The Rhymes With Smile Gastronomic Philosophy

Santa Fe Enchilada Bake (adapted from a kraftfoods.com recipe)

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 c. salsa
1 (10-oz) package frozen corn
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook and stir chicken, onions, and peppers in large skillet over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes).  Stir in salsa and corn*.
Cut tortillas into quarters.  Layer half the tortilla pieces on the bottom of a 13x9 inch casserole dish.  Spread half the chicken mixture on top.  Spoon half the sour cream and half the cheese over the chicken mixture.  Repeat layers of tortillas, chicken mixture, sour cream, and cheese, and cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.  Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.  

*I have now made this twice.  The first time, I stirred in the corn like the recipe said.  Then I found about 1/2 c. of seasoned rice in my fridge, so I threw that in too.  I believe there were some black beans as well that made it in.  The second time, I used seasoned ground beef instead of chicken, and I had the ingenious idea to puree some cooked carrots and a little bit of leftover sweet potato.  I used that in place of some of the salsa.  I also found myself without sufficient quantities of sour cream, so I stirred in 4 oz. (half a package) of cream cheese and cooked the meat mixture over low heat until the cheese was melted.  What I'm trying to tell you is this: throw in what you have, substitute what you don't have, and just go with it.  

This recipe was on the back of the Kraft Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese blend bag that I found myself in possession of not too long ago.  I used to overlook the recipes on the packaging but this time I decided to make these layered enchiladas.  They were pretty good, and it made a giant dish of food that I got to share with these ladies at our reBoonion (get it?  rhymes with reunion ... unfortunately, it's not original.  Thanks to my brother for that one):
We had this awesome, wonderful, amazing semi-surprise reunion with B (in the front middle) who's home from gallavanting the world for a few weeks.  Loads of fun.

What does this have to do with my Gastronomic Philosophy, you ask?  Well, nothing, except that the recipe made me think about some food mottos I've been adopting.  I'm ready when you are.

(a) If a manufacturer is willing to put a recipe on their packaging, it's probably pretty good.  Think about it: that manufacturer is staking their entire sales pitch to you on a recipe that can fit in a 3x3" square.  So you've got to believe they're doing some research and putting some thought into it.  It must be worth trying.  This is a new lesson I'm learning (I've made banana bread from the flour bag and salmon burgers from the can of salmon, too.  I have yet to be disappointed by this mantra)

(b) Along those same lines, when a restaurant names an entree after themselves, it's worth ordering.  My favorite breakfast at the local hippie vegetarian eatery?  The Gillie's Special.  Think about how Gillie's is putting not only their name, but everything their name stands for, behind their breakfast special.  Potatoes?  Check.  Eggs?  Check.  Salsa and cheese?  Checkity check.  Throw the buttery biscuit on the side, and I'm a believer in the fact that a sans-meat breakfast served by a hipster waiter can be awesome, tasty, and overwhelmingly filling.

(c) In choosing a restaurant - especially in a college town where good eateries are somewhat lacking - this is the best advice I've heard: look for the places that attract both old people and young people.  Old people don't put up with bad food.  Young people like cheap food.  So when you see both, you know you'll be getting good quality without paying ridiculous prices for it.  

(d) When all else fails, make Mexican.