Adventures in Eating: Mexican Chicken Tortilla Casserole

I love throwing parties, and the bigger, the better. I always start with a theme of some kind, and then go from there. With summer here, I’ll be entertaining a lot, and more important than anything, I need to be organized. I am a list-maker. The first thing I do when I decide to host a party is start with my “list” of things to do. “Polish silver, get candles, select wines, order balloons, rent tables, press tablecloths…”. The list occasional­ly goes on and on! And I haven’t even gotten to the menu yet!

The key to any successful party is advance preparation. The more you can do before, the more re­laxed and able to enjoy your party you will be. Which brings to mind a dear friend who, pressed for time after cooking all day for a dinner party (and faced with a very dirty kitchen and guests soon to arrive) had to put all of her dirty dishes and pots and pans into the garage to clean later! When I comple­mented her on how organized she was, she reluctantly admitted why her car wasn’t parked in the garage that night!

A great summer party theme is a “Mexican Fiesta”. I would like to share with you my favorite Mexican “party” dish. It can be made in advance and frozen if ne­cessary, and can be tripled or quadrupled to serve a crowd! (My cousin served this to 150 people at her rehearsal dinner!) Add some cold and frothy Margaritas, chips and salsa and a mariachi band and you have a perfect summer party! (Don’t forget the Kahlua and cof­fee!)

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Casserole

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
12 6″ corn tortillas, cut to bite size
1-4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup jack cheese, grated
1 cup bottled salsa (your favorite)

In a medium saucepan combine onion, broth, celery and cilantro. Boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together undrained on­ion mixture, tortillas, diced chiles, chicken, soup, pepper and 1/2 cup of cheese. Pour into greased 13″x9″x2″ baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and salsa. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serves 10.

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