At work a couple of weeks ago, two of my friends and I were reminiscing about Spam. Verna is Hawaiian-Filipino and Kaileigh is Mexican-Filipino. Besides having Filipino blood in common, we all share a love of Spam. Anyway, Kaileigh was telling us about this really easy dish she makes called Chili con Spam and she shared her recipe with us.
Fast forward to today. School is officially over and 3 of my kids came home this morning. I decided to fix a late breakfast to feed everyone…. bacon, eggs, hash browns…. and then I thought it would be a perfect time to try the Chili con Spam recipe. I searched everywhere but couldn’t remember where I saved it! I decided to google it, but only ONE recipe for Chili con Spam came up. It was a recipe submitted by a lady in Guam named Jane Certeza who apparently took 2nd Place for it at The Great Spam Cook-Off Island Style. I looked at it but it had way more ingredients than I remembered Kaileigh’s recipe having so it couldn’t be the same one.
I decided to text Kaileigh and ask her for her recipe again which she promptly sent off to me. Ah…. that was the one I remembered! Super easy with just 4 ingredients. But then another obstacle came along. Kaileigh’s recipe called for yellow wax chilies which I didn’t have. Great. I didn’t want to drive all the way down the hill just for chilies and none of the kids did either. So with wails of, “But I just drove hours to get here, Mama. You want me to drive some more?!?” ringing in my ears, I turned back to the Guamanian recipe which I happened to have all the ingredients for in my pantry.
Guess I’ll have to save Kaileigh’s Chili con Spam for next time. Sigh……. By the way, the Guamanian Chili con Spam was a hit. Everyone loved it and it quickly disappeared.
CHILI CON SPAM
1 can (12 oz.) spam, cubed
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin (I only used 1 Tbsp.)
dash of black pepper
1½ tsp. sugar
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
In skillet, fry spam until light brown on all sides.
Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are softened.
Stir in stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and sugar.
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomato sauce and kidney beans.
Simmer over low heat for an additional 10 minutes or so.
This is another dish that’s going on my Christmas Breakfast table this year. It’s a play on one I saw from the Food Network Kitchens a couple of years ago. It’s different because it’s made with tater tots instead of the usual hash browns. I use canned corned beef which is more readily available year round from my local grocery store. If you prefer to use fresh corned beef, by all means go for it! Just chop 1½ pounds fresh corned beef into ½-inch cubes and use it in place of the canned corned beef in this recipe.
CORNED BEEF TATER TOT CASSEROLE
1 bag (32 ozs.) frozen tater tots
1 small yellow onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
2 cans (12 ozs. each) corned beef
8 large eggs
1½ cups whole milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
Set aside about 2 cups of the tater tots to use for topping.
Arrange remaining tater tots in single layer on bottom of prepared baking dish.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the tater tots or spray lightly with cooking spray.
Bake about 25 minutes or until tater tots are golden brown. Set aside to cool.
In large skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté onions, red and green peppers.
Add corned beef and cook, breaking up corned beef with the back of a spoon and stirring together well. Allow to cool.
Whisk eggs together in a bowl, then whisk in milk, mustard, salt and pepper.
Spread corned beef mixture over cheese.
Pour egg mixture over everything. If making ahead, cover the casserole at this point and refrigerate overnight.
To cook, remove casserole from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Scatter reserved 2 cups tater tots over casserole.
Top with shredded cheese.
Bake until egg mixture is set and top is golden brown, 55 – 60 minutes.
This is a great casserole to serve for breakfast on a weekend morning. I’m making it for Christmas breakfast this year actually. It’s easy to do and better still, you can make it a day in advance. I like to serve this casserole with a bowl of salsa on the side. Yum!
BREAKFAST CORN CASSEROLE
3 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 ozs. chopped fresh kale
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (can substitute dried)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans cream-style corn
1 lb. ham, diced
½ cup sour cream
1 box cornbread mix (like Krusteaz or Marie Callenders)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add onions, kale, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until kale is soft and onions are translucent.
Add corn, ham, and sour cream, and cook until hot and bubbly.
Pour corn mixture into prepared baking dish; set aside. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight at this point.
Next day, remove casserole from refrigerator at least half an hour before baking.
Prepare the cornbread batter according to directions on the back of the package.
Stir 1 cup cheese into cornbread batter.
Pour cornbread batter over corn mixture in baking dish.
Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.
Bake for 35 minutes or until corn is bubbling and corn bread topping is done.
