The original writeup is here: http://univacgrl.livejournal.com/229246.html Now it's time to rewrite the recipe so I don't have to do the math and the substitutions in my head at the same time. No ketchup required.

Mexican Lasagna (aka MexiLas)

For the filling:
2 cups of cooked chicken, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces (chicken thighs stand up better to the sauce)
1 package low sodium taco seasoning mix (or about 4 teaspoons if you roll your own) 
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dried chopped onion
8 oz balsamic vinegar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
1 16 oz bag frozen corn niblets 
2 15 oz cans of black beans (or 1 each of black and pinto beans), drained and rinsed

For the structure:
6-8 soft tortillas (soft taco size) or 4 burrito size tortillas cut to fit in the casserole dish
4 cups shredded Mexican cheese mixture (or 4 cups grated your favorite mix of cheeses here)
1/2 6 oz can of small olives (use the whole can if you really like olives)
6-8 oz cream cheese cubed or cut into small portions
2 cups full fat sour cream
Parsley flakes and paprika for garnish

Glass or ceramic casserole dish (9 x 13 inches or larger) (tomato sauce will etch your metal pans and you will be unhappy)
Rimmed sheet pan to put under the casserole dish when it goes into the oven, because it will bubble over and spill

Make the filling:  In a large heavy saucepan combine the chicken, taco seasoning, dried onion, tomato sauce, cinnamon, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add corn and beans and return to simmering for another 10 minutes.  

Build the lasagna:  Pour 1/3 of the sauce into the pan, then top with a single layer of tortillas to cover the whole surface.  Press gently into the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese evenly over the tortilla layer, dot entire layer with olives and dollops of cream cheese.  Cover with half of the remaining sauce and another layer of tortillas.  Press firmly into the pan. Layer the rest of the cheese, then the olives and more dollops of cream cheese evenly over this layer.  Add the rest of the sauce and the last of the tortillas and press firmly into the pan again.  Spread a thick layer of sour cream from edge to edge of the dish as if frosting a sheet cake.  Garnish with paprika. Bake in 350 F oven on top of a rimmed sheet pan for 25 to 30 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley flakes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving in 3" square slices. 

It took me over a week to make this, because life kind of grinds me down, but it's pretty easily broken down into a very few steps.  Cook the chicken, refrigerate it overnight, then debone and shred the cold meat.  This step could be made even simpler by substituting browned ground meat (turkey or pork).  Make the filling then put it in the fridge for a few days, letting the flavors marry and making the filling thicker but easier to work with.  Build the casserole and bake it.  You'll have leftovers unless you're feeding several people.
univacgrl: (Default)
( Aug. 2nd, 2015 10:34 pm)
I'm not doom-and-gloom all the time. Not every single minute at least. I do sleep sometimes.

I crocheted a baby blanket recently. It was much faster than knitting one. And I barely finished it in time for the baby shower. I was putting a border on it, and it just wasn't looking quite right (not enough color on the edge for the size of the blanket meant it's visually not heavy enough to support the blanket). I had to ask D to tell me it was ok to stop and just call it finished. I had a deep sense of shame about bringing it to the shower, since all I could see were the flaws. At least I'd caught and ripped back to fix any stitch errors I'd made. There were a couple of late nights where I crocheted the same two rows about four times because I'd made an error early in one and didn't find it until the end of the next one. The edging was just too plain compared to the simple one-color shell pattern. Even though I'd followed a pattern, the number of rows made it come out as to rectangle and not a square, which seriously freaked me out. I didn't even notice the shape because I was so focused on finishing the required row-count by the deadline. By the morning of the party I seriously wanted to throw it in a trash bag and run out and buy something really quickly on the way there, but I gritted my teeth, sprayed it with lavender spray, put it in a gift bag and took it with me, with the goal of keeping my mouth shut. (Ok, I did brag a little when the mom-to-be mentioned that the blanket was the only gift in her favorite colors. I'd asked her months ago what colors she might like, in case knitting happened.)

