Fall is my favorite time of year. The thing I love the most about autumn is the theme of change. Nature changes from a season of plenty and growth to one of quiet repose, reminding us that reflection and silence are good for the body, mind and soul. I love All Hallow’s Eve and always take time to reflect on the past year and to look forward. And as I decided what I was going to cook on my favorite day of the year, I discovered I was in a food rut.
It’s easy to do, isn’t it? You have a repertoire of dishes that you are comfortable making and that you and your family enjoy. Add to that the fact that life can very hectic with work, home, family and social obligations. Often times it’s easier to rely on the tried and true foods you can whip up without much thought. And on the nights that you work late, have to bring a child to soccer practice, and there’s a pile of laundry the size of Mt. Everest waiting for you, then make that tried and true casserole and don’t look back. But remember this, if you shy away from new recipes and foods: eating is more than just nourishment for your body, it feeds your soul.
When Lauren lived at home and I cooked something different there was an air of excitement. Would this be something that we would come to love and add to our list of favorites? Would it be awful? We’ve made complicated recipes only to take one bite and discover that this is not something we like, at all. On a couple of occasions, the dish was so far from our taste that we went for take out! And while that may seem distressing to some, we still laugh about how awful it was and how much we enjoyed the Thai food we went out for.
This recipe is from a cookbook put out by Vegetarian Times. If you are unfamiliar with this publication and website, and want to eat meatless more often, I suggest visiting the website. I have subscribed to the magazine for several years and am seldom disappointed in the recipes or articles. The information is current and useful. The recipes are well written and even those who don’t consider themselves cooks can make them with ease. I bought this small cookbook Low-fat and Fast, several years ago and have used it so much I need a new copy. Which leads me back to my food rut…
For years I have made chili on Halloween. I have varied my recipe, the beans, spices, and veggies I use, but it is always chili. And as I sat in quiet reflection watching the leaves of the oak in the backyard glide to the lawn, I decided it was time to try something new. I had never made this particular recipe before, I’m not sure why. It is easy and the ingredients are ones that I normally had on hand, I suppose that rut was deeper than I thought.
I made only slight changes to the recipe. I used a tablespoon of chili powder ( the recipe suggest 1 to 2) and that was plenty. I mixed my cheeses, I always do, I’m a bit of a cheese whore. I did change the type of tortillas. The recipe calls for corn tortillas, I prefer the Mission brand Carb Balance whole wheat. These are just as tasty and have more fiber. If you aren’t a fan of cottage cheese, don’t worry, the cheese, beans, spices. and tomato sauce are all that you taste.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 tablespoon)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder (1 was plenty, if your spice is fresh)
- Dash of cayenne pepper (Louisiana Gold and a dash of Slap Ya’ Momma)
- One 15.5 ounce can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed (you can use kidney or black beans)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Nonstick cooking spray (I prefer olive oil)
- 1 cup low-fat, small curd cottage cheese
- 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ( or mix your favorites)
Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook till fragrant, about a minute. Add the beans, corn, and tomato sauce, mix well and remove from heat.
In a 2 quart greased casserole dish, place two tortillas (over lap them a bit). Spoon a third of the bean mixture on top of the tortillas, a third of the cottage cheese and a third of the cheese. Layer two more tortillas and repeat bean, cottage cheese and cheese layers. Repeat once more ending with cheeses-I added a wee bit more cheese.
Bake in the over until the cheese and melted and the casserole is hot, about 20 minutes.
This is delicious served with a simple green salad. Leftovers, if there are any, heat up easily and tastes even better the next day!
Vegetarian Times is wonderful about providing nutritional information with their recipes:
Calories: 344, Protein: 20 grams, Fat: 7 grams, Carbohydrates: 53, Fiber: 9 grams, Cholesterol: 20 miligrams, Sodium: 759.
The information is per serving and the recipes makes about 6.