I am sharing my latest small batch recipe with you today for a delicious Chicken Con Queso bake. Translated into English, Con Queso means with cheese, so you can assume that this dish is a chicken dish with cheese.
But it is really so much more than that! This Chicken Con Queso bake is loaded with spicy chicken, rice and a rich and spicy cheesy sauce. And, best of all, it is perfectly sized for two people, or one with leftovers!
I was not lucky to have grown up with accessibility to Mexican Food or flavors. My parents had very simple tastes and it just wasn’t something we had in our home. I have no idea if it was widely available outside of our home either.
It just wasn’t something I had even heard of until I was an adult and raising children of my own. I believe I first experimented with Tex Mex flavors back in the early 1980′s when I tried a recipe from one of those sunset cookbook/magazines for Chicken Enchiladas.
And I have to say that it was really very simple. The recipe used very simple ingredients which were very easy for me to find at that time. A tin of tomatoes, cooked chicken and a tin of green chilies.
I adapted it to use leftover turkey from our Christmas turkey and my family fell in love with them. Totally and completely in love. From then on I had a family which would have been terribly disappointed had I not made them Turkey Enchiladas after Christmas!
Our thirst for Mexican food and flavors was kindled and I gradually started to expand my repertoire to include tacos and the like. We discovered a Mexican restaurant in London, Ontario where I lived at the time and our Tex Mex Palate expanded.
I started to make fajitas and chimichangas and nachos. I am not sure how authentic the food was, but it was surely enjoyed by us all at the time.
I still really enjoy Tex Mex flavors, and love to use them in my cooking. I have never been to Mexico, or to Texas for that matter. One of them might laugh me right out of town for this.
I only know for sure that this tastes good and is Tex Mex to me. That is enough. Its delicious and spicy, but not overly so. I am not really a fan of food that bites back.
I like a bit of spice, but I really want to “taste” what I am eating. I am not in favor of my tastebuds being burnt or overpowered by really “hot” stuff.
I want to be able to taste the chicken and the cheese, the chilies, the rice, the salsa. I think all of those flavors should complement each other and no one should overpower the other.
You can certainly amp up the heat in this if you want by adding extra chilies. Or by adding some hot sauce or using extra hot salsa. That is not me.
I think this is pretty perfect just as it is. The recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You need to cut the in half lengthwise. This helps to tenderize them.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are like a blank canvas, just waiting for you to write flavor on them. Their mild flavor goes with just about everything. They are perfect for recipes like this one.
If you can afford it, I would always go for free range and organic chicken, but I totally understand when people can’t afford to do so. Food is very expensive these days and we all need to trim our wicks accordingly.
I used a Mexican cheese dip for this and a good jarred salsa. I chose the “mild” version of each and it was perfect for me. I also used a small quantity of red pepper.
I like to buy my peppers when they are on offer. Then I chop them all up and freeze them in double zip lock baggies or airtight freezer containers. You can also do that when you get your hands on a lot of onions. They are very convenient to have ready to scoop out and use in things like this.
Convenience without having to pay the access price you would pay at the shops to buy frozen already chopped peppers and onions. A tiny bit of effort and you’re set to go! You can even do this in the late summer when the local farm shops are filled with fresh peppers and onions.
It can be a real money saver long term. And for recipes where the peppers are only going to be cooked such as this one, they are perfectly acceptable.
I also cook extra rice when I am cooking rice and freeze it in 1 cup measures in freezer containers. Also very handy to have in the freezer when you are making something quick and easy like this. I am all for convenience and making things easier whenever I can.
Altogether this is a really delicious and satisfying one dish casserole. It would go beautifully with some crusty bread on the side for your heartier appetites, or a simple salad on the side.
I like to garnish mine with a dollop of sour cream. Tex Mex and sour cream. A match made in heaven for me. If you are interested in a larger version of this tasty recipe, you can find that version here.
Chicken Con Queso (small batch)
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 10 Mincook time: 35 Mininactive time: 10 Mintotal time: 55 Min
Quite simply delicious. Tender pieces of chicken and rice with a fabulously spiced cheesy sauce.
- 2 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 package of taco seasoning mix
- 3 1/2 ounces (1/4 of a 300g jar) Mexican cheese dip (scant half cup)
- 3 1/2 ounces (1/4 jof a 300g) jar tomato salsa dip (scant half cup)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) half and half or single cream
- 1/2 green jalapeno pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
- 1 1/4 cups (200g) cooked rice
- 1/2 cup (60g) of four cheese blend
- chopped tomatoes and fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Prepare your chicken. Cut as required and then sprinkle the poultry with the taco seasoning mix, patting it into the meat on both sides.
- Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the poultry and brown it on both sides until golden. It will not be cooked through. Set aside.
- Mix the cream, cheese dip and salsa dip together in a bowl. Stir in the jalapeno and red pepper. Remove one fourth of the mixture and reserve.
- Stir the cooked rice into the remainder. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Lay the browned chicken cutlets on top. Pour the reserved cream/cheese/salsa mixture over all. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
- Cover the casserole dish tightly with a sheet of buttered/sprayed foil, sprayed side down.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and discard. Bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce bubbles. Cool for 10 minutes then garnish as desired and serve.
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