Yesterday was a dreadfully ugly looking day. Actually, most days this week have been that way. It's almost November, so I expect it to look like midnight when I wake up. However, I expect my lunch break to at least be filled with some sunshine. I am obviously asking just too much there. Every day when I've left for lunch, it's been gray and overcast with a side of gross. When I think fall I think of nice crisp (summer, if you're listening, take that stupid humidity with you) air, leaves changing, hoodies, hot chocolate, etc. But it's just been a very gloomy looking week this week. So what does one do? Well, I crank up the air conditioning in the apartment, pretend it's chilly out, get my favorite blanket, and I cozy up on the couch, or in bed. AND I want something dense and hot in my tummy. Lasagna is a perfect go to dinner for these kind of days (or makeshift days!). Yesterday I wanted something different than traditional lasagna, so I went with a Mexican lasagna. Noodles made out of tortillas, creaminess from sour cream, "ragu" made out of black beans, corn and chilies. It's just simply perfect. I've read so many recipes on different ways to make Mexican lasagna, and I've pretty much combined all of my favorite parts from all of them. Substitutions are always welcome, this lasagna is so forgiving. Also, you could make it vegetarian very easily. Double or triple your amount of all the veggies and just omit the chicken. The beans and corn alone are very filling and have an amazing taste, so you won't miss out!!
Q: What is your go to comfort meal? And do you have a favorite spinoff?
Time from start to finish: 1 - 1 1/2 hours
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Corn with Chilies*
1 small can Green Chilies
1 small Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, grated
1 Tbsp flavorless Oil of your choice (don't waste good stuff here)
few dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce (I used a Habenero)
1 Tbsp Adobo Seasoning
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1/2 Tbsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cilantro
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 package flour Tortillas, edges cut off so each tortilla is a square, not a circle
4 large boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 cup Taco Sauce
1/2 - 1 cup Sour Cream, plus more for serving
1-2 cups Mexican Blend of Cheese (or whatever mild Mexican cheese you want)
1 cup Pico de Gallo, or your favorite salsa
1 packet Taco Seasoning or a blend of your own, from the above spices
About 1/2 cup water
*If you can't find this, just substitute a can of corn and 1 red pepper diced up.
Sounds like a lot of ingredients, but don't worry, this recipe is really easy, and it's basically fool proof. Preheat your oven to 425. Begin by putting your chicken breast (clean it of all the fat first, makes it easier when you go to shred it) submerged in a pot of cold water. Salt the water, cover the pot and put it on high and bring to just below a boil. Once it reaches just below a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until your chicken is cooked. Remove to cutting board and shred. I like to use two forks, or a knife, and just pull apart big chunks of the chicken and allow the big chunks to cool while I do other stuff. This way it becomes easily handled, and you can pull it with your fingers - which I find the best way to do this. You can use a food processor, but I find when you do it by hand, you tend to pull so the chicken fibers stay together, making it more tender. But if you wanna save ten minutes (understandable!), pop it in the processor for a few bursts. Once your chicken is shredded, or while you wait for it to cool so you can handle it, mix the first 12 ingredients in a large saute pan over medium heat. You just want to warm it through and mix all the flavors up together while you're working on your chicken, or while you're cutting your tortillas.Once your mixture is heated up nicely, about 8 minutes, remove to a big container/mixing bowl. Carefully mix in sour cream. You want just enough to make the mixture moist and creamy, but you don't want a ton of sour cream at the bottom of the bowl. Set aside for use in a minute. Back in the pan you warmed up all those ingredients in, put in shredded chicken over medium high heat. Add taco seasoning and enough water to wet the whole mixture and steam up. Really this isn't exact, and you won't mess it up. Mix up the seasonings and turn off the heat. Now starts your layering process!
I used a smaller square baking dish, 8x8, just because there are only two of us. But you can easily double or triple this recipe. Just bake a little longer. Spray your baking dish with pam or whatever you want, just make sure it's coated well. the tortillas love to stick. You could also put a little taco sauce on the bottom. Layer: tortillas, bean and corn mixture, salsa, chicken, cheese, tortilla. This made 3 layers. Then top with the taco sauce and more cheese. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are soft. Let stand a few minutes before cutting. It's easier to handle that way.
I used the scraps from the tortillas and lightly coated them with some oil and the spices above. I served them alongside my salsa! Perfect side dish!