A Blue-Chip Dinner Idea

Sometimes, despite my gourmet ambitions, I want a quick and easy dinner. Unwilling to fall back on the ordinary potato-chip-topped tuna casserole, to which Newsweek recently declared we're all returning, I have found an easy alternative: blue corn chip casserole.

Growing up in Los Angeles and the Southwest, I've developed a love for the flavor of corn and chiles, and this casserole satisfies many of those cravings.

The rest of this meal is as simple to prepare as the casserole and just different enough not to feel like the same old thing. As a matter of fact, this meal has become a requested dinner in our house, as it may become in yours. And if there is any left over, the casserole reheats well and freezes wonderfully.

You can substitute regular corn chips for the blue kind. But though the casserole recipe can be adapted to low-fat or nonfat ingredients, I've found that low-fat baked corn chips do not have the earthy taste of regular blue corn chips.


Blue Corn Chip Casserole

Salad with Fresh Cucumber Dressing

Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

Raspberry Lemonade





Buttermilk pancake mix

Granulated and brown sugars

Vanilla extract




Salt and pepper

Garlic salt

1 egg

Shopping List

1 pound ground beef, chicken or turkey

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

1 (8-ounce) carton cottage cheese

1/2 pound Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1 (8-ounce) bag blue corn chips

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

2 (2 1/4-ounce) cans sliced black olives

1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce

1 tomato

4 radishes

2 cucumbers

4 lemons

Raspberry syrup

4 to 5 peaches

2 (16-ounce) cartons vanilla ice cream, optional

Game Plan

Night or Morning Before: Assemble casserole and refrigerate until ready to cook. Wash and crisp lettuce. Make raspberry lemonade.

1 Hour Before: Bake casserole. Assemble cobbler.

Last Minute: Remove casserole from oven. Place cobbler in oven to bake during main course. Make salad dressing and pour over chilled salad.


1 teaspoon oil

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 pound ground beef, chicken or turkey

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

1 cup sliced black olives

1 (8-ounce) bag blue corn tortilla chips

1/2 pound Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add onion, meat and garlic salt and brown meat. Add tomato sauce and heat through. Set aside.

Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, chiles and olives (reserving few olives for garnish) in small bowl.

Crush tortilla chips and place layer of chips on bottom of 3-quart casserole. Top with layer of meat mixture, then layer of chile-cottage cheese mixture and layer of shredded cheese. Repeat layers, ending with chips, then some shredded cheese and olives for garnish.

Bake casserole at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

486 calories; 856 mg sodium; 73 mg cholesterol; 33 grams fat; 25 grams carbohydrates; 23 grams protein; 2.58 grams fiber.


1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce

1 tomato

4 radishes

2 cucumbers, peeled and cut in large cubes

3 cloves garlic, diced

Salt, pepper

Break up lettuce head into bite-size pieces. Slice tomato and radishes. Combine lettuce, tomato and radishes in salad bowl and chill. Chill cucumber until ready to serve salad.

Place cucumber, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in blender and process until smooth. Pour over chilled salad just before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

24 calories; 47 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.94 gram fiber.


3/4 cup sugar

1 quart water

Juice of 3 to 4 lemons

1/2 cup bottled raspberry syrup

Dissolve sugar in water. Add lemon juice and raspberry syrup. Stir and chill.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

104 calories; 3 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 27 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0 fiber.


4 to 5 large peaches, peeled and sliced

Granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups buttermilk pancake mix

3/4 cup low-fat milk

1 teaspoon melted butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

Vanilla ice cream, optional

Place peaches in 9-inch square glass dish or round souffle dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup granulated sugar over peaches only if fruit needs sweetening.

Place pancake mix, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract in mixing bowl. Combine to make smooth batter. Pour batter over peaches. Sprinkle brown sugar over batter.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden on top and sides bubble, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

345 mg sodium; 36 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 47 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.32 grams fiber.

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