Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Tamale Casserole


The flavors of tamales without all the work – a perfect weeknight meal!


Happy Secret Recipe reveal day!

This month I was assigned the blog Tea and Scones.  Not only will you find lots of delicious scone recipes there but there are lots of other baked good recipes along with other adventures with different cooking/baking groups and review of recipes from a variety of cookbooks.  You can tell a lot of love and time goes into and out of that kitchen in Lousiana!  I ultimately decided on this tamale casserole recipe because 1) it fit in really well with the way I already cook so I already had almost everything on hand and 2) it wasn’t a loved recipe on the blog so changes were welcome.

As you are aware, I rarely make recipes exactly as they are printed. 🙂


I definitely added more seasoning as was suggested and it turned out perfectly! I made the topping as directed but it turned out really, really thin for me so I had to up the cornmeal.  It was a little dry in the end but when it was mixed in with the filling beneath, it offered a good texture so I don’t think I’d change it.

What I really loved was how quickly it all came together and the fact that it can be cooked in one pan as long as the pan is oven proof and safe for the stove top so there was less to clean up.


I definitely plan to go back to Tea and Scones and try other recipes, especially now that the weather is cooling off some and I’m getting in the mood to bake. 🙂

Tamale Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
  • 1½ c corn meal
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1½ c hot water (I used hot water from my tap because it comes out really, really hot but you may want to use boiling water)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 10 oz can tomatoes & green chiles, drained
  • 12 oz pkg frozen corn kernels (thawed, optional)
  • ¼ c finely grated cheddar
  1. In a medium bowl, add the corn meal, salt, chili powder and cumin. Stir in the hot water until smooth. Cover with a towel and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  3. In an oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often to break the meat into little crumbles until starting to brown and mostly cooked through. If needed, drain off any fat in the pan. Add the garlic, chili powder, beans, tomatoes, tomatoes with chiles, and corn to the pan, Stir to mix well.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Add the baking powder to the corn meal mixture and stir well. Spread even over the top of the meat mixture.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the corn meal mixture if dry and cooked through and golden brown around the edges.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Adapted from Tea and Scones

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Enchilada Nachos

enchilada-nachos-titleThe flavor of enchiladas served nacho-style… it’s a Tex-Mex/Tex-Mex infusion! 🙂


I am really super ready for summer to be over.  Unfortunately, however, I live in the south where summer lasts from March though October so I’ve got a while for this heat wave to pass.  Because our electric company raises their rates in the summer and because I am in an older apartment that is not air tight, my A/C bill continues to be through the roof even with the thermostat set between 80ºF and 82ºF.

So Mr. O and I tend to sit with all the lights off save one low wattage accent lamp with multiple fans blowing on us.  It’s too hot to do much of anything so we’ve certainly become even more couch potatoes than normal.  While sweating through an episode or 2 of NCIS in the evening, though, I do spend some time catching up on emails and recipes.


During one such online excursion, I came across a recipe for slow cooker enchilada sloppy joes that was basically ground beef, taco seasoning and a can of enchilada sauce.  My mind, of course, translated several ingredients into homemade but I couldn’t quite understand the slow cooker part.  The ground beef was already cooked and spending 8 hours in the cooker would make it more watery.

While I was contemplating the bun and trying to figure out a different way to serve that seemed less…. wrong, for lack of a better word, I had a vision of tortilla chips.  Tortilla chips?  Yes!  Nachos!  I could serve this as nachos!  Perfect!

And that’s what I did. 🙂


I made my usual taco beef but did a thicker version of the enchilada sauce that did not need to be simmered.  Then I added some canned chiles, some tomatoes, and some black beans and let it simmer for a few minutes to meld and thicken.  After layering the beef mixture on the chips with cheese, I decided to let the meat mixture melt the cheese rather than turning on the Box O’ Hellish Heat.

I then added lettuce, tomato and sour cream to mine simple because that’s what I like on my nachos.  Of course, I made way more taco-enchilada meat than either of us could eat so I had plenty for leftovers which we ate as tacos on flour tortillas.


This turned out to be incredibly satisfying in a number of ways, especially with the contrasting cold and creamy toppings.  You get salty, savory, crunchy, creamy, cool, and refreshing along with a combination of indulgent and healthy.  At least that’s the way I see it.

Oh, and by the way….

