Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

January 18th, 2011

I would make this dish again just for the charred tomato salsa.  We have been eating light since the first of the month, but every once in a while I get a desire for Mexican food.  Most of my recipes for Mexican dishes are heavy on the cheese and sour cream.  My good friend Maxine has been passing on her Cooking Light  magazines to me and I found this recipe for a lightened up Mexican casserole.  It add lots of vegetables, a homemade tomato salsa, chicken instead of beef and less of the cheese and corn tortillas.

I did make some changes to the recipe.  I had two turkey thighs that I simmered in some water and taco seasonings instead of the chicken breasts.  If you were pressed for time you could even substitute a rotisserie chicken.  The recipe also calls for 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese which is not one of my favorites so I eliminated that and added a little more of the Monterey Jack.  I used black beans instead of corn only because I had no corn in the freezer like I had assumed.

The charred tomato salsa uses plum tomatoes which are easy to find this time of year, a jalepeno pepper, onion and garlic.  It is easy to assemble and would be good on it’s own with tortilla chips.  For the original recipe you can go to the Cooking Light website.  Here is my version.


8 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 seeded jalapeno pepper, quartered
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fresh or frozen corn ( I used black beans)
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cups shredded cooked chicken ( I used turkey thighs )
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (10-ounce) can green chile enchilada sauce
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

I halved this recipe successfully.

Preheat broiler.  To prepare salsa, combine first 4 ingredients on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Broil 20 minutes or until charred, stirring once.  Remove from oven; cool slightly.  Place tomato mixture in a food processor; add cilantro, lime juice, and pepper.  Process again.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Lightly coat pan with cooking spray.  Add 1 cup onion, zucchini, and bell pepper; saute 6 minutes or until tender.  Add black beans and chicken and next five ingredients; saute 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Remove from heat.

Spread 1/2 cup salsa ove the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Arrange half of tortillas over salsa.  Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas.  Top with 3/4 cup salsa.  Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese.  Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas, and ending with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly.  Yield; 8 servings. 

Printable recipe 

Ideas for Leftovers from that Roast Chicken

April 17th, 2020


We are on our second roast chicken since the quarantine.  When it is just the two of us, there are always leftovers.  I like to turn them into casseroles, soups and salads.  Here are a few ideas from previous posts.

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Mexican Chicken Casserole is a lightened version of Mexican ingredients – less cheese and tortillas and more vegetables than a normal dish. Plus it has a charred tomato salsa that could stand on its own.  Chicken replaces ground beef.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light.


Chicken Salad with Wild Rice is a refreshing take on this traditional salad.  The wild rice pairs well with the orange dressing.


Chicken and Orzo Soup is one of my favorite soups.  It is easy and full of good vegetables.

I am thinking of everyone and hoping all of you are staying safe at home.

Mexican Casserole

August 27th, 2011

It was a good idea.  I was looking for an easy to assemble casserole that was tasty and would feed a crowd.  This may be that very thing, but you see, sometimes I can’t leave a recipe alone.  The recipe was on Epicurious.  It was called  My Favorite Mexican Casserole.  It won a blue ribbon from Parade Magazine.  It is made from shredded cooked chicken ( a chance to use a rotisserie chicken ), canned kidney beans, garbanzo beans and corn.  It uses crushed tortilla chips instead of corn tortillas.

I made some good changes to the recipe.  I used frozen corn instead of canned corn.  I used black beans instead of garbanzo beans.  For the final layer I mixed crushed tortilla chips with the last of the cheeses.  But my big mistake was using two layers of corn tortillas where there was no call for them.  It made the casserole too dry.  The only tortilla chips called for were a layer on the bottom.

I will give you the recipe as written and if anyone tries it without messing with it, I would like to know about it.  Not everything we make can be a success.  Now I have to figure out what to do with this huge casserole when there are only the two of us to eat it.


1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 pound shredded cooked chicken meat (from a small roasted chicken)
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 1/4 ounces) corn kernels, drained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce (I used enchilada sauce)
1 cup prepared salsa
1 cup chopped red onion
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
6 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese

2 cups diced (1/4-inch) ripe tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish, then scatter the crushed tortilla chips evenly on the bottom.

2. Combine the chicken, beans, corn, tomato sauce, salsa, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place half the mixture evenly in the baking dish. Combine the cheeses, then sprinkle half over the mixture.

3. Cover with the remaining half of the chicken-and-bean mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

4. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the garnishes in bowls, so guests can top their portions with diced tomatoes, sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Chicken Casseroles

April 20th, 2010

I want to love chicken casseroles, but there are few that do anything for me. I love chicken and dumplings, a Mexican king ranch casserole, and chicken pot pie, but that is about it. Most casseroles start with a can of cream of “something” soup and I am not being a snob by avoiding these recipes. For health reasons we are trying to avoid processed foods. That eliminates a whole slew of recipes. One of the chicken casseroles I used to like was chicken divan. The last time I made it with cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise I could hardly eat it in spite of the presence of the broccoli and chicken. Mayonnaise does not belong in a casserole! I’m sure some of you will disagree. I have adapted some recipes that call for cream of chicken soup by thickening chicken broth with butter and flour so it is doable, but I am still underwhelmed. I tried this recipe yesterday because it sounded promising. It is Chicken and Green Onion Cobbler.

