Chicken Taco Casserole

tacocasserole

You ever have one of those days where you’re in a bad mood for no reason, your kids are driving you crazy, and you’re annoyed with everyone and everything? That was me today. I was just so irritated all day. My husband called me and was like, “you sound like you’re mad,” and I replied “oh my god leave me alone!” Yeah…it was one of those days. It was also cloudy all day and looked like it would rain but never did…so it was totally the weather’s fault.

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To cook delicious food, your heart really has to be in it. Some days like today, my heart just isn’t. I want something simple that doesn’t require much effort or thinking, yet still will end up tasting good.

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This casserole is exactly that. I have been making it for years, and it has never once failed me. It’s always a good go to casserole that I can whip up fast, and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand. It also makes a ton, so its perfect for serving a crowd, or in my case, eating it again for dinner tomorrow night.

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Like most of my chicken recipes, this one starts with marinating the chicken. Its a pretty simple marinade recipe, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 packet of taco seasoning, and the juice and zest of 1 lime. I cut two chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, and added it into a ziploc bag with the marinade. You can marinate this for as little as an hour, or even for a day or two in the fridge.

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If you don’t have the time or ingredients to marinate the chicken, I’ve also just cooked it in the oven with some simple spices, and it’s just as good.

Then bake it in the oven at 375° for 25 minutes.  When the chicken is done cooking leave your oven preheated for the casserole.

While the chicken is cooking, I made some Instant Rice. I love instant rice. If I have the time and am really in a cooking mood, I will take the time to cook regular rice and make a flavorful broth to cook it in, but for fast simple dishes like this one….instant all the way.

I brought 2 cups of water to a boil, then added 2 cups of rice. I let it simmer for a minute in the boiling water. then cover and remove from heat and let it sit covered until the chicken was done.

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Ok so chicken is done, rice is done. That was the hardest part of this recipe.

Next I just dump everything into a big bowl. There is no science to this…use what you have. I have made this with different salsas, different sized salsas, different size sour creams, different cheeses…its always good.

So into a bowl goes the cooked rice, a jar of salsa, a container of sour cream, a can of black beans drained and rinsed, about 2 cups of cheese, and the cooked chicken.

Then mix everything together. Yes…this looks gross. At this stage its pink and soupy and always looks like you added too much of something. There have been many times I made this and thought I messed it up and ruined dinner. But alas, it always turns out good. The rice really absorbs all that liquid and it comes out more of an orange color than this weird pinkish color.

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Add it to a 9×13 casserole dish, then top with more cheese.

Lets all ignore all this cheese and pretend this is healthy, okay?

Bake this for 35 minutes.

Yes, you can probably put the raw chicken in here and cook it all together. This is just always how I have made it and for some reason it weirds me out to add it in raw. That doesn’t mean you can’t though.

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This is one of those meals that’s hard to photograph, but trust me…its so good. Total comfort food. It also smells divine while cooking.

I call this “Taco” casserole because it has all the elements of a taco in it. I have also made this with steak and ground beef. Use what you have! You can also add corn, or whatever you like. Something about the salsa and sour cream cooked together is just magic.

A great way to eat this as leftovers is to reheat, and wrap in a tortilla to make it into a burrito. Or eat as a dip with tortilla chips.

If I have it on hand, I also like to top this with cilantro and lime juice.

Enjoy!

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