Southwestern Rice and Beef Bake
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake
Picture this… You’ve been busy all day, running errands, volunteering at the school and grabbing a coffee with your BFF. But before you know it, it’s 5:45 and the kids (being led by the biggest kid of all- dad!) are banging on the table howling for their dinner and you haven’t made a thing yet. Before your busy day began you had every intention of making dinner. It’s days like this that you could easily redeem yourself by opening the freezer and baking a delicious homemade meal. Easily paired with a salad and bread, this meal will make your family proclaim… “YOU are a kitchen goddess!”
Okay, okay… this probably only happens in books or those cute Kraft Mac & Cheese commercials, but having a meal or two in the freezer can really make your life so much easier. They are delicious, wholesome meals. A reprise from the chaotic junk food-filled weekend. It’s the perfect way to start the week, and hey! If you can get an extra meal out of all that work why not? Because in the end, Menu Monday’s are not supposed to be complex meals that take hours of slaving in the kitchen.
A hearty bake is perfect with a salad, but I felt like this weather is calling for a bowl of soup. Since our entree is going to be Mexican inspired, I thought it would be best to stick with the theme and make a Southwestern Spicy Corn Soup. I’d like to add that when this recipe said I needed to make a Red Pepper Sauce and pour it into a plastic bottle to squirt a swirl in the soup I was sold! I just finished reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and he says every great kitchen uses plastic squirt bottles. The next day I ran out and bought a squirt bottle that was waiting for such a day! SUPER!!
The soup can be as spicy or mild as you wish depending on the chili powder you use. Start by putting half the amount called for in the recipe. Stir. Wait. Taste. If you want it spicier add more chili.
Southwestern Spicy Corn Soup
- 3 cups Corn (if using corn on the cob, reserve the husked cob to boil with the soup)
- 1 T Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- Up to 1 T Chili Powder (Mexican Chili Powder, regular Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika for a milder flavor)
- 1/2 t (2.5g) Salt
- 6 cups (1.5L) Chicken Stock
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) Heavy Cream
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
- 4 Sprigs of Green Onions, finely chopped
- In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, saute onions in olive oil 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions should be translucent. Add garlic and chili powder. Saute 1 more minute. Add corn and saute 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper and husked cob and stock. Bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture has boiled, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the corn kernels from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.
- To Roast Bell Pepper: Char the skin of the pepper directly onstovetop until blackened and blistered. Remove the pepper from the flame and place in the microwave for 15 minutes to steam it. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, drain excess liquid. Then peel, seed, and dice it.
- Roasted Pepper Sauce: Puree roasted bell pepper and 1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream in blender for 1 minutes. Pour through a sieve and discard contents of sieve. Pour the red bell pepper
sauce into a plastic squirt bottle and set aside.
- Cool the soup slightly then pour the corn soup in a blender and puree for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture through a sieve and discard the contents of the sieve. Use a whisk to help push the liquid through the sieve.
- Return the mixture to a saucepan, add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, and heat, over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Pour into bowls, garnish with a swirl of the Red Pepper Sauce, diced red peppers and green onions. Serve immediately
Tonight’s dinner, Southwestern Rice and Beef Bake, was adapted from one of my go-to casserole books, The Casserole Queens Cookbook. I substituted the canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes since tomatoes are plentiful around here and my Vidali Onion Chopper makes chopping onions into even diced pieces a snap. (I’m such a kitchen appliance junkie!)
If you chose to double the recipe and freeze and extra portions worth, here are a couple of tips to ensure that your frozen casserole tastes delicious when you bake it:
- COOLING: Follow the ingredients up to the baking process. At this point leave it to cool completely before freezing.
- FREEZING: Line your 9×13 baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil leaving a 1″ overhang on each side. After preparing and allowing it to cool, cover in aluminum foil and put in the freezer. Once the casserole is frozen lift it out the dish and pop the casserole wrapped in foil back into the freezer. Just make sure that it is completely wrapped to avoid freezer burn.
- DETHAWING: When your ready to make the casserole, completely thaw it in the refrigerator before baking. If it is not completely thawed when you bake it just add an extra 20-30 minutes to the baking time and check the middle to make sure it’s all hot.
