Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

I belong to a message board where I chat with others who share my love (obsession?) of cooking, baking, and all things food. In fact, lots of those ladies also like to make food, photograph it, and write about it on the internet. For a long time now, many of them have participated in recipe swaps. I’ve really wanted to join in the fun, but with moving, living in a hotel, and traveling, I didn’t think it would be fair to commit to participating and then not being able to hold up my end of the deal. Now that we (finally!) are starting to settle in and things feel normal (well, as normal as they can feel when you live in a country and culture very different from your own!) I can finally play along!

Each recipe swap has a different theme, and usually the blogger submits a specific recipe that fits within the theme. This time, however, it’s Blogger’s Choice style! So we each are assigned a blog and get to choose any recipe. I was assigned Kate’s Recipe Box. I am not super familiar with Kate’s blog, so I spent a good amount of time going through the archives and bookmarking things. In the end, I kept going back to this casserole. Something about it was just calling my name.

Jesse and I were both really happy with my decision. Later in the evening I overheard him talking to his dad on Skype and telling him about the delicious “Mexicanish” dinner I made. Then he said something about chicken which really made me laugh, there is definitely no chicken in this meal. Haha.

I made only a few minor changes to the recipe, using my own Enchilada sauce recipe, and a couple small adjustments to ingredient amounts. I also made Mexicorn (recipe to come) as a side dish and wouldn’t you know, we both just mixed it right in to the casserole. Next time I might consider adding corn right to the dish. All in all, a big win for us!

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients
8 oz. dry pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used red and yellow)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix*
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Enchilada sauce, divided (recipe below)
1 cup cheese, divided (Cheddar, Mexican blend, or Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
2 Tbsp cilantro, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
Salt & pepper, to taste
20 tortilla chips (about 2 handfuls), crushed
Sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado, for serving

*The enchilada sauce I use was pretty heavily seasoned, so I only added 1 tablespoon worth of additional seasoning (1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta to al dente, according to directions on box, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, jalapeno, bell peppers, and garlic, saute for 6-7 minutes., or until vegetables start to become tender. Stir in seasonings, black beans, and 1 cup of enchilada sauce, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup of cheese, green onion, and cilantro. Stir until the cheese has melted and the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce. Pour the pasta into the dish, using a spoon to evenly distribute in pan. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce over the pasta, top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips, green onions, and cilantro. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado.

Slightly adapted from Kate’s Recipe Box, originally from Oh She Glows

Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup bell pepper, very finely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp dry parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

Directions
In a small sauce pan heat the vegetable oil and cook the bell pepper until tender. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients from tomato sauce to salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

*I made this sauce the day before I needed (and stored in the fridge until I was ready to use it) making the pasta that much easier to throw together. Bonus, the added day in the fridge gave the flavors lots of time to meld together and enhance.

Source: My mom, as posted previously for Beef Enchiladas

Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

I’ve been so inconsistent about posting food lately that I’m almost lost about how to even write this post! I really need to get myself back into the swing of things…

In the weeks leading up to “the big move” I pretty much gave up on trying to make and photograph food at dinner time. I was usually too tired after work to put the proper amount of effort into it, the lighting was terrible, and I just couldn’t get into it. It’s also kind of hard to get motivated to make a whole meal when it’s just you you’re cooking for.

On my own, I could happily eat noddles with a little olive oil, garlic, squeeze of lemon and boat load of cheese almost every night for dinner. But during the day (I had a break while the girls were in school) I had much more energy and of course was always looking for an excuse to do anything other than pack my apartment. So I found myself making a lot of my big meals for lunch.

This fish was one of those mid-day meals. I’ve got to tell you, it was one of the best lunches I’ve had in ages. It’s been over a month since I made it and I can still taste it when I think about it.

The chipotle adds a deep smokey flavor that balances out perfectly with the lightness from the citrus in the orange juice. Then there is the punch of cilantro and the little bit of butter makes everything melt together. It’s also great because it’s basically a one dish meal with easy preparation and clean up. Definitely something you should try. I used Tilapia because it was on sale at the grocery store, but pretty much any mild white fish will work. If you’re worried about it being too fishy, try using a fish like mahi mahi since it’s flavor is even milder.

Also, I found this recipe on Pink Parlsey and this week Josie shared a spin-off recipe using chick peas instead of black beans. Sounds interesting!

Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn
Ingredients
4 skinless white fish fillets (6 to 8 oz each), 1-inch thick
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce or 1 tsp dry Chipotle chili powder
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels, I used half frozen sweet corn and half frozen roasted corn (from Trader Joes)
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust rack to lower middle position.

Pat the fish fillets dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the softened butter, 1/2 of the chipotle pepper (or chili powder), orange zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and half of the garlic. Spread the butter mixture over the fish.