Happy Birthday, Mr. O!  🙂

Enchilada Nachos
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 large or 6 smaller servings
The meat
  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ c water
The sauce
  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chipotle chile powder
The rest
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 10 oz can tomatoes with chiles, drained well
  • 4 oz can green chiles, drained well
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • Large bag of tortilla chips
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, diced onion, sliced olives, etc.
  1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the ground beef over med-high, stirring and crumbling the meat as it cooks, until most of the pinkness is gone, about 5-7 minutes. Drain away any excess grease, if necessary. Add the chili powder, 1 Tbsp cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, cayenne and water. Stir to mix well and let simmer for about 5 minutes while mixing the sauce.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, garlic, 2 tsp cumin and chipotle chili powder. Stir the sauce into the taco meat and bring to a simmer. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, while getting your toppings ready, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. To serve: layer tortilla chips in a nearly single layer on each plate, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with cheese and top with some of the meat mixture. Repeat with another layer of chips, cheese, and meat. Top with your favorite toppings.


Enchilada Burgers


The flavors of an enchilada in the convenient hand-held form of a burger!  Just have a few extra napkins on hand.


Good heavens but it has been HOT here in Atlanta lately…hotter than usual!  And it’s only June which means it’s just going to get worse.  Thank goodness for A/C but it’s killing me money-wise even with keeping it set at 78ºF.  My electric bill for this month is almost $200!  $200 to keep my tiny 2 bedroom apartment at 78 degrees.  And that’s even with turning the A/C off when we leave. Since I’ve only been in the apartment for 6 months, the power company won’t allow me to go on the budget plan until I’ve been here for 12 months.  I’ve begged asked.

Because my apartment is fairly tiny and the kitchen is open to the living room, turning the oven on heats up the entire living area.  It never occurred to me how often I use the oven until this summer.  Apparently, I really like baking and roasting things!


Thankfully, Red Gold reached out to me again recently to take part in their Red Gold Summer Grillin’ Party that takes place June 24th – July 22nd on their Facebook page where they will give away a Large Big Green Egg each week, as well as 1,000 insulated tote bags.  As part of their event, they sent blogger kits out that contained an insulated tote bag like they are giving away, a bunch of canned tomato products and a coupon from Laura’s Lean Beef!


As soon as I opened the kit, a recipe formed in my head: Enchilada Burgers!  I’d been craving my first enchilada recipe ever since I made the ones from last week but really, really, really didn’t want to turn the oven on so this was the perfect use for some of the maters and the beef coupon.  And, since I already had everything I needed to make them in my pantry and freezer, I wouldn’t have to spend anything additional.

Yay!  Every little bit helps. 🙂


So, about these amazing burgers… I just drooled a little thinking about them.  The patties are made with ground beef, black beans, tomatoes with chile, and cheese and are basted with enchilada sauce.  They are then topped with more cheese and sauce.  It’s seriously like a beef enchilada on a bun but comes together so much more quickly and, best of all, no oven needed!

Even though Red Gold sent me a free blogger kit, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

Enchilada Burgers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
  • 15 oz can no-salt-added black beans
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 3 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 3 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  1. Drain and rinse the black beans in a strainer or colander. Add the tomatoes with chiles to same strainer and set over a sink or bowl to drain as much as possible.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, garlic, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and chipotle chile powder until well blended. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add the beans and tomatoes and mash the beans lightly with a fork until they are mashed about halfway. Add the ground beef and about half the cheese. Using your finger tips, gently mix the ingredients until well blended.
  4. Form the beef and bean mixture into 4 patties that are ¾" thick and packed as tightly as possible. Place on a plate and refrigerate while heating a large flat nonstick skillet pan over medium heat.
  5. When ready to cook, pour about half of the sauce into a small bowl. Use this sauce to baste the top of each uncooked burger patty.
  6. Place each patty on the heated pan, basted side down. Cook 7 minutes then baste the uncooked tops with more of the sauce. Flip the burgers so the enchilada sauce is down again. Cook for about 3 minutes then top the burger patties with the remaining cheese.
  7. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve on buns with reserved enchilada sauce and sour cream.


Caesar Burger


Like a Caesar salad on a bun but way, way better!  Lean ground beef is seasoned with Parmesan, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce then cooked and served on a bed of lettuce tossed with a homemade cream Caesar sauce and topped with more of the delicious sauce, all on a crouton-style bun!


Back when I had my old position at work, I was able to work quickly enough that I would have a little bit of downtime during the day and would use that time to look at recipe websites and food blogs to get recipes and new ideas for my own.  When 2 coworkers quit and I ended up covering those positions as well, I had less free time so I signed up for various daily digests to be emailed to me in an attempt to make it easier to keep up.

