MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE

I am so sorry I have been gone for so long. Life has been hectic around my house. We had a garage sale this past Saturday and I have been consumed with cleaning out my cabinets, closets, and attic and trying to figure out how to get a 16 foot trailer full of my junk priced in just a week. Yuck. On top of that, my kiddo has had the stomach bug, which let me tell you, is about as fun as having a garage sale. I have some posts ready so I will try to get those up on a more regular basis than I have been posting. I’ve got some yummy stuff to share with you, this recipe included. So, without further adieu…

When I first saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats, I wasn’t sure about it. It looked really good, but I’m very weird about food texture, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the texture of this casserole. However, I was needing a quick and easy meal for dinner and I had all the ingredients for this on hand, so I thought we’d try it. I’m so glad we did! The whole family loved it, and so did I. Though the tortilla chips are soaked in chicken broth, there is no soggy texture to this dish. We had it left over the next day and it was even better. This is a delicious 30 minute meal that I will make over and over again.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1¾ c. chicken broth
5 c. tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. Mexican blend cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onion, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.

Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the Rotel, black beans, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: JAILHOUSE POTATO CINNAMON ROLLS

This week, I got to choose the recipe for Project Pastry Queen: jailhouse potato cinnamon rolls. The reason I chose this recipe was that I wanted to compare them to the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls that I make all the time. Lucky for me, we had food day at work on Friday, so I had a place to take them because if they had remained in my house, I would have gained 10 pounds and my kids would be on a constant sugar high. I kept a couple of smaller pans at the house for the kiddos, and they have not lasted long. These rolls are so soft and sweet and decadent.

I think the texture is not very different from the Pioneer Woman’s rolls, but these are a little more involved to make because you have the extra step of making the mashed potatoes. Of course, the icing is different too, but I changed it up a bit and doubled the amount, using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe as inspiration. My changes are noted below in the recipe but I included the original recipe below as well. I asked a lot of people at work which recipe they preferred.

Some said they couldn’t tell the difference, and others said that they found these rolls to be more moist and still others said they like the Pioneer Woman’s recipe better. I think it’s a toss up as far as taste goes. These are absolutely delicious and are worth the work for a special occasion.

As everyone else in the PPQ group has said, the dough for these rolls is a pain in the rear end to work with. It is very wet and soft and falls apart easily. I always preheat my oven for a minute or so and then turn it off and put the dough in there to rise, since my kitchen is quite drafty. That was a big mistake with this dough.

When I went to check on it at about 45 minutes into the rise time, the dough had exploded all over my oven. I had put it in a very large bowl to rise, but when it reached the top, it just started spilling over the edges. It was everywhere! I probably lost about 1/4 of the dough. Even so, I ended up with 4 dozen cinnamon rolls from one recipe (double what the recipe says you’ll get). My advice to make the dough easier to handle is to really flour your work surface, hands, rolling pin, and dough as you work with it.

It really tries to fall apart when you roll it up, so be careful not to roll it out too thin to begin with. (I realized as I typed the recipe that it says to chill the dough and I did not do that. Maybe that’s why it was so hard to work with?) I really liked these rolls but I think I prefer making the Pioneer Woman’s rolls better, just because they are less time consuming and the dough is easier to handle.

When I make cinnamon rolls, I usually make them in the evening and bake them the next morning. I have found that once you get the rolls cut and in the pans, you can cover and refrigerate the pans overnight and the rolls will actually rise most of the way in the refrigerator.

I pull them out and put them on the counter about 20 to 30 minutes before I’m ready to bake them. This always works like a charm and I don’t have to wait for the second rise time. Thanks to the Project Pastry Queen girls for letting me choose the recipe this week!


Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
Reserve 3 c. of potato water
1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
3/4 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
3 lg. eggs
2 tsp. salt
9 c. flour

Filling:
4 c. toasted pecans, optional (I didn’t use them)
4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 sticks butter, melted

Icing:
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter, melted

Butter two 9X13 disposable foil pans by greasing using butter or Pam (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 4). Wash, peel and dice the potatoes and boil until fork tender. After boiling the potatoes, set aside 3 cups of the potato water and let cool to 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, or to the temp of hot water coming out of the faucet. Mash potatoes in a large bowl, set aside. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir until dissolved, add 1 tsp. sugar. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth. Add the flour 3 cups at a time. After the dough begins to get thick, switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Leaving the dough in the bowl, flour your hands and punch it down until it deflates. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day. You can proceed from here, but it is easier to handle the dough after it has chilled.

With floured hands, remove the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface and divide in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10. Spread each rectangle with half the butter. Then half the brown sugar mix. Then half the chopped pecans.

Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough. Using a very sharp floured serated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 to 3 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the foil pans spacing about one inch apart so they have room to expand. Make sure the end flap of each roll is set snugly against a side of the pan. At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in polastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or for one hour at room temperature and continue following the directions from this point. Leaving them covered, set the rolls in a warm draft free place and let them rise until they get puffy, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove covering and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.

Combine icing ingredients with a whisk and drizzle over warm rolls.

*I changed the icing substantially. The original recipe calls for 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 c. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather