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Crabby Quarantine

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

We are now on Day 11 of our quarantine. On day 14 my two daughters and their respective significant others will be huggable. Meanwhile, we have dinners together beside the pool, seated at shouting distance from each other.  

I am cooking because they, being recent travelers from separate hot spots, can’t provide food for my husband  or me, nor can the couples cook for each other. So, as I’m  the only certified safe chef in the family,  I’m chalking up 3000 paces a day in the kitchen. 

As y’all who know me know, one of my noms de plume is The Crabby Cook. There is a reason for that.  Now cooking for six, I’m trying to keep things simple so as not to further my kitchen bitch reputation. To that end, I’m revisiting The Crabby Cook Cookbook, which I wrote for irritable people like me who must deliver regular meals to loved ones even when they’d rather be doing something enlightening like watching  Season 3 of  West Wing.  The book’s   recipes are unglamorous and designed for picky people, so, for everyone.

Last night I made Abby’s Casserole (on page 70.)  It’s like Mexican lasagna: layers of corn tortillas, a spicy meat and bean mixture, and cheese. One of those “ugly, delicious” things. It’s a little labor intensive for low-patience types, but you can make it in advance and then pour a martini and  watch West Wing until people gather poolside.

P.S. I ordered the ground beef from Belcampo Meat Company. It’s really good. They also have a great roaster chicken. 

Plus lots of other meaty sstuff…  

Abby’s Casserole

2 Tbls. Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin, oregano and paprika

1 tsp.  kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ cups tomato sauce

1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

6 corn tortillas, 8-inch size

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or Monterey jack , or a mix)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and saute until onion istranslucent, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.    

Add the beef to the skillet, turn the heat up to medium and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until the beef has just lost its pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and salt and pepper and cook two more minutes. Add the tomato sauce, turn down the heat some and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the beans and the corn, mix well, and set aside.

Place a tortilla on the bottom of a 10-inch, high sided casserole dish. Spread about 2/3 cup of meat mixture on top. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of cheese on top of that. Repeat these layers about five times, ending with the cheese.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the casserole is bubbly. Serve hot.

Pandemic adjustments: 

If your tortillas are small, just cut them to fit eh size of your baking dish. (I did this.)

If you don’t have black beans, use another kind. (I did this, too.)

If you don’t have a jalapeno pepper, omit it. (I also did this.)

If you are cooking for six big eaters, double the recipe. (I did this and used two casserole dishes. One version was cheeseless for dairy-haters.)

Also you can: Add more spices if you like, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want more heat. 

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