Bean and Corn Vegetarian Casserole

This dish was originally going to be called Refrigerator Quesadilla because I thought I’d top ten 6-inch corn tortillas with whatever I had in my refrigerator and put them in the oven and that’s it. But, I had food in the pantry and half-empty sauces in the fridge I wanted to use because their respective expiration dates were nearing. I don’t like wasting food, but at the same time, I don’t want to store unopened, expired food in my pantry indefinitely either.

To start, chop 1 large onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Setting them aside, take out a medium or large skillet and over medium heat, put in enough olive oil to sauté the chopped onion and garlic. After a minute, pour in a 26.46- oz. carton of chopped tomatoes. After a minute, add a 16-oz. carton of refried black beans. Turn down the heat a little so they don’t stick to the skillet and keep mixing them all together. After 2 minutes, add 16 ozs. of frozen corn, and 1 cup of brown mixed with wild rice (these were my leftovers). If you have other leftovers in your fridge that you think would go well with a Mexican-themed dish, then add those in now. Stir them altogether for about 3 minutes and then turn off the stove and set the skillet aside.

Use an 8” x 13” Pyrex dish and spray inside with olive oil. I had 1 jar of black bean and corn salsa, so I spooned some of that into the Pyrex dish, just enough to cover the bottom. Then take five of the 6-inch corn tortillas and lay one in each corner, placing two in the middle. You can layer these any way you like, as you can see by now what will be happening.

Before layering the mixture from the skillet into the Pyrex dish, take out a 16-oz. block of white cheddar cheese and grate all of it, setting this aside as one of the layers.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Now the layering begins. Spread half of the mixture from the skillet over the tortillas, sprinkling some of the cheddar cheese over it and saving the last layer for an all-cheese topping.  Next, layer the last five 6-inch corn tortillas and spread the remaining jar of salsa over the tortillas. Follow this up with the remaining skillet contents, spreading them all around as evenly as you can. The last layer is the rest of the shredded cheese.

 Once you’re done and the oven is preheated, put the uncovered dish inside and time for 20 minutes. You can turn off the oven when the cheese is melted. Leave it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Then, take it out and let it set for another 5 minutes. Complement the dish with a bowl of salad greens.

¡Comér bién!

Tortilla Chip Casserole

casserole close-up

What to do with leftover filling from another casserole dish? Improvise! Throw in some freshly shredded Cheddar cheese in between the layers, along with French-fried onions (Trader Joe’s brand) and half-heartedly crushed unsalted tortilla chips.

 Assume you have the following leftover filling: pinto beans, ground beef, shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped sweet potatoes and onions, with tomato-based sauce. Continue reading

Coffee-Laced Chocolate Syrup

ice cream
One quarter cup of cold, leftover brewed coffee sat on my countertop. So there would be no joe left behind, I decided to experiment and make a new kind of chocolate syrup. Over medium low heat, using an 8-inch iron skillet, I melted 1-2 tbsp of shortening (Spectrum organic, non-hydrogenated oil) and dropped in a cupful of dark chocolate chips. Then I slowly added the ¼ cup brewed coffee, turning down the heat to low to avoid boiling. Once everything was melted and fully mixed, I poured the concoction into a glass bowl and timed it for about 10-15 minutes to cool down. Finally, I drizzled the “chocojoe” syrup over my vanilla ice cream, took one taste, and SMILED.

French-Toasted Bagel Sprinkled with Cheese

bagel

This is an easy recipe that anyone can make. Surprise a loved one with this dish, which may be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eat it with oranges and sausage for breakfast, or pair it with soup or salad for lunch or dinner. Or, enjoy it by itself as a snack. The recipe described below is for 1 bagel sliced in half. Simply increase the number of eggs per bagel, depending how well saturated you want the bagel to be. You might find 1 egg to be sufficient for 2 sliced bagels by increasing the amount of milk you mix with the egg. It’s how “eggy” you want your bagel to be.
Continue reading

Chili w/Shredded Beef & Spinach topped with Popcorn

chili

Sometimes the winter chill can only be warmed by eating a hot bowl of chili. Here is a complete meal in one pot with lots of fiber, vegetables, protein, and grain. I find the best meat to use is shredded beef, which I had pressure cooked the day before making this meal. However, you can use ground beef, turkey, or chicken. Or, even make it vegetarian. Continue reading

Swiss Chard Pancake topped with Swiss Cheese

Swiss chard pancakeThis recipe is a pancake and omelet hybrid. I just made it up because I was hungry but didn’t want to go to the grocery store. I looked in the refrigerator and guess what I saw? A bag of Swiss chard, Swiss cheese, milk, and eggs. So, I thought why not create something lovely yet easy and healthy and downright quick?

Continue reading

Chicken Sausage with Condensed Cream of Portabella Mushroom Soup & Vegetables over Pasta

pasta
You can make this dish with leftover chopped or shredded chicken, or chicken sausage (I used Trader Joe’s Chicken Sausage with Sundried Tomatoes). I used the latter because I didn’t have time to cook chicken and I had no leftovers.

After you’ve chopped about 3 cups of cooked chicken or 16 oz. of chicken sausage, peel, crush, and chop four cloves of garlic and set aside. Next, skin or peel, chop, and set aside the following: 1 onion, five carrots, a carton of white button mushrooms, and a bunch of fresh broccoli florets (or use a 10 oz. bag of frozen broccoli). Fill a pot with water to boil your pasta (I used a 16 oz. bag of whole wheat penne pasta). Follow the instructions that come with the pasta. Continue reading

Bavarian Bratwurst with Peas and Eggplant over Mashed Potatoes

bratwurst

Here’s a recipe to top off the month-long celebration of Octoberfest, as we transition over to Halloween (expect more of that theme in the upcoming posts). This is a simple, but tasty and hearty recipe I concocted. Although I usually use ground breakfast sausage for this recipe, I decided to make some changes and they turned out just right. Continue reading

Iron Skillet Deep Dish Vegetables and Pepperoni Pizza

Image contributed by Hymn

Image contributed by Hymn

Depending on how many shortcuts you take, this can be quite a quick meal to prepare by starting with a 1-lb. bag of fresh dough from Trader Joe’s, or any of your favorite brand. You may also have pre-made your fresh dough by using a bread maker, or simply by hand. In any event, we will prepare this pizza, assuming the dough is already made ahead of time. The amount of dough should be at least 1 lb. in weight since that would be enough to fully line an 8- or 10-inch cast iron skillet. Continue reading

Ground Beef with Potatoes and Hard-boiled Eggs (as filling for mini-meat pies)

This dish can be made ahead because pre-cooking potatoes and eggs is required. For a meal during the week, you can prep by browning the (1 lb.) ground beef, boiling the potatoes, and eggs and putting them in separate containers for assembly when you are ready to serve later. Continue reading