Monday, January 19, 2015

Enchilada Casserole Variation from New Mexico

In my novel  Counterfeits, the hero sends an enchilada casserole to the heroine and her friends for their lunch (gotta love a man who cooks):
     Trisha pulled the pan from the oven and peeled off the foil cover. “It looks like some kind of enchilada casserole.” She leaned over and sniffed deeply. “Mmm, smells good.”
Jenny’s stomach grumbled at the heavenly scent of baked cheese and smoky green chile. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was getting. She set the table and they dug into the steamy, gooey dish.

The following recipe is not traditional, but it’s my quicker and healthier version of an enchilada casserole. The directions are informal, as I cook by the “make it up as you go along” method.

Enchilada Casserole

Several handfuls of tortilla chips
One large onion
1 tablespoon oil for cooking
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can (~10 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 can or jar (12-15 oz) of enchilada sauce (red or green)
1-2 cans (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Chopped green chile to taste
Optional: additional vegetables, such as shredded or chopped broccoli/carrots/squash, steamed spinach,  
1-2 cups shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheese

  • Spray oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish or rub lightly with oil.
  • Scatter broken tortilla chips in the bottom of the dish. (This is a great way to use the broken chips at the bottom of the bag. It doesn’t matter what size they are or if they're stale.)
  • Chop a large onion and saut√© in oil.
  • Add about 3 cups of chopped cooked chicken (from a rotisserie chicken, leftover cooked chicken, or frozen chicken tenders that you cook in advance)..
  • Add cream of chicken soup, enchilada sauce, pinto beans, optional veggies, and green chile (or red chile powder). Mix well.
  • Pour the chicken and sauce mixture over the tortilla chips. Cover with another layer of broken tortilla chips.
  • Top with a layer of shredded cheddar, Jack, or Mexican cheese.
  • Bake at 350° for about 45 min.

This is one of my standards, because it only takes about half an hour to put together, and it makes enough leftovers for lunches. If you try it, I hope you enjoy it! You can also vary it by using black beans or ground beef, by skipping the meat and adding vegetables, or by adding extra red chili powder or chopped green chile if you like it spicy.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark involves archaeology and intrigue among ancient ruins. What We Found features a young woman who stumbles on a murder victim, and Rattled follows a treasure hunt in the New Mexico desert. To learn more about her latest work, visit or her Amazon page.

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