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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

First day of cooking: FAIL

I'm am a lazy ass during school vacations. I admit it. Those vacations are as much (or more) for me as they are for the kids. I don't have to scream bloody murder at 6:30 am to wake up the Boy, or argue with the Girl as she's running out the door about her coming home after school. I love those nice quiet moments. They really make the vacation so much more relaxing for me. They also bring out my absolutely laziest behavior and I end up sleeping way to much and pretending that I'll do my errands "tomorrow". Well guess what. Tomorrow came and went and I didn't even throw on a pair of pants. I know, I suck.

But Monday afternoon we hit the grocery store, do the rest of the shopping, and I start cooking that night. The Girl has already begged me to take her to the Natick Collection to return something she bought there that was defective, and I said I would. So we'll shop down there where prices are cheaper and maybe we'll find something exciting at that Stop & Shop that we don't have up here. Doubtful, but you never know.

I think the Tex Mex Lasagna is going to be the first meal, mostly because certain people were almost apoplectic this evening when I told him to make his own dinner. Oh, the horror! The indignity! The laziness that he has learned from his mama.

Here's the recipe:

Tex-Mex Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients

* 1 1/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef
* Olive oil
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
* Salt
* 1 14-oz can pinto beans, rinsed in cold water and drained (or you can cook your own pinto
beans from scratch)
* 2 teaspoons bacon fat (can substitute olive oil)
* 1/2 cup water
* Salt

* 2 medium onions
* 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
* 3 garlic cloves
* 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen "Fire Roasted"
* 1 7-oz can diced green Anaheim chiles
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

* 12 corn tortillas
* 2 cups coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 oz)
* 2 cups coarsely grated mild cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)

Extras

* Sour cream
* Avocado
* Cilantro
* Iceberg lettuce

Method

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up as you add it. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle on the chile powder, cayenne, cumin, and coriander. Increase the heat to high. Add another 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Do not stir the meat unnecessarily. Allow it to brown on one side, and then stir it so the other side can be browned. As soon as the meat is browned, remove the pan from the burner. The meat will continue to cook in the heat of the cast iron pan. Once you are sure that the meat is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan to a bowl. Set aside.

  2. While the meat is cooking, heat bacon fat/olive oil in another frying pan on medium high. Add the rinsed, drained cooked pinto beans to the pan. Mash gently with a potato masher (careful if you are using a stick-free pan not to scratch the surface of the pan). Stir in enough water so that the beans are easily thinly spreadable, about a half a cup. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

  3. Once the meat is done cooking, and has been removed from the pan in step 1, add another Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat to medium. Add the onions and chopped bell peppers, cook until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, green chilies and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the tortillas.

  4. In a 9-inch skillet, heat 1/2 cup olive oil on medium high heat until it is sizzling hot, but not smoking. Cook the tortillas one at a time, for 5 seconds on each side, so that they soften, but don't get crisp. Remove with tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 13x9x3-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

  6. In baking dish arrange 4 tortillas in one layer, overlapping slightly (tortillas will not cover bottom completely). Spread half of bean mixture evenly over tortillas in dish and top with half of meat mixture. Sprinkle one third cheese over the meat and spread half of the sauce over the cheese.

  7. Repeat layering of tortillas, beans, meat, cheese, and sauce and top with remaining 4 tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tortillas. Bake casserole on the middle rack in the oven for 35 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted and bubbling. Let the casserole stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8. Serve with sour cream, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced iceberg lettuce on which has been sprinkled vinegar and salt.

I'll add a photo after I've cooked it.

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