This was one of my very favorite recipes when I first came across it, and I noted on the recipe that my youngest liked it so much the first time I made it that she had THIRDS! It got a “yummy” rating written across the top of the page. My boyfriend’s son even requested it as his birthday meal. And we were all Happy.
I’m telling you. I remember it. happy…
And then, suddenly, just to break me and to make me question my sanity, my kids completely CHANGED THEIR MINDS. It was “tooooo spiiiiicyyyy!” and “chicken is yucky!” and “I’m full.” Suddenly, just like that, it was the worst meal I could give them.
I tried a few more times.
They were not budging.
I finally quit even though all of the grown people around me LOVED it. Cheesy, easy, and so full of flavor for the small investment of time required to make it. My close friend and her family (kids in the same age range as mine) enjoy it. She has mentioned making it several times over the last few years, and I was silently a little jealous.
I recently decided enough time had passed to give it another try. They have grown and matured in their tastes I thought.
My youngest, once again, ate it right up without a complaint. She didn’t ask for thirds…or seconds, even, but she ate all of her first serving. The oldest is a die hard chicken hater, so she had to go through a little bit of drama about the chicken, but she ended up eating it without incident. The middle child had to get to a Cub Scout meeting before the casserole was done, so his vote is still out.
Me? It was what I remembered: cheesy, full of flavor, and just a little crunchy texture from the chips on top. Mmmmm.
Fiesta Chicken Casserole, I have missed you.
Fiesta Chicken Casserole
- 3 cups cooked chopped chicken (or turkey–I used leftover turkey from a holiday meal one time, and it was also wonderful)
- 1 cup instant rice (uncooked)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained (Ro-tel, for example)
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning or other southwestern seasoning
- 2-3 tablespoons of milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup crushed tortilla or Dorito chips
*You can adjust the heat of the casserole by the type of seasoning and the amount you choose as well as which heat level of tomatoes and chilies you choose. Spice it up or tone it down.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 or similar sized baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. (9 x 13 pan will be too big)
- In a medium-large bowl, combine chicken, rice, soup, tomatoes and chilies, seasoning, milk, and 1 and 1/2 cups cheese.
- Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until hot and beginning to bubble.
- Top casserole with crushed chips and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. If desired, turn broiler on for another 2 minutes or so to brown the top of the casserole a little.
*Make ahead tip: You can prepare the casserole through step 4 and set it aside in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, you may need to add a little more milk or water to loosen it up a little because the rice will absorb some of the liquid.
*Reheating: Makes great leftovers. If it is getting dry, simply add a little milk or water to desired consistency before reheating.
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