In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, corn, red onion, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, orange juice, remaining chipotle pepper (or chili powder), remaining garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lay out 4 squares of aluminum foil and divide the bean mixture evenly between them. Place one fish fillet on top of the bean mixture on each sheet of foil. Fold the foil in half over the fish and then seal all of the open edges by folding the foil edges up and in.

Carefully move the foil packets to a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Carefully open the packets, sprinkle with remaining cilantro and serve.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best Simple Recipes as seen on Pink Parsley

Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish


As I slowly come out of my Christmas cookie induced coma, I thought it would be nice to share a recipe that is savory, delicious, and way more nutritious than Christmas cookies!

It seems like everyday I add something new to my already long list of new recipes to try. Occasionally I come across a recipe that can not be kept at the back of the line. That’s exactly what happened when I saw these Black Bean Patties on Elly’s blog. She had me at black beans and sealed the deal with avocado cream sauce.

We really really loved these and the only reason I didn’t blog these right away is because I was so busy trying to get all of my Thanksgiving recipes up I forgot, then I moved right into Christmas cookies. I think it’s worked out nicely though, I could use a break from holiday food just as much you probably can. So even if you have to wait till the week after Christmas to make these, that’s fine. Just make them! It will be welcome change of pace from a lot of the heavy holiday food you’re undoubtedly consuming.


Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce

Ingredients

Black Bean Patties*
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 roasted red bell peppers, divided
2 eggs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic
1/2 chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 red onion, finely diced
1/2 – 2/3 cup cornmeal, breadcrumbs, or panko (I used cornmeal)
salt and pepper
Canola oil

Corn Relish
2 tsp. canola oil
2 cups corn
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (I forgot to buy one, so I left it out this time)
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 lime, juiced (about 2-3 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Cream Sauce
1 avocado, pitted and cut into a few pieces
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

*As is, this recipe makes a ton. It could easily be cut in half and still feed 2 or 3 people a good size dinner.

Directions
Add 1 can of black beans, 1 roasted red pepper, eggs, oregano, cumin, garlic, and the chipotle pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until combined and smooth. Add the finely diced onion and pulse to combine. Add the other can of black beans and roasted red pepper and give it a few 5-10 second pulses. You want it to be combined but not not completely smooth.

Transfer the black bean mixture to a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup corn meal/bread crumbs. Add more cornmeal/breadcrumbs as needed to form a firmer mixture that can be rolled into a ball between your hands. Place the mixture in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and shape into 3-inch patties.

Heat canola oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the patties in batches and cook, flipping once, for 5-7 minutes.

To make corn-relish, heat canola oil in a medium skillet. Add the corn and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.

To make the avocado cream sauce, puree all of the ingredients until smooth.*

Top the cooked patties with the corn-relish and avocado cream sauce.

* If you don’t puree your ingredients, then please don’t try put them in a squeeze bottle. A clogged tip on the bottle and lots of squeezing can only end one way, a mess. I may have first hand experience with that.

Source: Elly Says Opa

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce

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Try not to be too confused by my post today. The story and meal don’t match, but I don’t have a great story about this Mexican Black Bean Sauce. It came together incredibly easily and might have become my new favorite meatless meal. You know I love my black beans and to put it over pasta in the form of a sauce is just pure genius. Now onto my completely unrelated story (that mentions another recipe all together)…

Maybe you heard about a little blackout in Southern California last week. Around 3:30 all the power went out from Tijuana all the way up into Orange County and across to the California Arizona border. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t notice the power had gone out. The girls and I were working on homework and since it was daylight we didn’t have any lights on and there was no air-conditioning to go off. A neighbor actually called and asked if ours was off too and that’s when I looked at the clock and noticed. After that it didn’t take long to realize how wide spread this power outage was. And pretty much everyone left work early.

Not knowing how long the outage would last (and hearing it could be a day or two) I wanted to use up some of the things I knew would go bad. Meat and cheese. Thank goodness we bought that grill, because I managed to use it make the super easy Mac and Cheese (that’s how easy it is, I did it without power, partially in the dark, on a grill). Then we dined by candlelight with a few friends and tried to enjoy the slow pace of the evening. I snapped this picture with my phone and just had to share it with you.


Now for the recipe!

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce
(Adapted from Branny Boils Over)

Ingredients
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chiles
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
Chopped fresh cilantro and cherry tomatoes for garnish
Cheese for garnish (optional)
12 ounces pasta, cooked according to box directions

Directions
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, and oregano. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, and add to the bowl of a food processor* along with the black beans. Process to desired consistency then add back to the skillet and stir into the reserved sauce.

Serve over pasta with cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and cheese garnish.

*If you have an immersion blender, you can use that instead of the food processor and save the dirty bowl.