Ellen's Monterey Beans and Cheese

This was originally in the “More with Less” cookbook and this version was tweeked by my friend Elle.

Fry, drain, and crumble 2 slices bacon*.
Saute in bacon fat until tender one medium onion, chopped**.
Add one 15oz can beans***, drained, rinsed, and mashed;
Add 1 cup tomato sauce ****,
Add 1 t. chili powder*****,
Add 1/2 t. salt, and a dash of pepper.

Stir until smooth and hot.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese******
Add bacon bits.
Stir until cheese is melted.
Serve over cooked rice.
Serves six.

* If you are going totally meatless, start with 2T oil and omit bacon. this dish is great for lent
** The original recipe called for half onion, half green pepper. Green pepper makes my lips itch so I left it out.
***I use red or black beans. The original recipe called for kidney beans. The original recipe also did not mash the beans.
**** An alternate, especially if you are using unmashed beans, is 2 medium tomatoes, diced, plus 1/4 c. (reconstituted) beef bouillon or tomato juice. I sometimes throw in about 1/2 t. powdered bouillon with the tomato sauce.
*****Even with the medium-hot chili powder I use, this is a relatively mild dish. Heat lovers can add more to taste.
****** I use the full 1/2 # of extra-sharp cheddar. Monterey jack or pepper jack would probably work, too.

An additional advantage to this recipe is that it's quick. If all the ingredients are on hand, you can whip up the whole thing in the 20 minutes it takes the rice to cook. If you're serving a big crowd, it doubles nicely, but you need a big pan.

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