Mom’s Chicken Chalupas

The best things don’t always come from mom’s kitchen, but they often begin there.

For most of my years living at home, my mom just didn’t enjoy cooking. She thought of it more as work than a fun activity and often relied on convenience products. As we moved through high school college, she experimented with a greater variety of recipes. I’m sure the fact that we were older and more independent resulted in days filled with more time and less stress.

In her later years, she spent a lot of time caring for her own mother who lived in an assisted living facility in Burnsville, MN. It was here that she made many friends with whom she exchanged recipes. One of our family’s favorites was a casserole she called Chicken Chalupas. I recently discovered she had submitted this recipe in a cookbook published by my grandma’s care center. As usual, I added my own twists.

This past weekend, we attended a memorial service for my grandma’s sister-in-law, Agnes. My cousin found this photo of my mom while he was looking through Agnes’s old photo albums.

For some reason this makes me inexplicably happy.

Alice’s Chicken Chalupas

For a milder version, omit the jalapeno and spicy enchilada sauce. My mom grilled the chicken breasts which added a lot of flavor. We are not permitted to have a grill on our patio, so I sauteed the chicken breasts in olive oil with a spicy, steak seasoning. The original recipe also did not contain sauteed vegetables. You could omit these, or choose your own combination of vegetables. I did not measure them but would estimate I added 1-1 1/2 cups of sauteed mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers

Ingredients:
Cooked and seasoned boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cooled and cut into small pieces
1/4 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 lb. shredded pepper jack
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream (I used light).
1 small can of diced green chilies
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
2 tsp. cumin
Black pepper
3-4 stalks of green onions, chopped
1 red jalapeno, finely diced
1 small can of drained, sliced black olives
Sauteed mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers
1 package of flour tortillas (original recipe suggests eight-inch)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Mix the shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and set aside.

Combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, green chilies, cumin, and season with black pepper.

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and add the jalapeno, olives, half of the green onions, and sauteed vegetables.

Add half of the shredded cheese and all of the cut-up chicken.

Place a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in a tortilla. Roll and fold in the ends. Place in the baking dish and repeat until you use all of the chicken filling and the baking dish is full.

Top the filled tortillas with the rest of the sauce and spread until even. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and chopped scallions.

Bake for about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

To serve, I cut the casserole into squares and served with spicy, red enchilada sauce.

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