Fiesta Tortilla “Flower” Pie

Becky’s Fiesta Flower Pie

(Becky, the Mama.)

Yesterday I heard a loud thump followed by a yell outside my kitchen window. I rushed out to see my husband Greg lying on the patio, telling me he twisted his ankle. “Don’t move!” I said, “I’m coming down there to help you.”

I really did mean to scoot down and cradle his head in my lap. I really did not mean to kick him hard in the temple with my knee in the process. Thankfully, Greg wasn’t so wounded that he lost his sense of humor: he pretended I knocked him unconscious. He was able to walk on the ankle in just a few minutes, but I still wonder if it was just a heroic attempt to save himself from my further attempts to help him.

My record for doing good, and no harm, in a medical emergency is a little bit uneven.  When my son Zeke was about thirteen, he cut his leg badly while we were in a shopping center parking lot.  I started throwing everything I could find in the car on his leg to stop the bleeding and then drove him to the emergency room.  As the nurse took off layer after layer: a towel, napkins from fast food restaurants, a clean diaper, and some grass clippings… she looked up at me quizzically and asked, “Becky, were you trying to smother the wound?”

On the other hand, I once expertly performed the Heimlich maneuver on a woman who was choking in the women’s restroom. Just as calm as you please, I walked into her stall where she had been coughing and banging on the door, and was now turning blue.I told her not to worry, that I was going to do the Heimlich (that I’d heretofore only seen done on TV). Somehow I did, and out popped a piece of pineapple from her mouth. As soon as she could breathe normally again,she announced to everyone around that I had saved her life.

Maybe I’m better in life-threatening situations than I am in more minor emergencies. A nurturing person at heart, I wonder sometimes if I could have made a good nurse. My husband says, “You would have been a wonderful nurse, Becky.  Your patients would have loved you and you would have kept them laughing and smiling…. right before you accidentally killed them.”  It is true. I can’t keep up with my own cell phone or purse on a daily basis, so keeping track of med dosing schedules for patients would have certainly been a crap shoot.

I’ve probably made better and safer use of my nurturing nature by caring for ailing folks through gifts of home cooking.  I woke up from a nap the other day with the idea for this dish dancing in my head.  It was even better than I imagined it would be.  It uses simple ingredients that most of us have on hand, but arranges them in a way that looks like big, colorful Mexican flower in a pie pan. It would be a wonderful dish to take to a friend who has twisted their ankle, cut their leg or been kneed in the head by a clumsy do-gooder.

Fiesta Tortilla Flower Pie

Fiesta Tortilla Flower Pie

Serves 6

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

Shell:
1 t. olive oil
4 medium sized flour tortillas, cut 3 of them in half, leaving one whole

Beef-Bean Filling:

1 lb lean ground beef or buffalo meat
3 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz. can pinto beans drained (I had leftover home-cooked one) but not rinsed
½ cup thick salsa (I used “On the Border” brand)
¼ cup thick bbq sauce (I used “Sweet Baby Ray’s”)
1 t. grill or steak seasoning (or ½ t. salt and ½ t pepper)
½ t.Cajun seasoning (I like Tony’s brand.  Or use red pepper flakes or chili powder instead.)
3 quick dashes Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 t. brown sugar

Additional Layers (Before Cooking)
¾ c. Greek yogurt (I prefer 2%)  or sour cream (light is fine)
¾ c. bottled salsa
¾ c. grated cheese, any kind you like
½ c crushed corn chips (we like Fritos) or tortilla chips
Jalapeno slices – as many as you like for garnish

Fresh Salsa Topping for After Cooking
1/2 c. chopped tomato
½   c. diced avocado
½   c. drained corn or corn cut off a cob
Squeeze of fresh lime, dash salt, dash sugar

Directions:

Lightly oil a skillet or griddle and brown a whole one round tortilla and five halved tortillas in batches, until they are light golden brown in spots on both sides.   Line a deep dish pie pan with as shown in the photo below, slightly overlapping the “petals” of the tortilla flower.

