Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Casserole traditions

Last night,  the kids and I made a casserole for dinner.  That's the lovely thing about autumn- I get to make casseroles regularly. It's funny how somme pays off a parent's childhood get passed down to their children.  This is one of those I marvel at.

The casserole was my version of King Ranch Chicken.  My mom made it from time to time, but I'm pretty sure she got the recipe from Heather's mom. While it was familiar to me as a kid,  my siblings and I weren't super fond of it.  We'd eat it,  without complaint,  but we loved Velveeta casserole or Sheppard's Pie better. My kids,  on the other hand,  love it. They love tearing up tortillas to make it.  They love the flavor,  and they love that they get to ready it two nights in a row. This is easily their favorite casserole. I like it because it requires few dishes and no difficult prep work. It's just interesting to see how a recipe from my childhood had become something they look forward to.
I often wonder what my kids will pass along to their children as cherished  traditions. I'm sure there will be some recipes,  and likely some of how we celebrate holidays.  There will be stories and places and books,  but I couldn't say what they will be right now.

Since I wrote about the casserole,  I thought should probably share my recipe. It's pretty easy. It also travels well and tastes great as leftovers. For a big group, this also doubles or triples very easily.  Just don't go over three layers or it gets difficult to get warmed through and to serve. If you can handle a little spiciness,  and if Ro-Tel is available in your area,  go with that.  The flavor is easy better. You can usually find it with the Mexican foods. I add corn and greens to mine to sneak in extra veggies. They aren't found in most versions of the recipe,  bit i typically have open bags in my freezer to add to recipes. 

3-4 chicken breasts cubed or 1 lb. Cooked chicken,  shredded
4 stalks of celery,  sliced
1 onion,  chopped
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed cream of chicken
1/2 cup milk
2/3 package corn tortillas
12 ounces frozen corn
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilies (if spicy isn't your thing, or if it's not available in your region,  use about half a jar of mild salsa like Pace Picante)
1 cup frozen chopped kale or spinach
2 cups shredded cheese (the original recipe calls for sharp cheddar- I use a Mexican blend or Colby Jack because i don't like the oiliness of melted cheddar)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

1. In about a tablespoon of olive oil or butter and in a large skillet,  cook onions until they are nearly tender. Cook chicken,  if necessary,  with the onions. Add celery and continue to cook until the cemetery begins to soften. Add condensed soup,  garlic,  chili powder, and milk.  Cook until the mixture begins to bubble.  Add frozen greens and corn. 

2. Spray a large baking dish with oil.  Tear tortillas into large chunks and layer on the bottom of the dish.  Spoon a third of the chicken mixture onto the tortillas and then add a thin layer of shredded cheese. Repeat layers two more times. 

3. Bake at 350°-400° degrees until the top layer of cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly, about twenty minutes


  1. This is one of my favorites too, although my recipe is a little different from yours. It makes enough for two good meals for the two of us. It's even better the second day.

  2. There's lots of variations on this recipe, Ila, but it's a favorite of many people. This version would last two nights, if I didn't have a preteen who can eat his own body weight in food each day.


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