I can hear what you’re thinking already.
Casserole? You’re going to start 2015 with a CASSEROLE recipe?
Yep. I sure am. But hear me out.
While countless others are posting about detoxes, intense diets, and ways to do an entire body makeover, I’m over here without any intense resolutions for the new year. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve “detoxed.” (Which is a myth, by the way – your body does all the detoxing you need.) I’ve restricted. I’ve signed up for all sorts of different crazy athletic endeavors in an effort to improve my fitness. None of it was sustainable. The extreme nature of it all wasn’t healthy for me, or most importantly, for my mental health. Since then, I’ve worked towards implementing sustainable, healthy habits, and I’ve been able to maintain those habits and my sanity.
2014 was a somewhat challenging year to maintain those healthy habits (and that sanity I mentioned). I spent much of the year either injured or recovering from surgery to my hip. It was September when I finally was able to return to running and soccer, and it was definitely an exercise in patience. I also spent a long time learning how to work with my body, rather than trying to fight it and mold it into some idea of what I thought it should be. Now more than ever, I’m thankful for what my body is capable of.
But as far as setting resolutions for 2015? I’m not too big on resolutions per se, but I’ve set a few goals for myself. None of which, however, are diet-related. Instead, I’m planning on remodeling our master bathroom, I finally finished a Pinterest craft thing I had sitting around the house for over 2 years, and I’m implementing a “chill out” mantra on the blog.
What’s the “chill out” mantra?
Well, it means that not every recipe will be fancy-schmancy. Not every recipe will be 100% from scratch. And not every single thing will be gluten-free, cheese-free, sugar-free, or fun-free. Because honestly, we’re all living busy lives, right? Sometimes, we need easy. Fast. Shortcuts. And sometimes, we need some cheese, or sugar, and heaven knows we need fun! Ultimately, I feel that this blog ought to reflect somewhat what my life is really like. And my life? While sometimes it includes homemade toffee, bread baked from scratch, and lots of fresh veggies, other times, it includes leftovers, quick fixes, and casseroles.
This casserole is quick and utilizes leftovers. I think that makes it an automatic win. It’s a kid-friendly mix of rice, chicken, beans, cheese, and enchilada sauce (you can make it as spicy as you’d like) that’s comforting and delicious. It’s everything you enjoy about enchiladas, but in a rice casserole form that’s a breeze to throw together.
You can even prepare it up to the point of baking in advance and cover and refrigerate, so feel free to get this together on a Sunday, and when you get home on a Monday night, all you have to do is pop it in the oven. At the end of a hectic day, the relief I get knowing that a nourishing dinner is already taken care of is immeasurable. That relief? That’s the “chill out” mantra, working its magic.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 cups leftover cooked rice
- 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (the meat from a rotisserie chicken is great)
- 1 can pinto beans (or black), drained
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced (omit for a milder dish)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ cup frozen spinach, thawed
- 2 cups canned enchilada sauce (Las Palmas is gluten-free, or you can make your own)
- 2 oz cream cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and smoked Gouda)
- Sour cream and chopped cilantro for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"X13" baking dish and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the chopped shallot for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the rice, chicken, beans, chipotle chile, chili powder, cumin, spinach, if using, and enchilada sauce. Stir occasionally until heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese and half of the shredded cheese.
- Spoon the mixture into the baking dish and spread out evenly. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
- (If preparing in advance, cover dish at this point and refrigerate. Remove cover before baking.)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve, topped with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro.