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!

stuffing

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. 🙂

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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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Preparing for our Thanksgiving feast

gravy

Do you see that cool swirl from the steam off the gravy? No photoshop tricks here. I didn’t even know this happened until after I was reviewing the photos!

Here are links to the recipes I’ll be using for our Thanksgiving feast this year.

My meal will include:

turkey with gravy (for the gravy, the link will take you to the gravy I made from a roast chicken — same process for turkey gravy)

stuffing To save oven space for the bird, I now make the stuffing in a crock pot.

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vegetables

veggies

sweet potatoes

sweet potatoes

smashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

rolls

cranberry sauce

cranberry sauce

apple pie (I will post the recipe for the pie pictured below very soon. Can’t believe I haven’t posted it yet!)

apple pie

pumpkin pie (I am not a huge pumpkin pie fan, though my husband and oldest son love it, so I use a can of organic pumpkin and follow the typical pumpkin pie recipe — pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves.)

pumpkin pie

chocolate pie (my daughter and youngest son will not eat apple or pumpkin pie … and I don’t mind one bit adding a chocolate pie to the menu!)

chocolate pie

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Here is a link to shortcuts I take to make my Thanksgiving meal easy and less work the day of the feast.

Thanksgiving prep

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To start the day I’ll serve baked French toast. Such a holiday favorite of mine!

baked french toast

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What items are on your Thanksgiving meal menu?

stuffing

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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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Stuffing

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)

Add:

  • 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).

Or…

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.)

 

crockpot roast with potatoes and carrots in tomato sauce

Beef in the crockpot is really the only way I can cook beef (other than hamburgers) to know for sure it will turn out well.

I’ve posted my recipes for crockpot roast beef and crockpot chuck roast with tomato sauce. Today I decided to combine the two by including the potatoes and carrots, as well as the tomatoes. I’ve even come up with the unique, creative name of “crockpot beef — #3”. Catchy, isn’t it?

*Note: This has been edited to change the name of the recipe. I did this because with the old name it was hard to locate the recipe when using the search field.

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Crockpot Roast With Potatoes And Carrots In Tomato Sauce

vegetable oil or olive oil

chuck roast

1/2 cup water or beef broth

1 can (28-ounce) Roma tomatoes

4 white potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

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Heat oil in large pan and cook meat on all sides — about 2-3 minutes per side — over medium heat. Remove meat from pan and place in the crockpot.

Turn off the heat under the pan. Drain the oil and fat from the pan and add the water (or beef stock) to deglaze the pan. Pour this liquid over the meat in the crcokpot.

Add the tomatoes to the crockpot. (Note: Drain the can of tomatoes if you’d prefer less liquid in the final result.)

Add the potatoes and carrots to the crockpot.

Season it all with the basil, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or high for at least 4 hours.

*Edited to add the potatoes and carrots into the recipe. Just realized they weren’t listed … oops!

crockpot chuck roast with tomato sauce

*Updated to add links to my other crock pot recipes for chuck roasts: here and here.

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This recipe was based on one I found on the website of my local grocery store. I printed it off a year or two or three ago and never did anything with it, until today.

This morning I had chuck roast on hand, intending to cook it in the crock pot as I’ve done before, but was thinking of doing it a bit differently this time. Knowing I’ve had success cooking a chuck roast with tomato sauce in the past, I searched my recipe binder and found the printed out recipe to use as a guide. The recipe from the grocery store wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so basically I just took their guidance as to the amount of canned tomatoes and beef broth and did the rest on my own.

Because today’s meal was for my family as well as for a friend’s family, I did not include onions and garlic (this other family isn’t a big fan), but next time I will, since my husband enjoys the meat cooked with those flavors. Today I also used two chuck roasts to accommodate everyone. If making this with just the one chuck roast, I may decrease the liquids, because the sauce was a bit watery. Maybe I’ll just try draining the can of tomatoes. When I try it with these changes, I’ll post again!

*Edited to add: I’ve since made another version of this, and my family loved it! You can find the recipe here. Enjoy!

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Crockpot Chuck Roast With Tomato Sauce

vegetable oil

chuck roast

1 cup beef stock

1 onion, cut in half and sliced (*optional)

2-4 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced (*optional)

1 can (28-ounce) Roma tomatoes

1/2 cup pasta sauce

1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

Heat oil in large pan and cook meat on all sides — about 2-3 minutes per side — over medium heat. Remove meat from pan and place in the crockpot.

Turn off the heat under the pan. Drain the oil and fat from the pan and add the beef stock to deglaze the pan. Pour this liquid over the meat in the crcokpot.

Add the onion and garlic (if desired), and then the tomatoes and tomato sauce to the crockpot.  Season it all with the basil, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for at least 4 hours.

Serve over egg noodles, if desired.

crockpot red sauce

An earlier post was for chicken and pasta — my version of chicken cacciatore. That recipe was created to make a complete meal out of the sauce recipe a friend had told me about. She found it on allrecipes dot com.

Here’s a little funny story. Turns out I’m soooo much like my mom, because I never actually made the sauce recipe in the way it was intended. Not once. Nope. Instead, I read it, considered some changes that would incorporate the recipe into meals that I serve to my family on a regular basis, and went ahead and did those. Came up with a couple versions of the chicken and pasts recipe using this sauce as a base. All successful, I should add. But not once did I make the sauce as is. Well, until now.

Oh my nostrils! Yesterday, when this sauce was cooking in the crockpot for hours and hours, my house smelled AMAZING!!!!! Really, I think I’ll make this weekly, even if it didn’t taste good (but it does), just so my house will smell this awesome on a regular basis!

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Crockpot Red Sauce

1 large can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes

1 large can (28-ounces) San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

4-8 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

dash cinnamon (no more than 1/2 teaspoon)

Place all ingredients in a crockpot set to low or warm (on my crock pot, the low setting should be renamed “only slightly lower than hot”, therefore I use the warm setting for this). Cook for as long as you can … 10 to 15 hours is what the original recipe suggested. The longer it cooks, the more intense the flavors. They’re not kidding. Yesterday I let mine cook for 15 hours and it was delicious!

Use for any pasta dish.

this is *some* of the garlic I put into this sauce yesterday

“before”

*after*