In a large skillet brown the beef with the garlic.  Then  add the next seven ingredients, stir and heat through until simmered and thickened.Pour meat and bean mixture into “tortilla flower.”

Gently spread the sour cream or Greek Yogurt over the beef mixture.  Next spread on the salsa.

Then sprinkle the grated cheese over all, followed by an even sprinkling of crushed corn chips.  Finally decorate with a few jalapeno slices.Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes while you make a quick fresh salsa topping.  In a bowl, combine tomato, avocado and corn. Give this mixture a quick squeeze of fresh lime, a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar.  Toss.   Pile in the middle of the tortilla pie.

Use a very sharp serrated knife to cut pie shaped wedges.  It may be a little messy if the pie is still hot, so feel free to serve in a bowls if you prefer.

Vegetarian Version: Replace beef with 1 cup lentils or other beans (in addition to the ones in the recipe), 1/2 cup grain such as quinoa or rice, 1/4 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts, and 1 cup chopped mushrooms.

Vegan Version:
Follow Vegetarian Version above for meat replacement. Skip sour cream and cheese layers and cover the pie with fresh guacamole once comes out of the oven and has cooled for 5 minutes. Use just the tomatoes and corn for salsa topping.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Fiesta Tortilla Pie
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Bv
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

(The Mama)

Greg and I are in Neskowin, Oregon this week — a tiny little beach town with impossibly cute houses surrounded by brilliantly colored flowers, some blossoms as big as dinner plates.  I hit the beach cooking, barely having time to gather in a car load of groceries before cooking dinner for a dozen on Saturday night (sour cream chicken enchiladas).  Yesterday, I cooked lunch for 22 of Greg’s extended family members dropping by to hug, share stories and sit a spell between strolls to the beach.  Greg lost both of his parents when they were just in their 50’s (our age!) so connections to them now — people and places — are doubly meaningful.  Since Greg and his siblings were young, Neskowin was the family vacation spot and is where all of them return to, as Greg says, “fill our souls.” So while they are filling their souls, I am filling their tummies.

For the lunch crowd, I served sandwiches and tortilla soup, with blueberry-raspberry bars for dessert. It was perfect for a cool, foggy day at the beach, huddled up with people we love.  Plus it makes a bunch!!

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

1 seeded red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 t. poultry seasoning
2 t. cumin
1 T. brown sugar
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (medium to hot heat level), available in small cans in Mexican and Spanish food section of market.*

1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, divided in half
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (divided 1 and 3)

3 to 4 cups roasted chicken, pulled off bone and diced or shredded ( roasted chickens are available in most grocery delis)
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, dice

 

steak or grill seasoning (or salt and pepper), to taste

1/4 cup bar-b-que sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Topping Options:
crushed tortilla chips
grated cheese
chopped green onions
diced avocados
sour cream or Greek Yogurt
wedges of fresh lime
cilantro

Directions

In a blender or food processor put the first seven ingredients (bell pepper through chipotles), half of the crushed tomatoes, and one cup of broth. Blend well.

Pour this mixture into big soup pot and add the rest of the crushed tomatoes and broth.

To this add frozen corn, chicken, and zucchini.

Simmer over medium heat until zucchini is tender and soup is heated through. Season with Steak or Grill Seasoning (or salt and pepper) to taste. To make a creamier soup, you can add 1/2 cup of cream.

To serve, put a handful of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup blow. Carefully ladle on soup, then top with your choice of toppings.

Vegetarian Version: Use veggie broth, pinto, ranch or black beans in place of chicken. Vegans omit cheese and cream

*I keep the leftover Chipotles in Adobo Sauce in a small Ziploc bag in the freezer and break off what I need to add depth of flavor and heat to other Mexican dishes.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chicken Tortilla Soup
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-wA
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Mexican Comfort Casserole & Cashew Queso

Saturday was a big game for my husband’s high school baseball team. I told him as I kissed him goodbye “We”ll be there, look for us in the stands.” Of course, Jackson’s afternoon nap fell at exactly the start of the game. I’ve been trying to keep him on a good sleep schedule during the day as it seems to translate to better sleep at night, so I waited until he woke up. Finally, after sleeping an hour and a half, I quickly loaded him in the car to try and make it to the game before it ended. I tuned into the local radio station airing the game and crossed my fingers that the innings would slow down (the ONLY time I’ve ever wished for baseball to slow down!) We rushed into the stadium as the seventh inning began, our team down three runs.

