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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

King Ranch Chicken

The first time I had King Ranch Chicken was in 2005 at my dorm, Hardin House, in Austin.  My roommate could not believe I had never had it before, so I was eager to get through the dinner line.  At first, I couldn't tell exactly what was in it.  Clearly, I assumed chicken, but I wondered what made it "King Ranch."  In my bowl was a medley of tortilla chips, chicken, and some creamy base on which I couldn't quiiite put my finger.  It was thick, Southern, and spicy- I loved it.  From that day on, I made a daily stop to read the whiteboard outside of the cafeteria, hoping each time that it would tell me that my new favorite meal was being served.
My side of our room in Grant House at Hardin House

The summer after my junior year of college I began to realize that you really "are what you eat," and I needed to be more fresh fruit and less Mexican food.  I started eating like an adult, and I started cooking for myself.  With this new-found health kick, I also began reading nutrition labels and being much more conscious of what I was putting in my body.  Last year, I was in an adventurous cooking mood, so I looked up recipes for King Ranch Chicken.  I was in horror.  I do not even want to post the nutritional content for the casserole I had been consuming that year at Hardin House.  I was disgusted.  I made it my mission to find a low-fat recipe for King Ranch Chicken, and it is posted below.  I have made this in numerous quantities- enough for two, six, or just me (with leftovers- there are always leftovers).  As a Southern favorite, this dish has been a hit with anyone who has tried it.  Not many southern foods are low fat, so I'm kind of proud of this one.

 King Ranch Chicken Casserole (Low Fat)
Servings: 8 (247 calories, 5g fat, 37g protein, 11g carbs, 1g fiber per serving)
WeightWatchers Points Plus Value: 9
  • 3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast 
  • 2 cans low-fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans low-fat condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package corn tortillas (I use white corn) 
  • 1 package fat-free cheddar cheese (I can't find this in a generic, the Kraft one is all I've found, but it is good)
  1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Cube and grill your chicken (I cube it while it is raw, then grill it on the stovetop in a pan- add spices as you like for flavor)
  3. Saute green pepper and onion in nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking oil spray (if you spray something like Pam then take a paper towel and wipe it around in the pan, it removes excess)
  4. Drain tomatoes with chilies (if you don't, casserole will turn out runny)
  5. Mix satueed green pepper and onions with both cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup in a large bowl- add tomatoes with chilies and cubed chicken
  6. In a 13x9 casserole dish, layer mixture (the one you've made in your large bowl) with tortillas and cheese (ie. layer of tortillas, layer of cheese, layer of mix, layer of tortillas, layer of cheese, layer of mix)
  7. Bake at 300 degrees F for 40-45 mins
*Notes:
  • Warm up the tortillas in a tortilla warmer (available at any grocery store or Walmart) before layering them- it keeps them from getting stiff. If you don't have a tortilla warmer, wrap them in a paper towel and zap them in the microwave for about 12 seconds for 3 (any longer and they'll fall apart)
  • If your casserole reaches the top of the pan (which is probably will) put a layer of foil in the oven to catch overflow **a deeper casserole dish works best! 
  • Don't worry about exact quantities of the cheese- just put enough so you can taste it.  It's fat free, after all, so have at it! Sometimes I mix a little bit of regular "Mexican blend" style cheese in with the top layer of cheese just for taste.  Fat free cheese melts best when it is layred, so try to get it more in the casserole, and not as much on top.
  • This freezes really well, so if you have soooo many leftovers you don't know what to do with, portion it out into tupperware and stick it in the freezer.  

    4 comments:

    1. Can't wait to try it! Good job on the blog and keep it coming!

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      Replies
      1. Emily, I hope you've tried a few recipes from my recipe blog by now! Hope to see you soon- and we can both blog about it!

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    2. Hey Kate, I really like your blog. That casserole looks great! If you get a chance, check out my blog: thecuriousfoodie.blogspot.com

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      Replies
      1. Hi CF, thank you for your kind compliment! Your blog is fun to read, too, and I hope you keep up with the recipes I've been posting!

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