It was kind of torture, watching a nearly endless parade of beautiful, thoughtful (mostly) store-bought gifts: toys, tiny delicate clothes, a variety of diaper creams, and one beautiful hand-made quilt that looked like it should be hanging up in a gallery. And my blanket was one of the few items that was handed around because people wanted to touch it and see it up close. And I gritted my teeth and said as little as possible. Because the voice in my head couldn't shut up about tiny things that no-one else was going to be rude enough to point out, even if they did notice. "It's machine-washable," I said, with what I think must have been one of those pained half smile, half fear expressions on my face.

I made something this evening as well. I've been kind of feeling like my feet are ashy and need some sort of care to make them more presentable (I don't know to whom because I seldom leave the house in anything but sneakers). A few weeks ago a Listerine foot soak was all the rage, so I looked that up to see if I had the ingredients. One page had a Listerine and sugar foot scrub instead, which kind of blew my mind. I'm never ever going to take the time to set up a foot soak for myself, because of the sheer amount of crap I would have to move around, scrub, and then get all messy with the soaking just to have to clean it all again and then put away ... it makes me tired just imagining it. I don't feel like I'm worth that kind of effort. But using a scrub, that can be done in the shower, and I take showers.

The page I looked at had a bunch of sugar scrubs, but I feel guilty about using food in a way that it wouldn't be eaten. But there was a quickie coconut oil and salt recipe which caught my eye. One, salt is a mineral, and super cheap at that, and two, I have coconut oil already purchased specifically for skin purposes (plus some essential oil we keep for soap-making purposes). D had cued me to go make myself some dinner (I'd been watching him play Dragon Age for much of the late afternoon). I got up and pulled nibbles that resemble dinner out of the fridge, and then kept right on going with pulling the scrub ingredients out of the cupboards too.

A half a cup of salt,
some baking soda (because it's a finer grit and people use it for soaking their feet in too, so why not),
three tablespoons of coconut oil,
four drops of peppermint oil.

Stir until thoroughly combined. Place in container. Rub all over your wet feet then rinse thoroughly with water.


After mixing it up I tried it on my hands and it was pretty nice, so I put the lid on and took it upstairs to the shower after showing it to D so he'd know what it was (and more importantly, that he'd know not to throw it out). Then I finished fixing my dinner of carrot chips, roasted unsalted cashews, and the tub of pine nut hummus. There was supposed to be some of the prepared chicken pieces I'd gotten at the weird F&E market, but I'd gotten thoroughly distracted by the scrub making.

So, sometimes I make things, when circumstances align just right. Mostly for other people but sometimes for myself too.
I tried this recipe today and it just wasn't quite the Kraft-Dinner-replacement that I'd hoped it would be.  It was really bland, just kind of meh, and it tasted like canned cheese soup (which, to be fair, was the main ingredient, but just not what I was looking for)  I think I could get better results with making a sauce from the powdered cheese stuff you can get from Amazon (or the packets I've occasionally seen in the GF areas of certain markets) and dumping in microwaved frozen cauliflower.    And then adding a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of tuna like karenbynight taught me to treat boxed macaroni and cheese.

The good about this recipe:  

Super fast, super easy.  Because I bought pre chopped cauliflower from Costco, preparation was even easier than as-written. If I'd gone with pre-shredded cheese it would have gone even faster.

The not so good:

Prep time is slightly longer than what it says on the tin. If you're going to prep a head of cauliflower, that will take most people about 5 minutes by itself, and then getting all of the soup out of the can takes a good few minutes more to do well. And you will want to heat it up slowly so it doesn't burn. So plan on at least 15 minutes of prep time.  (More if, like me, one cooks while hungry, which means gravity pulls down slightly harder in a three foot bubble around me.)

The sauce was too thick for my preferences.  If I do this again, I'll probably use regular fresh milk and more of it , and maybe nacho cheese flavored soup instead of the boring cheddar, or just start with the cream of mushroom and add cheese to it.

It was pretty salty.  I shouldn't have even added any salt to it, but I had already thrown it in when I realized that the condensed soup base was probably plenty salty enough. (Again, I should not cook while actively hungry.) Thank goodness I no longer trust the salt quantities in recipes anymore and only used half the amount of kosher type flakes. (This is where I shake my fist in the air and curse at Rachael Ray, whose recipes that I've tried as-written are super salty.)

