Books. Food.

Ten minutes until I can recheck the boy.

Once a month, I meet up with friends for an evening of food, wine and book discussion. Book Club. I always leave intoxicated – but only partly from the wine. The conversation flows with even more abandon, begins with the work at hand, digresses into sharing life stories, ends with deeper connections forged.
I hadn’t brought the entree in a while and needed something I could make in the hour between work and meeting. While I had nearly everything at home, the need for cheese necessitated a 5:10 p.m. stop at the Co-op – hardly the ideal time to pop in and out. The boyfriend of one of the women happened to be at the Co-op and looked at me in disbelief as I swore I would make it to Book Club in time, casserole in hand.

Well, I did. Here’s the old stand-by for just such occasions.

Quick Mexican Casserole

SUPER SIMPLE VERSION
2 cans black (or pinto or both) beans
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can corn
1 jar/tub salsa
10 corn tortillas
cheddar/jack cheese

Mix together 2 15-oz. cans black beans, one 12- or 16-oz. tub or jar of salsa and one 15-oz. can of corn (frozen bag works, too).
Cut 3 corn tortillas in half. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish with a single layer of tortillas, placing the straight edges of the tortillas along the edge of the pan.
Spread half the bean mixture over the tortillas.
Sprinkle one cup grated cheddar or jack cheese on top.
Lay down another layer of tortillas.
Spread the remaining bean mix.
Top with cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven off and let sit five more minutes.
Serve hot, with optional sour cream, extra salsa, sliced avocado or, if you’re into olives, olives.

UPGRADES
Make your own salsa. (This is recommended and makes super yummy! I just chuck all the salsa parts – garlic, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, serrano – into the food processor and puree. Adding spinach into the batch is also yummy.)
Add cubed and sautéed tofu.
Instead of tortillas, mix equal parts masa harina and water, plus a squeeze of lime juice; press into bottom of pan and bake for 10 minutes; let cool and remove; repeat; use in layering process.
You can also layer in this order: tortilla, bean, cheese, tortilla, bean, tortilla, cheese; the extra tortilla layer helps keep everything together.
I should know the carbs! Corn tortillas are 9 to 11 grams, depending on brand; beans are 19 g per half-cup; corn is, I think, about 15 grams per half-cup, but double-check. The rest is negligible.

We just finished Three Cups of Tea and are starting Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I’ve been meaning to read for years.

3 a.m.? Time to draw blood and hope the juice and applesauce worked.

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