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Fox Valley Cooks: Layered casserole ideal for potlucks

MarciDuvick slices onions use her Southwest Chicken Casserole that
is prepared layers like lasagna. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News

Marcia Duvick slices onions to use in her Southwest Chicken Casserole that is prepared in layers like lasagna. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News

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Southwest Chicken

1/4 cup margarine

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

10.75-ounce can of cream of mushroom soup

10.75-ounce can cream of chicken soup

10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies

14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cups cooked chicken

12 soft corn tortillas

3 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese mixture

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a 3.5-quart kettle, cook peppers and onion in margarine until tender, about five minutes. Add soups, tomatoes and chicken. Stir until blended. Tear tortillas into small pieces. Using a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, start layering ingredients beginning with four torn tortillas. Add a third of soup mixture and a third of cheese. Repeat two more times creating three layers. Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.

Updated: November 27, 2012 10:30AM

Marcia Duvick, a lifelong Aurora resident, enjoys cooking as much as her mother did.

“She was always trying new recipes,” Duvick said. “She would make it and have the family taste it. She would then ask, ‘is it a keeper?’ If we liked it, she would keep the recipe, if not; she would throw out the recipe.

“I am the same way. If I see a new recipe, I just have to make it.”

Marcia’s test group is her three adult children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.

“I am so lucky that they all live close by, and I can see them often,” she says.

Duvick looks for recipes that are easy but delicious. Casseroles that can be made and baked in one dish are ones she selects most often. She also loves to make soup. One of her favorites is bean soup, which she makes with the bone leftover from a ham dinner.

“I pull out a big Dutch oven and add some cut up onion, celery and carrots,” she says. “I also add some pepper but no salt because the ham is already salty. I put in a pound of great northern beans, cover it all with water and let it simmer for a couple of hours. The ham falls off the bone into the soup and the beans thicken it.”

Duvick often sends home soup to friends and family in recycled glass jars. She also freezes portions of her soup in freezer containers to enjoy later.

After making a recipe once, Duvick often changes it to make it her own when she makes it a second time. She finds that some things need more liquid, less cheese or a milder mix of seasonings to please her palate. She subscribes to two recipe magazines, “Everyday Foods” and “Food and Family,” which supply her with many recipe ideas. She looks forward to each issue so she can begin experimenting with new flavors.

One of her family’s favorite “keeper recipes” is a Southwest Chicken Casserole. She found the recipe several years ago on a tomato can label but has changed the ingredients to suit her family’s tastes.

“It is made like a lasagna,” Duvick says. “The ingredients go in layers, but instead of noodles, there are corn tortillas.”

The casserole can be prepared in advance and refrigerated overnight until it is time to bake it.

Duvick notes that the casserole must be allowed to sit for 20 to 30 minutes after removing it from the oven.

“If you don’t let it sit, it will not slice very well,” she cautions.

The casserole stays warm for a long period of time, which makes it ideal for taking to potluck dinners or family gatherings. When Duvick serves the casserole for dinner, she adds a simple tossed salad and crusty French bread to make the meal complete.

The casserole can also be made using leftover turkey and is a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers.

Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact columnist Judy Buchenot at

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