Black Bean and Corn Casserole Olé

Nothing could be easier to make than this tasty, Mexican-inspired casserole. Along with a salad and some fruit, it makes a delicious entree to serve to guests.

Serves 8.

1 T olive oil
1 C chopped onions
2 t chili powder
1 1/4 C skim milk
15-oz can black beans, drained
15-oz can corn kernels, drained
24-oz can stewed tomatoes
4-oz can chopped green chilies
3/4 C yellow cornmeal, divided
1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8″ square baking dish.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except cornmeal and cheese. Stir 1/2 C cornmeal into mixture. In small bowl, mix remaining cornmeal with cheese and sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake, uncovered, until heated through and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Seven-Layer Bean Dip

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Start to Finish: 20 minutes
16 servings.

16 oz canned refried beans
1.25 oz package taco seasoning mix
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4.5 oz canned chopped green chilies
1 C salsa, any variety
2 C shredded lettuce
2 C shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend
2.25 oz canned sliced ripe olives, drained (1/2 C)
1 medium tomato, diced (3/4 C)
Tortilla chips, if desired
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1. In medium bowl, stir together beans and taco seasoning mix. Spread mixture on large platter.

2. In another medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and chilies. Carefully spread over bean mixture.

3. Top with salsa, lettuce, cheese, olives and tomato. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve with tortilla chips.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chili

Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 8 hours 20 min
Makes: 6 servings

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cups thick ‘n chunky salsa
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 can (15 to 16 oz) pinto beans, drained, rinsed
Shredded Cheddar cheese, if desired
Sliced green onions, if desired
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1. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.

2. In 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix beef mixture and remaining ingredients except beans.

3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.

4. Stir in beans. Cover; cook on Low heat setting about 5 minutes longer or until beans are hot. Top with cheese and onions.

Substitution: Vary the taste by using black beans instead of pinto beans. If you like a milder chili, use mild salsa and a little less chili powder.

Mexicali Chicken Soup

Makes: 8 servings
Total Time: 40 min

1 1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
4 oz. can chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips
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Broil chicken 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

In a Dutch oven coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook onion and garlic until tender. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chilies and seasonings. Shred chicken with two forks; add to soup. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place tortilla strips on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Serve with soup.

Black Bean Wraps

Makes: 12 wraps
Total Time: 30 min

12 corn taco shells or 8-inch flour tortillas
2 cans (15-oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4-oz can chopped mild green chilies
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups shredded lettuce
4 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
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Preheat oven to 250 degrees. If using taco shells, separate and place on baking sheet. If using tortillas, wrap in foil. Bake taco shells or tortillas about 10 minutes or until heated through. Alternatively, wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave on high 30 to 60 seconds.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, combine beans, garlic, onion, chilies, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes, adding small amounts of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Uncover and if any juices are left, increase heat and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Mash beans down to a chunky texture with a fork.

To assemble, in each taco shell or tortilla spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of filling. Top with cheese, lettuce and tomato. Roll tortilla around filling ingredients.

Corn Chili Strata

This is an excellent dish to serve buffet style or take to a potluck.

6 slices whole wheat bread
1 to 1 1/2 T butter, softened
16 oz canned corn, drained
2 C thinly sliced zucchini or crookneck squash
4 oz canned diced green chilies
2 C shredded jack, Longhorn or mild cheddar cheese
4 eggs
2 C milk
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
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Trim crusts from bread. Lightly spread slices with butter and fit into a lightly buttered 7×11″ baking dish. Distribute corn in an even layer over bread, then arrange zucchini evenly over corn. Sprinkle chilies and cheese evenly over zucchini.

Beat eggs lightly, then beat in milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over cheese. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed; a knife inserted in center should come out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Shortcut Black Bean Chili

1/2 C apple juice
2 C chopped onions
1/2 C chopped celery
1/2 C chopped carrots
2 to 3 T minced garlic
2 t ground cumin
4 t chili powder, or to taste
4 C canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 C vegetable stock
2 t honey OR sugar
1/4 C canned chopped mild green chilies OR jalapenos
16 oz canned plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 C grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 C sour cream OR yogurt
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In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, bring apple juice to a boil. Add onions; saute, stirring, 2 minutes. Add celery, carrots, garlic, cumin and chili powder to taste; saute, stirring 3 minutes.

Add black beans, stock, honey or sugar, chilies and tomatoes. Increase heat to high; cover pot and bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high; simmer, covered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To thicken, place 1 C chili in blender and carefully puree on low speed. Return pureed chili to pot. Adjust seasonings. Stir in cheese, top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Meatless Mexican Lasagna

15 oz canned pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz canned diced tomatoes
4 oz chopped green chilies
2 C frozen corn, thawed
2 green onions, minced
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried oregano
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 C grated Monterey Jack cheese
Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, chilies, corn, green onions, cumin and oregano; mix thoroughly.

Oil a 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Line baking dish with 4 tortillas, overlapping if necessary. Spread half of bean mixture in a layer over tortillas. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. Top each serving with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Mayan Egg Tortillas

You can prepare the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it until time to spoon it over the dish. You may want to serve these with a platter of fresh fruit garnished with lime wedges and mugs of hot cinnamon-spiced chocolate.

8 oz (about 1 1/2 C) toasted shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 C vegetable stock
3 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic, cut into thirds
3 T diced canned green chiles
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 C whipping cream
8 large whole wheat tortillas
8 eggs
2 T milk
2 T butter
2 green onions (including tops), chopped
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In a blender or food processor, whirl pumpkin seeds until coarsely chopped; turn out half the chopped seeds and set them aside. Add stock, lemon juice, garlic, chiles, salt and pepper to remaining seeds and whirl until well mixed. Add cream and whirl briefly to blend. Stir in remaining seeds. If made ahead, cover sauce and refrigerate.

Stack tortillas, wrap in foil, and place ina 325 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until heated through and softened. If tortillas are very fresh, do not heat them; just bring to room temperature.

Beat eggs lightly with milk. Melt butter in a wide frying pan over medium-low heat. Pour in egg mixture and cook, gently lifting cooked portion to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath, until eggs are barely set and top is still moist.

Spoon 1/8 of the scrambled eggs down center of each tortilla; top each with about 2 T of the sauce. Roll to enclose filling; arrange, seam side down, in a shallow baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over top.

Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until sauce is heated through and tortillas are flecked with brown. Sprinkle with green onions before serving. Makes 8 servings.

White Chicken Chili

Prep Time:35 min
Start to Finish:35 min
makes:6 servings (1 1/3 cups each)

1 lb ground chicken
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 medium zucchini, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained, rinsed
4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
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1. In 4- or 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, cook ground chicken, onion and garlic over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until chicken is no longer pink.

2. Stir in all remaining ingredients, except cheese. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender.

3. Remove from heat; stir in cheese until melted.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): In step 1, cook chicken 6 to 8 minutes. In step 2, cover and simmer 12 minutes.

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