Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I cooked again! This time, I even have a recipe to share. But first let's talk about my day off. I usually have Saturdays off, but I had Friday this week. So today, I had planned on getting up early, going to the New Kent Winery, then driving back down Rt. 60 and hitting every thrift store/antique store/second-hand shop along the way. Wellll, I slept a lot later than I intended to, and then this huge storm hit and everything got a little screwed up. But. I did make it to New Kent Winery in New Kent, VA.

It's a gorgeous building, and there are pretty extensive vineyards all around it. I got there right after a tour had ended, and the next one wasn't for 45 minutes, so I just did a tasting. For $6, I got to try 10 wines and keep the wine glass. Not too shabby. I ended up buying a Vidal Blanc and a White Merlot. I fell in love with the White Merlot at Victoria Valley Vineyards when I was in South Carolina, and this one is almost identical. I'll definitely be stocking up on it!

After the winery, I headed back down 60, and that's when the storms hit, so I didn't stop at every antique store that I saw, or any for that matter. I did stop at the Williamsburg Pottery Factory, though, as well as the Yankee Candle Village. I wrapped up the day with some Carside-to-Go from Applebee's, coming home to eat, and watching the movie Waitress, which turned out to be pretty good. It turned out to be a decent day off, and I found a fantastic winery that isn't too far away!

Now on to my new recipe. It's adapted from the Chicken Enchilada Pasta recipe from Taste of Home. There was a lot that I didn't like about their version, though, so here's my own Chicken Enchilada Casserole:

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

12 oz. pkg. of pasta (I used mini shell macaroni)
1 lg. sweet red bell pepper - seeded and finely chopped
1 lg. green bell pepper - seeded and finely chopped
1 C. finely chopped red onion
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 - 5 oz. cans chunk white chicken, drained
15 oz. can refried beans
1/2 of a packet of taco seasoning mix
16 oz. jar of enchilada sauce, divided
8 oz. package of Mexican or taco-blend shredded cheese
tortilla chips
sour cream

- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse, and drain again. Set aside. You'll want to stir it every 5-10 minutes while it sits, so it doesn't congeal into a big pasta blob. Trust me. It happens.

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the chopped peppers and onion, as well as about a 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook until vegetables are tender, 5-8 minutes.

- To the vegetable mixture, stir in the chicken, refried beans, hot sauce, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 C. of the enchilada sauce. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. In a large bowl or pot, fold together the chicken mixture and the pasta. Fold in half of the shredded cheese, until melted and well incorporated.

- Take a 3-qt. casserole dish. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray, then spread half of the remaining enchilada sauce on the bottom. Spoon in the pasta mixture evenly on top of the sauce. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce on top.

- Cover the whole thing with foil and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. After the half hour, uncover it and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes more, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

- Spoon out onto plates and serve with crumbled tortilla chips sprinkled on top, and a dollop of sour cream!

It's delicious. You can use more or less hot sauce, depending on your taste. If you don't have the time or patience to let it bake for 35 minutes, you could always skip the pasta, just make the chicken mixture and eat it in flour tortillas. Then you're just cutting out the casserole part and having chicken enchilada wraps.... You could also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of canned chicken. Just cook it up and shred it. Canned chicken is just cheaper, faster, and easier. (Read: I'm lazy.)

It's such a great recipe to play around with. You can make it as complicated or simple as you like and substitute/add/subtract ingredients. It's super versatile, and can be made to fit anyone's tastes. So have at it!


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