This dish is a Tex-Mex favorite. In fact, I hear you can’t go to a church social or potluck down in Texas without seeing one version or other of this dish on the table. It’s not surprising because not only is it delicious, but it can be made ahead of time and it travels well.
You can make a low-fat version of this dish by substituting reduced fat cream of mushroom soup, reduced fat cream of chicken soup, and reduced fat cheese. It turns out just as yummy.
I like to serve this dish with some sour cream and salsa on the side. I never have any leftovers when I make it. Try making this easy recipe for your next weeknight dinner or office potluck and you’ll see what I mean.
KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped (can substitute red bell pepper)
1 can (10 oz.) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or use your favorite – I like Mexican blend)
2 stalks green onion, chopped (optional for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
Sauté onion, bell pepper and poblano pepper until onions start to become translucent.
Stir in chicken, soups, Rotel, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Remove skillet from heat.
Tear 4 tortillas into 1-inch pieces and scatter on bottom of prepared baking dish.
Top with 1/3 of chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese. NOTE: It’ll seem like you don’t have enough chicken mixture to fill the layer to the edges of the dish, but don’t worry. Just spread the filling really thin. It’s okay to have some empty spots. Once you bake it, it’ll all fill in and be just fine.
Tear 4 more tortillas into pieces and make a second layer of tortillas, 1/3 chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese.
Tear the last 4 tortillas to make a final layer with the last of the chicken mixture and top with 2 cups of cheese.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and cheese is browning at the edges.
If desired, garnish with chopped green onion before serving.
NOTE: This casserole can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. To cook from frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name. It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.
1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
¼ – ½ cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.
TOPPING VARIATIONS: Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.
Did you know that February 2nd is National Tater Tot Day? It’s an easy day for me to remember because it’s also my only brother’s birthday. Tater tots are an iconic American food that was created in the early 1950’s. The founders of Ore-Ida were trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover pieces of potato that they had tons of everyday. They chopped up the potato pieces, mixed them with flour and seasonings, then forced the mixture through the barrel of an extruder, slicing off little one-inch pieces as the mixture came through. And so the tater tot was born.
Actually, when the little potato nuggets were first created, they didn’t have a name for them so the owners of Ore-Ida decided to have a name-the-product contest among their employees. The name “Tater Tots” was submitted by a young mother named Clora Lay Orton. Everyone loved the name and she won the contest.
It’s hard to believe that when the inexpensive tater tots were first sold in stores in 1956, they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of them per year! It’s safe to say the lowly tater tot has finally found its place in society, from school cafeterias to the ever popular food truck. It’s certainly found its way to our dinner table!
CHEESY BACON TATER TOTS
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
2 stalks green onions, chopped
Bake tater tots according to package directions.
While tots are baking, combine sour cream and ranch dressing in a bowl.
Drizzle sour cream mixture over baked tater tots.
Sprinkle cheeses over the top.
Place under broiler until cheese is completely melted.
Remove from broiler and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.
Return to broiler for 2-5 minutes to warm up the bacon.
I learned to make this dish many years ago, way before I even got married. Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie that’s traditionally folded into little triangles and eaten as a snack or appetizer. This recipe veers from the traditional in that it’s made into a casserole making it a lot less work than folding up a stack of little triangles. The combination of spinach and feta cheese is delicious, and the many layers of crispy phyllo dough make it seem like you slaved for hours over the stove. It’s a great side dish to serve at a dinner party or to take to a potluck. It looks impressive and tastes it, too!
2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
½ lb. butter, melted
1 lb. cheese (combine ½ lb. crumbled feta cheese and ½ lb. cottage cheese)
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. chopped parsley (optional)
Salt to taste
½ lb. fresh or frozen phyllo dough (comes in flat sheets called “leaves”)
½ cup melted butter for brushing
Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl.
Butter the bottom of a 9” x 13” pyrex glass baking dish.
Place 4 phyllo leaves on the bottom of the baking pan, brushing each leaf with melted butter before placing the next leaf on top.
Pour one-third of the spinach mixture on top of the buttered phyllo leaves.
Top with 4 more phyllo leaves, brushing each leaf with butter.
Continue layering until all the spinach mixture is used up.
Top with a final layer of buttered phyllo leaves. If you want a thicker, flakier crust, you can add more phyllo leaves. Just be sure to brush each leaf with butter.
Bake at 375º for 30 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.
NOTE: You may use fresh spinach if desired. Just chop it up.
