Fiesta Bowls!!! (Yes, fiestas require three exclamation points… always.)

These little guys make a great appetizer.  You could even set out all the ingredients (along with any other fillings/toppings you enjoy) and let your guests build their own bowls.  Carnivores can include the cooked meats of their choice, too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

12 small (5- or 6-inch) corn or flour tortillas

One can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1 cup roasted poblano and bell pepper salsa (or other salsa of your choosing)

1 cup pepperjack cheese sauce

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Tuck the tortillas into the wells of a 12-muffin tin to form small bowls.  Corn tortillas have a tendency to tear, so be a little careful when using corn tortillas.  Bake until the tortillas are crisp.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2.  Fill the tortilla shells with black beans and avocado.  Top with salsa and cheese sauce.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Tortilla shells can be kept in a tightly lidded box or tightly sealed plastic bag for a day or two.

Pepperjack Cheese Sauce

Use this yummy, easy, cheesy sauce as a warm dip for veggies or fries or bread (keep it warm in a fondue pot), in quesadillas, over tacos, on my Fiesta Bowls… really, on anything that needs a hint (or hammer) of spice and a heap of cheesy goodness.

Ingredients

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

1/2 cup shredded colby or mild cheddar cheese

1 to 3 tsp red chilli flakes (depending on your spice preference)

Salt to taste

Directions

1.  Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk to combine.  Cook, whisking continuously, until the raw flour smell is gone.  Slowly add the milk, whisking to blend and break up lumps.  Keep heating the mixture until it begins to thicken, being careful to keep it from coming to a boil.

2.  Slowly add the cheeses, whisking to combine.  If the sauce becomes to thick, add a little bit of milk.  Add the red chilli flakes and allow to cook on low heat for a few more minutes.  Taste and add salt if needed, although there should already be salt from the cheese

Et voila!  You’re done.  Serve warm.  Can be kept refrigerated for several days.  Thin with milk if the sauce thickens too much.

Easy, Cheesy, Any Veggie Bake

There always comes a time when I find that I have small bits of different vegetables in the fridge, but not enough to make an entire dish.  Or, I don’t have any fresh veggies, it’s cold and rainy outside, and I’m too lazy to go out.  I always have at least a few packets of frozen vegetables, potatoes and onions on hand just in case, and mixing the fresh and frozen veggie bits makes for an easy and tasty meal.

Ingredients

3 cups of any mix of vegetables you like, cooked and unseasoned

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (or 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp of dried herbs)

1 small onion

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

2 tsp dried red chilli flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups fat free milk

1/2 cup gruyere or other cheese which melts well, grated

1/4 cup bread crumbs, unseasoned

2 tbsp parmesan or other hard cheese, grated

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2.  Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add the onions and saute for a few minutes.  Add garlic (if using) and continue to saute for a few more minutes.  Add the cooked vegetables, herbs (reserving a small amount for later), salt, pepper and red chilli flakes (if using), and mix well.  Continue cooking until heated through.

3.  In a small saucepan, heat the butter over a medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk continuously until well combined and the flour has cooked (raw flour smell will be gone).  Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously to keep lumps from forming.  Continue cooking on low heat until the sauce thickens.  Slowly add the grated gruyere cheese, whisking until it melts.  Remove from heat.

4.  Mix the breadcrumbs, reserved herbs and parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Place the vegetables in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Pour the cheese sauce over veggies.  Top with the breadcrumb mixture.

5.  Bake in a 350F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the veggies and sauce are bubbling and the breadcrumb topping has browned.

6.  Serve hot with bread or salad on the side.