Chili con Spam

Spam con Chili | Pinky's Pantry
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
  1. In skillet, fry spam until light brown on all sides.
  2. Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are softened.
  3. Stir in stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and sugar.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add tomato sauce and kidney beans.
  6. Simmer over low heat for an additional 10 minutes or so.
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Corned Beef Tater Tot Casserole

Corned Beef Tater Tot Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
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 | Pinky's Pantry

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
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Set aside about 2 cups of the tater tots to use for topping.
  3. Arrange remaining tater tots in single layer on bottom of prepared baking dish.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tater tots or spray lightly with cooking spray.
  5. Bake about 25 minutes or until tater tots are golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  6. In large skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté onions, red and green peppers.
  7. Add corned beef and cook, breaking up corned beef with the back of a spoon and stirring together well. Allow to cool.
  8. Whisk eggs together in a bowl, then whisk in milk, mustard, salt and pepper.
  9. Spread corned beef mixture over cheese.
  10. Pour egg mixture over everything. If making ahead, cover the casserole at this point and refrigerate overnight.
  11. To cook, remove casserole from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  13. Scatter reserved 2 cups tater tots over casserole.
  14. Top with shredded cheese.
  15. Bake until egg mixture is set and top is golden brown, 55 – 60 minutes.

Breakfast Corn Casserole

Breakfast Corn Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
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
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, kale, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until kale is soft and onions are translucent.
  4. Add corn, ham, and sour cream, and cook until hot and bubbly.
  5. Pour corn mixture into prepared baking dish; set aside. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight at this point.
  6. Next day, remove casserole from refrigerator at least half an hour before baking.
  7. Prepare the cornbread batter according to directions on the back of the package.
  8. Stir 1 cup cheese into cornbread batter.
  9. Pour cornbread batter over corn mixture in baking dish.
  10. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.
  11. Bake for 35 minutes or until corn is bubbling and corn bread topping is done.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
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 | Pinky's Pantry

KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped (can substitute red bell pepper)
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 whole cooked chicken, deboned and shredded (about 3-4 cups chicken)
  • 1 can (10¾ oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (10¾ oz.) cream of chicken soup
  • 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)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  3. Sauté onion, bell pepper and poblano pepper until onions start to become translucent.
  4. Stir in chicken, soups, Rotel, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Remove skillet from heat.
  6. Tear 4 tortillas into 1-­inch pieces and scatter on bottom of prepared baking dish.
  7. 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.
  8. Tear 4 more tortillas into pieces and make a second layer of tortillas, 1/3 chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese.
  9. Tear the last 4 tortillas to make a final layer with the last of the chicken mixture and top with 2 cups of cheese.
  10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and cheese is browning at the edges.
  11. 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.

Funeral Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
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.
Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
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.

FUNERAL POTATOES

  • 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
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. 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.
  3. Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
  4. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
  6. Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
  7. Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  8. Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
  9. 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.

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots | Pinky's Pantry
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
  1. Bake tater tots according to package directions.
  2. While tots are baking, combine sour cream and ranch dressing in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle sour cream mixture over baked tater tots.
  4. Sprinkle cheeses over the top.
  5. Place under broiler until cheese is completely melted.
  6. Remove from broiler and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.
  7. Return to broiler for 2-5 minutes to warm up the bacon.
  8. Serve hot.

Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast | Pinky's Pantry
One of the nurses at work gave me her recipe for blueberry french toast several years ago. She loved it because it was very easy to make and could be prepared the night before so it was perfect to take to an office potluck. I had to agree with how easy it was to make, not to mention how delicious it was. I love biting into a little chunk of cream cheese when I’m eating it. The sweet-tart blueberries make the perfect backdrop to each creamy bite. And my blueberry sauce gives it just the right finishing touch.

I love making this casserole with brioche bread which is soft and silky and has a very thin crust. If you can get your hands on some brioche, give it a try. It makes a rich and wonderfully delicious french toast.

BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

  • 14 slices of white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 ozs. (1½ boxes) cream cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Spread half the bread cubes in the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking pan.
  2. Sprinkle with half the cream cheese cubes and half the blueberries.
  3. Cover with the other half of the bread cubes.
  4. Sprinkle with remaining cream cheese and blueberries.
  5. Mix the eggs, milk, and sugar together.
  6. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes in baking pan. Push bread down very lightly with a spatula to make sure top layer gets soaked. Don’t smash it down!
  7. Cover with foil and place in refrigerator overnight.
  8. Next day, remove from refrigerator about half an hour before putting in the oven.
  9. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  10. Bake covered for 30 minutes; then uncover and bake another 30-40 minutes or until firm.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  1. Combine the water and sugar together in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add the blueberries and simmer until most of them have burst, about 10 minutes.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice.
  5. Add the cornstarch-lemon mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  7. Serve sauce warm with french toast.

