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.
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
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
Spread half the bread cubes in the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking pan.
Sprinkle with half the cream cheese cubes and half the blueberries.
Cover with the other half of the bread cubes.
Sprinkle with remaining cream cheese and blueberries.
Mix the eggs, milk, and sugar together.
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!
Cover with foil and place in refrigerator overnight.
Next day, remove from refrigerator about half an hour before putting in the oven.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Bake covered for 30 minutes; then uncover and bake another 30-40 minutes or until firm.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1½ cups blueberries
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
juice of one lemon
4 Tbsp. butter
Combine the water and sugar together in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Add the blueberries and simmer until most of them have burst, about 10 minutes.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice.
Add the cornstarch-lemon mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
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.
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)
Cook brown rice in rice cooker or stove top. To the cooking water, add the bay leaf, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
In another pot, prepare wild rice blend according to package directions.
Place pine nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 375ºF oven, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Melt butter or margarine in a large stock pot.
Sauté onions and mushrooms in melted butter until onions become translucent.
Add sausage crumbles to pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Stir in cooked brown rice, cooked wild rice, toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, and frozen peas.
Continue cooking until peas are heated through.
Transfer to a casserole dish.
Serve warm garnished with chopped parsley, if desired.
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 ONION APPETIZER SQUARES
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
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of a 9×13″ baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmesan cheese, oil, parsley, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and Bisquick.
Stir in the zucchini and onion.
Spread in prepared baking pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned at edges
Cut into 1¼-squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
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.
At the age of 18, I landed my very first office job. I worked as a secretary for the County Department of Health & Welfare. I worked with a bunch of nurses in the Public Health Nursing Division. It was fun and interesting. Our supervisor was this big, tall nurse with a great sense of humor named Sharon. She shared her recipe for this casserole with me and I’ve kept it all these years. It’s a great dish to take to a potluck or a barbeque. It’s really easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Just top it with the biscuits and cheese on the day you bake it.
HAMBURGER BEAN CASSEROLE
1 lb. hamburger meat
½ medium onion, chopped
1 can (15 oz.) pork & beans
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 can refrigerated biscuits (8 biscuits)
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Brown hamburger meat and onions in a medium pot. Drain well.
Remove pot from heat and stir in beans, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, barbecue sauce, mustard, and liquid smoke.
Pour mixture into an 11×7-inch casserole dish.
Arrange biscuits on top of casserole.
Bake for 13 minutes or till biscuits are light brown.
Remove casserole dish from oven and carefully turn each biscuit over.
Return to oven and bake another 13 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
Top with grated cheese and bake for 2 minutes more or until cheese is all melted.
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