Mexican Casserole (Taco bake?! What should I call this, really?)

This dish was a huge hit! It will definitely go into our regular rotation.

It really started as a result of having lean ground beef in the refrigerator and a package of corn tortillas, which I accidentally bought (thinking I grabbed flour). What a happy, happy surprise! It was loved by all!!

As already noted, it has lean ground beef, corn tortillas, black beans (which I always have on hand!), corn and tomatoes (and the requisite onions and garlic). Luckily, I had a packet of taco seasoning in the pantry (otherwise, you could certainly use chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper that you have on hand – or whatever combination of those spices you like!).

I started by rough chopping the onions and then I cooked the onions and garlic, in a small amount of oil in a hot skillet.

After the onions were translucent, I added in the ground beef and cooked until browned. Then, added in the taco seasoning.

The next step was to add in the corn, black beans, tomatoes, etc. I did hold off on adding the jalapenos, as I wanted to taste the meat mixture first to determine how much to add. Spoiler alert – I added the whole can.

Once everything was well mixed, I allowed it to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

This gave me plenty of time to grate the cheese and pre-heat the oven.

Then I started putting the casserole together – starting with a layer of tortillas. I ended up with 3 layers of tortillas – but, you can do as many layers as you like (next time I make this, I intend to add more of the tortillas, I only used 4 per layer as I prepared this today).

Once all the layers are in (end with the meat mixture on top), top with the grated cheese and put in the oven (400 degrees) for 20-25 minutes. I did turn the broiler on briefly, at the end, to get a little bit of browning on the top.

I topped it with a little bit of sour cream – and it was DELICIOUS! I definitely went back for seconds!

Mexican Casserole

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
1 large can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 small can tomato paste
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp garlic
1 onion (chopped)
Small corn tortillas (number will depend on size of casserole dish)
1 tsp oil
1 – 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (depends on size of casserole dish)
Salt to taste
1 can jalapeno peppers (optional)
Sour cream for garnish

  • Chop onion
  • Add oil, onion and garlic to hot skillet – cook until onion is translucent
  • Add in ground beef, cook until browned
  • Add taco seasoning and mix completely
  • Add tomatoes, tomato paste, b lack beans and corn, mix well
  • Add salt, as needed, after tasting mixture
  • If desired, add jalapenos (I used a 11 oz can of picked jalapenos with carrots and onions by San Marcos) and mix well
  • Simmer mixture for 15-20 minutes
  • Start with a layer of corn tortillas in the bottom of an oven safe dish
  • Alternate with the meat mixture, until all meat mixture is one – ending with meat mixture on top. For my casserole, this was 3 layers of corn tortillas.
  • Top with cheese and bake @ 400 degrees – for 30 minutes

Banana Nut Bread

This has been a crazy busy week – so I haven’t had much time to cook. But, today, I took a vacation day and was home with my oldest kiddo! And she decided to make some banana nut bread (using her granny’s recipe)! I won’t re-write it, because nothing beats the handwritten recipe that her granny did!

Thankfully, we had some ‘getting just to their banana nut bread prime’ bananas for her to use. And, we had pretty much all the ingredients (except buttermilk – but she just subbed in cream and it worked out great!)

These bananas were perfect for making banana nut bread – look how easily they ‘smushed’ up!

In no time she had the batter ready to go!

But, she definitely had more batter than needed for a standard loaf pan, so she decided to make some ‘tiny loafs’ too, with some silicone mini loaf pans we have. They all turned out delicious!

And, the best picture – my girl, with her delicious banana nut bread!

Easy Red Chicken Chili

WHAT?! It is Sunday and I’m not making pasta? What in the world is happening here?? Oh, well… chicken chili it is!

This recipe is very easy to throw together and you likely have all of the ingredients on hand. I had 2 chicken breasts (3 may have been better – but, you work with what you have!) that I had defrosted in the refrigerator (thinking that I’d be making pasta – best laid plans, I guess!). Cans of beans and tomatoes in the pantry and some fresh cilantro and Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese. Chicken chili sounded good!

