Category Archives: rice

On a (Casse)role

When someone says the word “casserole” certain things come to mind. I think of church basements. Sweatshirts embroidered with reindeer over candy cane turtlenecks. Bingo nights. Crocheted pot holders. Maybe a Precious Moments figurine or two.

These aren’t BAD things. They’re just….not my style.

I swore up and down I wasn’t a big casserole fan until I stopped and thought about all the things I love that are technically casseroles.

Cheesy baked pasta? Buttery breadcrumb topped mac and cheese? Spicy, saucy enchiladas? Really just casseroles by another name, right?

Okay, so I don’t plan on stocking up on embroidered sweatshirts and strutting my stuff around the church basement anytime soon, but I guess I DO enjoy a good, old-fashioned casserole every now and then.

Here’s a goodie. Fiesta Casserole. AND, foodies please take note, no Cream of Anything anywhere to be found!

Although it is topped with Fritos. Oops. I guess I owe you foodies an apology after all. You are welcome to leave them off it you prefer, but they really add a great crunch and flavor to the finish product.

This dish is the perfect vehicle for leftover chicken. I love roasting a whole chicken and using the leftover meat in other meals but I get sick of the usual quesadillas and pastas and things. This easy, one pot baked rice meal cures the common leftover blahs.

Instant rice (Oops. Sorry again, Foodies!) is mixed with chicken broth, salsa, black beans, corn and hot sauce then it’s tossed in the oven to get the rice softening. After 15 minutes, the chicken is added, and it’s topped with cheese and the Fritos crumbs and baked again until golden, bubbly and delicious. I really like adding the chicken last as it helps keep the meat from getting dried out.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this dish. I worried about it being mushy and bland, but that is not the case at all. Turns out, I love all the flavors and textures together. It’s so simple, yet so flavorful. The salsa is prominent in this dish, so make sure you pick one you really like. I’m a big fan of a local brand called Kramer’s out of Camanche, IA (North of the QC). It is without a doubt the freshest, most flavorful jarred salsa I have ever had. Look for it if you’re in the Midwest. 🙂

FIESTA CASSEROLE (Recipe Source: America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Pg. 344-345)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups instant rice (I used brown rice)
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 6 oz. Fritos, crushed into coarse crumbs (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Lime wedges for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, combine the broth, rice, corn, black beans, salsa, and hot sauce. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  2. Stir the chicken into the baking dish. Sprinkle the cheddar evenly over the top, then sprinkle with chips. Return the baking dish to the oven and continue to bake until the edges are bubbling and the crumbs are toasted, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Serve with lime wedges. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
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