Unfortunately, that ended up creating a back log that, honestly, got kind of out of hand.  I would spend my lunch break going through them but I couldn’t get through all of them in just an hour.  And instead of writing the ones I wanted to try in my notebook, I was copying and pasting them into a text file for “later,” a later that rarely came even after I started the new position.

Fortunately, this past week at work ended up being really quiet so I was able to get through the 50+ that were in my inbox.  I felt guilty doing something personal on company time but when the work is caught up for everyone on the team, that’s pretty much what the team does.


In my recent recipe review session, one for Caesar burgers caught my attention only to lead to disappointment when the “recipe” was just to add Caesar dressing to a burger.  Since I was intrigued, I used my Google Fu to see what other recipes were out there.  Most of them were the same: just put Caesar dressing on a burger.

Then I saw this post about Bobby Flay’s Caesar Salad Burger Recipe which made a Caesar mayo but, again, it was basically just dressing on a plain burger.  So I got to thinking about how *I* would do a Caesar burger and this is what I came up with.


First, I think a Caesar burger should have a Caesar salad on the bun, not just sauce and lettuce.  Second, I think the burger patty itself should have that same lip-smacking twang as the dressing but more subtle as to complement the sauce, not overpower it.  I also think that a dressing itself is too thin and will just become messy when it gets heated by the burger patty so it should be more of a sauce.

I started by adapting my Caesar salad dressing into a thicker sauce by substituting sour cream for the egg and olive oil.  This doesn’t have the anchovy in it but I really think it’s still has the flavor of a classic Caesar.


Seem the sauce still got deliciously drippy once it warmed up but it was still controllable.  I knew it was good when Mr. O and I didn’t say a word other than yummy noises while eating these.  I had one for breakfast the next day and it was still just as tasty.

I am quite excited to make these again and now my brain is wondering what other types of salads might make for tasty burgers.  What do you think?

Caesar Burger
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 burgers
  • ½ c sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 4 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt and more to taste
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided, and more to taste
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, divided
  • 1⅓ lb lean ground beef
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 4 kaiser rolls, halved
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • 2 c chopped lettuce
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper and ⅛ tsp cayenne. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, gently mix together the ground beef, ½ cup of the Parmesan, the remaining 1 Tbsp minced garlic, remaining 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, remaining ½ tsp black pepper, and remaining ⅛ tsp cayenne. Shape into 4 patties that are ¾" thick.
  4. Let set while heating a large nonstick skillet or griddle over med high heat.
  5. Cook the burgers on one side for 5-6 minutes then flip, cooking 4-5 minutes more.
  6. While the burgers cook, split the buns in half and brush each half with the olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and bake 5-7 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet until just starting to brown. Remove from the oven.
  7. Toss the lettuce with ½ of the sauce and the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan.
To build the burgers
  1. On the bottom halves of each bun, pile on a handful of the dressed lettuce (you will like have lettuce leftover) and top with a burger patty. Spoon on some of the remaining sauce and add the bun tops.



Beefy Cheesy Chicken w/ Bacon & Peppers


Want something absolutely delicious and comforting but you won’t care after the first bite that it’s maybe not the healthiest choice?  Then read on!


I woke up the other morning with a massive headache.  My head was on my pillow in a strange position and I knew the moment I woke up that movement was going to be bad.  As soon as I straightened my neck out, the pain just whooshed from my neck into my head.  Unfortunately/fortunately, it was a headache that was just bad enough to make me an unhappy Sashi but not so bad that I couldn’t go to work.

I powered through it and got through my work day but having a headache with neck pain while dealing with the stress of learning a new job meant my head really wasn’t much better by the time I got home again.  Plus, the lunch I had brought to work that day wasn’t nearly enough so not only was I stressed with a headache but I was also famished.  So I wanted comforting, filling food and quickly!


I had ground beef, chicken and a red pepper that needed to be used but didn’t really have a whole lot to go with any of it since grocery shopping wasn’t going to be happening until the next day.  It was also the day before pay-day so my wallet wouldn’t allow for the rare treat of eating out or ordering in.

Fortunately, we did have a few potatoes left as well as a few slices of bacon and some cheese… which I realized was pretty close to the ingredients for Chicken Alambre… which I thought might be kinda tasty with potatoes… which is what I ended up making… which was really GOOD.


