Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Healthy Obsessions

I have become way too obsessed lately with the combination of Ranch, taco seasoning and cream cheese.  I just can't help myself.  It's so darn tasty together.  So I'll give you this one last recipe with it, and hopefully it will stop for awhile.  I promise to enroll in the RTSCC rehab tomorrow. (Ranch, Taco Seasoning, Cream Cheese)

So, with this obsession, I decided to shake things up a bit, let loose, and do something downright wild!  Okay, maybe it's not wild, but CRAZY! Ha ha.  Really, neither of those.  But this recipe has got an unexpected twist.  It looks like enchiladas, right?  But it's not.  It's lasagna!  A strange but perfect melding of two of my favorite cuisines, Tex-Mex and Italian. When my husband took his first bite, he was really surprised, expecting a tortilla.  But it was so fantastically good!  It combines my new afore-mentioned obsession, and one of my most favoritest Tex-Mex things, chili gravy.

What is chili gravy, you ask?  It's the brown sauce you get in any Mexican restaurant, at least in Texas.  It's that oh-so-familiar thing that graces cheese enchiladas everywhere.  My chili gravy recipe comes from my favorite Tex-Mex cookbook author, Robb Walsh, who wrote "The New Tex-Mex Cookbook."  I first stumbled onto this recipe when my husband challenged me to make enchilada sauce that tastes like restaurant enchilada sauce.  After much research, I came upon a blog called by Lisa Fain.  She shared this recipe on her blog, and I was hooked.  I am now a huge fan of hers as well as Robb Walsh's.  I also own their cookbooks.

With this Tex-Mex Lasagna recipe, I chose to use chicken.  But it would work equally as well with ground beef, shredded beef, shredded pork, or ground turkey if you're a fan of leaner food.  Any which way you go, your tastebuds will end up in Texas.

I love being a Texan.

3 C cooked, shredded chicken
1 onion, chopped
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1/2 C sour cream
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet Ranch Dip mix
1/4 C jalapeno slices, chopped (use less if you're spice challenged)
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
1 recipe of chili gravy (recipe to follow)
2 C shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 lb lasagna noodles
Green onions, for garnish

Cook lasagna noodles according to directions.

Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Cook the onion and jalapenos in olive oil until tender.  Add in the chicken, cream cheese, garlic, sour cream, taco seasoning, and Ranch mix.  Cook and stir until the cream cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. **NOTE:  If the sauce seems too thick, add in 1/2 to 1 C water to loosen it up.  (I actually made a double batch of this, and I had to add 1 C water.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a 9 x 13 pan, layer lasagna noodles, chicken mixture, chili gravy, and repeat, ending with chili gravy. Sprinkle the shredded cheese all over the top.  Bake about 15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted and browned.  Garnish with green onions.

CHILI GRAVY (as adapted from Robb Walsh)

The reason I say "as adapted from" is that I've found that, when doubling or tripling this recipe, doubling or tripling the spices and seasonings doesn't work for me.  It becomes almost bitter and really salty, which is weird because I'm heavy handed with salt.  This recipe is tripled for the lasagna.

3/4 C lard or vegetable oil
3/4 C flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 T chili powder
6 C chicken stock

Heat a skillet to medium high heat and melt the lard.  Whisk in the flour and all of the seasonings and spices.  Slowly pour in the chicken stock and whisk continuously to prevent lumps.  Cook until thickened and bubbly.

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