The admonition to not use sharp cheddar should probably extend to using just cheddar cheese in the two cups it calls for.  It should be cut with at least a third of some other soft and melty cheese like Monterey jack or brie or gouda, or even an Italian mix or Mexican mix if you're going with pre-shredded.  I went with a block of mild cheddar from Costco and, while certainly not sharp, did seem like it was about to go grainy when I was serving it.

Since I was really looking for a substitute for macaroni and cheese, the three and a half hour cooking time really makes this not optimal for me.  As I mentioned at the top, a stovetop version would be a better option for doing this again.

spicysouthernkitchen.com/crock-pot-cauliflower-cheese/


Crock Pot Cauliflower and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Tender and cheesy cauliflower is a cinch to make in a crock pot.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 can condensed cheddar soup
  • 1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt [skip this, really!]
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
 
Instructions
  1. Grease the inside of a 3 to 4-quart crock pot.
  2. Place cauliflower florets in crock pot.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted.
  4. Pour sauce over cauliflower.
  5. Cover crock pot and cook on low for 3 to 3½ hours, depending on how tender you want the cauliflower.
 
Notes
Note: Do not use extra-sharp cheddar cheese. It is too acidic and can turn grainy.

Tags:
univacgrl: (Default)
( Oct. 14th, 2013 09:32 pm)
At the Stoke The World festival this weekend, I had a great conversation with Greg's mom Jan on Saturday morning.  She and Bob had missed out on the chili dinner the night before and I wandered up to her to make sure they'd gotten breakfast, and to offer her a tiny vegetarian pumpkin muffin.  I finally got to tell her why I'd brought the muffins to share. 

Before Greg went into the hospital for the last time, his doctors told him he'd have to put on and maintain a certain weight.  In my mind, this translated into "Operation Fatten Up Greg."  So I baked up a whole mess of mini pumpkin muffins, a vegan variation of a recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid, something she'd clipped out of the local newspaper back in the 70's, and brought a small bag to his house. It was a cool afternoon and we fiddled with some computer equipment for a while.  Morgan was there too, doing the knitting thing, so I fetched mine too, and worked on it. Other people came by, staying for a little or a long while.  We listened to music, ordered Chinese food, ate some pumpkin muffins for dessert, and just sat together, not talking much, enjoying each other's presence.  It was the last time I got to spend with Greg, and I can reach back for that warm peaceful evening in my memory whenever I smell the muffins. 

I promised I'd share the recipe with fellow STW folks. I've made some modifications to the original, which I've put into brackets.

Monastery Pumpkin Bread, recipe originally from  Monastery of the Angels in Los Angeles, California

3 ½ cups sifted flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
[1 teaspoon ground ginger]
[ ½ teaspoon ground allspice]
[ ½ teaspoon ground cloves]
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 eggs [Vegan version: 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or extra pumpkin puree plus 2 teaspoons baking powder]
1 cup oil [substitute more applesauce for any fraction of the oil; I used 3/4 c oil and 1/4 c applesauce] 
2⁄3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin, cooked & mashed or 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 ½ cups walnuts, chopped  [may substitute pumpkin seeds]
walnut halves, for decoration [again, use pumpkin seeds instead]
[semi-sweet chocolate chips, which knock the flavor out of the park, but aren't vegan, just vegetarian]
 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, [baking powder] and salt.
Combine eggs [or applesauce], oil, water, and pumpkin and mix well.
Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Fold in the chopped walnuts [or pumpkin seeds, which I omitted for the mini muffins].
Turn into three greased 8 X 4-inch loaf pans. [Portion into lined mini-muffin tins using a cookie dough scoop]
Top with a few walnut halves [or chocolate chips or pumpkin seeds, but really, you know you want to use both]
Bake for one hour or until a wood pick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean.
Cool before removing from the pans.
 
Notes: 

Since this is a quick-bread, substituting in a gluten-free baking mix  shouldn't change much about it except to make it a little bit crumblier.  It might be easier to line a loaf pan with parchment or foil to make the bread easier to remove. (I wish I could have accommodated the gluten-free folks, but my kitchen is too gluten enabled to keep people from getting sick, no matter how well-intentioned I might try to be.)
 
