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!

garlic lemon baked chicken

garlic lemon chicken step 5

In my recipe binder, I have an old recipe that was torn from a newspaper. The recipe is called Bainbridge Island Vineyard Greek Garlic Chicken and it was printed in the Washington Post. I’ve had it in my binder since cutting it out of the newspaper in 2007 yet have never made it. Over six years and it just sat there… waiting.

A couple days ago, as I was planning my weekly meals and making a grocery list, I searched through my binder to get inspiration and to remember old forgotten favorite recipes when I saw this one. Why hadn’t I ever made it? It’s got all the ingredients I love and that I use often: Garlic, olive oil, chicken. I added it to the weekly menu, purchased the chicken and the lemons, and today was the day. This chicken was what’s for dinner.

I didn’t follow the recipe 100%, since I am who I am and find it impossibly hard to follow a recipe exactly as it’s written (thanks Mom!). First of all, I didn’t use 5 pounds of chicken. I’m not sure I’ve ever used 5 pounds of chicken in one recipe. Also, when squeezing the lemons, after the second one I didn’t think it would need the juice from the third lemon, so I left it out (though next time — and there will be a next time — I will try it with three lemons). And then when I finished the sauce, before coating the chicken pieces, I realized it was a lot of sauce, so I put half of it aside to try in another recipe (maybe on a pork tenderloin for souvlaki … yum!).  Finally, instead of using just water, I used milk and some flour to thicken it. (See note below regarding these additions.)

The recipe below is what I made, which is based on the original.

P.S. When I finished the sauce I cut a bite-sized piece of chicken, dipped it in the sauce, and pushed it into my husband’s mouth. Was it good? Did he like it? Did it need anything… more salt or pepper? Here’s what he said after moaning with happiness, “You could put this sauce on a shoe and I’d eat it.” Yeah, so it’s pretty good.

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Garlic Lemon Baked Chicken

3 heads garlic, peeled and chopped and/or crushed (I did half each way)

the juice from 2 lemons

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon course ground sea salt

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken thighs and/or legs (skin on, bone-in) or boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon flour* (optional … see note below)

1 cup milk or water* (see note below)

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Heat oven to 375F.

In a bowl, stir together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, pepper, and salt. *You’ll only need half of this sauce, unless you decide to use double the amount of chicken that is listed above.*

garlic lemon chicken step 1

garlic lemon chicken step 2

garlic lemon chicken step 3

In a large baking dish, place the chicken pieces coated with the sauce in a single layer. (You can coat the pieces in a deep bowl, or by placing the chicken and the sauce in a plastic zipper bag.) If using pieces with the skin on, place them skin side up.

garlic lemon chicken step 4

Bake for 20-30 minutes if using skinless, boneless chicken. Bake for 45-55 minutes if using chicken with bones and skin.

Remove chicken from baking dish to serving platter.

Pour sauce from the baking dish into a small sauce pan over medium heat. *Note: If you don’t want all those bits of garlic in the sauce, use a mesh strainer for this step of the process.

If you’d like a thickened sauce, in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, add the flour to the milk or water, and whisk well. (If you want it thinner, or to keep it gluten-free and dairy-free, use water only.) Pour this into the sauce pan and whisk to combine. Heat thoroughly while whisking often. It should thicken quickly.

Serve sauce on the side or drizzled over the chicken on the platter.

*Note: If you omit the flour, this meal is gluten-free. Use water instead of milk, and it’s dairy-free.

Thanksgiving turkey

Last year’s Thanksgiving turkey post … getting ready for tomorrow!

food with pictures

I am not posting pictures of my Thanksgiving turkey from this year, because I don’t find pictures of turkeys all that appetizing. Or maybe it’s only the photos I took don’t look that appetizing. Anyhoo, the turkey today tasted great. It was tender and delicious. But no photo, sorry.

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I am thankful to have been given my mother’s oval roaster. Amazing results every time! This roasting pan is one of my favorite things.

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Remember that bag of onion, celery, garlic and carrots from the other day? That’s what goes into the bottom of the pan when I make my Thanksgiving turkey. Then I add a cup of chicken broth.

The washed and dried bird goes on top, then a generous dusting of Bell’s. That stuff is awesome! Now, sure, you could make your own poultry seasoning using a combination of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and…

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easy chicken soup

chicken soup

It’s been years since I’ve made regular old chicken soup. I usually make vegetable barley soup or ham and bean soup. But I used to make chicken soup all the time — weekly in the fall and winter. And this week I needed to make chicken soup because my husband was having a medical procedure done (nothing serious) and chicken soup was the requested and recommended food to have on hand for the afternoon of the procedure. When I had the same procedure done just last week, he didn’t make me soup, or pasta …  or anything. He got yelled at by the discharge nurse and then was sent out for takeout from a favorite restaurant of mind. Just to prove I’m a good wife, and a better spouse than he is, I made him homemade chicken soup. Bonus points for me.

