Good, creative collaboration is a wonderfully inspired thing; it brings two people together, often yielding some delicious results, like a cheesy chicken tortilla casserole, if you’re lucky.
First things first, I must confess to you that I cannot take full credit for coming up with this zippy and delectable little comforting recipe, and must give some credit where credit it due: my hubs. Thanks, Hubs!
Typically when I recipe develop, I get an idea that sounds like something that I (or we) would really enjoy partaking in, and I flesh out the dish in my imagination first, and then go to work on the actual ingredients, quantities, and steps for the dish, coming up with what you end up seeing here on The Cozy Apron as a finished recipe.
But occasionally during my process, I’ll get some amazing input or a creative twist on a concept that I already have in mind from my hubby, and it just sort of helps a recipe fall perfectly into place in a way that it “clicks” for me a little more magically, or makes it just a little more interesting or even better than I had imagined.
And that makes me incredibly grateful for the gift of partnership.
To me, a great partnership—be it a friendship, a work relationship, or a marriage/life partnership—is a form of Divine help.
At its best it demonstrates how two individuals working together, bringing both of their perspectives and sensibilities and blending them into one new “offspring” that contains a bit of both parties, can be a gift to benefit others on a larger scale.
It also gives us an opportunity to practice relinquishing some of our own desires for a greater good, some of our control, which is always a wonderful exercise for an individual to participate in.
Creative collaboration is where we often come alive, and when the back and forth continues to build and crescendo until the spark ignites and a new creation comes from it.
It also teaches us about ourselves and how when our perspectives and life experiences—our views and desires—are beautifully blended with another’s, we’re actually strengthened and made more complete through the unification.
If you ask me, there’s nothing quite like good creative collaboration when it yields something delicious and flavorful, something that even others can be nourished by.
It inspires and enriches our soul, and shows us how wonderful it can be to listen to another’s ideas and be moved by them, and to be wonderfully surprised by what comes of coming together.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Chicken Tortilla Casserole
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6-8
• Fire-roasted Tomato & Corn Sauce (recipe below)
• 8-10 corn tortillas (depending on pan size)
• 4 cups cooked rice
• 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie is great for this!)
• 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
• 2 cups corn kernels
• 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
• 2 cups whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded or grated
• 1 cup (heaping) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
• 2 cups Fritos-style corn chips, roughly crushed (I used Organic “Corn Chip Dippers” from Trader Joes)
• 1 tablespoon chopped green onion, for garnish
-Preheat the oven to 350°, and lightly mist a casserole or baking dish with cooking spray.
-Add about 1 ½ cups of the sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, and top with a layer of about 4 (or more) of the corn tortillas, overlapping them slightly and even cutting one or two half in order for them to fit snuggly and cover the bottom.
-Add about another 1 ½ cups of the sauce over the tortillas, and then half of the rice and then half of the shredded chicken; sprinkle on about half of the pinto beans and corn kernels, plus about half of the diced red bell pepper, as well as about a third of the grated/shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
-Repeat the layering again by adding the remaining corn tortillas (overlapping), more of the sauce, the rest of the rice and then chicken, and the rest of the pinto beans, corn, and diced red bell pepper; sprinkle over another scant third of the cheese, and then sprinkle over the crushed corn chips, and then sprinkle over the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over that.
-Bake uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, until the cheese is melted and gooey; garnish with the green onions and serve with some of the leftover sauce on the side if someone would like extra.
Fire-roasted Tomato and Corn Sauce Ingredients:
• Canola oil
• 1 onion, diced
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
• 2 cups corn kernels
• ¼ cup cilantro leaves
• 1 tablespoon honey
-Place a medium-size pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of the oil; once hot, add in the onion, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté it until it softens for a few minutes; then add in the cumin, the garlic and the chipotle, and stir those together allowing them to become aromatic.
-Add in the fire-roasted tomatoes, the corn, the cilantro, and the honey, and allow the sauce to gently simmer for only about 5-10 minutes; then check the seasoning and add more salt/pepper, if needed.
-Puree the mixture until fairly smooth; use immediately, or keep covered in fridge.