Monday, December 13, 2010

Casserole Creativity 101

Have you ever had one of those days that you know the refrigerator stock is running low and what ever is in the pantry is not appealing?  Well this happens to me every so often - which forces me to become really creative with dinner that night.

If you ever find yourself in this situation... DO NOT PANIC!  Sometimes getting creative is much better for your pocket book and waste line because, often times we would rather have someone else make us dinner (i.e. pizza, freaky-fast sub sandwiches, etc).  So open up the pantry and get the creative juices flowing.

There was one particular week that I had made the Enchilada Casserole and had a leftover bag of hash browns.  The next day I was in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store but running on very little sleep and energy.  SO, I got creative.

I do not have the exact recipe written down for this dish but, I'd like to suggest trying something like this for a casserole dinner some night.

Crunchy Southwest Chicken Casserole
- 1/2 bag of diced hashbrowns
- 1-2 lbs. of chopped chicken breast or tenderloin (feel free to use shredded chicken if you have that)
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 1 bag of frozen corn
- 1 1/2 cup of crushed tortilla chips
- 1 can of green chili's
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 chopped green pepper
- 1 cup of shredded marble jack cheese
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes (or use fresh if you have it)
- 3 to 4 slices of cubed cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 TBSP of Arizona Dreaming (or use Smoked Paprika)
- Salt & pepper to taste

Brown the chopped chicken breast in a pan.  Combine all ingredients into a pan.  Tuck the cubed cheddar cheese in various places of the dish and then cover with a thin layer of more cheese. Bake covered for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10 minutes.

If you feel that it's too dry.. I would suggest adding salsa to it or creating a type of "gravy" from the pan drippings left over by the chicken.  If you want it to be SPICY.. I would recommend adding some chipotle seasoning OR perhaps a little Adobo sauce if you have any canned chipotle's on hand.  I love adobo sauce.  Do not use too much.. maybe 1/4 to 1/2 of a tablespoon.  A little goes a long way.


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