I sat in the stands next to another coaches’ wife. We both cheered loud when our husbands’ team tied up the game, sending us into extra innings. It was a nail biter of a game!

Sadly, the other team scored the winning run knocking our boys out of their first place spot in district.

“I don’t think I’m going to wait around for them to finish talking to the boys.” I told the other coach’s wife. “I think I’ll head to the store for a few things instead. There’s nothing like Mexican food to cheer Jared up.”

“Yep, I have a pint of Blue Bell in the freezer for occasions just like this,” she nodded.

So I whipped up a mexican casserole, cashew cheese dip, rice, salsa, and gaucamole. Then popped open a couple of Coronas with a twist of lime. Boy was my kitchen a mess, but my husband was feeling like a winner again!

My mom got that little avocado green dip dish for me. It’s an antique from 1960. I think it’s so cute!

Due to that whole baby sleep schedule mentioned above, it was dark by the time we actually sat down to eat, so pics of the Mexican Fiesta were quite meh. Yeah, meh is a word. So I made a plate of leftovers on Sunday for lunch to get better pictures. Leftovers = equally delicious.

Rachel’s
Mexican Comfort Casserole with Cashew Queso

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 1/2 c. chopped onions
2 c. chopped peppers (any color or kind — I used green bell and poblano)
3 cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 c. (or 2 16 oz cans) of refried or mashed pinto beans
~12 corn tortillas
Cashew Queso (see below)
Optional garnish: lettuce, tomato, avocado

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onions on medium to med-high heat with a little oil and salt for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and continue sauteing for 10 more minutes. In the last couple of minutes add the garlic.

In a separate pan, saute zucchini and squash on med-high heat with a little oil and salt & pepper until they just start to brown but are still firm.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender combine the fire roasted tomatoes and chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. Pour mixture into a bowl large enough to dip a corn tortilla in.

Now begin layering in a casserole dish (I used two round ones, but you could use one 8 x10 or whatever you have on hand). This recipe is super flexible. If you end up with extra ingredients, just add another layer.

Layer 1: 1/2 of the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture
Layer 2: tortillas dipped in chipotle tomato sauce and topped with a thin layer of more sauce (tear tortillas in half to border edges if needed)
Layer 3: 2 cups of beans
Layer 4: tortillas dipped in chipotle tomato sauce and topped with a thin layer of more sauce
Layer 5: zucchini and squash
Layer 6: tortillas dipped in chipotle tomato sauce and topped with a thin layer of more sauce
Layer 7: 2 cups of beans
Layer 8: 1/2 of the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Top with cashew queso, lettuce tomato, and avocado.

Cashew Queso

Note: this is not my recipe. I got it from a friend and I’m unsure of the source.

Ingredients

1 c. raw cashews
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 orange roasted bell pepper* (red or yellow will work too, but orange gives the most cheese-like color)
2 c. water
1 tsp lemon juice

Directions

In a food processor, blend cashews, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, salt,and onion powder into a fine dust. Add about 1/2 a cup of the water and the roasted bell pepper and blend again. Add the rest of the water and lemon juice. Transfer mixture to a pot and heat on medium heat, stirring pretty often until it has thickened to the consistency you like. If it gets too thick, just add a little more water.

*Making your own roasted peppers is easy. Just placing them directly on on a gas burner flame rotating it a few times (like this) or on a pan under the broiler until charred. Then put it in a bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap for a about five minutes. Rub off most of the skin with a damp paper towel. Voila, roasted peppers!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Mexican Comfort Casserole & Cashew Queso
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/03/mexican-comfort-casserole-cashew-queso