The chicken breasts were separated from a family pack, into a separate freezer bag (it’s cheaper to buy the family pack and repackage to amounts you’d use!). I’ve, since, bought a very inexpensive vacuum sealer that I’m using – if you’re interested in which one I got – let me know, I can do a review on here!!

As all good recipes do, this one started with me chopping up some onion…

Rather than cube the chicken, I decided to cook it whole and then shred it. Given that direction, I sprayed the dutch oven (have I mentioned how much I LOVE my Le Creuset dutch oven? I’m not a fancy person, at all, but was given this as a 20 year anniversary gift from the company I work for – and I, absolutely, adore it!!) with some olive oil – added in the onion and garlic (medium to high heat), cooking until the onions were mostly translucent. Then I added the chicken breasts, browning both sides to lock in the moisture.

While the chicken was browning, I opened the can of chipotle peppers and rough chopped them (my daughters probably wouldn’t be excited to get a mouth full of a chipotle pepper, so chopping makes sense). I did not throw out the adobo sauce, as it really adds to the chili, so hold onto it!!

After the chicken is browned and the chipotle peppers are chopped, it was time to start adding everything to the pot – tomatoes, beans, peppers – all straight into the pot. Also, add the chili seasoning at this time (and any salt and pepper you may want). I allowed the pot to come to an initial boil, then reduced the heat – covered and set a timer. You’ll want to let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour (longer is better, in my opinion).

Once the timer goes off – remove the chicken breasts from the pot and shred.

Then return to the pot, add some cilantro, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes!

I decided to top mine with some grated Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese (fresh grated is best!) and cilantro – perfection!

Easy Red Chicken Chili

2-3 chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin
1 large onion, rough chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 small can Rotel tomatoes and chilis
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (chop peppers, reserve sauce)
1 packet of McCormicks chili seasoning mix
avocado spray
salt / pepper to taste
Cilantro and cheese to garnish (I also add some cilantro to the pot of chili at the end of cooking)

  • Rough chop the onion
  • Spray pan with avocado oil and add onion, garlic and cumin. Cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add whole chicken breasts – cook until browned on both sides (locks in the moisture!)
  • Add all tomoatoes, beans and (chopped) chipotle pepper (with sauce) to pot.
  • Stir through to combine all ingredients
  • Add seasoning mix, salt and pepper – stir and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 min – 1 hour.
  • Remove chicken breasts from pot, shred and return to pot.
  • Add cilantro, stir and serve.
  • Top with more cilantro and cheese for garnish (** would also be good topped with sour cream, jalapenos, corn chips, etc.)

Football Saturday = Meals for 1! Salmon, potatoes and green beans = Delicious!!

During football season, I regularly find myself cooking for one, as everyone scatters into a million different directions. Today was no exception.

Luckily, yesterday, I cleaned out my freezer and found some still perfectly good salmon ‘burgers’ from Trader Joe’s. These things are delicious, easy to cook and individually wrapped so they last a while in the freezer. Then I just needed some veggies.

I decided to cook everything in a cast iron skillet (I do love using one pan / pot!) and I started with the vegetables (the salmon only takes a few minutes on each side, if you allow it to thaw prior to cooking). I sliced my red potatoes thin and trimmed my fresh green beans and cut to bit size. I added a little bit of avocado oil spray and a pat of butter in the pan and added garlic, potatoes and green beans. I cooked until they had nice color and were almost done – then added 1 tsp of soy sauce and tossed the veggies.

Then I made room in the center of the pan, added a small pat of butter – and add the salmon burger.

I just cooked the salmon for 2-3 minutes, turned it over and cooked for another 2-3 minutes. I squeezed the juice of 1/2 a lemon over top, tossed the veggies and removed from the pan and served. Delicious and easy!

