19 January 2011

It's a Lotta Casserole!!!

We'll get to the rather lame blog title in a minute.*

You know, I profusely apologize for starting this thing up and then promptly leaving it to moulder for a week and a half. I had high hopes, ambition. And then I forgot that I would be so busy last week that I really wouldn't have a moment to cook. I made some cheese straws for my writer's group Saturday morning, those turned out well. However, I was so worried that I would run out of time before needing to go to work that I didn't take any pictures after the initial prep. This is all you get:

If you'd like to see the recipe, I found it here. A few tips for making these sweet (actually, rather salty but no matter) things: 

  • Use your hands to work the butter/cheese mixture into the flour, a mixer is absolutely useless here
  • When you're initially working the butter into the cheese, try not to freak out about how much of each you're placing directly into your arteries.
  • This recipe makes A LOT of cheese straws, only make if you're preparing to share. Or if you're really hungry.
  • I used quite a bit of cayenne, not realizing the kick they'd have after you swallow them. So, careful seasoning!

Tonight I made Layered Enchilada Pie, again from Helm's, as voted on by various friends on Facebook. (The choices were, for those of you who aren't in the know, were Macaroni & Cheese with Red Cabbage and Apples, and Hamburger Harvest Pie. My personal favorite was the latter, but I was outvoted. Lesigh.) It was part of the Fiesta Supper meal plan, which also included Mexican Avocado Salad, a delightful presentation of halved avocados filled with a mixture of crushed pineapple (I really hate pineapple) and orange pieces and drizzled with French dressing. Eventually, I'll be more adventurous, but tonight I served this with rice (recipe will follow!) and corn.

The recipe, with my adjustments:

Notes: The original recipe calls for a round, 2-qt casserole, which would use less tortillas and make a nicer presentation, but since I own no such thing, I used a 13x9 tin. Any deep sided casserole should do, as long as it's on the small side. Helm's also tells you to cook the beef in butter, but my 21st-century Californian brain can't process that idea. Also, on the spices, I like to add in ground cloves for a hint of smoky background, and lots of cumin, at least 1 1/2 teaspoons.

1 1/4 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 nice garlic cloves, minced
salt, pepper, red pepper, chili powder, cumin to taste
ground cloves (just a pinch, optional)
can of sliced olives (optional--I chose to serve them on the side)
1 box or 2 small cans tomato sauce
corn tortillas
2/3 lb grated cheddar cheese
2/3 c water

Artistically arranged tortillas
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Brown the beef, and add in the onions and garlic once the fat has been rendered out of the meat. Add in the spices. When the onions are translucent, pour in your tomato sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes while you start to assemble your baking dish. Prepare your tortillas by scraping a bit of butter on one side, lining them face down on the bottom of the pan. I cut them creatively (okay, in wedges) to fit my pan. Once the meat sauce is thick, ladle 1/3 of the mixture onto the tortillas, followed by olives and a light layer of cheese. Follow with a second layer of tortillas (buttered side up), and so on, until you have three layers of each component. Cover the meat with a final layer of cheese. Pour in the water on the side of the casserole (it keeps the tortillas soft) and throw in the oven for 30 minutes, until brown and bubbling. Makes about 6-8 servings.

While that's in the oven, start your rice (recipe courtesy of a dear family friend, Dion):

1 onion, chopped small
olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 1-pound can of chopped tomatoes, reserve the tomato juice into a measuring cup and set aside
1 small can Ortega chiles
salt, pepper, cumin
Enough water combined with reserved tomato juice to make 3 c of liquid
cube of chicken bouillon
1 1/2 c rice

In a large saucepan, melt the butter into the olive oil. Add in the onions, cook until tender. Mix in your spices, chopped tomatoes, chiles, bouillon cube and liquid. Heat until boiling, then add your rice. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Makes 6 large servings.

I decided to serve corn for the vegetable--voila! Dinner is served. Please let me know if you tried this recipe, and how it turned out!

*Rather lame blog title stems from my mom telling my dad what was for dinner (enchilada casserole, dearest). He asked her what was in an It's a Lotta Casserole. Ba-dum ching.


  1. I am here to say that this guinea pig taste tested the recipe and loved it. I also love how you toss the vote out to all your Facebook friends when none of them had to eat the choice they made.But I guess that's life, is it not? It hands us a recipe and we gotta try it. Good show.

    Seriously though, you are the only person I have ever met that doesn't like pineapple. What the hey.

  2. It's TOO MUCH. However. If you're suggesting you would have eaten that Mexican Avocado Salad, I'd gladly serve it for dinner next time. :D

  3. Mmmmm that looks so yummy! I'm gonna have to steal the spice blend for my vegan enchiladas! :)

  4. looks yummy. it's 7:30 am and it looks a lot more appetizing than special k. cold enchiladas are great for breakfast. rice, too. congrats. well done. I'm crazy for soups right now. i've made roasted cauliflower soups & curried zucchini this week. they were (she says immodestly) outstanding! The the morning after the 2nd night of having cauliflower soup, Dick woke up with still craving more. NEXT, MULLAGATAWNY SOUP

  5. Rachael, be sure to post that result in your blog! :)

    And Adriana, I'm glad that looked appetizing to you so early in the morning. Your roasted cauliflower soup sounds divine!