King Ranch Chicken on the Fly

What happens when you’re starving and so is your significant other and they come home from work an hour and a half later than usual? You get creative.

King Ranch Chicken: History
A quick background for those of you not from Texas: King Ranch Chicken is not Chicken a la King, it’s chicken breast that’s coupled with some sort of noodle, queso or cheese sauce and southwestern veggies (onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, mushrooms) to make it a little spicy, it also generally involves crunchy chips-tortilla or on occasion Doritos. It’s a great comfort food and can be made many different ways with varying degrees of spiciness to your taste. Here’s a Texas Monthly article which lines out the general idea:

Notes: My King Ranch Chicken on this night was *not* a casserole because I was in a hurry. I built it out of a pre-existing box of cheesy tuna noodle Tuna Helper and cooked it in a skillet, I also skipped the tortilla chips and went for Triscuits because we didn’t have chips but had Triscuits. I also didn’t follow the typical use of several soups to make the sauce, mainly because it was a skillet meal. Technically, this version is healthier than the traditional version but this one is not exactly health food, you could sub for whole wheat pasta, use lighter meat and non-canned veggies to get a healthier result but the time would be lengthened and the whole point of this meal was to be fast.

King Ranch Chicken Ingredients:
1 box Tuna Helper-Cheesy Tuna Noodle
1 can Extra Spicy Ro-Tel (can also use off brand, can also use mild or regular dependent on your taste)
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/2 bag baby bella mushrooms (you can use whatever mushroom you want)
1/2 lg red onion (can sub other onions as you see fit)
3 TBS Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese (any whipped cream cheese will do)
Seasonings to taste (I used paprika, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper)
3 Chicken breasts

King Ranch Chicken Directions
Cook your chicken in a skillet on med-high heat until white on the inside using half a cup of water to keep the chicken moist. You may choose to cook some of your veggies with the chicken to impart flavor.
Add the box directed amount of water and noodles for your area and reduce heat to med as suggested on the box.
Ignore box directions for butter and milk, instead add your whipped cream cheese and a quarter cup of water, mix in cheese sauce mix, stir until the mix is evenly distributed.
Toss in your veggies and the can of tomatoes and green chilies, drain 1/4 to 1/2 the liquid in the can before dispensing can contents into your skillet or your end product will be a little spicy and rather watery.
Cook on med heat until noodles are done, cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes so that the cheese mix may thicken as it cools.
Serve over chips or eat with Triscuits or other crackers.

It’s not the most attractive food, but it cooked up fast (20 minutes) and tasted just fine.


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