Monday, September 19, 2011

Make-Ahead Dinner: Chicken Chili Bake

Both of my kids are in school five days a week. You'd think I'd be this happy-go-lucky mom, all fit, organized and zen-like. Not quite. In fact, not even close. Despite my best efforts to maintain balance and carve out "me" time while the kids are in school, I am totally failing at it. I look at my calendar of meetings and activities and my head spins. Volunteer work has me tethered to my computer. I'm not sure how I got into this chaotic place, but I am going to have to find my way out. In the meantime, the boys still need me noon or 3pm on, and breakfast, lunch and dinner still need to be made each day. Thankfully, mealtimes are the one area where I feel like I've still got two feet on the ground. Well, I did until I assembled this super simple casserole, went to pop it in the oven this afternoon and the oven would only go up to 100 degrees. So, we are officially down to one working burner and one working oven around here. Fabulous. Stay tuned for raw recipes at the rate that this kitchen is falling apart. Anyway, takeout averted, it was a perfect comforting dinner to end this Monday.

Chili Chicken Bake

For those of you who like my chicken enchiladas, this is an even easier semi-homemade dinner. Makes 8 hearty portions. Can be assembled and frozen too.

about 1 cup sour cream
8-10 corn tortillas
1 pkg of Bilinski's Chicken Chili (or 2 cups of ground turkey, chicken, beef or tofu cooked in Mexican seasonings...)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
a few hearty handfuls of spinach
2 cups salsa (your desired heat level...or tomato sauce if you realize you don't have salsa...)
shredded cheese

Layer the casserole then bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes, or until warmed through and cheese is golden brown. Can be assembled ahead and frozen. If heating from frozen, double the cook time. Reheats perfectly.

Here's the recipe in action, for those who find it helpful to see it step by step:

I smoothed a thin layer of sour cream on first (pictured up above, probably a quarter cup total) then placed 4 tortillas, overlapping on top.

Then the pre-made Bilinski's Chicken Chili. I'm a fan of this company's products, which I stumbled upon in the refrigerated meat case at Whole Foods in Darien. Their meatballs are good too, for something quick to have on hand. You can, of course, saute your own ground meat or TVP/tofu in Mexican seasoning, but the idea was to have this meal be super, super simple, hence the shortcut!

Then another layer of 4 overlapping tortillas....

and a few hearty handfuls of baby spinach, which I dolloped with the remainder of the sour cream.

Tossed on a rinsed and drained can of black beans,

and then I went to put salsa and cheese on top. Only we had no salsa. So, instead I smothered a jar of sun-dried tomato sauce on top. Probably better, since one of my kids is awfully wary of things being "too spicy" these days. That's the finished product, up top, cooling down. And that's that. A one dish meal, ready to go when we got home, ready to settle in for a family dinner.

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