Wish Upon A Dish: King Ranch Casserole ♥ Week Three, Day Six - EatingWell Meal Plan

May 5, 2014

King Ranch Casserole ♥ Week Three, Day Six - EatingWell Meal Plan

I had all intentions of defrosting a few chicken breasts for this recipe but when I smelled the rotisserie chicken on sale I just grabbed one. I must have been hungry.

I was because when I got home and started to pick the meat off the bones I ended up eating almost half of it for lunch. There is something about a roasted chicken that given enough table time, I could pick a small one clean. I am sure if I did not stop to remind myself I needed enough for this recipe, I would have enough left for a small chicken salad.

I have never prepared a King Ranch Casserole, nor have we ever eaten one. As a matter of fact, I needed to look it up, to see what all the hoopla was about. It is an enchilada lasagna of sorts. Certainly not deserving all the gushing and banter that goes on when someone posts about it. It doesn't even have anything to do with the infamous largest ranch in the US. I was very disappointed so far, this dish better be a good one.

Maybe this healthier version would surprise me, it certainly had less dairy than traditional enchilada casseroles (too much cheese usually means no flavor).
About 3x a year while planning the weekly menu, I try to be nice and will ask The Nudge if there is anything he is craving and he will always ask for one of four things. Meatballs, meatloaf, onion soup and chicken enchiladas. When we do go to a Mexican restaurant, he will order them every time. He will be the judge of how this dish fits his love of enchiladas. I hope he gives me the stamp of approval.

What I especially liked was that it used one pot to make the filling and the corn tortillas do not require a quick toss in an oiled pan. I used a bag of Borden's 4 cheese Mexican blend because I bought the generic once and it refused to melt. All in all, it came together in less than an hour.

Right now it is in the oven and I know I over filled the ramekins, but I like when you remove a pan and the sides are decorated with overflow ribbons and crusty cheese drips. It just looks so 'rustic'. Makes for great food porn.

I did not change the ingredients, I streamlined, got creative and combined a few, making it easier and much quicker to get these into the oven.
Allow me to expand on that. I bought a salsa fresca, which replaced the chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic saving me time and money. OK, I understand the time it takes to chop all those ingredients but why money? Well, when you cook for two you always use half of most vegetables, leaving little bags of leftovers that, if not planned for another meal, will probably be tossed. I also can always find a sale on one brand or another of most prepared foods plus the leftover salsa can be used as a chip and dip snack.

I halved this recipe and still had enough for 4 servings, so I a changed the servings to 8. The instructions for the complete recipe called for 2 (8") square baking pans, but I used two rectangular baking ramekins (by Bobby Flay) which is exactly the same as one 8" pan. As you can see from the pic, there was more than enough food for 4 servings.

EatingWell King Ranch Casserole
Makes: 2 casseroles, 4 servings each (about 1 1/4 cups)

EatingWell: This Tex-Mex casserole is typically made with cans of cream-of-something soup. We've lightened it up considerably by making a homemade cream sauce and loaded it up with veggies at the same time. You'll never guess that a serving of our version has 300 fewer calories and two-thirds less fat than the original.

* 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 4 teaspoons chili powder
* 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour or AP flour
* 3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
* 1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
* 1/2 cup lite sour cream
* 2 (4oz) cans diced green chiles, drained
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 12 (6") corn tortillas, cut in half, divided
* 1 cup Colby-Jack cheese, divided
* 1/4 cup sliced ripe black olives, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat two 8" square baking dishes with cooking spray.
2. Place chicken in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a clean cutting board. Dice when cool.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 7 to 9 minutes.
Add bell pepper and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add flour and cook. stirring for 30 seconds. Add broth and cook, stirring, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes, sour cream, chiles, salt and the chicken.
4. To assemble: Spread 1 cup filling in each prepared baking dish. Layer on 4 tortilla halves and top with 1 cup filling. Repeat 2 more layers of tortillas and fillinf, ending with the rest of the filling. Sprinkle cheese and olives on top.
5. To serve: Bake until hot and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. To freeze: Let unbaked casserole(s) cool to room temperature. Tightly wrap with heavy duty foil (or freezer paper) and freeze. (To prevent foil from sticking to the cheese, coat with cooking spray first.)

Per serving: 356 calories; 13g fat (5g sat, 4g mono); 81mg cholesterol; 29g carbohydrate; 0g added sugars; 33g protein; 5g fiber; 698mg sodium; 662mg potassium.

Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (52% dv), Vitamin A (27% dv), Calcium, Magnesium & Potassium (19% dv), Zinc (16% dv), Iron (15% dv).

My Diabetic Recommendations: None

Review: This was delicious!! I do not know what an original King Ranch Casserole tastes like, but this healthier version was da bomb!! The Nudge gave it 4 thumbs up and I had to agree. He said is tasted just like chicken enchiladas, I said it was better tasting and way easier to make.

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