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Comfort-food casserole

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Fiesta Casserole

With a short list of ingredients and few dishes to clean at the end, the Fiesta Casserole is quick homemade comfort food. (Photo: The Junior League of Houston)

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

I was born and raised in the Midwest. When I moved to Texas to attend college I learned more than just academics. I discovered Tex-Mex. It seems that on any given week there comes an evening following a longer-than-usual day that requires this type of comfort food.

Unfortunately, most of the time that means we drive to our local favorite and stuff ourselves full of queso. In our crazy lives how do we pair healthy eating with good comfort food that is easy to make? You can start by making the Fiesta Casserole from the Houston Junior League Cookbook.

This is a quick and easy homemade dinner. I made this casserole in 13 minutes (not including the 45 minutes in the oven, but still) and managed to only use a handful of kitchen utensils that needed cleaning. I ate the leftovers for breakfast (it has eggs) and lunch the next day.

Want to save even more time? Serve with steamed vegetables (the kind you can steam in the bag) and a bowl of cantaloupe. If you have time, it pairs nicely with the Cilantro Lime Summer Corn Salad and the Ginger Margaritas from Peace Meals (both of which can be made in advance).

Make the casserole ahead of time and just pop it in the oven when you need it. Know someone who just moved or had a tough week? This is the perfect thing to bring.

Here are the kitchen utensils that you need:

A greased casserole dish (roughly 6”x10”x2”).

A pan to brown the meat in.

A cutting board (not necessary if you buy pre-chopped onion).

A knife (not necessary if you buy pre-chopped onion).

Measuring spoons.

Measuring cup.

Slotted spatula.

An extra pan that is bigger than your casserole dish (you won’t even have to wash this one).

And here are the ingredients that you need:

1 large onion, chopped

Butter or olive oil

1 pound ground beef

Salt and pepper

2 cans (4 oz. each) whole green chiles

1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1½ cups milk

4 eggs, beaten

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon pepper sauce

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350. Dice the onion (or save more time, and tears, by purchasing pre-diced onions).

Step 2: Heat up a spoonful of butter or olive oil in your pan and swirl it around so that it covers the whole bottom of the pan. Add the meat and onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Break up the meat with your spatula and push it around until it is lightly browned and the onions are translucent. This takes about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Step 3: Open the chile cans and drain the liquid out. I just use my hand over the top of the can to save on dishes that need to be washed, but you can use a colander if you have that kind of time. Pull out the chiles and tear them in half brushing off any leftover seeds that may have gotten left behind. Using half of the chiles (1 can), arrange them in the bottom of the greased casserole.

Step 4: Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the peppers.

Step 5: Using your slotted spatula, arrange the meat/onion mixture on top of the cheese. Cover with the remaining chiles.

Step 6: Using your measuring cup combine the milk, eggs, flour, ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper sauce and whisk together (I use the measuring spoon – fewer dishes – but you can use a whisk if you want). Pour over the chiles.

Step 7: Fill your extra pan with about 1-2 inches of hot water. Place your casserole dish inside the pan and place both into the oven. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until the eggs are set, and let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly before serving. Cut into squares and enjoy! Serves about 6.

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