Spam ’n’ Beenz for Dinner — or, Pseudo Chili

There is a certain retro quality to making dinner out of cans from the cupboard, y’know? Not something anybody does much anymore, though it used to be a thing, back when TV was five channels if you were lucky and ground beef was 3 lbs for $1.00. I remember seeing articles in magazines like “Woman’s Day,” or “Family Circle” about creative ways to mashup what you had in your cupboards for a quick dinner before there were fast food joints on every corner. I remember being out shopping and my mom saying, “I don’t know what we’ll have for dinner, guess I’ll open a can.”

Now that they have 83 new flavors of Spam, (well, really only 11 but hey) it sort of seemed like a moral imperative to try it out again as something other than snack food or lunchmeat. We tried the Hot & Spicy variety, because that’s what my husband happened to bring home, and we also had some canned beans on hand.

Oh, it was good! Of course I couldn’t leave it alone, and just have a roll or something with it, mostly because it didn’t really feel like cooking. So I made some of my Cheese Cookies to go with, and it was almost like having a good pot of chili without all the dithering around, or leftovers for days on end. In a 2-person household, that leftovers business can get old.

Anyway, here are the recipes!

Spam ’n’ Beenz

1 can Hot & Spicy Spam, cut into cubes

2 15-oz cans Ranch Style pinto beans w/jalapenos, or plain pinto beans if your spice threshold is low, (Drained).

1 8-oz can tomato sauce

This will serve 4 once, or 2 twice. Depending on how hungry you are. The second night I chopped up a little green onion and bell pepper for garnish, and so it wouldn’t seem so much like the same thing again. We loved this stuff anyway, so it really didn’t matter.

I’ve got a teeny-tiny crockpot, and that’s what I used, on high for an hour to let the flavors mingle. But you can certainly heat it up in a pan on the stove, or use the microwave. All the ingredients are already cooked, you’re just warming it up. (Which is why canned goods were the fast food of the olden days.)

Cheese Cookies

2 cups flour

½ cup butter, cut in pieces

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Pulse in food processor or use pastry blender to combine all ingredients.


1 egg

2 Tablespoons heavy cream, ½ and ½, or milk

Mix it up again.

Press mixture into well-greased 11X15 baking pan or cookie sheet (9X13 for thicker cookies).

Sprinkle lightly with coarsely-ground plain salt, or seasoned salt. You can also toss on some hot Mrs. Dash if you want everything hot.

Bake at 375° for about 25 minutes, or edges are just turning brown. Be careful not to overbake!

Cool and cut into squares to serve.

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