And the Top Chef Is...

Our Food for Fines Week (October 18 through 24) has come to a close. And while we’re still running the numbers to see how much food Library patrons donated to our community partner Harvesters and how much we forgave in overdue fines, we’d like to recognize one person with exceptionally good taste.

Last week, on the KC Unbound blog, we ran a recipe contest based on some of the food items people commonly donate each year to reduce their Library debts and help Kansas City families in need. We gave you a list of 16 ingredients and asked you to make up an original meal using at least five.

Hearty congrats to winner Jeanne Calkins, who took a south-of-the-border approach to the recipe challenge, baking up a veggie casserole using the corn muffin mix, mixed greens, refried beans, corn, and olives from the list, plus some additions of her own.

Jeanne won a free cookbook – but better than that, she earned the bragging rights that come with being our honorary KCPL Top Chef!

Here’s Jeanne’s recipe:

Mad Mexicali Mix-up

1 box corn muffin mix

1 can mixed greens

1 can refried beans

1 can corn

1 can black olives

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon butter or olive or vegetable oil (or 3T water)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 cup jarred salsa or picante OR 2 tablespoons taco seasoning or chili powder

4-6 oz grated cheddar, Monterey jack, or Velveeta cheese (optional)

 ~pre-heated oven @ 350

~8 x 8, or 12 x 8 glass baking dish, depending on if you want a thick or thin result; greased with cooking spray, oil or butter

To do:

Heat the butter or oil in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté until onions are soft. Drain the greens & corn (I like to save the liquids in a baggie or jar in the freezer for future use in soup stock). Add greens & corn to the skillet with 1T lemon juice or vinegar. Mix in the refried beans and salsa; heat on medium until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste if you like.

Prepare the corn muffin mix according to box directions and set aside (don’t bake it). Slice ½ can of the olives (save remainder for another use, or slice them all if you’re an olive lover!)

Layer in your dish: mixture from skillet, olives, and cheese (if using). Spread top with prepared muffin mix, and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let rest a few minutes before serving. This nutritious, meat-free dish freezes well; spices and veggies can be switched out with whatever is on hand.

-- Jason Harper