Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Make ahead meals; Mexican Casserole

I have a feeling make-aheads are about to save my life.

Two to three nights of soccer, two nights of music lessons, a tutoring session, two nights a week w/out the hubby's help because he's teaching night classes and countless hours of homework make for a really busy week. Oh, not to mention the fact that I work full time (9-5), away from home....

ZzzzZzzzZzzz....huh..what...OH! Sorry about that!

Ahem. Alright, as I was saying. It is really helpful to have something ready to just pop in the oven when I get home. So I've decided to try to make some "make-aheads" during the weekend to ease the load of the weekdays.

Now, some of these meals are not the epitome of healthy. But I can't exactly be perfect ALL the time. (yes, I said it out loud, write it down!) However, it is a huge step up from the pre-frozen meals packed with preservatives and, of coarse, the path of desperation which leads us to the evils of the McDonald's drive-thru.
Both of these things have been crutches in the past during our family busy season. I am vowing to abstain from them this season.

One of the make-aheads for this week was this Mexican Casserole. Casseroles are easy. Easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to just pop in the oven and easy to clean up! Easy = saving time for me!
I thought for sure the kids would turn up their noses when they saw how awfully ugly this thing was.

And I was pretty much right. They ewwwed and ahhhhed over it just how I expected them to. Then they watched me scoop it into some mini tortillas (large tortillas cut up because mini everything is soooo cool)and eat it like a little burrito. It must have looked like fun because they did it too. Naturally, it only took the first bite to reel em in.

This casserole may not look pretty, but it is indeed tasty.
Here's how I did it-

You will need:
(1) small onion, finely diced
about (2) cups shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese and (2) cups shredded cheddar
1 & 1/2 cups uncooked rice
3 cups chicken broth
4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
(1) 10.75 oz can of condensed mushroom soup
(1) 10.75 oz can of condensed cream of chicken soup
1 & 1/2 cups of mild salsa
Either a 9x13 casserole dish, or two 9x9 casserole dishes. I used one 9x9 casserole dish and a 9x9 throw-away aluminum dish for freezing.

First, start your rice by adding both the chicken broth and the rice to a sauce pan and cook on high, uncovered until boiling. Cover, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for twenty minutes or until soft.

Boil your chicken breasts in water (I seasoned with a little bouillon and some garlic powder) until they are cooked through and shred easily. Then chop it all up for later.

Next, mix together both cans of soup.

Rinse out your cans and recycle them. Pretty please.

Add your diced onion. And do yourself a favor, and do this in a much larger bowl than I did.

Then add your salsa and mix it all in really good.

Now grab your casserole dish/dishes and spread out a layer of the cooked rice in the bottom of the dish.

Then add a layer of the cooked and cut up chicken.

Spread the soup mixture over the top of the chicken.

Now sprinkle the very top with the two shredded cheeses. (Remember, I used two cups of each between two casseroles. So that would be one cup of each per casserole.
We don't need to make this unbearably unhealthy.
I know, kill joy.

Now you can bake on 350 for about 30-45 minutes.

Or you can wrap it up for the freezer.

Or both like I did!

Now clean up those dishes.

Because the magical dish fairy doesn't really exist. (Or he's just so exhausted from going back to work and teaching night classes he no longer has it in him to grace me with his presence.)

There are five small eaters in my family. One 9x9 dish was enough for a meal plus left-overs for lunch for three of us. Plus it made another 9x9 pan to put in the freezer for another time.

Please feel free to share your favorite make-aheads. I will surely be needing more of them!


  1. Mmmm - I made an extra large batch of lasagna a couple days ago and put the other one in the freezer for those long days at school. It's so nice to not have to cook but still have something home made.

  2. That sounds really tasty. I think I'll be making my tater tot hot dish for dinner tomorrow night...it's cooled off up here in Reno so I can actually use the oven!