My daughter, Spunky, recently went in for some allergy testing at her doctor’s office. The good news is she doesn’t have Celiac Disease, however she does have gluten sensitivity and is allergic to shellfish, wheat, corn, soy, and their by-products, which makes it difficult to find things for her to eat. Seems like there’s wheat, corn, or soy in everything these days! Because of this, I’ve been on the lookout for healthy recipes to try and ingredient substitutions I can make for her.
This recipe is a delicious, healthy take on lasagna that’s lower in carbs and gluten-free because it has no pasta. The lasagna noodles are replaced by thinly sliced zucchini. The recipe seems like it has a lot of ingredients but once you get everything you need prepped, it comes together very easily. The fam loves it and they don’t miss the pasta noodles at all! Best of all, Spunky can eat it! Serve this with a salad and you’ve got one satisfying, healthy meal.
Oh, one other thing, you could prepare the “meat” sauce up to 5 days in advance and just keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to make your lasagna. Doing that speeds up the prep time which is a big help to a harried cook on a busy week night.
LOW-CARB ZUCCHINI LASAGNA
5-6 medium zucchini (depending on how big they are)
1 (approx. 24-oz.) jar spaghetti or marinara sauce (I like Prego Heart Smart)
2 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning (can substitute dried oregano)
1 (15-oz.) tub part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (8-oz.) tub lowfat cottage cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh basil, minced (can use dried)
1 large egg
2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Slice zucchini lengthwise into ⅛-inch thick slices. If you have a mandolin, use it! It makes it much easier to get nice, even slices.
Place sliced zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with a little salt, tossing it together, then set aside over an empty bowl for at least 20 minutes or more. Zucchini contains a lot of water and salting it removes some of the water.
While the zucchini is draining, heat olive oil in a medium saucepot.
Sauté garlic and onions until onions begin to turn translucent.
Add ground turkey and sauté until turkey is cooked through.
Add diced tomatoes, Prego sauce, and Italian seasoning, stirring together well.
Let sauce simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce is simmering, rinse zucchini quickly in cold water to remove the salt, then gently squeeze dry between 3 or 4 layers of paper towels.
Spread zucchini on extra paper towels to blot out any excess moisture.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, basil and egg.
On the bottom of a 9×13 pyrex baking dish, spread one-third of the meat sauce.
Arrange zucchini slices on top of sauce and top with one-half of ricotta mixture.
Do a second layer of one-third meat sauce, zucchini slices, and remaining half of ricotta mixture.
Do a third layer with remaining meat sauce, then zucchini slices, but instead of ricotta mixture, top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble around the edges and cheese melts and begins to brown in spots.
Remove from oven and let stand 10-20 minutes before cutting.
I was watching Trisha Yearwood’s show on the Food Network. She made a chicken and rice casserole that looked really good so I thought I would give it a try. It was truly yummy! The family liked it a lot. I’ve made it a couple of times since then, but of course, with some minor changes to the original recipe. I added a little more parsley for one thing. I also don’t bother chopping the slivered almonds. The biggest change I made, though, was to add a topping. My kids wanted the dish to have a crunchy topping. What is it with kids and crunchy toppings? So I made a mixture of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, sprinkled it over the top, and voila!
CHICKEN AND WILD RICE CASSEROLE
2 (6-oz.) boxes Uncle Ben’s long-grain and wild rice mix
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing dish
My mom got this recipe years ago from one of her co-workers and it’s been a family favorite over the years. Number 1 certainly loves it. He asks me to make it for practically every holiday gathering!
You can substitute two 10-oz. packages of frozen broccoli for the fresh broccoli if you want. Also, the original recipe called for Hi Ho crackers which made the most delicious, crunchy topping, but I can’t find Hi Ho crackers in my neighborhood anymore. I don’t know if they stopped selling it in the West Coast or if the product has actually been discontinued. If you can’t find Hi Ho crackers, you can substitute Ritz crackers or any other buttery round crackers. The topping will still be wonderful!
1½ lbs. broccoli florets
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped onion
1 roll Hi Ho crackers, crushed
½ cup melted butter
Boil broccoli in unsalted water until very tender; drain well.
In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, celery soup, eggs, cheese and onions.
Combine broccoli and mayonnaise mixture; pour into 7×11 rectangular pyrex dish.
Sprinkle top with crushed Hi Ho crackers and drizzle with melted butter.
Bake in 350ºF oven for 30 minutes.
NOTE: Double the recipe for a large (9×13) rectangular pyrex baking dish, except the topping won’t need so much melted butter. ¾ cup should be enough. This dish may be prepared the day before and refrigerated overnight. Just top with crackers and butter right before baking the next day.