Quick, Easy. Cheesy.
I usually keep my work life out of this blog. I have always looked at this blog as something I can keep constant no matter what was going on with work. Wether work is going perfectly or poorly, writing about food and cooking is an outlet to something completely unrelated. I like this system, and I intend to keep it place. I just feel the need to mention all this (including the following) to explain the possible influx of idiot-proof, all-too-easy recipes about to invade this page.
Work has been busy to say the least. January through April is the busiest time of year in the entertainment industry and is known as "pilot season." It is the time of year all the new programs that will appear on the networks' fall schedule start casting. Casting offices have to fill series regular roles on the pilot (or first) episode of a television show that will either:
A) go on to air for years and years as a popular and successful series (e.g. "CSI", "Friends", "The Office" or last year's "Glee")
B) get picked up for a season, and start airing in the fall, only to be canceled after the first season (e.g. "Studio 60", "Freaks and Geeks", or last year's: "The Unusuals", "Three Rivers")
C) not even get picked up by a network which essentially means the pilot is the only episode ever shot, and the series never gets a chance (this is what happens most of the time).
Agents scramble to scoop up series regular roles on pilots for their actor clients because if the pilot gets picked up as a series, and is successful, it can be a solid paycheck for years to come. Casting directors carefully choose the cast which can make or break a pilot, auditioning hundreds of actors before making a decision on each role. Since the main characters in a pilot are can potentially be with the show for years, it is important to find really strong actors to fill these slots. Sometimes an actor can even be cast in a pilot, only to be replaced by another actor when the show gets picked up for series. An example of this is Full House. The role of 'Danny Tanner' (played by Bob Saget) was originally played by another actor named John Posey.
The producers had wanted Bob Saget, but he was not available when they shot the pilot because he was already set to shoot another show. By the time Full House was picked up and ready to shoot the series, Saget was available. The producers ended up firing John Posey and replacing him with Bob Saget. They re-shot the scenes from the pilot episode in which the 'Danny Tanner' character appeared, and the rest is history. If you don't believe me, watch the entire original pilot episode for yourself.
All this is to say a lot goes into pilots this time of year, and I am busy at work. I am not willing to completely give up cooking during this time because it is something that relaxes me and keeps me healthy. However, I need recipes I can whip out quickly, and this is certainly one of them. It is wildly adapted from my Cooking Light Cookbook (I definitely took the "light" out of it so click here for the original, lighter recipe), which was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law two Christmases ago. I call it Mexican Chicken Lasagna. It involves a simple chicken mixture as the filling, corn tortillas as the layers, plenty of cheese and taco sauce as the sauce. The original recipe is without the chicken so feel free to simply leave it out for a vegetarian option. On a different note, I imagine ground beef could be an interesting substitution for the chicken.
Pilot Season Mexican Lasagna
(makes 4 servings)
1 1/2 C extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I used some white cheddar some yellow...white cheddar is amazing for some reason)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (cooked and chopped into small cubes or shredded)
1 cup cottage cheese (can use reduced fat)
1 C chopped onion
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C golden corn
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 Cup taco sauce
1/2 C extra sharp Cheddar Cheese or Monterey Jack Cheese for sprinkling over the top
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl.
Coat the bottom of an 9x9 casserole dish (or 11x7) with cooking spray.
Arrange 3 tortillas in bottom of the dish (I tore one in half to make them more evenly cover the bottom of the dish).
Spread half of chicken/cheese mixture over the tortillas.
Repeat procedure with 3 tortillas and remaining cheese mixture; top with remaining tortillas.
Pour taco sauce over tortillas; sprinkle with the 1/2 C of Monterey Jack or sharp cheddar cheese.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.
You can prepare the chicken/cheese mixture ahead of time to make this simple recipe even quicker when it comes time to cook it.