So the potatoes were quickly diced, oiled, seasoned and thrown into the oven.  The bacon was then cooked and set aside while the ground beef was cooked with the same seasonings I  used to make chorizo.  By the time the chicken and peppers were cooked, the potatoes were ready and dinner was ready to go.

Mr. O can attest that I made a lot of yummy sounds while eating this.  I still had a headache thanks to my stiff neck but it was better because the stress was pretty much gone by the end of dinner.  I would have preferred to eat this taco style on flour tortillas but the potatoes as the base were down right delicious.  It was a plateful of comfort and a great cure for a stress headache.*

Beefy Cheesy Chicken w/ Bacon & Peppers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into ½" pieces
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ancho chile pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground clove
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into ½" strips
  • 4 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.
  2. Once heated, cook the bacon, stirring often, until browned and crispy, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour the remaining grease from the pan.
  3. Return the pan to the stove and heat up again. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up large clumps, until cooked about halfway through, 3-4 minutes. Add the spices, herbs and vinegars and stir to combine. Cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the chicken and red bell pepper to the ground beef. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the bacon back to the pan and add the cheddar. Stir until the cheese is melted and remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Serve on tortillas or over roasted potatoes.
Adapted from my Chicken Alambre


* Not real medical advice 😉




Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Boats


It’s like eating a burger and fries in one bite!  Just top them with your favorite burger toppings, like ketchup, mustard and pickles.


Now that the stress of the job situation is finally gone, I find myself obsessing over food again, not just eating it but thinking about it, reading about it, cooking it, all the fun stuff.  Of course eating it is a huge part of the fun but I love being involved again with the other aspects.

When I was menu planning last week, I had burgers listed as quick and easy meal but couldn’t decide between oven fries or the more decadent tater skins.  Then I got to thinking about my bacon cheeseburger pizza which I haven’t made in a long time.  But I REALLY wanted potatoes of some kind.


Then it hit me: I could combine them!  Taters stuffed with ground beef, bacon and cheese and topped with burger toppings… yes, please!

Like a lot of kids (and some adults), I have… on occasion… put my fries on my burger.  This is especially good when the fries are really crispy and salty and when the burger is dripping with toppings.  Eating these potato boats reminded me a lot of that and ended up being a wonderfully comforting meal.


I am now one week in with my new position at work.  It’s pretty much what I was expecting it to be but my new coworkers are a lot nicer than I was expecting so that certainly helps!  I’ve also figured out a hole in my budgeting so money should hopefully be a little less tight moving forward as well.

I finally feel secure enough to start completely unpacking the apartment as well.  With the job situation, I was scared that I’d have to move right away so the 2nd bedroom is still home to lots of boxes.  I’m really looking forward to having an art area again!  I’m also going to set up a staging area for taking food pics.  Right now, I am using a TV tray in the middle of my kitchen with my light mod clipped to an open cabinet door.


That set up works okay but it’s certainly not ideal as you can tell from my more recent pics.  It also doesn’t help that I have to set up and tear down each and every time since my kitchen is really small.  But it works well enough for now, I think.

As long as I can still cook, though, it works.  I just have to get more creative with my prep set up and if I am anything, I am a creative problem solver which is proven, I think, by this meal. 🙂

Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Boats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 12 halves
  • 6 medium russet potatoes
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt + more to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can diced tomato, drained
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 oz cheddar, shredded
  1. Bake the potatoes at 400° for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until done. Let cool 20-30 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon in a large flat skillet until golden brown. Set aside on paper towels to dry. Drain off the grease and set the skillet aside.
  3. While the potatoes are cooling, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat in the reserved skillet, stirring often to break up any large pieces. After about 5-7 minutes, when there is still some pink left, stir in the Worcestershire, cayenne, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the beef is cooked through and any residual liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes more. Set aside.
  4. Preheat broiler on high. Cover a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  5. Cut each potato in half. With a spoon, scoop some of the potato out of each half, leaving about ¼" of potato on the skin. Save or discard the scooped bits.
  6. Place each potato skin on the baking sheet skin side up. Brush the skins with about half of the butter. Sprinkle each with a small bit of salt. Turn the potatoes so they are skin side down and brush with the remaining butter. Broil 6-8 minutes about 5-6" from the heat until the potatoes are crispy with browned edges. Remove from the oven.
  7. Break or cut the bacon into small pieces and stir into the beef mixture. Fill the potato halves with the beef-bacon mixture.
  8. Sprinkle each evenly with cheese. Broil 1-2 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  9. Serve hot with choice of burger toppings, such as ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc.



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