Eggplant Parmesan

Unfortunately our local farmers market season has ended and for us Wisconsinites that means only one thing. Winter is on its way. It’s actually snowing out while I type this and looking out of the windows yields a heavy, thick snowfall. It’s pretty for about 2 minutes, then well I guess I’m over it. But reflecting on the market days, I always try to buy an array of things from various farmers. Eggplant was one of those items this season. I’ll be up front and honest, I’m not not a fan of eggplant and never really have been, but I keep trying, much like I will keep trying beets (yes, not a fan). When I brought them home, I immediately thought of making baba ghanoush (that I am a fan of), but then I thought I would go with an eggplant parmesan and see how my kids would like it. They love lasagna so maybe if I tried to disguise it as a lasagna on a meatless Monday, how would they react?

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

It was not actually all meatless, as I used about a 1/4 pound of ground meat just to get the kids thinking it was possibly what they thought it was. It worked out just fine.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole, small eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 28 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 lb ground beef, cooked and fat drained

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.

Season your eggs and breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

Take each eggplant round and swipe it through eggs, then the breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet. Repeat with all eggplant. Drizzle the tops with olive oil.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the eggplant’s coating is a nice golden brown.

Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients
Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients

Next, add about 1 cup of marinara to the bottom of a casserole or lasagna dish. Layer in half of the eggplant, top with half of the mozzarella cheese, layer with the remaining eggplant, then more cheese, then top with the ground meat, and finish with more marinara and all of the remaining cheese.

Place into the oven, uncovered, and cook for about another 25 minutes or until the cheese and sauce is nice and bubbly. Remove and let it cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into it.

The result? Well, eggplant parmesan. Were my kids a fan? Not really! Was I? Not really, but it was nice knowing I wasn’t indulging in a mound of meat and potatoes. It was easy, clean, and well very good if you are into that type of stuff. Hope you enjoy!

Nacho Pot Pie

It’s starting to ramp up to comfort food season. Not like that has stopped me year round to make most any type of comfort food, but this fall season in particular has already yielded a variety of soups and casseroles. This is one of those recipes. While thinking of a warm recipe for a cool day, I thought of what my wife and kids would eat, and eat well. Nachos! But how could I turn a simple, or complex plate of nachos into something warm and comforting?

I looked around to check on my inventory, and granted I was looking at pie dough and thinking of chicken pot pie, a thought I had to quickly shake out of my mind, and then again back to the nacho thought. How about a riff on chicken pot pie but go nacho style? How about a nacho pot pie?!

Nacho pot pie it was, and not only super easy to throw together, but everything you love about nachos in a luxurious pot pie style, sans the pie crust.

Nacho Pot Pie Recipe
Nacho Pot Pie Recipe

Granted this is not the prettiest of all dishes, but again what pot pie is when you plate it? This is forkalicious delicious.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef, or chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 15 oz can diced green chilies
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 cups of water or stock
  • 1 cup of canned black beans, drained
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • sour cream, optional
  • hot sauce, optional
  • salsa, optional
  • black olives, optional
  • any other favorite nacho toppings

Think nachos. Think pie. Good, let’s go.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Get a large skillet on your burner over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook until browned. Drain any fat, and then add the taco seasoning, green chilies, onion, garlic, and 1/3 cup of water. Give a good stir, and cook until the onions are softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Place the meat mixture into a casserole dish and return the skillet to the heat.

Add the butter and let it completely melt. Once melted, add the flour and stir (and keep stirring) until all of the flour is incorporated. Cook this through for a few minutes.

Slowy stir in the milk, and use a whisk if you want to ensure that the mixture gets nice and smooth. No clumps needed here.

Once smooth, add in the remaining water or stock, and stir again. Season with salt and pepper, and let the mixture come to a boil, stirring frequently. The goal here is to make a thicker sauce.

Nacho Pot Pie Ingredients
Nacho Pot Pie Ingredients

Once the sauce thickens, add in the black beans, and return the meat back into the skillet. Stir well and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Add shredded cheese to the top, then crumble a generous amount of tortilla chips over the top.

Place the skillet (if it is oven safe, otherwise put everything in the skillet before adding the cheese and chips) into the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Now you are ready to serve.

Nacho Pot Pie Recipe
Nacho Pot Pie Recipe

Scoop out your desired amount onto your plate and top with your favorite toppings. In my case it was black olives, shredded lettuce, avocado slices, sour cream, and hot sauce. Feel free to have a bowl of chips on standby for any additional scooping!

The result is spectacular. It is so comforting and everything we loved about a pie or a plate of nachos, all bundled together! Hope you enjoy!

Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole

I believe, and I only say ‘believe’ because I am somewhat uncertain, that casserole is or has neared the end in our beautiful state of Wisconsin. Just like the seasons, it is one of the things I think we all love. You know when you start new recipes based entirely on the weather. As it was cold and rainy a few weeks back, I decided to once again review the contents of the freezer, cupboards, and pantry, and come up with something for dinner. I’m so glad I did, and as surprised as I was (and probably should not have been) this entire casserole was devoured by just three of us. Please don’t judge us on a rainy, cold day. 

This casserole is definitely not pretty, but my oh my is it ever comforting and delicious.

Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe
Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe

Told you it’s not pretty.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 cups of Ore-Ida frozen hash browns
  • 3 cups of cooked, diced ham
  • 2 cups of Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of fine bread crumbs, optional

Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the canola oil, and once heated through, add in the hashbrowns, and gently push down, as well as push in the edges a bit to form a nice potato patty.

Let these cook somewhat low and slow. The goal is to get them nice and crispy on the outside while keeping them nice and tender on the inside. Granted these will be mixed and baked but the texture is nice at the end.

During this time, let’s make the cheese sauce, or mornay sauce if you will. It’s your standard bechamel in a way but with cheese added.

To a sauce pan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour, and cook out the flour on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Stir until it forms a bit of a paste, yet doesn’t turn color on you.

Slowly pour in the milk, continuing to stir and breaking up the flour to create your sauce. Once all of the milk is added, season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe
Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

You’ve been keeping an eye on those hash browns, right? Good. Now give them a flip, reform them into a patty, and continue to lightly crisp on the other side.

Once the sauce begins to thicken a bit, reduce the heat, and slowly add in about 3/4 of the cheese, reserving a bit to finish during baking.

Get a large bowl out to mix everything.

Add in the crisp hash browns, top with the ham, then pour over the cheese sauce. Give this a good mix, breaking up the hash browns to your desire, then pour into a casserole dish.

Top with remaining shredded cheese, and lightly shower on the bread crumbs. Place into the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Remove from the heat, let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then scoop into a bowl and dig in.

Talk about comfort food. Two of my kids were out for the evening so I thought it would be just my wife and I in front of the television watching LaLa Land (sigh), but then one of my picky eaters (doesn’t like melted cheese on most if not all foods) comes in with a bowl (and then helped himself to thirds) and we all could not stop eating this stuff. We finished the casserole. Yep, this one is that good.

If you are looking for an easy casserole to make, and have a few things lying around in your freezer and pantry, give this one a shot. Until the fall season starts, this one will have to wait. Sorry, ham, cheese, and potato casserole, but you will be missed!

 

Enfrijoladas

Enfrijoladas. What the heck are enfrijoladas? I know this is something you probably never see on a menu, but these are essentially enchiladas, that have the corn tortillas dipped in a black bean puree, stuffed, rolled, and baked and are they ever so good. This is comfort food at its finest, and is not only easy to put together but super delicious. I’m always on a mission to get my wife and kids to not only try something new, but to also affirm that they really do like an ingredient whether they refuse to or not, and in this case, black beans. The picture is not the prettiest, but the flavor makes up for it. I stuffed mine with cheese and chicken, but you can roll them anyway you so desire.

Enfrijoladas Recipe
Enfrijoladas Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (use 1-2 more if you like it spicy)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 2 chicken breasts, poached, and shredded
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
  • 3 cups of monterray jack cheese
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed and covered
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Mexican crema, optional
  • Cilantro, choppped, optional
  • 1 lime, quartered, optional

Start by making your black  bean puree. This is the real deal for this particular enfrijoladas recipe. To a blender, or food processor, add the beans, chicken stock, chipotle peppers, garlic, and salt. Blend until you have a smooth mixture that is not too thick, and not too thin. You want it to be almost like a thicker soup like a pea soup.

Add some of the black bean mixture to the bottom of a casserole dish, much like you would if you were making a lasagna. Pour the remaining puree into a bowl and dunk a corn tortilla into the black beans. Lay the tortilla in the casserole dish, add some chicken, onion, jalapeno, and cheese, and roll, keep the seal side down. Repeat, and compact those tortillas to fit as many as you can. I have to feed five, so I always think 2-3 per person.

Ingredients for Mexican Enfrijoladas
Ingredients for Mexican Enfrijoladas

Top with any remaining sauce (there should be plenty left over), and top with any remaining cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Scoop out, the best you can, the enfrijoladas, shower with some lime juice, crema, avocado cubes, and some fresh cilantro and dig in. It looks like a black bean puree mystery but once you dig in you will find out what all of this mystery is about. It’s good, real good, and for those in my family that said they did not like black beans, well, they were shoveling this into their mouths. Hope you enjoy!

Enfrijoladas Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (use 1-2 more if you like it spicy)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 2 chicken breasts, poached, and shredded
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
  • 3 cups of monterray jack cheese
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed and covered
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Mexican crema, optional
  • Cilantro, choppped, optional
  • 1 lime, quartered, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by making your black bean puree. This is the real deal for this particular enfrijoladas recipe. To a blender, or food processor, add the beans, chicken stock, chipotle peppers, garlic, and salt. Blend until you have a smooth mixture that is not too thick, and not too thin. You want it to be almost like a thicker soup like a pea soup.
  2. Add some of the black bean mixture to the bottom of a casserole dish, much like you would if you were making a lasagna. Pour the remaining puree into a bowl and dunk a corn tortilla into the black beans. Lay the tortilla in the casserole dish, add some chicken, onion, jalapeno, and cheese, and roll, keep the seal side down. Repeat, and compact those tortillas to fit as many as you can. I have to feed five, so I always think 2-3 per person.
  3. Top with any remaining sauce (there should be plenty left over), and top with any remaining cheese.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
  5. Scoop out, the best you can, the enfrijoladas, shower with some lime juice, crema, avocado cubes, and some fresh cilantro and dig in.