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Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything Casserole

Because it's all about creativity.  And working with what you've got.  And procrastinating.

I didn't intend to make a blog-worthy meal tonight, but I'm just so awesome that it turns out my little experiment in the kitchen was a winner.

I still haven't gone grocery shopping, even though I'm out of almost everything.  I'm putting it off until this weekend when I have more time.  In the meantime, I had started daydreaming earlier today about how to come up with a healthy, tasty  meal using what I already had at home.  Staples, if you will.  Now, my staples are most likely different than yours.  My staples are ingredients that I usually have on hand because I like to put them in everything (like canned beans and frozen veggies).  However, some of my "staples" are still in my pantry, because I rarely use them and they never go bad (like brown rice).

So today's "throw everything in the pot" recipe includes frozen veggies, beans, rice, homemade cheese sauce, and love.  I wish I could say that this is a one pot meal, but sadly, it's not.  I actually dirtied up enough dishes to fill the dishwasher and run it.  Now that's accomplishment!

If you have cooked brown rice on hand, this comes together pretty fast- very little prep, you just have to wait for it to bake.  If you don't have already-cooked rice on hand, well, then you're going to have to cook it yourself, like I did.  (Which added to my pan count.)  Once again, the ingredients are more of a suggestion than a hard rule.  Use whatever variety of rice and veggies you have on hand, or whatever you like best.  I would have liked to have used corn in this dish, but I didn't have any.  It's whatever.

2 cups cooked brown rice

Cheese sauce:
2 cups non-dairy milk, unsweetened
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp prepared mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste

Everything else:
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can sliced mushrooms
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb frozen veggies, your choice (yay freedom!)
1/2 cup leftover salsa (make sure there's no mold)
a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, because I just remembered I bought it when I made bloody mary's a month ago but never opened it

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside for a minute.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, throw in all of the sauce ingredients, and whisk to mix well.  Set this aside for a minute also.
In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook for another minute.  Add veggies, beans, salsa, and Tabasco, if using, and stir to mix well.  Cook in pan for 6-8 minutes, until frozen veggies are less frozen (we're baking this, too, so they don't have to be hot all the way through).
Pack the rice into a nice layer on the bottom of your prepared casserole dish.  Dump the casserole filling on top of that and pat it down to make it look pretty.  Give your sauce a quick whisk and then pour it all over the casserole.
Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and not runny-looking in the middle.  Let sit for 2 minutes (that's all the longer I could wait- this stuff smelled amazing!) and serve hot.  With extra Tabasco, if you want.  Or extra salsa, if you had more than 1/2 cup in the jar you found in the fridge, hiding behind the almond butter.

 *If you're wondering what in the heck my casserole is sitting on in this pic (it looks scary, doesn't it?), that would be my very old, well-loved cookie sheet.  I wasn't sure if the cheese sauce would bubble over, and rather than have to scrub out the oven later, I baked the casserole with the cookie sheet under it to catch any stray sauce.  Because I'm clever like that.  Also, I hate to clean.  I suggest you do the same.  Because I care.

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