Where I grew up, almost every major life event (births, deaths, and other such calamities) was acknowledged with casserole. They were mostly the canned soup, potato heavy, cheese topped variety, but casseroles all the same.
As an adolescent, gathered with family after a funeral, I remember questioning the purpose of all the casseroles piled up on the counter. More soupy vegetables than could reasonably be eaten and, to my mind, a rather feeble response to a death in the family. At the time, my young mind hadn’t yet realized that when words aren’t quite enough, food can fill in the gaps.
Whether it’s a chocolate studded birthday cake that makes “Happy Birthday” feel a little more special or the corn flake topped potato casserole that gives heart to “I’m so sorry for your loss,” it’s the food, so much more than the words, that convey how we really feel.
I knew this was true a few months ago when I confided to two friends just how rough things had been around here. There wasn’t much they could say and really nothing they could do, and I understood. But the next day there were loaves of homemade bread and jars of homemade jam on my front porch. The bread and jam said everything that words couldn’t. That’s the way with food sometimes.
A week ago I found out this humble blog of mine was nominated for the Saveur Award for Best Family Cooking Blog. It is incredibly exciting and enormously surprising. It is surely satisfying enough just to have been nominated and to have been noticed by any of you readers out there is deeply gratifying and validating in ways I can’t really explain.
I want to say thank you to everyone who stops by this corner of the web and supports my efforts here. It means so much to me and my kids, yet I find that there aren’t really words that adequately convey how I feel. So, I bring you casserole. From my virtual door to yours.
This Slow Cooker Enchilada Cornbread Casserole is the best casserole recipe I’ve got. It’s a one pot, vegetarian wonder dish that I’ve been making on a regular basis for the last 6 years. There’s no canned soup, but there is cheese on top so I think it fits the old-world casserole criteria, but I’ve added quinoa for my modern twist.
This Casserole, my best effort at a virtual thank you, is a really good family meal you can count on. Thank you so much for being here with me . . . and I’ll let the casserole fill in the rest.
(If you want to vote for Some the Wiser in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards, go here. Voting ends in 2 more days!)
Slow Cooker Enchilada Cornbread Casserole
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 (15oz) can corn
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 (15oz) can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1/3 cup milk
1 (8 1/2 oz) package corn muffin mix (I normally make my own and use this recipe)
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican or Cheddar cheese blend
Place the first 9 ingredients into a 3 1/2 quart electric slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours.
Using the egg, milk and muffin mix, mix up the cornbread according to package instructions (or use this recipe if you made your own mix). Spoon batter evenly over the bean mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour or until corn bread is done. Sprinkle with cheese, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Top each serving with sour cream, cilantro, and green onions. Serves 4 to 6.
P.S. I normally double this recipe and use a larger slow cooker – it tastes just as good for lunch on day 2!