There is an area of the city I live in known for ocean views, high end real estate, and fabulous people.
The place where "everybody who's anybody" is rumoured to live.
Conversely, I reside in an area which, given my penchant for the southern United States, is rather ironic.
This because my neck of the woods is known as 'the deep south' - where horse poop on the side of the road is an everyday occurence and the odd discarded dishwasher in someone's front yard is a way of life.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Say what you want about rednecks.
At least they're authentic.
Which brings me to my story...
A few weeks ago my husband and I were out to dinner with a couple we met through his business; people who have made a small fortune buying and selling real estate.
On its own I was genuinely happy for them, but it was the woman's attitude that put me off.
Have you ever been to a middle of the road restaurant where someone requests a wine list?
Not only did she swirl, and sniff, and make a production out of the whole thing when her wine arrived, she commented that the vintage was pleasing to her.
Friends, it was Sommet Rouge, which retails at $7.50 a bottle.
In truth, the whole thing made me kind of sad. Because underneath all the posing, silliness, and discount wine, are human beings.
People who have lost touch with what that means.
Conditioned to strive for an illusion of success, salivating for more as the powers that be in our warped North American culture continue to ring the bell.
I wish everybody would just slow down.
I wish we'd get off the treadmills, and the cell phones, and the blackberries, and plant some flowers.
Not because we want to impress people with our expensive taste, and our beautiful gardens, but because we think they're pretty, they make us feel good, and we like the way they smell.
It's the same thing with food.
People eating according to the latest trend.
But just as there is room for food that is vibrant and fresh with interesting, nouveau ingredients, we should continue to reserve space in our pantries and our hearts for dishes that have stood the test of time.
Dishes our mother's and grandmother's lovingly put on the table when budgets were stretched and money was tight.
Creamy casseroles that tasted delicious because they were imprinted with our mother's touch and infused with love.
Something that no amount of money could ever buy.
This evening the snow turned to rain, life's varying stressors had crept back in, and I had a craving for chicken casserole.
The kind my mom used to make.
And this being the tail end of the week leading to grocery day, I had a few food items kicking around I wanted to use like sour cream, and salsa.
The end result was a creamy, delicious chicken casserole with a tex mex flare.
Tex Mex Chicken Casserole
For printable recipe click HERE
* 1 1/3 cups uncooked white rice
* 2 2/3 cups water
* 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
* 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
(can also use KRAFT tex mex blend for the cheese)
* 2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
*1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 1/2 cups mild salsa
*1/2 tablespoon Emeril's creole seasoning (optional)
1. Place rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place chicken breast halves into a large saucepan, and fill the pan with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes, or until done. Remove chicken from water. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and the creole seasoning while still warm.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
4. In a medium bowl, combine Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together soup, sour cream, onion, and salsa. Layer 1/2 of the rice, 1/2 of the chicken, 1/2 of the soup and salsa mixture, and 1/2 of the cheese mixture in prepared dish. Repeat layers, ending with cheese.
5. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until bubbly.
6. Let rest 20-30 minutes before serving.