Friday, January 21, 2011

Food For Thought

Growing up, we kids loved to go to Casa Bonita anytime that we traveled to Denver.  For those of you unfamiliar with this Denver icon, from the outside it was a big, pink castle-like building in a strip-mall ... but from the inside, it was magic!  Cliff divers, a haunted cave complete with "real" pirate booty, an arcade, tables nestled into caves and nooks and crannies ... and the never-ending supply of sopapillas!  Just pop up the little red flag and Poof! another batch of steamy, sugary sopapillas would appear!  I don't even know if the rest of the food was any good ... I think we just went for the cliff divers and the desserts.

Sometimes dinner at home is just like that, too.  You serve an entire meal, but all anyone really wants are the "good parts."  Last week, I shared with you three of our family's favorite "good parts":  salsa, guacamole and creamy black beans.  This week, I want to share with you two actual dinners that are so yummy, they end up being memorable, too.  Especially if you serve them with the "good parts" from last week. :)

First up:

Chili Relleno Casserole
(This recipe is one of my mom's ... and a Kellum Family favorite.  I doubled it for this meal.)

Egg Mixture:
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup flour (I use half whole wheat and half white)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1/8 t. salt

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound whole green chilies*

* You can buy a can of whole green chilies ... or you can buy them freshly roasted.  I keep my eyes open in the fall and often times Wal-Mart has a crew outside roasting the green chilies right there in the parking lot!  You can buy them by the bag (mild, medium, hot, and eye-watering) and clean them up when you get home.  Simple rinse them in a colander and work all the blackened skins off.  Then twist the stems off and rinse out the seeds.  Delish!  You can also pop them straight into your freezer and rinse and use them later when your recipe calls for them.

Fresh from the roaster!

Rinsed and ready to use.

Mix all the ingredients for the egg mixture together.  The flour will make it lumpy and that's okay.

Grease an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.  Layer the half the chilies, all the cheese and the other half of the chilies.

Waiting for the final chilies.

Pour the egg mixture over the chilies and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

The casserole will puff up a lot and get brown on the top.  Let it sit and cool for about 5 minutes before cutting.

Scrumptious with salsa!

So much easier than stuffing chilies individually and healthier for you than frying ... but just as tasty!

Tortilla Torte
(This is a recipe I got years ago from Taste of Home ... then I modified it beyond recognition.)

3 flour tortillas
1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa
2 avocados, cut in cubes
1 lb. ground beef/turkey, browned and seasoned with garlic, salt and cumin.
1 cup cheddar, shredded

Grease an 8x8 pan with cooking spray, set aside.  In a large bowl, combine refried beans, 1/2 jar of salsa and avocados.

Yes ... you will bake the avocados.  Trust me ... yum!

Pour half of the remaining salsa in the bottom of the 8x8 pan.  Layer ingredients as follows:  tortilla, bean mixture, meat and a sprinkle of cheese.  Repeat the layers again and then top with a tortilla, remaining 1/4 jar of salsa and cheese.

Layered and ready for the oven.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then uncover the casserole and bake for an additional 10minutes to melt the cheese.  We like to serve this with rice and chips ... and dip.

Creamy and hearty ... delicioso.
We're having a similar dinner tonight ... crock pot-style!  Remember this one?  These slow cooker enchiladas will also be lovely with guacamole and salsa.  My mouth is watering ....

I hope I didn't get your hopes up with all that talk of sopapillas ... maybe I'll have to fix up a batch for a future post. :)

Chili Rellenos
Tortilla Torte


  1. Casa Bonita sounds like such a fun and unique place. Is it still in existence? I love the way that you've continued the fun at home, and both recipes sound positively wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing and linking up at another "A Little Birdie Told Me.." My mouth waters every time I visit!! Jenn

  2. Visiting from Rook No. 17's "A Little Birdie Told me..." linky party. These two recipes look fabulous. You can find me at!

  3. Visiting from Rook No. 17...had to stop by after seeing the reference to Casa Bonita. My grandparents lived in Denver and whenever we visited them (from Oregon) we would go to Casa Bonita. I LOVED that place! Such good memories....thank you!


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