}]; Noreen's Kitchen: 10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Classic King Ranch Casserole! Comfort Food Made Better!

Today I am sharing a southwestern Tex Mex classic!  King Ranch Casserole!  There is some question as to where this recipe actually comes from.  The original inclination is to associate it with the King Ranch in Texas.  The largest cattle ranch in all the world.  However, this casserole contains chicken and there is some idea that the only think "King Ranch" about this casserole is the name.  Probably not too many yard birds running around there!  Some speculate that this was some concoction by the ladies of the Junior League of their day or even some southwestern spin on Chicken A'la King.  No matter where the provenance of the recipe hails from, this casserole is a keeper.

This recipe, in all it's goodness, was originally laden with condensed cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups.  While I grew up with those, I prefer not to use them anymore and opt for a more delicious homemade version.  It does not take that much longer to create your own cream base and it is ever so much more delicious!   It is very simple and will render an amazing result that will make you forsake the canned "cream of" soups for eternity!

Layers of corn tortillas, shredded cooked chicken, cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese, all married together with the comforting blanket of creamy sauce made with chicken stock, cream, bell peppers, onions and the only commercially canned item on the list, Ro-Tel, tomatoes and green chilies.  Those are a must for any self respecting King Ranch casserole!  What you have in the end, is a plate full of comfort food love.  When you take your first bite you will be in casserole heaven and I promise this will be going to your next pot luck or church supper with you because it is THAT good!  This reheats like a dream and holds together beautifully.

I also would add this to my freezer banking list of make ahead bulk dishes that "freeze beautifully" as Annelle would say in Steel Magnolias.  I would simply construct the casserole in a heavy duty foil pan, I like the deeper pans that are approximately 9 x 13 in size. Then cover tightly with parchment paper first, then a double layer of regular foil (I like non stick) or a single layer of heavy duty foil, then I like to put the whole pan inside of a two gallon plastic zip top bag.  This will help the casserole stay fresh and avoid the foil popping off while in your freezer(face it, you know it happens!).  Make sure you write the reheating instructions on the bag so everyone knows what to do!

I hope you give this classic Tex Mex casserole a try the next time you want some delicious, southwestern comfort food and I hope you love it!  How can you not love this?!

Watch how I put this delicious King Ranch Casserole together!

Here is the recipe!  You can get a printable version on my website: http://bit.ly/1Px0iJS

King Ranch Casserole:

6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1, 10 ounce can Ro-Tel
    tomatoes & green chilies
1 cup diced red and yellow bell pepper
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pounds chicken cooked and shredded*
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
15 corn tortillas, cut in half

Mix the two cheeses together and set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat.

Add flour and whisk to combine.  Continue to cook for just a minute or two until the flour is absorbed by the butter and the mixture gets a bit bubbly and foamy and releases a bit of a nutty aroma.

Add half of the chicken stock to the pot and whisk briskly to combine.  Continue to stir until the mixture thickens.  This will take a couple of minutes.

When the mixture has become thick, add the remaining chicken stock to the pot and whisk well to combine.    Set this aside.

In a skillet, melt 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and saute' peppers, onions and garlic, for three to five minutes until you can smell their aroma.  

Add the sautéed vegetables to the cream sauce you set aside along with the Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies.  Stir well to combine.  This will be the sauce for your casserole.

To build casserole:

Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole or foil baking pan with corn tortillas.  I like to cut them in half and put the flat part against the edges of the casserole dish/pan.  This gives more complete coverage.

Top with half of the shredded chicken, then layer on 1/3 of the shredded cheese.

Evenly spread half of the sauce mixture over the cheese.

Repeat layers of tortilla, chicken, cheese and sauce.  You should have 1/3 of the cheese and some of the tortillas left for the top.
Cover the top with the remaining tortilla halves and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is browned and the casserole is slightly bubbly.

The top will be cheesy and crispy and delicious.

Allow the casserole to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

To Freezer bank this casserole:

Build your casserole but do not bake it.  Lay a piece of parchment just big enough to cover the top but not hang over the sides of the pan.  Cover this with two layers of regular foil or one layer of heavy duty foil and seal all edges tightly.

Place the casserole into a 2 gallon zip top bag and remember to write reheating instructions.

To reheat casserole from frozen, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove casserole from plastic bag and place on a baking sheet.

Bake covered for 1 hour then remove foil and parchment and continue baking 15 to 30 minutes until casserole is cooked through, the cheese is melted and the casserole is somewhat bubbly.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

This casserole can be made in advance and freezer banked for up to six months.

