August 29, 2009

Southwestern Chicken and Rice Bake

An easy and tasty chicken meal to make up on busy days. This southwestern chicken casserole is made with diced chicken, black beans and corn, cooked rice, and seasonings, along with an easy homemade sauce and optional cheese topping.

* 2 cups cooked rice
* 1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
* 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained, rinsed
* 1 can (11 to 15 ounces) Mexican-style corn, drained
* 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, slightly drained
* 1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro, optional
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red or chipotle pepper, to taste
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 4 tablespoons flour
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 cup chicken broth
* 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 to 1 cup Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, optional

In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, and hot pepper. Stir to blend.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat; stir in flour until well blended and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk, chicken broth, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir into the rice and chicken mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper as needed.

Pour into a 2-quart casserole sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. If desired, sprinkle with the cheese about 5 to 8 minutes before done. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onions and tomatoes, if desired.
Serves 6.

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