Tamale Pie

Oh, we love this Chez Otter. It’s very flexible, and it makes great leftovers.

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves chopped garlic OR a heaping half teaspoon of jar chopped garlic
  • 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 11 oz can corn (I like the kind without added sugar) drained
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Cornbread mix, whatever you like, and the ingredients to mix it

Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil.
Add the hamburger, brown it and break it up.
Add tomatoes and sauce
Add spices and stir it up.
Add all the veggies.

Let it cook for twenty minutes or so.
While it cooks, get out a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Turn the oven to whatever temperature the cornbread package says.
Mix up the cornbread mix according to the package directions.

When the meat mixture has cooked for the twenty minutes, put it in the casserole dish. Spoon the cornbread on top, and spread it out as much as possible. Put it in the oven, leave it til the cornbread browns. If the cornbread is not brown on top, it’ll be gooey underneath, so watch it to be sure it gets brown but doesn’t burn. I usually check every minute or two for the last five minutes.

This is one of those wonderful recipes that you can change depending on what you like, or what you have in the fridge. Any kind of vegetables are good, you can add cheese to the top at the last, you can use turkey or chicken, change the spices, whatever. Have fun.

(Buffalo) Chili

This is my favorite chili recipe, although it takes about three hours. If you have access to buffalo meat, go for it, that’s the best.

  • 14 oz can chicken broth
  • 3 lbs buffalo stew meat, or flank steak, or a chuck roast, cut in bite size pieces
  • 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 7 oz can diced green chiles
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic OR 1 heaping tablespoon if it’s from a jar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 12 oz can corn (I like the kinds with no sugar added)
  • Shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1-2 limes

Mix all ingredients from chicken broth to brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer one hour. Add onions, green pepper and corn. Simmer 2-4 hours.

Add lime juice and cheese to taste, stir til cheese melts, serve.

 

 

Chicken and Rice

This is one of our favorites, I make it at least once a month.

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, with bones and skin*
  • A cup or so of cheap chardonnay**
  • A 14 oz can of chicken broth
  • 2 packages of Zatarain’s New Orleans Rice mix- any two. We like mixing Red Beans and Rice with Jambalaya, or Black Beans and Rice with Yellow Rice. If you’re only doing 4 thighs, just use one package of rice mix, but the same amount of wine and broth. They make low-sodium rice mixes as well, these are delicious too, and (of course) less salty.

Put the chicken in a stewpot or dutch oven, pour wine and broth over it, and cook until the skins are easy to pull off with a fork. On the stovetop with medium heat, this will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t cook too long, you don’t want the chicken falling off the bones yet.

(You can also put the chicken, wine and broth in a crock pot and cook low for 4-5 hours, or 6-7 if chicken is frozen.)

Lift the chicken out into a bowl. Pour all the delicious liquid into a big measuring cup, see how much there is and put it back in a stewpot. Add enough water to be about 1/4 cup less than the total water listed on the instructions of both rice packets together (so if one package needs 2 1/2 cups water and the other needs 3 (total 5 1/2), and you have 4 1/2 cups of liquid, add enough water to equal 5 1/4 cups liquid, or 3/4 cup.)

Open both packages of rice and pour in, stir. Turn heat to medium high.

Use a fork to remove the skins from the chicken thighs and throw the skins away. They have done their good work. Put the chicken thighs in the rice and liquid, bring to boil, turn heat low so it simmers when covered. Cover.

Let it cook for 45 minutes, stir about every 15 minutes.

Take it off the heat and uncover, let it sit for ten minutes or so.

*Yes, you can use boneless skinless thighs, or breasts, but trust me, it tastes WAY better this way.

**If you don’t want to open a whole bottle of wine for one cup, you can get a 4 pack of cheap wine for about 6 bucks (where I live) and it’s pretty bad except as cooking wine, which it is excellent for. Use one of the four bottles for this.

Wonderful Slum*

For 2 people, scale it up for more.

  • 1/2 to 2/3 lb hamburger, divided and shaped into two thickish patties.
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Cheese- I like using 2-3 oz of cheap medium cheddar per person, since it’s going to be melted, and I use block cheese; shredded and high-end cheeses don’t seem to work as well.
  • 11 oz can corn, I like the kind with no added sugar.
  • 1 small bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives
  • 4-6 oz sliced mushrooms (optional)

Get everything ready. Sprinkle garlic salt on the hamburger patties and grill/broil/fry them (I use a Foreman grill because I like that.)

While the patties are cooking, toast the bread in the toaster.

Put a saucepan on medium heat, drain the corn and olives, put them in with the green onions. Heat til you can smell the onions.

If you use mushrooms, sauté them with a tiny bit of olive oil in a separate pan so you can drain the juices when they are done. Add to corn and olives.

When the toast is done, put a slice on each plate. When the hamburgers are ALMOST done, cut up the cheese pretty small, add to the corn pan, and turn the heat to low medium. Stir and keep an eye on this pan, you want to melt the cheese but not let it burn.

When the cheese is melted and mixed in with the corn/onions/olives/mushrooms, put a hamburger patty on each piece of toast and spoon half the cheese mixture over each, serve immediately.

*When I was dating Mr. Otter, I went over to his house when he was sick. I’ll cook dinner, I said, and went looking in his kitchen. Typical batchelor kitchen, all he had was bread, cheese, hamburger, a can of corn, a can of olives and spring onions. I made this (we started adding mushrooms later) and served it for dinner.

What’s this called? he said.

I don’t have a name for it, I just slum it all together (riffing on Pogo).

Well, it’s wonderful, he said. And so it was named.

Cows in Blankets

  • High quality hot dogs (my fav is Hebrew National)
  • Cheese of choice (for me, cheddar)
  • Croissants or bread sticks in a tube

Make a slit in each hot dog the long way.
Cut slices of cheese about 1/4 inch thick and 1/2 inch wide, a bit shorter than the hot dog.
Open the bread sticks or croissants, unstick them from each other, and wrap one around each hot dog in a spiral.

Put on cookie sheet and bake at recommended temperature from the bread wrapper for about the time it says; keep an eye on them, make sure they’re done and browned but not burned.

NOTE: A package of Hebrew National has seven hot dogs, the croissants or bread sticks usually have eight or ten…you can get creative with the extra bread…