August 6, 2009

spicy, decadent squash casserole

It's been another deadline week at work, which normally means I cook a lot less and we eat out a lot more, especially since I've started tri training and my energy level for cooking has mainly been relegated to weekends. Often the immediate craving is for burgers. 

And where would I turn for burgers? 

I've been staring at the Burgers cover for more than a month, and incidentally have been highly persuadable to ditch my dine-at-home plans and go for a mouthwatering monster-sized meat patty smothered in all the best fixins. I can personally vouch for #2 on the list: The Counter Cafe offers up one delectable plate of burger heaven. And Cover 3 (#12) gets me every time with their fries... 

Oh, and this fits in with sustainability because a lot of the places that made the list offer grass-fed or even organic beef and local veggies. Can I get a what what? (Eileen, I hope you're happy. Now I want a cheeseburger. And have possibly alienated both of my readers.) But ENOUGH with the burgers, because I have a real down-home dinner to share with you.
You're still thinking of a burger, aren't you? 


Anyway, armed with another delivery of summer squash from my mom, and making an under-budget grocery run on Monday night ($75 for a weeks' worth of organics, including all-natural chicken and Clif bars), I have been trying to stretch my dollar. So far, we've done a great job eating at home this week.
Ryan's on a new diet, which means he's interested in lean proteins and lots of plain-jane veggies. I, however, cannot help that most of my grocery list involves dairy items (I counted 5 on the last list), one of which was heavy cream. Which I downgraded to half-and-half, but...still. 
So when I decided to whip up a one-pot version of the Homesick Texan's Tex-Mex Squash Casserole, I had to check with my better half. I emailed him the recipe and timidly approached the subject of a side dish that would very easily top off the day's calorie intake.

"If I make this whole casserole, will you eat it?" 

"Doesn't it have heavy cream in it?"

"No, it calls for half-and-half. And non-fat sour cream."

"But isn't it smothered in cheese?"

"Yeah, but, well, it's got lots of fresh veggies in it!"

"I might try a bite."

Considering that all the "permission" I needed to whip up a casserole big enough to feed six (aka, dirty up the still perfectly clean kitchen), I went along my merry little way. 
I modified Lisa's recipe by forgetting to drain the tomatoes (is that a real "modification? I think so.) and leaving out the tortilla chips, which did two things. It of course made for a runnier casserole (oops), but also made it a one-dish meal. 

The goal of making a one-dish meal is to keep the kitchen cleaner. I would have achieved exactly this, except for the fact that when I started, I thought everything would fit in the 9-inch cast-iron skillet. 

Go ahead. Laugh and think to yourself, I'd never make such a foolish mistake

Of course, it didn't; halfway through I transferred everything to the Dutch oven. If I'd started with the Dutch oven, this would have been a very successful one-dish meal. But c'mon. You know that me in the kitchen very rarely involves the phrase very successful, right?

Nonetheless, this decadent summer casserole came out of the oven and had me drooling for its bubbly cheesiness. Cheeeeeese. I'm a huge fan of squash, and it turns out that squash and cheese and jalapenos get along just dandy.
I thought it might benefit from a little sweet corn, and maybe black beans, but Ryan pointed out that then, it would almost be... King Ranch Casserole, sub the chicken for squash. Which I'm not opposed to by any means. The addition of the protein would make it a full one-dish meal. And one that I wouldn't mind eating, not one bit!

You could also put it on a burger. 


~Molly~ said...

OHMYGOSH that sounds like heaven!!! I saw her post but haven't had time to really read it yet. Yours sounds as good as or better, I'm not sure I'd like chips with squash.

Oh, and you now have 3 readers, LOL.


amber said...

THANK YOU for joining the ranks, Molly! And I hope you can try the casserole sometime soon. It really is delish. Next time I might even turn it into squash enchiladas. with a sour cream sauce.

Kate said...

Your squash and okra recipes are inspirational! I never know quite what to do with them besides sauteeing....