Cheesy Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole

Lately I have been on a major Mexican kick. I don’t know if it’s the onset of summer (possible) or too much time away from the U.S. (ironic and yet likely probable), but I have been welcoming any dose of salsa, chile, cheese and black bean concoction I can easily prepare or order (note, we’ve taken to ordering from the mediocre Mexican restaurant in town just to get a bit of a fix…why hello, desperation). Fortunately this dish meets both my “Mexican food fix” and “easily prepare” categories, all while being a healthy dinner option (and much better than Mexican take-out, I might add). While I have substituted various ingredients (namely regular yogurt instead of Greek) and added or left items out from time-to-time (added spinach, left out green chiles), it really is best prepared with the exact ingredients listed. The Greek yogurt gives the dish a nice sharp edge in flavor, fooling your tastebuds into thinking this is way cheesier than it actually is. The result is a flavor-packed Mexican-inspired dish that is surprisingly good for you!

Serves 4-6

Ease of Preparation: Easy
Bonus: you can find all of the ingredients in Guangzhou (specifically at Ole in case anyone is interested)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • salt, pepper, cajun seasoning and small drizzle of canola oil for chicken
  • 4 cups cooked Brown Rice
  • 1/2 medium Yellow Onion, diced fine
  • 4-5 Scallions, diced
  • 4-5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1-2 tsp Canola Oil
  • ¾ cup Frozen Corn
  • 15 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 4.5 oz can Green Chilis
  • ½ cup Salsa
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Cheddar Cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Mozzarella Cheese, plus more for topping
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Sprinkle salt, pepper and cajun seasoning over chicken breasts. Lightly drizzle with canola oil then use hands to rub mixture around the chicken, assuring the spices and oil are evenly distributed (note: you can do this as much as a day ahead of time, or immediately toss into the oven). Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until your meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees (just break down and go buy a thermometer…well worth the $12). Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes then shred both chicken breasts. I like to use the ultra classy “two-forks” method….so high-tech.

While chicken is baking, heat 1-2 tsp oil in a medium skillet or sauté pan. Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Then add bell pepper, scallions, and a bit of salt and pepper (and some cajun seasoning if you prefer), and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until bell peppers are just beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (except for cilantro and extra cheese), making sure that everything is evenly distributed. Transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish and sprinkle the top with extra cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes (if you have a shallow, wide dish you may only need to bake for 20-25 minutes). Turn on broiler and broil for 1 minute, just long enough to brown the cheese on top. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

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