The loaves freeze very well if wrapped in foil first. 

Mini-muffins took 35-40 minutes to bake instead of an hour.
 
Vegan variation:  Instead of eggs, I substituted 1 cup of applesauce and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  It made absolutely no difference in flavor or texture.  
 
This makes a whole lot of pumpkin bread; three one-pound loaves is almost too much. The yield in mini-muffins of the size I took to STW was approximately 75.  
 
Use paper liners if you go with muffins.  Trust me, you do not want to spend all your time thoroughly greasing those tiny individual muffin cups, unless you really dig that sort of thing.
 
   

univacgrl: (Default)
( Feb. 17th, 2013 07:07 pm)
This weekend I'd planned to finally bake a cheesecake. Low-carb cheesecake, but cheesecake nonetheless. I started with this recipe: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/desserts/r/lcarbcheesecake.htm?p=1 and made a few changes.

Actual Recipe here )


First off, the pan. I'm using a springform pan I found in the back of my cabinet a couple of months ago that I know I bought sometime in the distant past and that I'd never used. Making the decision to keep it was the genesis of this project. The pan's big, ten inches or so, so I wasn't sure how this recipe would fill it. But hey, nothing ventured...

Reading around the interwebz, I saw several references to prepping the pan with butter or parchment or both. A neat trick someone wrote about was using a big piece of parchment paper, and instead of cutting it to size, you just clip it into the pan itself with the bottom. Genius! (I hate trying to cut things exactly, because I get a little compulsive about trying to make it perfect, so it would always turn out a little small.

So, pan prepared, I started putting the crust together. I've never worked with almond meal before, so I wasn't sure quite how to measure it. ProTip: don't just pour it into a measuring container, pack that almond meal in.

Since I've been using the granulated fake sugar sweetener in other things, I've not been happy with how sweet things come out. My taste buds have really acclimated because it's all too bloody sweet! I decided to use half the sweetener called for in this recipe (but all the butter, of course). Because of my loose measuring, there wasn't nearly enough material to cover the bottom of the springform, so I made another "half batch" to fill it up. Oh, and I'd forgotten to butter the damn pan! I scratched the crust out of the pan, then buttered it thoroughly, then re-patted the crust into it.

The rest of the recipe was pretty straightforward, except for halving the sweetener here, too. I did use Neufchatel instead of cream cheese (because that's what I buy), and I accidentally added a tablespoon of vanilla instead of the amount called for. I used one of Dean's tree's Meyer lemons for the juice (fresh off the tree!). Tasting the batter, it was definitely sweet, but not super-duper sweet, like I'd been afraid of.

In the future I might mix the sweetener with the eggs, vanilla and the lemon juice before adding them into the batter. The brand I use is very powdery, and even though I added it slowly, there was still a lot of powder to try and tap into the mixing bowl (and a lot that just flew into the air).

It's baking right now (17 minutes to go), and I'm also thinking about adding a topping, like in the Low-Carb Lemon Cheesecake that's linked on the original page. I've already got the lemon and the sour cream.

Topping )

So I think it'll come out pretty tasty, and even if it doesn't, I already got to lick the mixing bowl, so I'll call it a win.
Tags:
This is the best apple pie ever. I'm not even going to be humble about it. It's just that good.

How this recipe came into my life. )

French Apple Pie
This is apple pie with the "a la mode" built right in.
1 egg
1 cup (1/2 pint) dairy sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt
2-1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled cooking apples (2 to 3 apples)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I just use some lemon juice)
1 unbaked Standard pastry crust
Crumb topping, see below.

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup (or 1 or 1/2) stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450F (232C). Beat egg in a large bowl; blend in sour cream, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt. Fold in apple and lemon juice. Pour into Standard pastry crust, and bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F (177C) and bake 30 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown. While pie is baking, prepare Crumb Topping. Sprinkle topping over pie and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve warm or cool. Makes 6 to 8 servings per pie.

Crumb Topping:
Cut butter into sugar, flour and cinnamon. Electric mixer can be used.

Things I scrawled on the bottom of the xerox copy:
Double the recipe and use a deep dish pie crust.
Cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil or crust protectors until the last 30 minutes or so of baking so that it won't burn.

