I know it’s 90-bazillion degrees outside right now, and we should all be staying out of the kitchen and eating salads, but sometimes you just gotta turn on that oven and deal with the heat. Are you with me?! Last weekend I roasted a chicken (I know, I’ve no idea what I was thinking with the roasting), and the thought of another chicken salad or chicken quinoa salad just bored me. I wanted something spicy and filling to take for our lunches this week.
I gotta tell you – the 120-mile a week biking habit plus 20-30 miles of running…it makes your metabolism turn as fast as the blades of the fan that’s cranking 24/7 at our house. I am hungry ALL the time, and salads for lunch just aren’t cutting it. So, to use up the leftover chicken and clean out a few things lingering in the fridge, I went for a spicy Mexican casserole.
Alicia Lynn Carrier is one of my very favorite food bloggers over at Bread & Honey. She is keepin’ it real and telling it like it is as she serves up the often humble dishes she makes in her kitchen with a big dose of sassy humor. When I’m stuck for writing inspiration – I go read Alicia’s blog – she’s guaranteed to make me crack a smile and loosen up in my own writing. She also makes the BEST enchilada sauce on the planet, and you can too. It takes about 10 minutes to put together, and most of that is just waiting for the dried chiles to soften in hot water. If you’ve got a blender, you can make this, and you should. The enchilada sauce is the clincher that makes this the best casserole I’ve eaten in a LONG time. Make it.
In other news, in 9 days I’ll be running my first half-marathon – eeek! I think I’m ready, but am a little iffy on my legs which are showing definite signs of strain. If you’d like to support my run for the American Cancer Society, click here.
So tell me how great running 13.1 miles is gonna be on August 1 in the comments. Or, you know – tell me what you like to toss into a dish and call it dinner…
1.5 cups brown rice, dry
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
Cook the brown rice in your rice cooker, or on the stove (don’t even ask me how to do this – I’ve had the rice cooker for so long now, I’d be afraid to dole out stovetop rice advice). It’s good to make the rice a day ahead and stash it in the fridge, just to get it out of the way. Ditto for making the Enchilada Sauce that you’ll need.
1 batch of Alicia’s Enchilada Sauce
2.5 cups leftover roast chicken, shredded
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (about 2 cups of beans)
2 cups of sweet corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch of chard, stems removed, chopped and reserved, leaves chopped in bite sized pieces
1 bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1.5 T olive oil
4 oz grated melting cheese – Chihuahua, Jack or Mozzarella are all good choices
(A note on veggie matter – you can toss pretty much anything you’ve got on hand into the dish – just saute it up first. I voted for the ever-abundant zucchini to go in this one, but was overruled by the Hubs.)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Get out a 9×13 pyrex baking pan and grease it with olive oil or butter.
- Heat a large (at least 12”) skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, diced chard stems and bell pepper and saute for 5-8 minutes until the veggies start to soften. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the sweet corn, black beans, chicken and stir to combine, heating everything through.
- Pile the chard into the pan with the veggies, and gently fold it into the mixture. As soon as the chard begins to wilt, pour the entire batch of enchilada sauce into the pan and stir together until mixed and the contents are warm.
- Take your greased baking pan and pour the rice in the bottom in an even layer. Then, scoop the warm filling on top, making an even layer of topping – it nearly filled the entire pan right up to the top for us. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes, then sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake for another 20 minutes before serving.
- Note: As an alternative to brown rice for the base of the casserole, try using 1 whole, cooked spaghetti squash for the filling – scrape the squash into “pasta” and layer it with the filling in the casserole pan. Delicious!
359 cal per 1.5 cup, 70 cal from fat, 8g fat, 40mg cholesterol, 910mg sodium, 500mg potassium, 51g carbs, 7g fiber, 6g sugars, 23g protein