For my sister

Well, after 42 long weeks, my sister finally gave birth to Annabelle.  It seemed to be an easy labor until she was fully dilated and her epidural slipped out.  My poor sister felt all that terrible pain when she was least expecting it. And to top it all off, Annabelle had to be sucked out by a vacuum! But all is well.  She was born a hefty 8lbs, with a full head of dark brown, curly hair.

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She is still in the hospital at the moment, but should be going home tomorrow morning.  I was thinking of her when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner tonight.  She is nursing, so she needs all the nutrients she can get. If you know my sister, then you know she is not much on healthy foods. Her favorites come in a box having undergone the maximum processing.  And if you’ve seen the things I cook on my blog, then you know I am completely opposite.  So I tried to find a happy medium, for her sake.  This recipe is from the Better Homes & Garden cookbook, I just added a few things to make it a bit more healthy.

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I decided to go with a casserole since it’s a one dish meal that includes all the food groups. And she can make it ahead of time and there will be plenty of left overs.

Tex Mex Chicken Casserole 

Adapted from Better Homes & Garden cookbook

1/2 cup yellow onion

1 box of chicken rice & vermicelli (Rice-a-roni!)

2 cups cooked chicken (I boil 3 chicken breasts ahead of time, then cut into cubes)

2 cups water

1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth

1 cup tomatoes, chopped (about 3 roma tomatoes)

1 small can diced green chills

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

1 can black beans (rinsed)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely

1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups of your choice of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Sauté the onion over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil until tender.  Add rice, along with the seasoning, and cook and stir for 2 minutes or so. Add chicken broth and water, bring to a boil, then cover the mixture. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. The liquid will not all be absorbed.  In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except the cheese.  When everything is combined, transfer mixture to a 3 quart casserole dish.  Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle cheese on top, and place back in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how melty you like your cheese.  Sprinkle any remaining cilantro you might have laying around on top of the cheese.

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I know my sister will omit the onion, tomatoes, and cilantro, however, Stephanie, do not omit the spinach or black beans!! Baby Annabelle needs some good food! I love you, and I’m so proud of you. I hope you can get some use from this recipe.

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