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Cook These Southwestern Dishes to Make Vacation Days Come to You

Vacation mode doesn’t need to be completely shut off this summer when it comes to adventurous eating. Now that you’ve mastered pretty much every banana bread and sourdough baking recipe, it’s time to evolve your culinary skills with some serious Southwestern flavors. Sure, it’s not a trip to Santa Fe or Phoenix, but you can still eat like you’re taking in the hot desert sun with the help of easy-to-find ingredients and some time in the kitchen. Here are five dishes from Campbell’s® to get you started.

Rosie Barker/Thrillist

Tamale Pie

Those individually wrapped frozen tamales you’ve been nibbling on in between Zoom meetings could use an upgrade. And that upgrade should be Tamale Pie, which makes enough servings of the comfort food for lunch, dinner, and rest-of-the-week leftovers. It features the same beef filling as tamales, but instead of being wrapped in a corn husk and steamed, it’s topped with a cheesy cornbread crust and baked to create a casserole-like dish. This recipe flavors the filling with Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato Soup, corn, and chili powder; but you could also add garlic powder, chopped bell peppers, salsa, cumin, or diced jalapeño for an extra kick. If you want to double the recipe and freeze your leftovers, store the beef mixture in an airtight plastic container in the freezer (it’ll keep for 3 months) and bake the cornbread topping when reheating to keep it tasting fresh. 

Taco Skillet

Rules are meant to be broken, and that includes ditching shells from your beef tacos. This Taco Skillet recipe puts torn-up tortillas into the beefy, cheesy, salsa-y mixture to give you your taco fix in spoonable form. The can of Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato Soup is non-negotiable, but if you’re vegetarian (or experimenting), you could substitute plant-based meat or roasted cauliflower for ground beef, or corn tortillas to make it gluten-free. Toss in a packet of taco seasoning for extra flavor, add corn and black or pinto beans for a heartier middle, and/or top with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro. Don’t forget a side of guacamole, either. And yes, you’re going to want seconds.

Rosie Barker/Thrillist

Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are the answer to what to do with that leftover chicken in your fridge, like in this Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas recipe, which builds its enchilada sauce from salsa, sour cream, chili powder, and Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup. To properly wrap your enchiladas, you need to start by heating the tortillas to make them more pliable, which you can do in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel, on the stove in a nonstick pan coated with oil, or in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil. Then, fill each tortilla, fold to tuck the contents, roll them until the enchilada is fully closed, and place in your baking dish with the seam facing down. Coating the dish with a bit of the soup mixture before placing the enchiladas will also help prevent sticking. Or, forgo the rolling entirely with this Easy Chicken Enchilada Skillet recipe, which swaps the tortillas for rice to deliver the same Southwestern flavor in a pan-sized presentation. Either recipe would work with shrimp, pork, or plant-based meat, too, so you can use up whatever protein you have on hand.

Santa Fe Chicken Saute

Salsa, black beans, corn, and cilantro give a Southwest kick to chicken breasts in this Santa Fe Chicken Saute. If you prefer your dishes spicier, don’t be afraid to go heavy-handed with the picante sauce, chili powder, and cumin, or even add extra extra spices like garlic powder. The chicken may be the star of the meal, but to really wow your family (and yourself), serve some Southwestern-style sides with your chicken like Spanish rice or grilled corn salad. To make the salad, cook ears of corn on the grill, then cut kernels off the cob and add red onion, green pepper, arugula, and cilantro, then toss with some olive oil. Top with cotija cheese and set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to fully blend together (giving you just enough time to cook the chicken).

Rosie Barker/Thrillist

Chicken & Corn Chili

A good pot of chili hits the spot year-round, but for summer, you want a recipe that won’t ask you to spend hours simmering it on the stove. Chicken & corn chili is a Southwest favorite, offers a great excuse to use that late summer sweet corn, and can be made in an Instant Pot or slow cooker. (Though if you don’t own either kitchen gadget, you could still easily make the dish on the stove using a 6-quart pot.) Both recipes start with a base of Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup, chicken breast, corn, cannellini beans, and green or red bell pepper, but their differences go beyond cookware. The Instant Pot White Chicken Chili gets its kick from salsa and chili powder, while the Slow Cooker Corn and Chicken Chili has a smoky and spicy flavor thanks to chipotles in adobo and cumin. Garnish the finished product with crushed tortilla chips, chopped jalapeño, cilantro, and avocado slices and serve with cornbread or biscuits on the side.