Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crazy Low-fat Mexican Casserole

9 out of 10 times when I'm cooking something new I have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing and where I'm going with the dish. I'm either creating a version of something I've made before or adapting a recipe I've tasted or read somewhere. But tonight was different - tonight I went rogue with a Mexican casserole.

Casseroles are generally not a culinary place I like to go to. When I think of a casserole I think of Paula Deen shoving Wonder bread, heavy cream and bacon in a dish with about 5 lbs of butter and then baking it until it looks like a pretty delicious dish - a delicious dish that will inevitably give you a heart attack. But lately, boredom with my usual cooking style and a strong desire to use the can of fat free refried beans that has been sitting on our shelf for ages has encouraged me to try making a healthy casserole. I found a low fat casserole recipe that looked good but I was missing a few key ingredients so I decided to use the recipe's general ratio of wet vs. dry ingredients and throw caution to the wind with my own ingredients and strategy.

I decided if i was going to make a casserole I was going to go all the way and the first truly gross Paula Deen move I pulled, was to use canned chicken and frozen veggies. I used a large 12 oz can of 98% fat free canned chicken to save, time, money and energy. While the dish had stages of looking like catfood in the creation phase, it came out of the oven looking and smelling amazing and when we scooped it onto our plates I was pretty psyched. All in all it was a big enough success to blog about and I will definitely make it again!

Here's the recipe in all it's strange glory. The combination of ingredients sounds crazy but believe me, when all is mixed and baked you will reach into the oven and pull out a delicious and very un-crazy tasting meal!

Low-fat Mexican Casserole - makes four big servings
The name of this dish is two fold: it is crazy because it has crazy ingredients AND it's craaaazy low-fat.

-12.5 oz can of fat free or 98% fat free canned chunk chicken
-1/2 cup salsa
-1 cup fat free cottage cheese
-3/4 cup chicken broth (don't use low-sodium it's just not the same!)
-1 sprinkle garlic powder
-3/4 cup chopped mixed frozen veggies (thawed)
-1/2 cup shredded low-fat or fat free cheese (we used soy cheese but that's only because we're lactarded.)
-6 6-inch corn tortillas- ripped into 4ths.
- 1 casserole or lasagna pan -- I used a square one that's 9x9 inches.

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
-Spray the bottom of your pan with Pam
-Put in one layer of the corn tortilla pieces to cover the bottom of the pan. Like this...
-In a separate bowl, mix the chicken (drained), salsa, chicken broth, veggies and garlic powder
-Pour in half of the above mixture into the pan on top of the tortillas.
-Sprinkle half of the cheese on this layer
-Put another layer of tortilla on top of the mixture. If you have tortilla left over - just make this a double layer and use them up.
-Using a spatula, spread the refried beans on top of the corn tortillas carefully so you don't move them around too much.
-Pour the rest of the chicken mixture on top of the beans and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top.
-Sprinkle a few drops of salsa on top of this for color and flavor.
-Bake for 38-40 minutes until the edges are getting brown.

Take out and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving.

Eat with a little spicy salsa on the side for dipping. YUM!


  1. It might have been my tendency to glop all sorts of things together that led to your casserole aversion. This looks pretty good!

  2. Puhleease, not true at all!