Monday, September 13, 2010

This one's for the girls

On my moms board, that is.

A good idea is always community property with us. It doesn't matter if it's a photography pose, a craft project, or a recipe. If someone comes up with something wonderful, we're always going to share the wealth. That's how we all came to the wonder that is salsa chicken.

I love the simplicity of salsa chicken. Take one slow cooker, add chicken and salsa, and anything beyond that is gravy. Literally. Yum. There are a couple of good recipes for it floating around the board, but my favorite way to do it is to go Iron Chef on it: take the secret ingredient, look at what I've got and make it work. Yesterday, after an unfortunate Lightning McQueen incident led to the destruction of my plans for roasted chicken with Paula Deen's cornbread dressing, I had to shift gears quickly. And I needed something simple since I suddenly had to clean two pounds of spilled cornmeal off my kitchen floor.

I threw my chicken in the Crock Pot, poured on a pint of mild salsa, and started to look around. Now, I've stopped with just the salsa before, and it was great. I've also added a variety of other things. At different points, my salsa chicken has included Velveeta, hand shredded cheddar, mushroom soup, queso fresco, sour cream, homemade bechamel, even mayonnaise. Today, it ended up with a can of cream of chicken soup, some chicken broth, and some cubed cream cheese. Six hours later? Tomato-y, spicy, creamy goodness. I poured it over green chile rice. Heaven.

But it was heaven that had leftovers. And in my house, that means a snack-time application of the Pizza Principle. Except there was a complication. No pizza crust.

That should never keep anyone from trying a recipe, however. Substitutions are part of that whole "necessity is the mother of invention" thing. So I looked around. What could stand in for a crust? Well, given the southwestern nature of the chicken, I drafted some flour tortillas.

But a plain old tortilla isn't going to say pizza. It's going to say drippy mess. That's why there was a quick spray of oil and a turn in a hot pan to crisp it up.

Next, a heaping scoop of salsa chicken, and a smattering of mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and it's ready for the oven.

And 10 minutes at 400 degrees later, I've got a delicious snack out of leftovers, improvisations and odds and ends. If I'd had them, I could have added peppers, olives, or other veggies to bump up the nutritional value. However, oddly, at midnight on a Sunday night, when you're watching True Blood and feeling a little peckish, nutrition isn't the first thing on your mind.

But from now on, I'm making sure I've got a scoop or two in reserve when I make salsa chicken, because this was totally worth the effort.


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