Today is clean out the fridge day. The ingredients I want to use up are:
-Homemade frijoles de olla (garlicy pinto beans cooked with chipolte and epazote)
-Roasted tomato salsa (also homemade and very hot)
-Two open containers of cream cheese from a NJ bagel shop. One is plain the other is veggie cream cheese. This place uses fresh veggies in its cream cheese (peppers, onions, celery, carrots.)
-Some frozen chicken that has been in the freezer for about a year. (bone-in breasts, thighs, legs)
-Corn and flour tortillas, an open bag of tortilla chips.
-Various kinds of cheese, including queso fresco, cheddar (extra sharp and mild), a Mexican melting cheese, etc.
I am thinking about some kind of layered casserole, but I really have never made anything like this before. I make casseroles, but not usually the tex/mex layered kind. My pantry, fridge and freezer are stocked with many other ingredients I can add, especially veggies.
My plan is to poach the chicken in stock and shred it. (I find it is one of the best uses for chicken that has been in the freezer too long.) Next mix cream cheese and salsa with the shredded chicken while it is still warm so the cream cheese blends well. Next do some kind of layering with the beans and either tortillas or tortilla chips and cheese.
Here are some of areas that I'd like your thoughts on:
-Should I use the plain cream cheese or the veggie cream cheese in the mixture with the chicken?
-Leave the beans whole or make them into re-fried before using them in a layer?
-Use corn or flour tortillas or the tortilla chips for the layers (Or a combination, like corn tortillas on the bottom and middle and chips on the top?)
-It seems like it needs some other dimension, especially veggies. What veggies would work? Corn, spinach, fresh asparagus, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, celery?
-What about using a jarred Salsa Verde as an additional component?
-Which cheese would work best or use a combination?
I am trying to think of ways to lighten it up/provide textural contrast so it is not just layers of cheesey, beany mush, which is why I don't usually make this kind of casserole.