King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a South Texas favorite because it travels well, freezes, and tastes great. The best part for me is that it’s made in advance , which makes it a great time-saver, especially when you’re expecting company. I thank my Houston friend, Bonnie Clyburn, for introducing me to this delicious dish. I’ve downsized and lightened the original recipe. Feel free to double the recipe for a crowd.
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
7 6” corn tortillas, cut into large strips
2 Tbsp. real butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic
1 4-oz. can green chilies, rinsed and drained
1 14½-oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 can low sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can low sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup
½ cup light sour cream
2 cups grated 2% Colby-Jack cheese (I use my Vitamix to grate cheese)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) for garnish
Spray a 9″ X 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of dish with half the tortilla strips.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté onions, garlic, and green chilies until softened (about 3 minutes).
Add tomatoes and green chilies to the skillet and reduce heat. Simmer until liquid evaporates.
Stir in the salt, pepper, and cooked chicken. Remove from heat.
Spread half of this mixture over the tortilla strips covering the bottom of the baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the soup and sour cream. Spread half of the soup mixture over the layer of chicken and tomato mixture in the casserole.
Sprinkle half of the cheese over the casserole.
Create another layer with the tortilla strips, chicken mixture, remaining soup mixture, and remaining cheese.
Pour the chicken broth over the casserole. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, preheat oven to 325° and remove casserole from the refrigerator to sit (at least 15 minutes, up to an hour).
Bake the casserole (uncovered) 1 hour, or until cheese browns and casserole bubbles.
Remove casserole from oven and allow it to cool at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro (optional) and serve.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings.
Very Berry Shake
It’s hot. We’re in the midst of summer, a time when we love a frozen treat. You can burn fuel driving to the local ice cream shoppe, spend several dollars for a milk shake, and return home feeling guilty for overindulging on sugar and fat. Or you can save time, money and calories by making your own milk shake. Here’s a recipe I make in my Vitamix.
- 1 cup 1% or skim milk
- ½ cup frozen cherries
- ¼ cup frozen berries medley (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
- ¼ cup frozen strawberries
- 1 prune for added natural sweetness (optional)
- Add all ingredients to the Vitamix. Secure lid but leave the plug out to insert the tamper.
- Run the Vitamix on Variable Speed 1, gradually stepping up to 10 then High. Use the tamper to push the frozen fruit into the blades.
- Run until the mixture is smooth but do not overprocess. When the consistency resembles a milk shake (about 1 minute), stop the Vitamix, remove container, and pour into a glass. Enjoy!
Yield: 1 large or 2 small shakes
Variation: Pour extra mixture into molds to make frozen pops.
If you make this for the kids, you don’t have to tell them it’s good for them. Using whole fruit and milk, you have a delicious treat that contains vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. The milk adds calcium. Treat yourself and your family guilt-free!
Remember the scene in My Cousin Vinny when Vinny cross examines a witness about the proper way to prepare grits? Or Vinny questioning the diner cook, “What exactly is a grit?” Too funny.
Grits are an important part of Southern cuisine. A serving of grits provides one gram of fiber and is a tasty side dish. My husband enjoys grits with eggs, and I like cheese grits with my catfish. Whether you like your grits plain or cheesy, you can make your own with little effort. (Don’t be tempted by the instant grits. Blech!)
Grits for breakfast or anytime.
Makes 2 cups
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup old fashioned grits
- ½ tsp. salt (optional)
- 1 tsp. real butter
- In a 2-quart pan, bring water to a boil.
- Gradually stir in grits and salt. Reduce heat to its lowest setting.
- Cover the pan and cook until grits reach desired consistency (approximately 20 minutes. Occasionally lift lid and stir the grits.
- Remove from heat, stir in butter (or cheese) and serve.
Sir the grits occasionally to prevent lumps.
For cheese grits: Remove pan from heat and stir in one ounce sharp cheddar cheese (or your choice) until melted. Butter optional.
Melt in 1 oz. cheese for cheese grits.
Hasty Tasty Meatloaf
Everyone has a meatloaf recipe it seems. It’s a beloved comfort food that also stretches a buck. I vary my meatloaf, depending on my mood and what’s in my refrigerator. This is my favorite, ideal recipe. I use fresh produce, but chopping in the Vitamix makes quick work of the preparaton. I bake it in my Pampered Chef® stoneware loaf pan. If you use a metal pan, lower the oven temperature to 350°.
Hasty Tasty Meatloaf
- ½ pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 large egg
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- ¼ red bell pepper
- ¼ green bell pepper
- ¼ yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
- 1 can tomato sauce, divided
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- In a large bowl, combine the two ground meats with the egg.
- Remove the plug on the Vitamix lid, set Vitamix speed to Variable Speed 4, and turn on. Gradually add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper quarters until all are chopped. Add chopped vegetables to the ground meat.
- Add all other ingredients except reserve half the tomato sauce. Mix just until blended.
- Transfer mixture to a loaf pan and shape into a loaf. Cover with remaining tomato sauce.
- Place loaf pan in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove meatloaf from oven and allow it to cool 15 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Start to finish is about an hour. While the meatloaf bakes, you have plenty of time to steam potatoes and vegetables, set the table, and brew the iced tea. Enjoy your comfort food!