Get a printable version of this recipe on my website!  http://bit.ly/1Px0iJS


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How To Make Laundry The Easy Way With MyGreenFills!

Today I am sharing with you a product that can change the way you do laundry, save you money and take care of your family better, by getting rid of harsh chemicals, colorants, thickeners and foaming agents. Laundry made simple, like our grandmother's used to do, only even better!

MyGreenFills wants to show you how you can change your laundry habits and make life better for you, your family and the environment at the same time. Did you know that over 6 billion, yes that billion, with a "b", jugs of laundry soap are used every year? That would wrap around the earth SIX times! Where do you think those jugs end up? Most likely in a landfill where they have a half life of 30 to 40 years. Many of them potentially end up in the ocean polluting our waterways and in time our water tables and drinking water and killing wildlife and effecting human health. Those are some compelling reasons to give something new a try!

MyGreenFills offers you the last laundry jug you will ever need. Simply use one packet of the concentrated soap formula and mix with warm water. Each bottle offers you 5 loads of clean, fresh, chemical free laundry. Want to boost your cleaning power? Add some of the Oxygen based laundry brightener and for tough stains, add a teeny, tiny scoop of their fantastic enzyme stain treatment. They also offer a fantastic fabric softener that really gets your clothes static free and soft! 

This is concentrated soap, softener and brightener are just that "concentrated". You seriously only need 1 ounce per load, that is 2 tablespoons! It is certified for use in HE or high efficiency machines and is cruelty free and vegan. If that weren't enough, this company is built from the ground up by people who have backgrounds in business, herbology and homeopathy. They care about the environment and they care about people. That means they care about you. Their creed is incredible and you can find it on their website. I suggest you go and have a look at what they have put forth as their mission statement. I love it and know you will too!

MyGreenFills offers you the opportunity to give this soap a try for free! If you love it you can order more when you need it or you can choose one of their subscriptions for super money saving opportunities. The more you purchase the cheaper it is for you and shipping is always free. I have a family of four, including two teenagers and a scad of pets. We do at least one load of laundry daily. I would select a subscription package to suit my needs and it will come to my door once a month. All I have to do is mix it up!

I have had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Ezell the CEO of MyGreenFills and Selestial Soap company and he was a blessing to me. His passion for his work as well as the passion of his co workers is apparent and it is contagious! So do yourself a favor and give this soap a try! What do you have to lose? You get a free jug just pay the shipping and if you love it, you are helping out a small business owner here in the USA. If you find that this soap is not your cup of tea, all they ask is that you ship the bottle back to them so they can share the love with someone else and the jug won't end up in the trash. 

I hope you give MyGreenFills a try. I hope you love it and I hope your laundry is never the same again!


Thursday, October 8, 2015

All the Juice! None of the Fake! Apple & Eve Organics and Quenchers Juice!

I was given the opportunity to try out Apple and Eve Organics and Quenchers juices by Influenster.com.  We love juice in our house and often have a bottle in the fridge, but I don't love juice that is full of sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners.  I love to get juices that are just that, JUICE!  

I was excited to receive this box and give these juices a try.  I was sent three small juice boxes like the kind you would put in your child's lunchbox and one quart sized container of the Organics Orange Pineapple juice.  Hands down the latter is my favorite!  My daughter Micah thought the same and I had to sneak the end of the carton for myself when she was off on a field trip.  I know, bad mom!  Sad face for her.  Just kidding!

Rick and I took the time to taste the three Quenchers juice boxes in Berrylicious Lemonade, Razzberry Apple Splash and Fruit Punch Burst.  I took each one and poured the juice into a clear glass so we could see what we were drinking.  If you are on the internet you have most likely seen the horror stories about juice boxes floating around and I personally love to see what I am drinking and figured you would like to see it as well!  These juices are clear and contain no artificial additives, preservatives, colors or flavors.  This is straight up blended juice with not additional sweeteners.  My husband said they were clean tasting and I couldn't agree more!  They don't leave you feeling like you need to drink a glass of water after you just had a glass of juice!

Overall, these juices were satisfying and delicious and I will be seeking them out in my grocer's juice aisle!  The Organics juice was my favorite, orange pineapple is one flavor we love.  In addition to that, the Organics juices also come in Tart Cherry and Natural Apple flavors.  I love their carton style!  They have a twist off cap for ease of pouring and the container is eco friendly and leaves a low impact environmental footprint!

I hope you will seek out these juices and give them a try I think you and your family are going to love them!  The next time you need juice for your child's lunchbox, see if you can reach for these Apple and Eve Quenchers they are all the juice with none of the fake!

Watch our YouTube review of these delicious Apple & Eve Juices!