Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Mexican Cornbread Casserole platedHappy Cinco de Mayo! This recipe is like a mash up of my Mexican Casserole and a tamale pie recipe I’ve tried in the past. And for my fellow home cooks who like quick recipes, the 35 minutes baking time is the longest you have to wait.  I love shortcuts, so if you do not have all the required spices in your cupboards you can also use a packet of taco seasoning. Since there is only two of us at home to eat this, I used half the meat and only one box of the Jiffy cornbread mix and an 8×8 baking pan. Otherwise I used the same amount of all the other ingredients. For my vegetarian friends, omit the ground beef and add pinto beans.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (8.5 ounce) boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend; separated into 1/2 cup and 1 cup
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (10 ounce) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 1 1/2 cup chunky salsa

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile in a large bowl, prepare Jiffy cornbread mix by combining mix, eggs and milk. Stir well then add 1/2 cup grated Mexican cheese blend. Set aside. (If you like some extra spice, add a small can of diced green chilies to the cornbread mixture.)
  2. In a skillet add olive oil and cook ground beef over medium high heat until cooked through. Drain any grease. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the meat mixture in skillet. Mix well and remove from heat.
  4. In a 9X13 baking pan, add meat and vegetable mixture. Top with 1 cup grated Mexican blend cheese.
  5. Add prepared cornbread mixture on top of cheese layer. Be sure to spread out evenly.
  6. Bake in oven for 33-35 minutes or until cornbread turns golden.  Enjoy with your favorite beverage.

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Spiced Lentil Soup With Bacon

lentil-soupI made this soup on a rainy and windy day. And boy, can I tell you that it hit the spot! Nothing like a hot bowl of soup with just a little kick of curry to warm your tummy. For my vegetarian friends, use vegetable broth and skip the bacon and add 1 cup of chopped kale or collard greens instead.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into thin slices or cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley or celery leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.  About 4-5 minutes. Drain the fat.
  2. Add the olive oil, onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, garlic, curry powder and thyme, stirring constantly and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add in the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring often.
  5. Pour in the lentils and the chicken stock. Season generously with fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Raise heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  8. Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender. Protect your hand from the steam with a kitchen towel placed over lid and purée the soup until smooth.
  9. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  10. If you are making this vegetarian style, now is the time to add 1 cup chopped kale or collard greens and cook for 5 minutes more or until your greens are tender.
  11. Serve with chopped parsley or celery leaves.

lentil-soup-pot

Frijoles Charros (Mexican Cowboy Beans)

frijoles-charrosI’ve been on a Mexican food kick lately. Whenever I eat something at any restaurant, I always think to myself, “I wonder what they used to make this?” I’ve had these beans numerous times at my favorite Mexican restaurant. And I finally decided to try to recreate their recipe, but of course make it as easy and simple as possible. They turned out delicious! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. For my vegetarian friends, substitute with seitan bacon or use a few drops of liquid smoke and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4-5 slices of bacon, chopped into small strips
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Over medium high heat, add bacon pieces to large saucepan. Stir bacon pieces 2-3 minutes until mostly cooked. Drain excess fat from pan.
  2. Add diced onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes to bacon in pan. Stir until combined.
  3. Next add pinto beans and beef broth. Stir well and bring liquid to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve as either the main course or a side dish.

frijoles-charros-pot

 

Turkey Chili

Turkey ChiliAm I the only one that makes casseroles, chili, soups and stews all year round? Sure, they warm your belly in the winter months, but why shouldn’t you make your belly happy all year long? This chili came from my mandatory weeks of softer foods diet. I mean don’t get me wrong, eating ice cream without feeling guilty was fun for a day. But I started wanting something tasty and filling and maybe even a little healthier. Bonus is this is a one pot dish. Less to clean up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (Yes, you read that correctly)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked brown or white rice (optional)
  • 1 cup water

SUGGESTED TOPPINGS:

  • cilantro or green onions, diced
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Over medium high heat, add olive oil to large pot. Cook turkey and onions until turkey is done and onions are tender. Drain any excess oil or liquid.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in order of list (red onions, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes… and finally, water.)
  3. Stir to mix well. When chili comes to a boil, lower heat to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  4. When ready to serve, top with cheese, sour cream and green onions or whatever you like to top your chili with.

Turkey Chili Pot

Quinoa Fiesta Casserole

Quinoa Fiesta Casserole PlatedI must admit it is hard to make (somewhat) vegetarian meals with a meat and potatoes loving son in my house. And I’m pretty sure I cannot give up chicken. But in my efforts to try to eat healthier, I decided to give quinoa a try. Yes, I know I am late to the quinoa party and there is probably some other grain that is more popular now.

This casserole came out pretty tasty and I didn’t miss having any meat in it, well not too much. And I know, it’s not truly a vegetarian dish since I used cheese in it. But will you give me a pass on this? This would make a great Meatless Monday meal for those of you that participate in that.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used defrosted frozen ones, but you can use canned or fresh)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced black olives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
  • 1 avocado, diced for garnish
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray or oil.
  2. Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water according to package directions. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, onion, bell pepper, 2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, black beans, sliced olives, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, can of Ro*Tel, and 1/2 cup of both cheeses. Reserve the other 1/2 cup of cheeses for top.
  4. Add quinoa mixture to prepared baking dish. Smooth out into even an even layer.
  5. Add enchilada sauce to cover the quinoa mixture.
  6. Add the other half cup of cheddar and mozzarella cheese to the top of casserole.
  7. Cover casserole with foil. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Uncover casserole and garnish with avocado, reserved cilantro and tomatoes.

 

Don’t let the cheesy goodness fool you. There’s healthy stuff hidden under the cheese layer!

Quinoa Fiesta Casserole

 

 

Southwestern Style Rice

SW Rice platedOne day, I’m going to make my own tamales. But for tonight, I needed to make a side dish to go with the tamales I bought. Originally I was going to make a basic Mexican rice. But I decided to amp it up a little and add some beans and corn. I guess this would then make this more of a Southwestern style rice. This recipe makes a full skillet of rice. So a good 8-10 servings. If you need less, you may want to half the ingredients.  Or save the extra and add shredded chicken to it for a chicken and rice dish to eat the next day!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon tumeric
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

SW Rice 1

Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.

SW Rice 2

Reduce heat to low and add garlic and rice. Stir constantly to make sure the rice does not burn. Cook for 3 minutes.

 

Add diced tomatoes with green chilies.  Stir to combine.

SW Rice 5

Add black beans and corn.

SW Rice 6

Add chicken broth.

SW Rice 7

Then add cumin, chili powder, salt and tumeric.

SW Rice 9

Stir to combine. Increase heat back to medium high and bring to a boil.

SW Rice 10

Reduce heat back to low.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until rice is done.

SW Rice 11

Garnish with fresh cilantro.

SW Rice pan

 

 

Game Day or Any Day Chili

Chili platedIt’s that time of year again. Football season. (I wanted to say Fall, but it’s in the mid 80’s around here and I’m still wearing shorts.) What better way to feed a hungry crowd gathered at your house than with a big pot of flavorful chili. You can omit the ground beef and go meatless, and you won’t miss a thing. Added bonus, only one pot to clean.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (Yes, dark chocolate chips. Trust me.)
  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced green onions

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook ground beef over medium high heat. When browned, add onions, celery and corn. Stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes until onions have softened.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. When chili comes to a boil, lower heat to low. Let simmer for an hour.
  3. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese and diced green onion and serve.Chili pot