Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Do you ever crave chicken enchiladas but always think about it too late in the day to make for dinner that night? It being somewhat labor-intensive and all? I do.

Don't dispair. Instead of stuffing and rolling each tortilla, try this easy, breezy Chicken Enchilada Casserole instead. Inspired by Clay's "John Wayne Casserole" (now there's another post) and a recipe my niece, Janice, sent me, this dish is easily assembled and baked in about 1 1/2 hours.
Experiment with different kinds of cheeses, including lower fat, and/or add exotic left-overs to the layers. Any way you put this together, it will be delicious.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Christine's original recipeIngredients:4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - tenders removed for another use
2 large cans good enchilada sauce. Find one that's light on the sodium
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, reduced fat if desired
2-3 cups shredded jack cheese, reduced fat if desired
2 small cans chopped olives, drained
1 large can diced green chilies, drained
2 cans seasoned small brown beans, such as S and W Pinquitos, drained
1 package large, whole wheat, low carb tortillas -or-
1 package large corn tortillas

Pre-Assembly:Place chicken breasts in a single layer in a covered glass casserole dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn the pieces over and microwave another 4 minutes until cooked through. Remove to a plate to allow to cool slightly then shred or cut into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, grate the cheeses and set aside, separately. Remove lids from all the cans and drain any that need draining.

Assembly:Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan with a layer of sauce. Place tortillas over the top of the sauce, covering the entire bottom of the pan, cutting in half to fit if needed. Pour a thin layer of sauce over the top of the tortillas. Begin layering, starting with the beans, then chicken, olives, chilies and cheddar cheese, topped by another layer of tortillas and a thin layer of sauce. Repeat 2 more times, ending with a layer of tortillas, the remainder of the sauce and a thick layer of jack cheese.

Cover with foil and bake in a 375 oven for about 35 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the casserole is hot and bubbling. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-7 minutes before cutting.

Serve with your favorite grilled veggies (zucchini, in this photo) and/or a large green salad.