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Mexican Bake | Relishing ItSo, what are you planning to do with all of those delicious turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving?  Sandwiches?  Really?  I like a good cold-turkey sandwich as much as anyone, but today I have a recipe that is a great alternative.  And to be honest, even if you don’t have turkey leftovers you should make this dish.  It’s wonderful, and so versatile that you can make it with turkey, chicken, ground beef or even just beans, for a vegetarian option.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

You’ve probably noticed that I’m into making ‘bakes’ a lot this year.  I’ve been having fun incorporating legumes, grains, and quinoa (technically a seed) into meals.  Aside from being so easy to throw together, they’re incredibly satisfying and a healthy option.  A big bowl of hot food is just what we all need as we gather around the dinner table together while it snows outside.  This particular bake has a Mexican flare. I’ve made it a number of ways depending on what we have in the house. I’ve been challenging myself this year to make meals out of food that we have, rather than running to the store every time an idea enters my brain. Aside from a smaller grocery bill, it cuts down on wasting otherwise-usable food, so that makes me happy.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

This dish is fabulous with shredded chicken or turkey, but it’s also equally tasty using ground beef (or shredded beef, if you happen to have that).  Substituting beef broth for the chicken broth is an easy swap.  Of course, going completely vegetarian is a no-brainer, too.  Just add more beans and use vegetable broth, or even water.  Just amp up the spices a bit more to compensate. Whatever protein you decide to use, it will pair wonderfully with the brown rice, corn, and beans.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

You all know that I pretty much can all of my tomatoes that I need to get me through the winter.  However, Red Gold Tomatoes generously sent me some different varieties of canned tomatoes to try (thanks, guys!).   So, I incorporated them in this dish and they were fantastic! I used the the lime juice and cilantro variety.  Of course, you can use any type of canned tomato that you have on hand, but these added a nice zesty flavor to the dish.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

Load the bake up with as much cheese as you would like– that’s a personal preference.  Before serving, squeeze on some fresh lime juice, sprinkle with cilantro, slice up some jalapeños, and dollop on the sour cream.  Serve it with tortilla chips or plain tortillas and you are set.  You’re going to love this dish!

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

The Recipe: Mexican Bake

(serves 4)

olive oil

about 1 pound (or a bit more) of cooked shredded chicken, turkey, ground or shredded beef (see note)

1 small red or white onion, diced

about 4 garlic cloves, minced

about 14-15 ounces of cooked beans, drained and rinsed (any kind– red, black, pinto, or even white) (when I forget to soak my own, I’ve really been enjoying Simply Balanced Organic Beans (found at Target) for both the texture and the flavor.)

1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed (any type of rice will work–if wanting to use white, just note that the cooking time will decrease)

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1-2 teaspoons ground coriander

kosher salt and cracked pepper

about 1 cup frozen corn

1 1/2 cups homemade chicken or beef broth heated (depending upon what protein you are using)

1 15-ounce can Red Gold diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (or anything similar)

shredded cheese, 1-2 cups  (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack are great options)

chopped fresh cilantro, fresh jalapeños, sour cream, fresh limes, hot sauce, tortilla chips, and/or fresh tortillas for serving

Note:  If wanting to use shredded chicken, simply sauté one pound (or a bit more) of chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in a skillet with olive oil.  They should take about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending upon how high your heat is.  Check for doneness, then shred with a fork.  Or use rotisserie!

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large Dutch oven add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until somewhat soft (you would brown the ground beef just prior to this, if using).  Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, about 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and cracked pepper to the pan.  Then add the canned tomatoes with juices, beans, rice, meat, corn, and heated broth and continue to cook for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until everything is hot.

Mix in the meat.  Flatten everything with a spatula so the rice can cook properly in the liquids.  Place in the preheated oven and bake covered for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and add the cheese.  Return to oven, covered, for about 5 more minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, hot sauce, tortilla chips and/or fresh tortillas.  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving celebrating with your loved ones!  Peace to all.

Laurie

 

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Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItBaby, it’s cold outside!  Or at least it is here in Minnesota.  There is definitely that ‘winter-is-coming’ chill in the air.  And this is just the start.  Wind chills will eventually plummet to -50 degrees F, snow will pile up on the sidewalks.  Ugh.  I always complain as autumn comes to a close, knowing that we face the long slog to April.  My body just isn’t acclimated to the cold for the first month or so.  Ah well, I guess there’s also the comforting expectation of snuggling into a warm blanket and a good book while the kids head out to play in the snow.  There is that to look forward to…

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Vegetarian Lenti; Taco Soup | Relishing It

As soon as the weather turns, I start thinking about soup.  This particular one is a beauty.  It’s substantial– more like a cross between a soup and a stew.  It’s loaded with healthy protein from lentils and beans, though my favorite ingredient this time around is most definitely the corn.  It makes so many soups better.  It adds a nice flavor and a bit of texture, as well.  Not to mention, it pairs beautifully with the Mexican flavors.

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing It

Let’s talk about those flavors, shall we?  Years ago I began making my own taco mix.  To be honest, it happened a bit by accident.  I ran out of my usual purchased taco seasoning, so I had to improvise.  Luckily, I keep a well stocked spice cabinet (Penzys really should send me a thank you note).  In looking at the recipe, don’t let the length of the list scare you.  I realize that not everyone has all of the spices on hand.  As long as you have the main ones (chili, paprika, garlic, onion, and cumin powder), you will be just fine.  But, if you do happen to have the others, even better.  Try this seasoning the next time you make traditional tacos– you’ll love it!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItThe soup is wonderful served with the usual taco accompaniments– sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and of course some tortilla chips. However, I also discovered another way that I like to eat the leftovers.  Since the legumes continue to soak up more broth overnight, the soup becomes a bit thicker.  I love to serve it atop baked spaghetti squash.  It’s delicious and makes a great gluten-free, paleo, and even vegan meal! So– perfect to serve to friends or family that might be trying to eat that particular way.  Stay warm, friends!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup Over Spaghetti Squash | Relishing It

The Recipe: Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup

(serves 4-6 comfortably)

2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed

2/3 cup dry red beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2/3 cup dry black beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart puréed or crushed tomatoes

1 quart vegetable broth (or use chicken, if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian)

1 heaping cup frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice of one lime

scallions, jalapeños, sour cream (if vegan isn’t your aim) and limes as garnish options

For the Taco Seasoning:

(makes a scant 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To begin: soak and cook your red and black beans separately following standard directions to cook beans.  Honestly, I usually have extras in my freezer that I pull out to throw into this soup.  Beans freeze incredibly well, so feel free to make extras for that purpose. You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans, and 1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans.  Or simple choose to use one can of each, rinsed.

Mix all of the taco seasoning ingredients together in small bowl, set aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.   Begin to saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until somewhat soft.  Add the taco seasoning to the onion mixture.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetables stock, cooked red and black beans, and the lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Cook covered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but have not fallen apart.  Stirring a couple of times along the way.  Make sure not to overcook the lentils, or they will turn to mush.  When the soup is done, add the frozen corn, cilantro, and juice of one lime.  Reseason with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve with sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and more lime.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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