Sunday, December 6, 2009

Casseroles may not be fancy, but they are wintery and delicious.

I'm seriously kicking ass at time management this weekend. We had plans with the new parents for a 7pm dinner last night, so my goal yesterday was to have the house done by 3 so I could start cooking. We got a bit of a late start at noon, but after a trip to Home Depot/Target (they're next to each other), we got the house clean and vacuumed, the bedroom, bathroom, and office organized, the tree up and decorated, the patio cleaned and lights strung up...and my chicken was in the oven at 3:05. Crackheads on a mission. Awesome.

And, sidenote, I think the decorations are working. Between the tree, the red and silver everywhere and my holiday-scented febreeze plug-in, I'm feeling a little less grinchy today. Plus a little elf left us new ornaments on our front door last night, which was a fantastic surprise. (Thanks again, K!)

Anyway, deciding what to make for dinner was surprisingly hard...when people come over, I like making 'fancy food,' especially when I know they're up for anything. But I also know the new dad is a big casserole after much deliberation, I decided it would be ok to make a casserole as long as there also were homemade appetizers- I went with jalapeno poppers. After learning my lesson last time, I used gloves while seeding them...unfortunately all we had were football gloves. (I sanitized them before and after, it's ok.) Super sexy. But they worked.

So here is one of my oldest go-to recipes; it's the only other casserole I like making, and a surefire hit with the dudes. After starting with chips and homemade salsa and the poppers, I served it with homemade Spanish rice and canned whole black beans heated with a pinch of salt, chili powder and cumin. It was a massive amount of food. And went down well with cranberry margaritas(for a festive touch) and beer. It's not the healthiest thing I make, but once in a while won't hurt.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
2 large chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)
Olive Oil
Half a red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chopped green chilies (I use the larger can)
1 regular container light sour cream
salt and pepper
chicken broth
About a block of Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
10 corn tortillas, quartered (the Handmade Trader Joe's brand is by far my fave)

Bake the chicken at 375 for about 30 minutes. When done, let cool, and then shred the chicken into small pieces using two forks or your hands (or you can just cut into bite-sized pieces).

Heat a small amount of olive oil (a tsp or so) over medium. Add onion and garlic, saute about 2 minutes or until they start getting soft. Turn off heat, stir in can of chilies, sour cream, and a big pinch salt and a pinch of pepper. Add a small pour of chicken broth, stir, and add more broth until it's saucy while still fairly thick.

In a large baking dish, ladle in a spoonful or two of sauce and spread across bottom of pan. If it's hard to spread, add a bit more broth to the sauce. Just don't get it too watery, otherwise it'll fall apart when you serve it. Though it tastes just as good, so don't worry too much if you do.

Layer a third of the tortilla across the sauce, covering as much of the area as you can. Next, sprinkle a third of the chicken evenly across the tortillas, and cover with a big handful of the cheese. Spoon across about a third of the remaining sauce, spreading as evenly as you can. Repeat twice (tortilla, chicken, cheese, sauce, tortilla, chicken, cheese, sauce).

Cook at 400 for 40 minutes or until bubbly and a bit golden brown on top.
Eight servings. Per serving, 425 cals, 18g fat, 2g fiber, 28 protein, 36 carbs.

Spanish Rice
olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
big pinch salt
pinch pepper
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 can minced tomatoes with green chili, undrained

Heat splash of olive oil, add onion and garlic, saute about a minute. Add rice, saute another minute or so, add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer. Cook about 15 minutes. Let sit til ready to serve.
4 servings. Per serving, about 220 cals, 4g fat, 2g fiber, 7g protein, 43g carbs.

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