Rice and Bean Casserole with Guacamole

Over the summer while we were on vacation at the beach, we made a recipe from Eat Live Run for Rice and Bean Casserole with Guacamole.

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This recipe stood out for a few reasons. The ingredients were cheap and easy to transport (nothing has to be refrigerated). It looked easy to adapt, easy to prepare, and easy to clean up. I was nervous to try a new recipe while traveling, but it turned out to be an excellent meal.

We followed the basic casserole directions (omitting the cumin and the garlic powder because we didn’t have any on hand). We added a few fresh veggies to the casserole for texture and flavor. I minced four cloves of garlic, diced a whole onion, and sliced two cups of baby bell peppers. I sautéed the garlic, onion, and peppers in olive oil until they were softened and began to caramelize and we added these to the casserole before baking. When the casserole was done, we sprinkled cheddar cheese on top and popped it back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

For the guacamole, I omitted the jalapeño and cumin because we didn’t have any on hand. Instead, I added a clove of minced garlic, a few minced baby bell peppers, and some chili powder. I also chopped tomatoes to serve alongside the casserole.

The best part of the casserole was that Artie prepared the casserole while I made the peppers and the guacamole. Then, the casserole baked for 90 minutes while we went to the beach to watch the sunset and dinner was ready when we got back to the house.

My family gave the casserole rave reviews. They did serve it alongside grilled brats and burgers (because, let’s face it, my brothers have a hard time imagining a meal that doesn’t include meat) but they liked it nonetheless.

We’ve made this casserole several times since vacation – probably at least twice a month. We really like it because we can pop it in the oven and then clean the house or work on other projects while dinner is cooking. If you are looking for an easy, affordable meal that pleases a crowd, I would recommend giving this casserole a try.

Cooking with My Mentees, part 1

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to post this!  I need to make a New Year’s resolution to be a more timely blogger…

As part of the work I do, I serve as a mentor for students in the Service Scholar program.  Early in the fall semester (in September, I think?), I got together with three of my mentees to cook and share a meal together.  I’ve had several students ask me if I would teach them to cook a particular dish and this was my first foray into cooking instruction.  The only request was tofu (my kind of request!) so I made a menu that was fun and diverse, if a bit ambitious.  Before the girls came over, I set out the ingredients in different stations:

White bean dip served with sliced red peppers

Tofu two ways: BBQ and honey glazed

Spicy Baked Macaroni (I made few changes to the Giada DeLaurentis recipe.)

The first thing we did was get cute aprons on all the cooks.  Then we got to work, picking eggplant, sautéing garlic, blending up bean dip, seasoning tofu, cooking veggies for the macaroni, grating cheese, and generally having a great time while we prepped the meal.

Marisa and Abby picking eggplant from Artie's garden
Amy sautéing garlic in the tiny skillet with the tiny spatula
Marisa seasoning the BBQ tofu

 

Abby adding the sauteed veggies to the pasta for the macaroni
Tasting the white bean dip with the tiny spoons

The finished product was excellent:

Don’t think that I forgot dessert!  This post already had so many pictures, I thought I would break it into two parts.  Check back tomorrow for part two and see what delicious confection we made for dessert  (a tasty, fruity treat that looks like it took forever to make, but it was a snap!).

Shannon’s Bean Dip

Because our house is mostly back together (pictures coming soon!) and because today is college football and I’m craving bean dip I think it’s time to post this recipe.  It’s the perfect recipe for the blog comeback – simple, delicious, and a real crowd pleaser.

The first time I had this dish, I was a freshman in college and Shannon baked a bean dip and brought it to the ladies of 2 East Landis Hall as a finals week treat.  I quickly asked for the recipe and I’ve make it countless times since then.  The students at my office rave about the bean dip and when I show up with one at potluck events I am met with “Yes!  Jillian brought the delicious dip!”  So I’ll pass along the recipe because it is delish and perfect for tailgates, holiday parties, and (if I’m being totally honest) dinner.  Enjoy!

Shannon’s Bean Dip

can of refried beans

can of black beans, drained and rinsed

jar of salsa

6 – 8 ounces sour cream

6 – 8 ounces cheese

tortilla chips (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, gently fold black beans into refried beans, making sure not to smush the black beans.  Spread the bean mixture on the bottom of an 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking dish.

Spread the sour cream on top of the bean mixture.

Spoon the salsa on top of the sour cream, keeping the two in distinct layers.

Top the salsa with the cheese.

Bake uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Sometimes, if I’m going to a gathering with a lot of people, I’ll double this and bake it in a 9×13 pan.  If you like cilantro, chop a handful of cilantro and sprinkle on top of the bean dip as soon as the dip comes out of the oven.  You could also top with diced avocado.  Or, if you are me, you can top it with both!

The photos above are courtesy of Shannon.  I don’t have a picture of the dip after it has finished cooking (probably because in all the times I’ve made it, it goes directly from oven to table to mouth without pause!) but I guarantee that if you prepare this for any gathering, your dish will look like this in no time: