BARBARA MCCLELLAN

Barbara McClellan

Just as everything is somewhere (when I lose my keys, phone, glasses), I try to remind myself that probably none of these has vanished into thin air, so are we all somewhere in our journeys.

Now don’t get disturbed by the depth of these thoughts. Here’s where I am going. Since I do not know the demographics of my wonderful readers, I can guess a few things. Since a large group of 50 years and under of our population get their news electronically, it is hard for me to believe that many in the 20-50 age group read a food column and clip recipes like crazy each Wednesday.

I love hearing from you and I think many of you (except former students of mine) are within 5-10 years of my age group. I have never minded telling my age and have learned that many young folks were not taught, as most of us were, not to ask the age of an adult. With my “glow in the dark silver hair,” students are often curious about my age. I never just tell them outright, I show them how to figure one’s age from the birthdate to the present year.

Moving on, my point today is that some of us are at the stage when we realize we do not need so many “things” in the kitchen or in any area of our lives. Of course, enjoying cooking as much as I do, I love “kitchen gadgets.” However, the time is approaching when I will need to pare down to the minimum things I have collected over the past 60 years for what I think is necessary to cook a meal. “Less is more” is beginning to take on real meaning in my life. What to do? I hear from my children, friends with children the ages of mine and “kids” in the younger stage that they really do not need or want many of our treasures. So, let’s pledge (if we need to do so) to start paring down. I am writing this to get encouragement from you to help me get rid of unnecessary stuff — kitchen or otherwise. However, I have noticed that the minute I get rid of some item from the junk kitchen drawer I need it within the next 12 hours. Oh well, I’ll start tomorrow.

Let’s cook something warm and comforting.

The “Best Mexican Casserole”This really was declared a winner by Parade magazine in 2002 as the best of 8,300 entries. We think it’s good and easy to make if you use a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips

1 pound shredded cooked chicken

1 can (15 ounces each), drained, of the following:

Garbanzo beans

Red kidney beans

Whole kernel corn

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 cup prepared salsa

1 cup chopped red onion

1 medium bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

6 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese

6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

Garnishes:

2 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup cilantro leaves (chopped)

Steps

Spray or grease a 9-by-13-inch dish and scatter chips over the bottom. Combine chicken with the next 10 ingredients. Mix and place half the mixture on the chips in the dish. Combine the cheeses and sprinkle half over the chicken mixture. Cover with the remaining chicken mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve garnishes in small bowls on the side. Make 8-9 servings.

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— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.