Chiquita's Creamy Chicken Casserole
1 small onion
1 tablespoon oil
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
1 cup chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
5 cups diced cooked chicken
18 corn tortillas (6 inches)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Saute the onion in the oil. Mix it with all ingredients through the chicken. Spray a 10x13 pan (or a disposable half-size steam table pan, which is 10x12, but deeper than a regular pan) with cooking spray. Layer the chicken mixture with the cheese and tortillas, starting with the chicken mixture and using 6 tortillas for each of 3 layers. Sprinkle additional cheese on top if desired.
Bake, covered, at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting if possible; just as with lasagna, this delay will make the layers set up better and help prevent puddles on the plate. Be sure, by the way, if you're using the disposable pan, to put it on a cookie sheet before you put it in the oven, and take it out of the oven with the cookie sheet still underneath it. Those disposable pans are great--I have a ton of them that I bought at Costco, and they come in very handy--but they're not what you'd call sturdy. You don't want your lovely pan of casserole to fold in half as you take it to the table!
I served this at the youth group lunch Sunday after church, and although the attendance was lower than normal because of the holiday a great deal of it disappeared. I had asked the youth leader if there were certain dishes that had been overdone for these lunches and he said that they had gotten a lot of pasta; this dish is just as easy as something like baked ziti and is a pretty good crowd pleaser. Although I didn't bother too much about salad, a good go-with for this would be made with a dressing of 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup lemon or lime juice, and 1 tablespoon each sugar and taco seasoning. Sliced black olives, ditto red onion, corn, and even some kidney or black beans (especially if you think you'll have some vegetarians who won't want the casserole) would work well with romaine or spring mix. If you want to really be fancy you could make some crispy tortilla strips with any leftover tortillas by giving them a quick fry. Or (I guess) you could just top the salad with some crumbled up corn chips. What a thought. If you really, really want to make the meal substantial you could also make corn muffins or some type of breadsticks, but since the casserole itself already has corn tortillas you don't really have to bother with an additional bread item. For dessert it's nice to have something that fits in with the Mexican theme. Flan is always good, but if you want something that doesn't need to stay in the fridge until you're ready to serve, may I suggest these somewhat unusual and very good brownies? They are always a hit. Even my almond-hating brother-in-law will eat these.
Mexican Chocolate Brownies
(I am reasonably sure that I got this recipe from the now-defunct Gourmet magazine; I just found the identical recipe on Epicurious with no source given, so I guess it has now passed into the zeitgeist.)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped, or 6 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons oil
1 cup sugar
½ cup whole almonds, toasted until golden and cooled (original recipe calls for blanched almonds, but I always just buy the natural almonds with the skins. It's harder to see if they're toasted or not if they have the skins on, but about 5 minutes at 350 is probably fine.)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F. and butter and cocoa powder a 9-inch square baking pan, knocking out excess cocoa. (As noted in an earlier recipe, using flour for a chocolate item leaves a white residue; much better to use cocoa. Plus, you get an extra layer of chocolate! Hard to beat.)
Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave, starting with 2 minutes on 50% power. Use the mixing bowl you're going to use to mix up the batter. If you're using the oil and cocoa instead of the unsweetened chocolate, stir that in after the bittersweet chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool while you proceed.
In a food processor process sugar and almonds until ground fine. Stir almond mixture into chocolate mixture and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well until mixture is glossy and smooth. Stir in flour, salt, and cinnamon until just combined.
Spread batter evenly in pan and bake in middle of oven 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. You may need another 5 minutes or so. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack before cutting into 16 squares. These are seriously rich, dark, and fudgy. The ground almonds add a nice texture.