This is not the blog post where I tell you all the secrets to successful meal planning. I won't tout the benefits of "once a month" cooking or give you a slew of time-saving tips to use on your everyday weeknight meals. Because, generally, that's not the way I operate.
I am NOT a domestic goddess. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kindofa girl when it comes to weeknight cooking.
It's not that I haven't tried. I've given meal planning a whirl. Made the list. Clipped the recipes. And meticulously shopped for all the grocery items that I need to create exactly seven home cooked meals in a week. I've witnessed the money it saves, and the headaches it prevents. But, honestly -- when the rubber hits the road -- planning ahead to that extent simply doesn't work for me. In fact, some of you will be surprised to hear that that level of planning actually starts to stress me out. I like a little bit of flexibility in my evening plans... maybe even a bit of uncertainty when it comes to what I'll whip up for dinner.
So, I was a little bit surprised when I discovered the brilliance that is the King Ranch Casserole.
YES -- this is a bit like the Tex-Mex casserole dish that shows up in all the ghastly women's magazines. And YES -- it's a throw-back from post-World War II cooking, when casseroles made with canned soups were the space-age cuisine (because they could be made quickly and kept for later use, casseroles liberated the modern woman from the slavery of cooking).
But, NO -- this is NOT the version that uses cream of *whatever* soup. And I promise you, this isn't a trap. But, it will give you at least a night off from cooking... if you do a bit of prep work ahead of time.
This dish does require you to think ahead -- because the flavor of the dish improves pretty dramatically over the course of a day... or three. The flavors meld. The textures improve. And, although it will still take you an hour or so to bake it up for dinner on the night you serve it, it gives you what might be exactly the right amount of respite from actual cooking duties to renew your strength and energy.
The best part of it is, it doesn't even require a REAL recipe -- though I'm going to give you a bit of a cheat sheet you can use if you'd like to recreate this dish at home.
Here's what you'll need (more or less)
- a package of corn tortillas (A pack of 12 works great. We like sprouted corn... )
- 2-3 cups tomatillo sauce (it helps to have a bit of this in the freezer, but you can make your own)
- 3 cups cooked chicken (again, nice to have this in the freezer)
- An onion
- a few cloves of garlic
- a teaspoon or so of cumin and smoked paprika
- salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 cup or so of chopped cilantro
- 8 oz sour cream
- 2-3 cups of grated cheese (Chihuahua, Monterey Jack, or whatever you have on hand)
Put a bit of tomatillo sauce on the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish, and start layering your ingredients:
- 4 tortillas
- a bit of sour cream (spread this over the top of the tortillas)
- 1/3 of the chicken mixture
- 1/3 of the tomatillo sauce
When it's time to bake the casserole, put the dish into a cold oven. Set the oven to 375ºF and allow the casserole to bake for 50 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, whip off your apron and mix yourself up a nice stiff brandy old fashioned. You deserve it. Make it a double. After all, you'll have to wait almost an hour for the casserole to come out of the oven. Might as well make it worth your while.
One bite of this and the children will rejoice. Your significant other will sing your praises. And the dog will beg to lick your plate when you're done eating.
You'll feel liberated.
But you can thank me later. In the meantime, take a bite of your casserole.
Quick Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
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