With school starting and the summer festivities coming to an end, I spoke to a lot of my friends this past week about their thoughts as they move onto this next phase. I heard A LOT of one word, routine. It’s hard in the summer, with parties, vacations, great weather, etc. etc., to keep to a routine that fosters healthy eating. I know for myself, there is at least one night a week in the summer that whatever my plan was for dinner, it’s changed and it’s often not as healthy. Although things are more scheduled during the school year, I know that its just as busy if not more so. Because of this, some planning is necessary. If you can take a little time on Saturday or Sunday or, some other day that works for you, where you can make a few things in advance it will make for a happier and healthier week for you and your family. I generally make two meals a week in advance, a crock pot meal that is just a dump and cook I can throw together and let it cook all day and then refrigerate or freeze, and a casserole that I can freeze. I make enough of both so that I have plenty for lunches for myself and my husband. Along with that, I generally prep a few veggies and other ingredients for the meals I am making throughout the week, to add ease. As an example, this week I roasted zucchini and carrots to have with my breakfast and roasted some beets for our meal on Wednesday. When I make this recipe, I always cook 2 pounds of chicken instead of just one and use the other pound later in the week. These are simple things that take very little prep and will make your week easier and more delicious.
Being that I am from Southern California, my love for Mexican food cannot be properly expressed with words. Needless to say…I love it and I am picky about it. The first thing I do when I get home is head to my favorite hometown Mexican Restaurant and get Chili Relleno. Is it healthy? Absolutely not, but the cheesy deliciousness with the sometimes spicy poblanos gets me every time. This casserole is a homage to the wonderful dish with my own twist. Its smoky, cheesy, creamy, and utterly satisfying. Hominy may be an ingredient you have never used before. If so, when you take it out of the can, try a kernel. You will see that it has a creamy, buttery quality that is slightly sweet and salty and works extremely well with the smoky poblano peppers, savory chicken, and creamy cheese sauce. Hominy truly makes for the perfect foundation for the creamy casserole. This casserole is something you can make while working on other things and it freezes really well. I often make two at the same time and have one that week and the second later in the month. I serve it with a fresh side salad and some greek yogurt to act as sour cream. Its one of my husband’s favorites.
I hope you enjoy, and as always,
Southwest Chicken Hominy Bake
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Turn on your broiler. Take 9x13 casserole pan and spray with spray oil.
There are multiple ways you could cook your chicken. If you want to just grill or roast, then shred them, that will work just fine, but I prefer to poach it in chicken stock. The reason for this is two fold, 1.) It ends up super moist with the added flavor of the stock, 2.) it creates a really wonderful fortified stock that you can use in other soups. The fortified stock can be refrigerated and used within 7 days, or I often freeze it and use it weeks later. There will be a recipe coming within the next few weeks that use this stock.
If choosing to poach the chicken, bring stock up to a simmer and season with 2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (to taste, add more if necessary) and 1 tsp cumin. Add cleaned chicken breast to stock and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, until your thermometer reads 160 degrees. Set aside to cool and once cooled enough to handle, shred with either or fork or your hands. I find it much easier to do with my hands.
Cool stock in refrigerator and then, if freezing, add to either plastic bag or freezable container and put in freezer for future use in another recipe.
While the chicken is cooking, line sheet pan with foil and place poblano peppers on pan. Broil 4 to 5 minutes on each side, watching carefully.
They should be charred and cooked on all sides. Once cooked, take the roasted peppers and put into a large plastic bag. Seal and let sit for 10 minutes until cooled. Turn oven down to 400 degrees.
Once cooled, take out peppers and, one by one, peel away the skin. It should come off pretty easily. Roughly chop the peppers and set aside.
Line pan with foil and spray with oil. Add Cauliflower, season with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 pepper and roast until slightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
While cauliflower is cooking, we are going to make the sauce. Heat large saute pan to medium heat. Add 2 and 3/4 cups of the almond milk and heat to a slight simmer. With the remaining 1/4 cup of almond milk, whisk in flour to make a slurry and add to the simmering milk, briskly whisking.
Cook until sauce completely coats the back of a spoon. Then add 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. each pepper and paprika, and 1/2 tsp. each ground cumin and garlic powder. Mix in 1.5 cups of Fat Free Mozzarella and whisk until combined. Set sauce aside. Notice that it will thicken as it cools so before you assemble your casserole, you may need to heat it up slightly and add a little chicken stock to thin.
In food processor, combine hominy, cauliflower, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, egg and 1.5 tsp. ground cumin. Process until coarsely blended.
To assemble casserole: In pre-sprayed 9x13 pan-
1- Put 1/3 cup of sauce and spread over bottom of the pan and add 1/2 of Hominy mixture and spread out as a even layer in the bottom of the pan.
2- Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese
3- Add all of the shredded chicken
4- On top of chicken, add chopped green chilies and another 1/3 of the sauce
5- Add last half of hominy mixture and spread to the edges
6- Add last third of sauce and spread to edges
7- add 1/2 cup mozzarella
At this time you can wrap tightly and freeze if making ahead. (Try to lay a piece of plastic wrap on the casserole so that it is touching the sauce/cheese on top. This will help make sure a film does not form.)
When ready, take thawed casserole and cover with foil, roast at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Adjust heat to 450 degrees and take off foil. Continue to bake for another 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned on top and bubbling.
Serve with a side salad and enjoy.
I served with a heirloom tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar and creamy goat cheese.
Weight Watchers Recipe Builder is HERE
Nutrition Label as per MyFitnessPal is HERE