Savoring Sunday

I have lots of standby dinners that are always in my pocket, ready to go. My husband has his collection as well and this is how we feed ourselves at home. Sunday morning, however, my mom and cousin visited from Tucson and interwoven among the regular catching up came a few dishes my aunt made in the recent past that were delectable enough to mention in full detailed recipe. Yes, ordinary conversation with my family would read like the G-rated pages of Like Water for Chocolate.

My mom mentioned an easy peasy casserole that, the more she spoke, sounded like heaven. This casserole was to chile rellenos as chilaquiles were to enchiladas and I can get down with that. I had my first chile relleno, embarrassingly enough, at a mediocre restaurant in Phoenix at the age of 26. I don’t know what took so long, but I loved it. I continued to order them at restaurants I liked and they got better and better. However, I knew from the start I’d never make them at home because as a rule I don’t deep fry things at home. Too much effort and mess for something not so good for you. Give it to me in a restaurant, though, and we’ll pretend the indulgent preparation never happened (wink, wink). So, when I heard this, I immediately started making a grocery list. My cousin piped in that her husband didn’t think that the dish was filling enough to be its own entrée, and, just like it was meant to be, I was–at that moment– flipping through the most recent Real Simple and had already bookmarked a chopped steak salad that I thought looked good. My husband’s belly would be just fine.

So, I took a sleepy boy to the grocery store (hamming it up for nana takes energy!) and got to work. Try one or try both. They’re yummy either way.

Tia Angie’s Chile Relleno Casserole

Serves 8-12.

1-27 oz. can Hatch whole green chilis
1 -4 oz. can chopped green chilis
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk (I got fat free, which, I’m not sure makes much of a difference)
8 oz. tomato sauce
1-16 oz. bag of shredded cheese
(I used half a bag of pepper jack/Habanero and half a bag lite Mexican blend from Trader Joe’s)
3 eggs
2 tbsp. minced garlic
oregano
onion powder
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a lasagna pan with cooking spray.

Layer the green chilis flat, covering the entire bottom of the pan. This usually meant tearing the chili in half for two flat sides. Next, add half of your cheese mixture. Repeat.

In a bowl, mix the three eggs and evaporated milk. Pour this mixture evenly on your chili and cheese layers, so that it covers the whole top of the casserole.

Cook in the 350 oven for 40 minutes.

In a blender, blend the small can of chopped green chilis with the tomato sauce, garlic and spices.

After the casserole’s been cooking for 40 minutes, pull out of oven and drizzle the tomato/chili mixture over the dish. Cook an additional 15 minutes.

Let cool slightly and enjoy!

Real Simple’s Chopped Steak Salad

Serves 4. From the July 2010 issue of Real Simple

Season 3/4 pound flank steak (I used Angus stew meat) with salt and pepper. Broil, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare; chop. In a bowl, combine with 1 head chopped romaine (I used a baby romaine mix), 2 cups chopped red cabbage, 1-15.5 oz. can rinsed white beans, 1/2 cup chopped roasted peppers, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Toss with Italian dressing (I used champagne dressing).

Ta-da.

I find it vital to the outcome of a dish to be happy when cooking and my best cooking companion is, hands down, having Amelie playing in the background. I cannot explain it. The food comes out better.

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