Pantry Mexican Casserole

Sometimes making supper can be a last minute sort of thing. In a typical week I often have an idea for several meals I'll prepare for the week. I NEVER plan a week of meals. Not anymore. I tried it once for a month and it ended up poorly. I was frustrated and felt like a failure. We are such last minute people that often causes the planning part of life to get all mixed up lost and forgotten. Basically a mess. That's why I gave up the planning of weekly meals. I'm happier because I'm not wasting food and my plans don't fall apart. Instead of carefully planning meals I stock my pantry and freezer with basics that I can use to create meals. Which is why my pantry has plenty of items within its shelves to put together an assortment of suppers, from all cuisines. The one thing we always stock is plenty of somethings to make Tex-Mex. As I paced the kitchen trying to come up with something to make I couldn't ignore the MEGA zucchini piling up on the counter. Desperate to use up that MEGA zucchini all I could figure was some sort of casserole thing. So....that's what I made.

I'm calling this Pantry Mexican Casserole because most of the ingredients came from my pantry, even the chicken.  Before you get all worried about the ::GASP:: canned chicken really it's ok. Using canned chicken in a casserole like this is a great idea. Since the chicken is not the star, or meant to be the main flavor, using canned is super economical. It's cooked, chopped and ready to use. Which means that this meal is ready in under an hour start to finish. Adding the zucchini gives it a fresh boost and an extra dose of veggies. Now that I think, another name comes to mind: I can't go to the grocery store because it's the end of the month and we need to budget Mexican casserole. That one is far too long, so I guess the first name is best.

Enchilada Sauce
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon self-rising flour
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
15.5 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water

Whisk together the flour and spices in a small bowl, set aside.  In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Whisk in the spice mixture until a paste forms. Whisk in tomato sauce mixing until incorporated. Add the water mixing well. Simmer 20 minutes.

Pantry Mexican Casserole
15.5 oz. can re-fried beans, warmed
2 cups shredded zucchini
12.5 oz. can chicken, drained, shredded (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken)
1 cup lite sour cream

1 cup corn, thawed frozen or canned
1 Tablespoon Mexican seasoning* recipe below
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
18 small corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl mix together the sour cream, chicken, corn and seasoning.
Prepare baking dish by spraying a 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Begin assembling the casserole by ladling some enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan spreading around to the corners. Place 6 corn tortillas over sauce. Spread beans (warm beans spread easier) over the corn tortillas sprinkle shredded zucchini over the beans. Ladle some sauce over the beans and zucchini. Add another layer of 6 corn tortillas. Spread the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Add remaining 6 corn tortillas on top. Ladle remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Allow to cool before serving. Serve with shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, sliced avocado and lime wedges.

Mexican Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup dried oregano
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix together all spices and store in an airtight container.


Carolyn said…
I'm defiantly going to try this recipe. Mike doesn't like refried beans, but with all the other ingredients in there he might not notice. It really looks like a winner to me.
Anonymous said…
I thought of another way to use zuchinni- The basis is Mom's Enchalada (sp) casserole, but instead of corn tortilla's - use thinly sliced zucs (we also use hamburger for this), or look up a Calabaza (sp? SPanish for zuc) to see what you can find. I also make lasanage with one layer of noodles and one of Zuchinni. The casserole freeze great as well. Oh and happy aniversary! ~Laura

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