It sounded promising. It included saffron, ham and lots of green onions with a cornmeal and cheese crust. The chicken stock was thickened with flour and butter and there were lots of vegetables in it. I halved the recipe for the two of us. I had high expectations. I was disappointed. Saffron is expensive and it did nothing for this casserole. It called for such a small amount that it disappeared, neither flavoring nor lending a yellow hue to the finished product. I will save my saffron for paella which I do love. The raw green onions were overpowering and the cobbler crust was bland. I expected that the ham would be a nice touch but it seemed out of place for some reason. I am including the recipe here if you would like to try it. I could be wrong. It could be tweaked. If you have a chicken casserole that you love, please email me with the recipe and I promise that I will try it. I want to love chicken casseroles.
7 cups chicken stock
3 to 3 1/2 lobs chicken breast halves, with skin and bones
1/8 tsp crushed saffron threads
2/3 cup diced carrots
2/3 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup frozen petit peas, thawed
1/4 lb. smoked ham, chopped
2/3 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
For filling: Combine stock, chicken and saffron in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Transfer chicken to large bowl, and cool briefly; reserve broth. Remove skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken into 3/4 inch cubes; place in 15x10x2 inch (4 quart) glass baking dish.
Bring broth to boil. Add carrot and celery; cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to dish with chicken. Add green onions, peas, ham, onion and parsley to chicken.
Spoon fat off top of broth. Measure broth, adding more if necessary, for 6 1/2 cups. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in broth. Boil until thick and smooth, whisking constantly, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add to chicken. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. (Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
For topping; Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk milk, egg and butter to blend in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls over filling. Bake cobbler until topping is firm and golden, about 35 minutes.
Serves 10

Pork Tacos with Spicy Black Beans and Pickled Onions

January 13th, 2013

While our family was visiting over the holidays my DIL Kristen made tacos for us one night.  She is a natural when it comes to flavorings and is especially fond of Mexican inspired dishes.  One of the condiments she made for us for her meal was pickled onions.  She marinated red onions in a combination of red wine vinegar, a little sugar and black peppercorns.  They make such a pretty addition to any number of dishes and look vibrant on tacos.

But the taco recipe I am using here is an adaptation of one that I saw in Food and Wine a long time ago.  It uses pork tenderloin which shreds nicely after only a short time in the oven.  It is flavored with lots of garlic, cumin, barbecue sauce and chicken broth.  The black beans make a flavorful topping and the red onions contribute their sweet and sour bite.  I wanted the tacos to look pretty and easy to pick up from a platter; perfect for those Super Bowl parties.  So I decided to form them into shapes by placing them in pieces of greased or sprayed foil.  About 10 minutes in the oven will ensure that they hold their shape, but will still be soft enough to eat.  Be sure you use a good quality corn tortilla.  I used Mission Artisan style Tortillas with Corn and Whole Wheat Blend.

When the taco shells are ready, you can either place just the meat in them and let everyone choose their own toppings, or go ahead and load them up with the onions, black beans, sour cream or any other condiment you wish.  We loved the flavor of these.  The barbecued pork makes them a little different.

I just remembered that I have some leftover pulled pork in the freezer from the holidays.  It would make a good alternative, although not as lean.  We are all about lean these days. Enjoy!  I am linking this to Tailgating Time-Super Bowl 2013 over at Seaside Simplicity.  Go on over and get some great ideas for the Super Bowl.



For the Pickled Red Onions:
1 large red onion
1/2 cup Red Wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
10 black peppercorns

In a small saucepan combine vinegar, water, sugar and peppercorns. Slice a peel red onion in half and then into strips.  Add to pan and bring mixture to boil.  Turn off burner and let onion sit in mixture for at least an hour.  Can be stored in a ball jar in the refrigerator until needed.

For the Black Beans:
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic , minced
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat the oil.  Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the beans and the tomato, oregano and a little water to keep it moist.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer briefly until the ingredients are warmed through.

For the Pork:
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and fat. Cut in half
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup raspberry chipotle barbecue sauce or barbecue sauce of choice
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 habanero chile, seeded and minced (optional)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Corn tortillas and condiments of choice

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  In a small enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the broth with the barbecue sauce, garlic, peppers, bay leaf, cumin and salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the pork tenderloin.  Cover and bake for about 1 hour, turning the pork once, until tender.  Transfer the pok to a plate and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle.

Remove the bay leaf.  Shred the pork into strips and stir into the sauce.  Season with salt if needed.  Fill the tortillas with pork and serve with the black beans and red onions.

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.