Do you remember American chop suey, a dish whose name has absolutely nothing to do with its contents? In the part of the country where I grew up, the mac-and-meat-sauce casserole found its way into every school cafeteria and church supper. It even followed me to sleepaway camp, thanks to a cook who got his kicks whipping up noodle dishes for 200. Here's a Rhode Island spin on the classic, featuring a spice mix that usually stars in the sauce that tops our state's famous hot weiners. If you live near me, look for the blue box of Harry's New York System Original Weiner Sauce (the dry spice blend) in your grocery store. If you don't, the recipe below makes enough for this dish and more, or substitute your favorite chili powder mixed with a bit of celery salt.
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Most of the time, I'm not the person who encourages you to open a bunch of cans and call it cooking. Today, I'm that person. Some regional ingredients, like the enchilada sauce and roasted green chiles in this chicken tortilla casserole, are hard to find in my part of the world in any other form, and if that's your situation, you have my permission to reach for your can opener. Although I call this a tortilla casserole, the recipe only calls for two tortillas -- oat bran tortillas, which are low in calories and carbs. Swap in your favorite whole grain tortillas, but don't omit them; they keep everything else from collapsing before the casserole cooks through. For an easy worknight dinner, use a rotisserie chicken or any leftover cooked chicken. You can prep the chicken-and-bean filling a few days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Then, when you're ready to serve the casserole, assemble the layers with tortillas and cheese, and bake. Serve with traditional tortilla toppings like chunks of avocado and sour cream on the side.
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If there were a beauty contest for chili, this rather odd-colored spicy pinto bean chili with corn and kale wouldn't make it to the swimsuit round. Don't be fooled by its rather modest looks, however. Hiding in this vegan chili are three -- yes, three -- types of chile pepper (fresh, dried and canned), and a whole six cups of antioxidant-rich kale. If that isn't sexy, I don't know what is! As with all chili, you can spice the recipe up even more, or tone it down, to your own taste. My non-vegan husband absolutely loved this chili, which would be a perfect main dish for Meatless Monday, and I'm confident you will love it, too. Make a pot today, and eat it or freeze it.
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If there had been any red wine in the house, a bottle of cheap wine or even fancy dinner party wine, I'd have made my grandmother's brisket, the tried-and-true recipe my mother and her mother used to make with the sweet Manischewitz wine that was, at the time, the only kosher wine you could buy. And that would have been a shame, because without wine, I turned to my pantry for inspiration, and what I found were all of the ingredients for this Southwestern beef brisket that's a little bit sweet, and a little bit smoky, and a little tiny bit hot and spicy. Slice it or shred it, as you can see in the photos. Make this on Friday, serve it on game day, or freeze for your next Tex-Mex party.
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