Southwestern cheesy chicken and rice casserole

This Southwestern cheesy chicken and rice casserole is an incredibly easy and delicious dish that your family will absolutely adore! It’s prepared with cheese, instant rice, black beans, corn, and a handful of other ingredients, making it a fast and convenient addition to your dinner rotation.

Up Close: Southwestern cheesy chicken and rice casserole being served from a baking dish

This article is made possible by a collaboration with the Iowa Corn Board. I am thrilled to partner with them to present this delectable cheesy chicken and rice bake and share insights about Iowa’s corn farming.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of returning to Iowa for the second year in a row to participate in the #IACornQuest, an annual event organized by the Iowa Corn Board, allowing bloggers to explore corn production in this remarkable state. I must say, this experience has been one of the best brand-sponsored trips I’ve ever had. When I share this sentiment with fellow bloggers, they often look at me with admiration, but it’s genuinely true. The fantastic people who comprise the Iowa Corn Board and the warm-hearted Iowa corn farmers we interact with made it an unforgettable two days.

For those new to following my adventures, I invite you to discover my journey from last year as well as indulge in some Slow Cooker Bacon Potato Corn Chowder.

Connecting with the Roots of Your Corn

If you’ve been following my journey from last year, you’ve likely learned a wealth of information about the corn industry. Did you know that if Iowa were a separate nation, it would rank as the third-largest corn producer globally? This achievement is largely attributable to Iowa’s optimal growing conditions, including its fertile soil and favorable climate. What’s truly astounding is that corn is an essential ingredient in over 4,000 different products, benefiting not only Iowa but also the rest of us.

Another remarkable aspect of Iowa’s corn production is the dedication of family farmers who have been cultivating corn for over a century. Surprisingly, 97% of Iowa’s corn is grown on family farms. Often, we tend to think of agriculture as a corporate enterprise, but more often than not, it’s the result of generations of hardworking families.

One of my favorite farming families in Iowa is the Blairs. Kellie Blair, in particular, stands out as a true ambassador for Iowa corn. She exudes friendliness, intelligence, and a profound passion for corn farming. For an intimate glimpse into their farm life, be sure to follow Kellie on Instagram!

Generations of Corn Farming Excellence

The Blairs reside on a farm that has been passed down through generations, with the very room that now serves as their office being the same room where Kellie’s husband’s grandfather was born. This farm has remained in their family for an impressive 100 years.

The Blairs cultivate soybeans, corn, and raise cattle. All the corn they grow is specifically for feeding their cattle. In fact, approximately 26% of the corn produced in Iowa is designated for animal feed. What’s truly admirable about the Blairs is their unwavering commitment to continuous improvement. Last year, Kellie talked extensively about their attendance at Iowa State classes to stay ahead of the curve in terms of farming innovations and conservation practices. This year, Kellie pointed out a cover crop that their cows were grazing on in a field across from where we stood, a practice that entails extra work for farmers. However, it’s beneficial for the soil, prevents water contamination, and proves to be excellent for their cows!

The Role of Technology in Modern Farming

Much like last year, I was deeply impressed by the farmers’ dedication to not only growing an exceptional crop but also nurturing the land for future generations to farm. One significant way the Blairs and similar farmers contribute to land sustainability is through the use of genetically modified corn seed. GMO corn seeds reduce pesticide usage, lower food costs, diminish toxins, enhance food safety, improve water and soil quality, and contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the aspects I particularly appreciate about Kellie Blair is that she’s a mother. We found common ground discussing various aspects of motherhood, from resolving sibling conflicts to receiving calls from school. She even generously shared her peanut butter M&M’s with me, officially making her my new best friend.

This may sound somewhat cliché, but when I contemplated which recipe to share with you to highlight my Iowa corn journey, I wanted it to be one that I could envision Kellie preparing for her family after a long, tiring day. This Southwestern-inspired Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole is a surefire hit for any busy family! My own family savored it at the end of a hectic day filled with activities, and my kids simply couldn’t get enough.

A Note About Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

This recipe calls for two cans of condensed cream of chicken soup, making it incredibly simple to prepare with just about 5 minutes of prep time. If you have more time on hand and wish to make the recipe entirely from scratch, consider using my homemade condensed cream of chicken soup and double the recipe.

How to Bake Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole in the Oven

The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity. Just toss all the ingredients into a baking dish, give it a good stir, and pop it in the oven. That’s all there is to it! Plus, it reheats wonderfully as leftovers.

  1. Combine chicken, salsa, rice, cream of chicken soup, black beans, corn, and shredded cheese in a baking dish.
  2. Cover and bake for 60 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes.

Of course, the corn in this dish is nothing short of perfect. Thanks to Iowa for producing corn that finds its way into countless products we use daily.

Other Delightful Corn-Incorporated Dinners

  1. Shrimp Tacos
  2. Instant Pot Chicken Taco Soup
  3. Roasted Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette Dressing
  4. Taco Stuffed Peppers

If you decide to make this Southwest Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole or any of my other dinner recipes, please leave a comment to share your thoughts. I always appreciate hearing from you!

A Southwestern cheesy chicken and rice casserole being spooned out of a baking dish.

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