Mexican Chicken and Rice Lettuce Wraps

I remember being asked quite often when I was a little girl what my favorite color was. From preschool through 6th grade, I was thoroughly convinced it was blue. My eyes are blue, my blue crayons were always used up the fastest, I loved blue dresses and clothing, and I loved drawing myself with a blue bow in my hair. 

Later, my favorite color merged to black. I LOVED black. I was fully soaked in my music, and the most professional thing we wore was our "concert black". I felt my best in black (not in a gothic-dark-stuff way), just in a holy-smokes-my-closet-is-half-black-shirts kind of way. 

Fast forward to my married life. I started to grow what little garden I could fit into my balcony pots. I loved to see everything grow. I grew to appreciate the life of a seed and it's journey to full planthood. I loved the deep dark greens, the neon yellow greens, and the gorgeous richness of the fruits they brought forth for us to eat. I grew to adore the magic of things that grow; how just a tiny little seed can burst into a juicy tomato, or a sunflower over 12 feet tall (15 feet as of yesterday - no joke!!!) Although green isn't my favorite color (black is still at the forefront), I use green so often in my kitchen. I try to make sure we have at least one green thing on our plate at each meal (including breakfast - green smoothies still going strong!) And can I just say, green is the PERFECT way to turn a regular casserole, into an AMAZING wrap! 

We have fallen head-over-heels for this Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole by the darling Carrian at Oh Sweet Basil, but felt like we needed to wrap it up in either a tortilla or something. We tried it, and it was great! But we felt like there needed to be some green, and less well... tortilla. So after trying one of our new favorite Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps, we've kind of adored the idea of wrapping things in lettuce. I feel like I can eat more wraps if I have them in lettuce (the tortillas fill us up a little too fast). We loaded them up with all our favorite toppings, and slathered on as much of that delicious chicken and rice as possible. It was love at first bite, and we seriously gobbled this up like crazy!! This casserole is perfect as is, but I promise the lettuce wrap was kind of a revelation. A-MAZING. Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken and Rice Lettuce Wraps
makes 8 servings 

1 1/2 C long grain rice
2 1/4 C water
1 packet of traditional mild or medium Old El Paso sauce packet (in latino section)
1 T brown sugar
2 C cooked & shredded taco chicken, (leftover grilled chicken works great, too)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
toppings: green onion, olives, cilantro
butter lettuce or romaine lettuce for wraps

1. Add water, sauce packet and brown sugar to a rice cooker, follow rice cooker instructions. (Or you can cook rice in a saucepan with a fitting lid. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes, or until done). 
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep a casserole dish with a little cooking spray. 
3. In a separate large bowl, toss together rice, chicken, beans, and 1/2 the cheese. Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, cover, and bake for 20 minutes. 
4. Serve with toppings, and place mixture into lettuce wraps, taco style. Enjoy! 

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