- DETHAWING II: No worries… If you’re a last minute person, you can bake it straight from the freezer, just double the cooking time.
- RECIPE TIPS: For this recipe cook the rice al dente, so that you do not end up with a mushy mess when you bake it.
- LABEL: Remember to label your casserole.This is especially true if you freeze a lot. Nothing worse than expecting a chicken pot pie for dinner and ending up with an apple pie (or maybe that’s not so bad!!)
The recipe below is for 1 casserole, but can easily be doubled to make 2. I didn’t make a second this time only because I have a turkey sitting in the freezer right now, but this was so good I wish I did!
Southwestern Rice and Beef Bake
- 1 1/2 cup Rice
- 3 cups (750ml) Water
- 1 pound (1/2 kilo) Ground Beef
- 1 Onion, large, chopped
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup (80g) Corn
- 1/2 cup (125ml) Water
- 2 lbs (1 kilo) Tomatoes, chopped
- 2- 4 1/2 oz Cans Green Chilies, chopped (Metro, Carrefour and City Shop carry this)
- 2 T (30g) Chili Powder
- 2 t (10g) Ground Cumin
- 1 1/2 t (7.5g) Sugar
- 1 t (5g) Dried Oregano
- 1 cup (250ml) Sour Cream
- 6 sprigs of Green Onions, chopped
- 5 oz (125g) Cheddar Cheese, grated
- RICE MIXTURE: Add rice and 3 cups water to a pan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer untouched for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steam 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. *IF YOU ARE GOING TO FREEZE: Only cook rice for 10 minutes and add any liquid remaining from the rice to the recipe* Combine rice, sour cream, milk and green onions in a bowl. Set aside.
- BEEF MIXTURE: Saute beef, onions, corn and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium high until meat is browned (8 minutes). Add water, tomatoes, chilies and spices. Cover. Bring to boil and simmer on medium low for 10 minutes. Uncover skillet, return heat to medium high and simmer for 2 more minutes.
- In a lightly greased 9×13 glass baking pan, spoon the rice mixture on the bottom, the top with beef mixture and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. **IF YOU ARE GOING TO FREEZE STOP HERE!**
- Bake for 30 minutes or until heated and cheese has melted.
Feeling stuffed? Hold on! You definitely want to run in place or drink a cup of green tea so you can make some space for a chocolate dessert that will blow your socks off! This dessert is super fast to make, but keep in mind there won’t be too much leftover… It’s that good! Not to mention I owe my husband a kick ass dessert since we didn’t save him any Ooey Gooey Rice Krispie Treats! Oops!!
I also love this cake because it doesn’t call for eggs. How often do you open the fridge to make a cake only to realize you do not have any eggs? Or you get a list of class allergies and there is an egg allergy in the class? Not a problem with this recipe.
Hope you love it as much as we do!
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sheet Cake
Sheet Cake Batter Ingredients:
- 1 cup (225g) Butter
- 1 cup (250ml) Water
- 1/2 cup (60g) Cocoa Powder
- 2 cups (250g) Flour
- 2 cups (400g) Sugar
- 1/2 t (2.5g) Salt
- 1 t (5g) Baking Soda
- 1/2 cup (125g) Sour Cream
Sheet Cake Batter Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter, with cocoa powder and water.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and bakingsoda. Make a well in the center of the flour, and whisk in cocoa mixture until smooth. Add sour cream and thoroughly whisk.
- Pour into a well greased 17″x12″ baking sheet. Use a spatula to even out the batter.
- Bake for 15-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Please not baking time will depend on your oven. While the original recipe says 15 minutes, mine took 30 minutes. I advise that you check it at 15 minutes and then every 5 minutes thereafter).
Peanut Butter Frosting
Peanut Butter Frosting Ingredients
- 6 T (80g) Butter, melted
- 3 cups (375g) Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 Cup + 2T (115ml) Milk
- 1/2 t (2.5ml) Vanilla
- 1 cup (250g) Peanut Butter
- 1/2 cup (65g) Chopped Peanuts
Peanut Butter Frosting Directions
- Whisk together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.
- Add peanut butter and whisk together until creamy and smooth.
- Stir in peanuts.
- Spread over the top of a warm (not hot) sheet cake.