Taco Tuesday: Burrito Bake

Hooray for taco night! Nothing makes a crazy day at work better than a margarita (or three), and some tasty tacos. Or quesadillas, or burritos, or fajitas...yum.

For this week's taco night, I decided to make some chicken and cheese quesadillas. But what about the salsa? The rice? The beans? The jalapenos? The cheese? I didn't think we needed quesadillas and burritos, so I decided to put everything I'd stuff into a flour tortilla into a casserole dish instead. Both the quesadillas and the burrito bake were easy to make, and tasted so very yum. Recipes are below.

Burrito Bake
4 chicken breasts
1 TBS cumin
1 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS chili powder
Kosher salt
1 TBS vegetable oil
Olive oil cooking spray
4 cups cooked, brown rice
1 1/2 cups chunky tomato salsa (get the fresh kind from the deli case)
1/2 cup salsa con queso
1 16 oz. can refried beans
1/2 cup black bean/red pepper salsa
1/2 cup corn (thawed, if frozen; drained, if canned)
1/4 cup jalapeno pepper slices
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2

To Do:
  • Mix together the cumin, garlic and chili powders and rub into chicken breasts. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Heat the oil in the pan until smoking, then cook the chicken until browned on all sides, then let cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rice, salsa and queso. Note: this is one of those dishes when it pays to have pre-cooked brown rice in your freezer. I'll either buy it by the bag in the freezer section of my grocery store, or I'll boil a big batch of rice, then freeze it in 2-cup containers. It makes dinner ideas like this a breeze!
  • Spray a 9x9 square casserole dish with olive oil and transfer half of the rice mixture to the dish.
  • In another bowl, mix together the refried beans, salsa, corn, jalapenos, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese until combined.
  • Top the layer of rice with all of the bean mixture. (You may have some leftover, depending on the depth of your dish.)
  • Shred two of the now-cooled chicken breasts, and use the other two for quesadillas. (See below.)
  • Top the bean layer with the shredded chicken, then cover the chicken with the rest of the rice mixture.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and a dash of chili powder (optional).
  • Bake until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes after you remove from the oven.
  • Serve with sour cream, salsa and/or hot sauce and a pinch or two of minced cilantro. Another fun topping is crushed tortilla chips or Doritos. Just sprinkle on about 5 minutes before you remove from the oven.

Easy Cheesy Quesadillas
Olive oil cooking spray
8 8-or 10-inch flour or whole wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups salsa con queso
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cooked chicken breasts (see above), sliced into thin pieces.

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle to medium heat and spray with oil.
  • Add a tortilla to the pan and heat until browned and bubbled. Remove from heat.
  • Spray the pan again, then add a new tortilla to the pan. Spread a thin layer of queso over the tortilla side that's facing you, making sure to get the edges, then add 1/4 of the sliced chicken and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.
  • Top with the first tortilla, browned side facing you, and let the cheese melt, pinching down the edges. Flip carefully, and cook a bit longer until browned and crispy on all sides, then transfer to a plate and cut into four wedges.
  • Repeat with the other six tortillas, making an additional three quesadillas.
  • Keep warm on top rack of oven until time to serve.
  • Serve with salsa and/or sour cream. Also great topped with grilled onions and peppers.