to make this dish, but I never wrote it down and would alter her recipe in the attempt to make it better or easier or quicker or whatever, and therefore it didn’t always turn out well nor exactly how I remembered it). So after years of making scalloped potatoes in various ways, I’ve finally found the way to make it that reminds me of my mom’s delicious after-Easter scalloped potatoes with ham, and I’ve written it down and now I only call my mom the day after Easter to ask how her Easter was, instead of bothering her for the recipe.


Scalloped Potatoes With Ham

Heat oven to 350F.

Butter a deep casserole dish.

Clean and slice 6-8 potatoes. I use medium size white potatoes.

Cut leftover ham into small cubes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour.

When a nice paste is formed (takes about 1-2 minutes) lower heat and whisk in 2 cups whole milk.

Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add a small shake of nutmeg.

Allow to heat through over low heat, stirring often.

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In the buttered casserole dish, layer half the potato slices, then cover with all the ham.

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Distribute about 1 cup shredded cheese over the potatoes and ham. (I use a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar.)

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Layer the remaining potatoes on top.


Pour heated white sauce over all.


Add 1 more cup of the cheese.


If the white sauce doesn’t cover all the potatoes, add extra milk to the casserole dish until the potatoes are completely covered. You may find you’ll need to add a cup or two of extra milk. (*Note: I could have added the extra milk before adding the cheese.)


Crush Ritz crackers on top. (No picture for this step … oops.)

Place casserole dish on a large baking sheet (to catch any liquid that bubbles over the edge of the casserole dish) and bake uncovered for about an hour. Depending on how deep your casserole dish is, you may need to bake for a bit longer than 1 hour. When a fork can go through the potatoes without much resistance it’s ready for the next step.

Raise oven temperature to 375F and bake for an additional 15 – 30 minutes, until it is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

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This is the hardest part: Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers are terrific (if you manage to have any leftovers).

*Note: There isn’t a picture of a serving of this, because I am very impatient and couldn’t bother with taking photos before diving in. Sorry!


*Edited on 4/23/13 to increase baking time and to note the use of the baking sheet under the casserole dish.

creamy chicken and veggies with cheese biscuit topping

step 9

Remember back in November when I posted the link to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe‘s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake Pie?  Have you visited her site yet? If so, I’m sure you’re like me and have drooled over so many of her tasty recipes!

The most recent one that caught my eye was called Confetti Chicken with Cheddar Biscuit Topping.  Since that day I read her recipe (less than a week ago) I have not stopped thinking about cheddar biscuits. It was clear I’d have to make those soon, and today proved the perfect opportunity.

Our freezer and refrigerator have been wonky lately. The freezer, even while set at the lowest setting, has become an iceberg. The refrigerator section on the other hand, while at the highest setting, can not keep anything cold. I have had to toss many of the foods that warm temperatures are not so kind to. That also resulted in needing to get a rotisserie chicken from our local grocery store for dinner last night, due to having to purge all the chicken and beef that I had planned to cook, but which had to be tossed for safety reasons. For tonight’s meal, using the leftover rotisserie chicken, I was planning on making creamed chicken and serving it over biscuits. But then I remembered Mel’s recipe! Yes! I was excited to make the creamed chicken as I usually do, but add extra veggies, as per her recipe, and top it all with her cheddar biscuit topping!!! It was the highlight of my day, let me tell you.

So that’s what I did tonight. I adapted her recipe — ever so slightly — to accommodate the fresh veggies I had on hand (onions, celery, carrots, green pepper), my solid as a rock frozen peas, and the technique I usually use to make the creamed sauce (I remove the veggies from the pan before making the cream sauce, and my quantities are a bit different).  For her recipe of the cheddar biscuits, I followed it as is, but used the cheese that luckily was stored in my spare but temperamental basement refrigerator — a mix of cheddar and jack along with a few other white cheeses. (Since this recipe was first posted, I now make this with all cheddar and it is simply divine! Really, really good!).  Her recipe called for a bit more sauce than mine, and my husband gently commented that more sauce would have made this dish even better (though he had no other complaints while eating two large servings). Update: I’ve since changed the quantity of the chicken broth from 1 cup to 2 cups, and noted it as such below in the recipe. Now my husband is very, very happy.

Thanks Mel!


Creamy Chicken and Veggies with Cheese Biscuit Topping

Step #1: Heat oven to 350F. In a large skillet, heat a small drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. Add chopped onion, celery, green pepper, and carrots (and/or other fresh veggies you have available).  Cook until tender, stirring often; about 5 minutes. Add frozen peas if desired (and/or any other frozen veggies you like). Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to sit for about 3 minutes.

step 1

Step #2: Chop cooked chicken and place into a deep casserole dish.

step 2

Step #3: Add cooked veggies to the cooked chicken in the casserole dish.

step 3

Step #4: In the pan, over low heat, melt 1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) and add to that 2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour. Whisk until combined into a smooth paste. Add 2 cups chicken broth and continue whisking. Once combined, add 1 cup milk. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper, and garlic powder (if desired). 

step 4

Step #5: Pour this cream sauce over the chicken and veggies. Gently stir.

step 5

Step #6: Make the cheese biscuit topping.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl stir together:

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk

Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients (or stir with a fork).

Then stir in:

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


step 6

Step #7: Pour this mixture over the chicken and veggies in the casserole dish.

step 7

Step #8: Bake for 30-35 minutes, until topping is golden brown and sauce is bubbly.

step 8

Step #9: Enjoy!

creamy chicken and veggies


I shall start by saying that I am fully aware the name of this should be “dressing” rather than “stuffing” since stuffing is meant to stuff inside the turkey, and dressing is meant to be cooked on the side. I have always called it stuffing and will continue to do so. That is my prerogative. And now to continue with the post. 🙂


When I was in 7th grade I took Home Ec class. That would be Home Economics to you young people. Or what they now call Teen Living or FACS (Family And Consumer Sciences). In the fall of that 7th grade year we were in the kitchen section, and in the spring we went to the sewing room. I enjoyed both, but especially the times we cooked. No surprise there.

