I’m not a vegetarian by any means. In fact, there are days when I’m absolutely craving a good piece of steak, and a rare one at that!

But Nate doesn’t eat beef (he doesn’t like the taste), and there are only so many ways to cook a piece of chicken or turkey. Not to mention I DETEST touching raw poultry. I’m totally paranoid about Salmonella and it takes me forever to cut it up and dispose of the infected knife/cutting board and then thoroughly cleanse every surface it might have touched.

So sometimes it’s easier, and spices things up, to just go vegetarian for a meal. I’ve been using a lot of beans lately because they’re just so simple to use (especially when you get them precooked in a can). Not to mention vegetarian sources of protein are much lower in fat than animal sources.

I had seen a recipe for Tamale pie that just had me totally craving something similar, and that’s when it hit me to sub Tempeh for the beef. Now in this case I more than made up for the fat I was saving by adding the cheese and cornbread topping, but that’s neither here nor there ;)

You can crumble it up to get it into similarly sized pieces as ground beef. I’m telling you, a man meat-lover will not even know that it has no meat!

This wasn’t a super spicy version and I think next time I’d add even more mexican spices (or maybe just use a packet of taco seasoning instead of the chili powder/cumin/salt!), but it was still mighty tasty.

I dare you to make this “meaty” meal and see how many people notice there’s no meat involved!

P.S. Please don’t judge this recipe by the photos. I had a hungry man on my hands when this came out of the oven and had to rush.

“Meat Lovers” Vegetarian Tamale Casserole

Print this recipe!

Serves 6-8

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and then into thin slices
2 ribs of celery, diced
2- 8 oz. packages of Tempeh, crumbled
1 Tbsp chili powder (*alternatively use taco seasoning instead of chili powder, cumin, and salt)
1 tsp cumin
1- 19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1- 8.75oz can corn, drained
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp tabasco (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1- 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
s+p to taste
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream for garnish (optional)

Topping ingredients:
1- 8.5 oz. cornbread mix (such as Jiffy)
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1- 4.25 oz can diced green chiles
1- 8.75 oz can corn, drained

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med-hi heat. Cook a few minutes until onions have started to soften. Add celery, Tempeh. Cook until Tempeh begins to brown, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add spices and stir well. Stir in beans and next 6 ingredients. Cook until warmed through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove mixture from heat and spread into a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle cheese evenly on top.

Mix cornbread mix, milk and egg until smooth. Stir in chiles and corn. Put drops of cornbread mixture even over Tempeh mixture and then spread into a thin layer.

Bake casserole for 40 minutes or until top begins to turn golden around the edges.

Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Do you ever have one of those days where you get home late and have to cook dinner, blog, do more work, watch a dvr-ed show, give your cat attention so she doesn’t meow all night AND get to bed at a decent hour? Is that too much to ask for?!

Obviously I’ve been having quite a few of those days (as you may have figured out from Black Bean Burger post, my evenings are short on time), and it’s really starting to get to me. I thought of trying to eliminate some items off my list of things to do, but the only really optional item is the tv, and even that isn’t a choice…I mean a girl needs to have some time to just chill and decompress, right?

So I decided if i can’t eliminate any of my tasks, perhaps I could at least make them easier. Time-saving.

I made a dinner that came together in about 5 minutes, and while it does have to bake for 45 minutes, those are 45 minutes that you can be working on your blog, etc. So it’s a win-win situation.

This meal isn’t quite what you’d think of as a nutritious meal, but it has carbs, protein and veggies so it’s really pretty darn good! It uses processed cheese (Velveeta) but you could easily substitute fresh shredded cheddar. It won’t have the same consistency or be nearly as good, but you could do it :)

It uses Minute Rice, aka the smartest invention ever. Minute Rice, also known as instance rice,  is rice that has been pre-cooked and dehydrated so that it cooks more rapidly. While regular rice takes about 20 minutes to cook, instant rice only takes about 5-10 minutes. Because it has already been cooked, all that is necessary to prepare instant rice is to simply re-hydrate it with hot water.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend eating this as straight-up rice (although I’ve never tried it), putting it in a casserole is ideal.

Now that I’ve saved you time on dinner, go watch that show you dvr-ed…you deserve it ;)

Broccoli, Ham, Cheese and Rice Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light (11/99)

Print this recipe!

Serves 4 (as a main dish)

1 cup uncooked instant rice (brown or white)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fat-free milk
4 ounces light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 pack of deli ham, chopped (or as much as desired)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and spoon into a 2-quart casserole. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Yeah, that’s right, I’m celebrating the 10th of May…whatcha gonna do about it?!

So once again, I’m posting a holiday recipe post late. But it’s not my fault. Also, how appropriate that today is the 10th of May, i.e. Cinqo( x 2) de Mayo :)

Plus, Mexican food is enjoyable every day of the week. This recipe is no exception.

The other night I bought a rotisserie chicken. I wanted to make a quick bbq chicken pizza for dinner using my favorite new quickie, healthy crust: socca. I’ll explain more about that in another post.

Anyway, I was in no mood for cooking up chicken (plus touching raw chicken is disgusting and germy…right Nicole? ;) ), so I got lazy and bought the cooked rotisserie chicken they have at the supermarket.

It may be expensive, but let me tell you, it’s worth every penny for the time, hassle and degree of gross-ness you save! I only used about 1 cup of it on the pizza so I shredded up the rest and stored it in the freezer for another recipe.

Most casserole recipes that I have come across in my searches involve cooked chicken. I find this soooo annoying as you have to either boil up a chicken breast just for the recipe, or have leftover chicken lying around, which I never do. But this time I was prepared!

I went into my recipe collection and pulled out the one for a Chicken Tamale Casserole from Cooking Light that I had been putting off making because it called for cooked chicken. I knew Nate would love it because it has a cornbread base.

It was incredibly easy to make. It took one bowl and only 30 minutes in the oven. It was perfect for a quick weeknight meal if you’ve got some pre-cooked chicken sitting in your fridge or freezer. And it was totally delicious.

I had some black beans leftover from a Black Bean Brownie disaster (don’t even ask) so I threw them in too. Tasty.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 8 

Print this recipe!

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute, or 1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
1 cup black beans
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 min.
Remove from oven. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with beans and chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.
Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.
Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.