Sometimes there's a small amount of leftover filling (apples rarely come out to even measurements) so I make an individual pie-ette, sans crust. You could probably divvy up the whole recipe into parchment paper-lined ramekins and skip the crust altogether. I totally would.
This is the best apple pie ever. I'm not even going to be humble about it. It's just that good.

My history with this recipe )

French Apple Pie
This is apple pie with the "a la mode" built right in.

1 egg
1 cup (1/2 pint) dairy sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt
2-1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled cooking apples (2 to 3 apples)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I just use some lemon juice)
1 unbaked Standard pastry crust
Crumb topping, see below.

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup (or 1 or 1/2) stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450F (232C). Beat egg in a large bowl; blend in sour cream, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt. Fold in apple and lemon juice. Pour into Standard pastry crust, and bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F (177C) and bake 30 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown. While pie is baking, prepare Crumb Topping. Sprinkle topping over pie and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve warm or cool. Makes 6 to 8 servings per pie.

Crumb Topping:
Cut butter into sugar, flour and cinnamon. Electric mixer can be used.

Things I scrawled on the bottom of the xerox copy:
Double the recipe and use a deep dish pie crust.
Cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil or crust protectors until the last 30 minutes or so of baking so that it won't burn.

Sometimes there's a small amount of leftover filling (apples rarely come out to even measurements) so I make an individual pie-ette, sans crust.  You could probably divvy up the whole recipe into parchment paper-lined ramekins and skip the crust altogether.  I totally would.

Mexican Lasagne [aka MexiLas]

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 package Schilling Taco Seasoning Mix [low sodium]
1 8oz can tomato sauce
[1 cup frozen corn]
[1 can black beans]
[¼ teaspoon cinnamon]
[1 can small olives]
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ cup catsup
1 cup water
6 soft tortillas
1 cup grated cheddar cheese [or grated mixed mexican cheeses]
1 cup commercial sour cream
Schilling parsley flakes
[paprika]

In saucepan combine chicken, seasoning mix, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, catsup, corn, black beans, olives, and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into 12 x 7 ½ x 1 ¾ -inch baking dish; cover with 2 tortillas, ½ of the cheese and half the remaining sauce. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Spread sour cream evenly over surface and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in 350°F oven 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley flakes. Makes 6 servings.

(stolen out of "Sauce-iology From the Schilling Division of McCormick & Co., Inc.")

This is the totally awesome casserole my mom used to make on special occasions. She gave me the original booklet a couple of years ago and it's delightfully retro, from the early 70's. When I went away to college, I copied it down by hand and took it with me. I've made some additions (the bits inside the brackets) that make it more of a meal-unto-itself rather than just a main dish. Now I make it for friends and gamers on special occasions. I've never made it in this small of a batch because the leftovers taste even better.
Mexican Lasagne [aka MexiLas]

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 package Schilling Taco Seasoning Mix [low sodium]
1 8oz can tomato sauce
[1 cup frozen corn]
[1 can black beans]
[¼ teaspoon cinnamon]
[1 can small olives]
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ cup catsup
1 cup water
6 soft tortillas
1 cup grated cheddar cheese [or grated mixed mexican cheeses]
1 cup commercial sour cream
Schilling parsley flakes
[paprika]

In saucepan combine chicken, seasoning mix, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, catsup, corn, black beans, olives, and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into 12 x 7 ½ x 1 ¾ -inch baking dish; cover with 2 tortillas, ½ of the cheese and half the remaining sauce. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Spread sour cream evenly over surface and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in 350°F oven 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley flakes. Makes 6 servings.

(stolen out of "Sauce-iology From the Schilling Division of McCormick & Co., Inc.")

This is the totally awesome casserole my mom used to make on special occasions. She gave me the original booklet a couple of years ago and it's delightfully retro, from the early 70's. When I went away to college, I copied it down by hand and took it with me. I've made some additions (the bits inside the brackets) that make it more of a meal-unto-itself rather than just a main dish. Now I make it for friends and gamers on special occasions. I've never made it in this small of a batch because the leftovers taste even better.
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