That fall, prior to Thanksgiving, the class was making all the components of a typical Thanksgiving feast, and the teacher allowed us to bring in family recipes if we wished to. I was so proud of my grandmother’s stuffing and was excited to show it to the teacher, in hopes that she’d pick it for the recipe the class used. Well, when I wrote it out to give to her, I called it stuffing when it was actually dressing. Or vice versa. I can’t remember the exact details. But what happened next was one of the worst moments of my 7th grade year: The teacher converted the recipe to be the opposite of what it actually was. For example, there is more liquid in dressing than in stuffing, since when stuffing is in the bird the natural juices of the turkey add that extra necessary liquid, but when cooking it on its own, you need to have more liquid to start with. So I can’t quite remember if she added liquid or reduced the liquid in my grandmother’s recipe, but she did one of the two. I was quite a shy child and especially nervous around adults, so the mistake was never corrected. Consequently, when the class made our Thanksgiving feast, the stuffing was not what it should have been. It was not even close to my grandmother’s amazing stuffing.


The following recipe is not my grandmother’s recipe. I’m sad to say I don’t have a copy of her original. What I have done is created a stuffing that I enjoy. And by “enjoy” I mean “love so much I could eat it and only it for meal after meal, especially on Thanksgiving day and the next morning for breakfast … and for snack”.

I usually make this without sausage, but while doing my Thanksgiving shopping this year, my local store had pork sage sausage sitting right there at eye level, calling my name. I like their sausage, since it has no fillers or strange ingredients.

So I decided to make two batches — one with sausage and one without. Due to limited space in the oven, I did the sausage-free stuffing in the crockpot while cooking the one with stuffing in the oven. This is the second time I’ve used my crockpot for stuffing, and it turned out wonderful! It’s also fast and stays warm without drying out. And it frees up much needed oven space.



In a skillet melt:

  • half a stick of butter

Over medium/low heat, slowly cook in the butter:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped onion
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped (optional)


  • a few teaspoons of Bell’s seasoning or a few teaspoons sage (I’m usually very generous with this seasoning and add about 4 teaspoons)

Note: The day before Thanksgiving I prepped these ingredients by having them all chopped and put into a baggie with the butter and seasoning.


Stirring often, cook until the onions and celery are very tender.



In a greased casserole dish (or greased crockpot … I use butter to grease these), put in:

  • half a bag of cornbread cubes
  • half a bag of herb seasoned bread cubes
  • the cooked onion and celery
  • cooked chopped pork sage sausage, if desired


Stir the ingredients.


Now pour into the casserole dish (or crockpot):


Using a spatula or the back of a large serving spoon, press the mixture, making sure all of the bread gets saturated with the chicken broth. If you can see some of the liquid on the edges when pressing down on the bread and vegetables, you’re good. If not, add more liquid (broth or water).



In a 325F or 350F oven, cook covered for about 30 minutes, then remove the cover and continue to cook for about 15 minutes more (exact cooking time will depend on the size of your pan, and your oven).


In the crockpot, cook on low a few hours, or on high for a shorter time. (Note: I started mine on high for one hour, then changed it to the warm setting and kept it there all afternoon … tasting it often.)


barbecue bake

My husband loves food. He’s the type of guy that will eat just about anything, and really enjoys it all. The only thing we joke about him not liking would be egg noodles, but that’s because when we were first married I forgot to time them and turned the egg noodles into something that didn’t resemble food. He, being a kind man, tried to eat them anyway, in order to not hurt my feelings. At the time I felt terrible that he ate what surely would damage his stomach, but now am glad he did, because we’ve had a good laugh from that for the past two decades!


When I ask my husband what meals he’d like, when I’m doing the meal planning for the upcoming week, you’d think he’s suggest something new and different to satisfy his varied food tastes. No. Instead, each week his answers are almost always exactly the same:

  1. fish
  2. the ground turkey with barbecue sauce, green beans and cornbread on top thing

This second dish is so ridiculously simple, I have an issue calling it a recipe. It also is so ridiculously simple that I laugh every time he requests it. For someone who loves all kinds of foods, how this dish ended up one of his favorites is beyond me.

So here you go readers. My husband’s second most requested meal.

P.S. No photos for this one, not because I didn’t take any, but because they didn’t turn out well. But I trust that if you use your imagination, you’ll get a good image in your head, and one that is vastly superior to the photos my camera captured yesterday.


Barbecue Bake

1 pound ground turkey breast (or ground beef)

1 jar or 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

2 cups frozen or fresh green beans

1 box cornbread mix, prepared as directed with the egg and milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (if desired)


Heat oven to 400F.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan (or similar pan) with a small amount of canola or olive oil (omit the oil if using the beef). Cook the meat until just done.

Drain meat and place cooked meat into a casserole dish.

Pour the barbecue sauce over the meat.

If using frozen green beans, thaw them and drain any extra liquid. If using fresh, steam them for a few minutes until they are just barely tender.

Add the green beans to the meat and barbecue sauce, and stir.

Now, if there was a tricky part to this recipe, this next stage would be it. Distribute the prepared cornbread batter THINLY over the meat and green bean mixture. If it’s too thick, it won’t cook through. Note: To save time and frustration, sometimes I cook the cornbread batter in a round cake pan, or in individual muffins, then place the cooked cornbread on top of the heated meat mixture to serve.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top, if desired.

Bake for about 25 – 35 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.