Instead of using my standard chicken soup recipe, the one I haven’t touched in a while but made for the first time over 20 years ago, this time I tried some shortcuts. And they worked very well. There is nothing new or unique about this recipe. It’s just basic chicken soup. But you know what? That’s the best kind, in my opinion. Soup like my mother and grandmother used to make. Soup that tastes good alone or with warm from the oven rolls, or with a toasty gooey grilled cheese sandwich, or simply with a wedge of cheese and a crunchy apple. Perfect cold weather comfort food.

I will definitely be making this version of chicken soup more often. So easy and perfect for a cold day, which today is. Hello Winter. Goodbye Fall. Yummy soup.

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Easy Chicken Soup

Into a large soup pot pour 32 ounces of chicken broth. Turn the heat to medium.

Season generously with salt and black pepper (and garlic powder, if desired).

Place into the liquid 3 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless), cut into large-ish pieces. Cover.

chicken in stock

While that is cooking, clean and chop 5 stalks of celery. Then peel and thinly slice 6 carrots. Finally, chop one onion.

veggies

By the time all the chopping is done, the chicken will be cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.

chicken

Add the veggies to the pot.

Add the chicken pieces back to the pot.

Also add 32 ounces of cold water to the pot.

Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until you get a gentle boil.

Add 1/2 – 1 cup barley.  *Note: You can also add 1 cup dried pasta or 1/2 cup uncooked rice. If you choose rice, this meal is gluten free.

barley

Reduce heat to medium/low.

Cover and cook until barley (or pasta or rice) is tender, about one hour, or longer if desired or busy or if you just want your house to smell like delicious homemade soup.

latin chicken — again

latin chicken (6)

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.

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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

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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

barbecue chicken pizza

BBQ chicken pizza slice

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

When your husband grills ALL THE CHICKEN when you instructed him to only grill half of it, and then covers ALL OF IT in spicy barbecue sauce that your kids won’t eat, you make many meals which include barbecue chicken for you and your crazy husband.

Normally barbecue chicken is a big hit in this family. Normally I follow my own recipe very well. This time I goofed and instead of using 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper. Wow. 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper. That’s all I need to say.

I attempted to fix it a bit by adding more honey and adjusted other ingredients, but since the sauce had simmered so long (I realized my mistake when I did a taste test after it had cooked), that cayenne flavor was not going anywhere. Husband didn’t mind one bit, since his spice tolerance levels are much higher than mine.  For me and the kids, well, it was just too spicy.

So, what do you do with twice as much barbecue chicken than you need, and all of it way too spicy to feed to the mild barbecue loving children? First husband ate it lathered with tons of extra sauce (as I said, he loves spicy) and I had a piece with just a small layer of sauce (and a beer… that helped cut the spice).  Then husband had more for lunch the next day, and the next as well. But then we had to use it all up, so barbecue chicken pizza was the answer!

It was the night before school started, and our last night at the community pool, therefore I didn’t have time to make homemade pizza dough. I sent my husband to the local pizza restaurant and they sold us pizza dough. Not sure if all pizzerias do this, but I’m glad our does (if you ask nicely and go straight to the manager).

This pizza is so good … even with the spicy sauce! I could eat it every night. Yum!

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Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Roll out pizza dough.

Spread a layer of barbecue sauce (homemade or your favorite bottled variety) onto the dough.

BBQ chicken pizza sauce

Chop one cooked chicken breast (this had been grilled, then slathered with the homemade barbecue sauce) and distribute the pieces on the sauce.

BBQ chicken pizza onions and chicken

BBQ chicken pizza sauce and chicken

Toss on some chopped red onion (or scallions).

Finish it off with a handful of shredded Colby Jack cheese (Monterey Jack cheese alone is awesome too).

BBQ chicken pizza cheese

BBQ chicken pizza cheese and onion

Bake at 425F for about 10 -12 minutes.

BBQ chicken pizza hot out of oven

Enjoy!

lime marinade for chicken

Into a large bowl, combine a generous drizzle of olive oil with the juice and pulp of 6 (or more) limes.

lime marinade

Thinly slice an onion and add to the bowl. This time I used a white onion. Previously I used a red onion, which looks great when grilled.

lime marinade 2

Peel and chop as much garlic as you like. Pictured below is half the garlic I used. Add to the bowl.

lime marinade 3

Add boneless skinless chicken pieces to the bowl, and some salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate at about one hour.

lime marinade 4

Grill the chicken with the onions and garlic.

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Serve. This time I served it with roasted zucchini and potatoes, and last time it was on tortillas with homemade guacamole, veggies, and cheese. Rice and beans would have been great on the tortillas as well, if I had had any in the house! This chicken (hot or cold) is also good on top of a salad (AKA what I had for lunch today).

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