NOTE:  My kids like a lot of sauce so when I make this, I double the sauce recipe. You could also skip it and just serve this with plain syrup if you don’t feel like going the extra step of making the blueberry sauce.

Holiday Sausage and Wild Rice

Sausage and Wild Rice | Pinky's Pantry
This recipe makes a great side dish to serve during the holidays or any time of year really. I got the original recipe from Rosemary, one of the nurses at my office who’s retired now. I’ve changed it up just a smidge to make it more appealing to my family, but the basic recipe is the same. If you want to serve it during other times of the year, you can omit the cranberries and still have a great side dish to go with a roast or some chicken. If you ask me, though, I think this dish is really perfect for Thanksgiving and is wonderful on a plate next to some turkey smothered with gravy and a pile of green beans. Yum! I can’t wait to serve this at our Thanksgiving dinner this year!

HOLIDAY SAUSAGE AND WILD RICE

  • 1 cup brown rice (2 cups when cooked)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 boxes (4.3 oz. each) long grain and wild rice blend (like Rice-a-Roni)
  • ½ cup pine nuts (can substitute slivered almonds)
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 ozs. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bag (9.6 ozs.) turkey sausage crumbles (can use pork sausage)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
  1. Cook brown rice in rice cooker or stove top. To the cooking water, add the bay leaf, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
  2. In another pot, prepare wild rice blend according to package directions.
  3. Place pine nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 375ºF oven, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Melt butter or margarine in a large stock pot.
  5. Sauté onions and mushrooms in melted butter until onions become translucent.
  6. Add sausage crumbles to pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Stir in cooked brown rice, cooked wild rice, toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, and frozen peas.
  8. Continue cooking until peas are heated through.
  9. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  10. Serve warm garnished with chopped parsley, if desired.

Zucchini Onion Appetizer Squares

Zucchini Squares | Pinky's Pantry
This is an old Bisquick recipe and is delicious served as an appetizer or for a light lunch or brunch dish. It’s easy to make and is a good way to use up extra zucchini when it’s in season. I think the addition of oregano adds a bright herby flavor to this dish but you could omit it if you like, or substitute a different herb like thyme or savory.
Zucchini Squares | Pinky's Pantry

ZUCCHINI ONION APPETIZER SQUARES

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (about 3 or 4)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of a 9×13″ baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmesan cheese, oil, parsley, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and Bisquick.
  3. Stir in the zucchini and onion.
  4. Spread in prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned at edges
  6. Cut into 1¼-squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti | Pinky's Pantry
My Mom made Chicken Spaghetti for us when we were growing up in the Philippines. I don’t remember what she put in her Chicken Spaghetti, but this is my version created from the faded recollection I have of a childhood dish I enjoyed. The ingredients don’t sound very “native” to the Philippines, but Filipinos love cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese which were brought over by the Americans during World War II and which have remained Filipino favorites to this day, along with the ever-popular Spam, of course. LOL!

This recipe makes a really big casserole so it’s perfect for a party or a church potluck. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’re feeding a smaller group of people.

CHICKEN SPAGHETTI

  • 1 lb. spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
  • 1 cooked rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded (about 3-4 cups)
  • 1 lb. bacon, diced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 small cans (4 oz. each) sliced mushrooms, undrained
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 lb. velveeta cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  3. Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook just until al dente.
  4. Pour into a colander to drain.
  5. Put bacon in the same pot you used to cook the spaghetti and fry until crispy.
  6. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pot.
  8. Sauté onions in the bacon grease until they start to become translucent.
  9. Add red bell pepper and sauté until crisp-tender.
  10. Stir in the mushrooms with juice, mushroom soup, velveeta cheese, and water.
  11. Cook, stirring, until velveeta is completely melted.
  12. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  13. Remove from heat, then stir in shredded chicken, cooked spaghetti, and bacon.
  14. Pour into an extra large casserole dish, or two medium size ones.
  15. Sprinkle top with shredded cheddar cheese, then grated parmesan cheese.
  16. Bake 30 minutes or until cheese is melted on top.