A recent trip to the mailbox revealed a box from influenster.com. Sargento Cheese, the company that's been around since 1949, had chosen this NY Cooking Examiner to receive a free coupon for Sargeno Ultra Thin Slices. After obtaining a package of colby-jack cheese from Target, a plan emerged: to make at least 3 meals with the cheese, using each meal to build another one.
Taking a tex-mex approach, the first dish was a bowl of black beans, Guyanese parboiled rice, and two garlic meatballs. Soak about a cup of black beans in water overnight, or for at least 4 hours. When ready, put beans in a large saucepan with bay leaves, chopped onion, a 1/2 cup of chicken broth, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of olive oil, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Let the beans cook for about an hour and a half.
Start the rice, using 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. Bring to a rapid boil, then cover. Allow to boil until water nearly disappears, then turn off heat letting the rice absorb the rest of the water as you make the meatballs. Use a pound of ground beef for the meatballs. Mix the beef with a 1/2 cup of flour, one egg, a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic, slat and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Form 4 small meatballs and brown in a shallow pan with a little olive oil. Set aside. Fill a bowl halfway with the rice, ladle on the black beans, and place two meatballs on top. Sprinkle with cut up scallions, and shredded colby-jack Sargento Ultra Thin slices. You should be able to get two meals out of this, so you can take the same meal to work with you for lunch, just sprinkling more scallions and cheese over it.
Use some of the leftover black beans to make an omelet for supper the next evening. The recipe is at Sargento.com. Create colby-jack cheese biscuits by following a standard biscuit recipe, then mixing at least 4 slices of shredded Sargento Ultra Thins into the dough. Serve two biscuits with your omelet, and refrigerate the rest.
Take the rest of the leftover beans and mash them with the rest of the ground beef mixture, adding more flour if necessary. Form two small balls of the mixture, and brown, pressing down with a spatula to form small round patties. Microwave two cheese biscuits for 15 seconds, then slice open. Spread both halves with a mixture of ketchup, horseradish, and mayonnaise. Place black bean patty on bottom half of the biscuit, top with a Sargento Ultra Thin slice folded in half, and top with the rest of the biscuit. Repeat,so that you have two cheese-topped beef and black bean sliders. Add a side salad with vinaigrette dressing for a great lunch or mid-day snack, or light supper.
A last variation was the open faced egg sandwich. Take a slice of bread, and toast lightly. Add a spinach leaf, then put a browned beef and black bean patty on top of the spinach and bread. Quickly fry a sunny side up egg in the pan drippings from the patty. Slide that on top of the patty, the spinach, and the toast. Top with a colby-jack Sargento Ultra Thin slice, and spoon a dollop of the ketchup/horseradish/mayo sauce on top. An absolutely delicious layering of taste and texture that you can enjoy in minutes using the ingredients that you already have on hand.
Keep playing with the ingredients to see how you can stretch them into more variations and more meals. The great thing is hat you're eating meals that you thought of and made yourself. Have fun with it!