Salmon and Veggies for 1

1 Trader Joe’s salmon burger (or salmon fillet of your choice)
2 red potatoes, sliced
1 handful fresh green beans, trimmed
1 tsp garlic, minced
avocado oil spray
1 pat of butter, divided
1 tsp soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

  • Trim veggies (slice potatoes and trip green beans).
  • Spray avocado oil in cast iron skillet and raise temp to med – high. Once pan is warm, add 1/2 of the butter.
  • Add garlic, potatoes and green beans to pan. Cook until vegetables have a nice color and are almost done.
  • Add soy sauce, salt and pepper and toss vegetables.
  • Push vegetables to the edges of the pan and make room for the salmon in the center.
  • Add remaining butter to center of pan
  • Add salmon over butter – cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes (this is assuming you’ve thawed your salmon – if cooking from frozen, cook 7-8 minutes per side).
  • Once done, add the lemon juice in pan – toss veggies, remove and serve!

Vegetable Pasta for One (and change)

I love the days that I work from home, because it means that I can have something fresh cooked for lunch. I do love my leftovers, but it is nice to get my lunch out of a pan or a pot, rather than the microwave, when I can.

Today was a work from home day! Enter a delicious pasta meal for one (if you’re REALLY hungry) or two moderately hungry people. Having skipped breakfast, I was REALLY hungry!

I decided on some simple ingredients: pasta, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, garlic, lemon, store bought pesto sauce and seasonings.

I started by boiling my pasta and chopping up some artichoke hearts and slicing some cherry tomatoes (I love both of these foods, so much). They would be good added, as is, but I wanted to cook them up just a little bit in a pan to heighten the flavors.

The vegetables were added to a pan, after spraying a little bit of avocado spray and cooking some minced garlic a bit.

After the vegetables cooked for a while, I added the liquids (cream and lemon juice) to create a light sauce.

The next step was just to toss the cooked pasta in the skillet and mix it all together.

Finally, the pasta was topped with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Easy, quick and delicious lunch for one!

Vegetable Pasta for one (and change)

1 serving of pasta (I used spaghetti)
10-15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
2-3 artichoke hearts (from jar)
1 tbsp pesto sauce
cooking spray / oil (I use avocado spray oil)
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon (depending on how much you like – I used a whole lemon)
2 tbsp heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

  • Boil pasta as directed, until al dente
  • Spray skillet with a small amount of cooking
  • Put a small amount of cooking spray / oil in pan
  • Add garlic and cook for a few minutes
  • Add tomatoes and artichokes to pan and cook about 5 min
  • Add salt and pepper (just a pinch of each, or to taste)
  • Add cream and warm through
  • Add lemon juice and allow to cook 2 – 3 min
  • Toss in pasta
  • Top with parmesan cheese and basil and serve

Spinach, Strawberry and Prosciutto Salad

Another busy night, which means not much time for cooking. Boiled eggs are the only thing I ‘cooked’. Even still, I did have a meal that I really enjoyed! Spinach, strawberry and prosciutto salad.

It couldn’t be easier – just baby spinach, strawberries, boiled egg, prosciutto, walnuts and Paul Newman’s white balsamic vinaigrette.

Then I added a bit of crumbled goat cheese. Delicious!!

If you have boiled eggs already (I made mine before volleyball tonight – peeled and had them ready to go, in the refrigerator), it’s a very easy salad to throw together!

Chicken Fried Rice

No recipe from dinner last night – but I did want to share what we had. I needed to do something quick, that I could do ahead of time – as we had activities last night. Chicken fried rice was just the thing!

The ingredients were: chicken (only 1 large chicken breast!), jasmine rice, frozen mixed veggies, butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha, egg, green onions and sesame seeds

Ready to go in the fridge until we were home from volleyball. And, lunch for today!

Easy, quick meal that could wait in the fridge and still be delicious!