I cherish the grand ole Southern tradition of delivering food to the homes of friends who have just lost a family member. It makes an otherwise sad occasion a little less glum, and is a real service for family members who don’t have time or the inclination to cook for visitors.
If you’ve been on the receiving side, you know there is no better food in the world.
The past few weeks have been devastating in terms of sickness and death – I lost two friends and a third is recovering from heart surgery – when did we get old enough for these things to happen? (The surgery, not the dying.)
In each case I rushed to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for casseroles – or my favorite crock pot turkey breast to take to the bereaved family. Even though you cook the turkey from the frozen state, it still takes a good 12-hours lead time. So I decided to come up with a standard “sick dish” and stock up on all the ingredients so I can be prepared to deliver a luscious meal in minutes.
Here’s what I came up with: I call it “Notcho Usual Chicken Casserole”. It pairs great with Taco Rice in case company is coming, and you can spend your time cleaning up the house instead of wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what to cook.
2 cups diced cooked chicken (I buy Tyson flash frozen chicken strips and pull out as many as I need and pop them in the oven. They’re rather large, but it’ll take five or six – or you can buy the large cans of Swanson chicken)
1 (16 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) condensed reduced-fat reduced sodium cream of chicken soup
1 can (11 oz.) whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, undrained
1 tsp. taco seasoning (from a 1.25 oz. package)
1-1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (5 oz.)
1 cup tortilla chips OR nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In casserole, stir chicken, beans, tomatoes, soup, corn, taco seasoning and 1 cup of the cheese until well mixed. (At this point, casserole can be covered and frozen for serving later, if desired).
Cover and bake about 1 hour or until mixture is heated through. Top with tortilla chips; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake about 10 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and cheese is melted. Serves 6.
Taco Rice Mix
In a quart-sized sealable plastic bag, combine the following ingredients:
1 cup long grain brown rice OR white rice
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dry onion
Dash red pepper flakes, if desired
Seal and label the bag. Store on pantry shelf.
To prepare Taco Rice:
1 package of Taco Rice Mix
1 or 2 tablespoons oil
1 (8-ounce) can reduced sodium tomato sauce or 1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
2 cups water
Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the contents of the Taco Rice Mix. Saute the rice and seasonings in the hot oil until the rice is toasty and slightly opaque. Add the tomato sauce or tomatoes, and water. Stir it up and bring it to a boil. When it starts to boil, cover the pan with a good lid and reduce the heat to very low. Brown rice will cook in 45 minutes. White rice will cook in 20 minutes. Top with cheese before serving, if desired. This recipe doubles easily. Cook it in a 3-quart saucepan if you double it. Makes 4 servings.