Friday, October 23, 2009

Can I Marry a Casserole?

My husband is a trained chef. He went to the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. His mastery has been published, by way of the chef he worked for during his internship. His chef published a cookbook, and Joe prepared and plated several items - including the cover. He's good. His food is amazing. He is not in the profession, but he gets joy from cooking. For the first 12 years of our marriage, he did most of the cooking. He loves to cook. I, on the other hand - hated to cook. In all honesty, it might be the fact that cooking for a trained chef. Ya think?

So with TV Joe doing all his TV Joe duties at work...for 12 hours a day... I was forced to either learn how to cook or get a job at the Sonic to help supplement our bill there. In the beginning, I was not very good. And I resisted training from Joe - I'm a smart girl, surely I could follow a recipe? I watched Rachael Ray, Paula Deen - Food Network 24/7. I'm not sure when it happened...I wasn't really paying attention...but I got good at it. I made few things that I thought "hey I could serve this to guest", or "this didn't completely suck". I became an expert at Taco Soup, spaghetti - basics. I made a good roasted corn chowder. Then my friend Janna started her food blog and made it look so pretty and easy, and I really started trying hard. I think it might have been last year when I made a roasted pork tenderloin with a mustard apricot glaze and new potatoes. I plated it, stepped back and actually felt pride. It was beautiful, cooked well and delicious. From then I decided to try at least one new recipe a week, if our schedule allowed. And I began to love it.

Monday night I decided to cook a King Ranch Chicken Casserole. I read about it on some blog, and thought it looked easy and good. It called for 2 cream soups, rotel, tortillas, chicken and cheese. That's it. Sounded good...but sounded boring. Surely I could jazz this up. So I started googling and read about 10 recipes for KRCC and got a little spice list compiled.
So I made this recipe Monday. Layer tortillas, layer chicken/soup/rotel/broth/spices mixture, layer cheese, layer mixture, layer cheese. Done. In the midst of cooking, I got a call reminding me that TV Joe would not be home for dinner, he was going to watch Monday Night Football. Well, I'm not cooking this for 2 picky kids and me. I was about to wrap it in foil and throw it in the freezer when I realized I forgot the rotel tomatoes. I tried to gently remove the tortillas from the layers to keep them from getting into the chicken mixture. It didn't work very well. So I thought, screw it - I'm just going to mix these tortillas in and then layer some extras. Good move, Ed. This made the casserole have a bit of a stuffing/dressing consistency. I pulled it out of the freezer last night and popped it in the oven. It. Was. So. Good. So good. Soooooooo good. I want to marry this casserole. I have leftovers in the fridge that I'm eating slowly to make them last. Yum.

Here's what I came up with: (and know, I get about 5lbs of rotisserie chicken breast at Costco for casseroles and freeze in 1# bags - love it!)

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 lb cooked chicked breast, diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can rotel tomatoes
1t chili powder
1/4t salt
1/4t garlic
1t cumin
1 cup chicken broth
10-12 corn tortillas
2 cups colby jack cheese (or cheddar, mexican blend - whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 350
Spray the bottom of a casserole dish with pam. Cut or tear the corn tortillas into small triangles. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas in the dish. Mix chicken, soups, tomatoes, spices, broth and 1/3 of the tortillas in a bowl. Layer 1/2 the mixture on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 the cheese. Spread 1/3 (remainder) of the tortillas on top. Add the rest of the mixture. Sprinkle with remainder of the cheese. Cook for 30 minutes.

So good. I served with Mexican rice. Enjoy!


Honeyed Hashette said...

I am SO proud! See- cooking is fun and easy! Yay for you Amy! I can't wait to try this recipe and see what more you come up with. :)

P.S. Now if I could just get you to take more food pictures...

Ann W said...

I love this post. Sounds Yummy too!!! I had a similar experience with my own version of Chicken Alfredo Lasagna, and yes, I totally want to marry that dish. Yeah for you, Amy!