Trees and cheese

whole tree, but darkThis past weekend we picked out our tree and put it up in the living room.  It’s weird having moved twice in two years, as we’ve had to pick out new tree places in our new apartments.  I’m happy with this year’s tree.  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but it’s well-formed and in the living room–this means I get to see it all the time, which makes me happy.  At our last place in Boston, we often kept the tree in the dining room.  It was still pretty but I didn’t get to see it constantly, only when passing through.  So this works for me.

This time of year, I think a lot of people are looking for dinners that they can get on the table quickly so as to keep up with the rest of their lives.  We’re no exception–this week is finals week, so I’m very busy, and I’d rather be baking all day than making fancy dinners.  So last night Mr. Pea assembled a cheesy bean and rice casserole while I was at the annual school holiday party.  It starts with rice you’ve cooked earlier and comes together in a snap.

Original recipe from
cheesy rice and bean bakeYou’ll need:
1 cup of brown rice, dried, cooked per your directions (I use 1 c rice to 1.5-2 c water, about 40 minutes)
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 large onion, chopped
1 T canola oil
1 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes with green chilis, undrained
2 t chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c grated cheddar

Once your rice is done, add beans and stir. In a skillet, cook onion in canola for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.

In a 2 quart baking dish, layer rice and beans, tomato mixture, and cheese three times–so a layer of each, then a layer of each, and finish with just a layer of rice and one of tomatoes. Cover and bake at 350* for half an hour; remove cover and top with remaining cheese. Bake another several minutes til melted. We ate this with dollops of sour cream and a drizzle of green salsa from Trader Joe’s.


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