Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna is one of my family’s all time favorites! If I ask what everyone wants for dinner, someone is sure to ask for this!

It sounds amazing right? It sounds like layers of cheese and ooey gooey goodness, doesn’t it? Well, it IS amazing! But it is nothing like lasagna. It is really more enchilada like….ish. I have no idea who named it that or why. I have tried renaming it but nothing ever sticks. So, it remains Mexican Lasagna.

The recipe was given to me by my husband’s great Aunt Thora when we got married. Maybe the elderly Norwegian woman didn’t know anything about Mexican or Italian cuisine? I am not sure if she made or named the recipe but whoever did was not aware of how lasagna is constructed!

No matter what it is called it is delicious and easy to make with very few ingredients.

Mexican Lasagna

Servings 6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium onion chopped
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 can black beans drained and rinsed, optional
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can chili con carne with beans
1 package of 10 flour tortillas
shredded Cheddar cheese
sour cream

Directions:

Saute beef with onion and garlic. Drain. Add taco seasoning and black beans. Add about a cup of water and cook over medium heat until the water has cooked out.
Mix chili and tomato sauce in a mixing bowl.
Lay out 10 tortilla shells and evenly distribute meat mixture onto them. Sprinkle each with a little (or a lot) of cheese. Roll up and place in a greased 9×13 baking dish.
Pour chili/tomato sauce over all. Sprinkle with more cheese.
Cover and Bake at 350F for 1/2 hour. Remove foil and bake for a few minutes longer to melt cheese.
Serve with sour cream.

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I have changed the original recipe a little. OK, well I haven’t met a recipe yet that I didn’t change at least a little!

I included black beans just to stretch it a little. If you don’t want to put them in there you can use two pound of ground beef or just not have the tortillas so full.

“I never met a lasagna I didn’t like.”

Jim Davis

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Be sure to confuse your family with this “Lasagna”!

Happy Cooking!

Elizabeth XOXO

Baked Chicken Casserole

Keeping in the theme of easy, simple recipes, I want to share this family favorite!

This recipe was given to me by a special family friend. In fact, some of my best recipes I got from her. MaryAnn passed several years ago, which make the recipes I have of hers even more treasured.

You know a recipe is good when the recipe card looks like this!

Baked Chicken Casserole from Mary Ann Harris

I don’t use recipe cards anymore. I have my large collection all at my finger tips on my Cook’n program on my computer. There is something quite sentimental about recipe cards like this one and ones that are in my mother and grandmothers own handwriting though. I will always treasure those.

I have changed this recipe slightly over the years. Mostly just making it bigger for my large family.

If you love Thanksgiving, and especially the turkey stuffing, you will love this casserole! It is simple and has few ingredients. It is easy to put together. It is a true comfort food! Watch out though… it may leave you wanting pumpkin pie!

Baked Chicken Casserole

Servings 8

1 1/2-2 pounds cooked diced chicken Or turkey. Rotisserie Chicken is great for this
7 cups soft bread cubes
1 cup chopped celery
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup undiluted

Preheat oven to 350F. Sauté onion and celery in butter. Add seasonings and baking powder. Turn off heat. Stir in bread cubes.
Beat egg, add milk and broth. Mix with bread mixture. Stir in chicken. Put in a greased baking pan. Spread undiluted soup over top. Sprinkle with bread crumbs if desired.
Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 45. Remove foil and continue baking 10-15 minutes.

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I hope you enjoy this!

Elizabeth XOXO

Macaroni with Cheese with Hot Dogs

When I was a kid, my Mom was a single mom of two. Things were really tight. If she knew of food assistance she didn’t have it. She was the most amazing strong woman! I definitely got my skill of making something of nothing from her. She was so creative.

She made this recipe up and it became one of our all time favorites for dinner or even lunch.

It was requested at my house today for lunch so I decided to share it with you! I did really hesitate though….. Most people are very turned off by the name. Hot dogs in mac and cheese? Ewww. Yeah, it’s not a pretty dish. You gotta trust me on this though! Really, you do!

My kids, my husband and every daycare child I have had in thirty years has loved this stuff!

Give it a chance, try it out! I would love to hear how your kids liked it!

Enjoy!

Elizabeth XOXO

Macaroni and Cheese with Hot Dogs

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 cups uncooked macaroni
1 package sliced hot dogs
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add sliced hot dogs. Drain. Return noodles and sliced hot dogs to the pan. Add tomato sauce, diced canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in shredded cheddar cheese. Do not over stir.

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Something from Nothing, My Super Power!

These are tough times. We don’t all have all the things we need. Pantries are getting thin, money is tight or just flat out isn’t there. Things we’ve always taken for granted, such as toilet paper is nearly impossible to find.

It’s not as easy or wise to just grab something for dinner on the way home. It is time to really be smart with what we have.

The first step in doing that is KNOWING what we have! I went through my chest freezer and pantry and wrote every single thing down. Because I am super OCD about that kind of stuff I put it all in an Excel spreadsheet so that I can just click on “Poultry” and see all the chicken and turkey items I have to work with and which freezer it is in. Maybe that is little over the top but I am pretty excited about it!

Now that I know exactly what I have to work with I won’t be needlessly buying things I already have and will spend less time and money in the grocery store.

When we were first married we were really broke. Then we had three kids and we were really, really broke! We somehow managed to get the bills paid, most of the time, but there was never anything left for groceries. I learned very quickly how to make meals out of what I had or with a very small grocery list. It became my super power!!

You can make a meal if you have some kind of protein, a starch, a vegetable and then make a sauce to put it all together!

I am going to share some recipes with you for a while that are NOT fancy but are simple, easy, and inexpensive to make, with not many ingredients, and hopefully with things that you already have!

It’s good to be frugal, not just in tough times but good times as well. Use this time to create better habits, teach your kids to cook, bond over dinner and pray.

Here is my recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy!


Shepherd’s Pie

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 poundsground beef
1medium onion chopped
1 (10 3/4-ounce) cancream of mushroom soup
2 cansgreen beans drained
4(approximately) potatoes mashed (leftover mashed potatoes are great!)
dashblack pepper
dashsalt
1-2 cupsshredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:

Saute onion and beef. Drain. Stir in mushroom soup. Season with salt and pepper. Put in bottom of greased 9×13 baking dish. Put green beans on top of that….Spread mashed potatoes on top. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until hot. In last few minutes of baking, sprinkle with cheese and return to oven to let cheese melt.


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Soup Weather

I love soup!!! I love all kinds of soup!!! I am somewhat obsessed with soup! Buuuuuttttt….. I can’t have soup in the summer. I just can’t do it. It’s not right. Yeah, I know there are cold soups…meh. I like my soups hot. Lava hot. With a side of warm crusty bread. Mmmmmmm.

So I get pretty excited for fall! Pumpkin spice everything and scarves and boots and SOUP!! Yay!!! Call me a basic white girl.

Photo cred: Aisling O Connor

A couple weeks ago my hubby and I went to one of my favorite restaurants for a Saturday lunch date. The soup of the day was “Lasagna Soup”. Yum! Hubby ordered it! I can’t remember what I had… it obviously was forgettable. That Lasagna Soup though…… oh wow!

I don’t know if you are like this, but whenever I have something really good at a restaurant, I instantly start trying to figure out how to replicate or improve upon it at home. I am always sure I can make it and maybe make it better! Sometimes I do, sometimes not.

This time was no different. I went home and started looking at recipes for Lasagna Soup. We do a spaghetti in the instant pot that is really good because the pasta is cooked in the sauce, so I knew I wanted to do it that way. After a lot of comparing recipes I came up with my own.

I was anxious to see how my family and especially my husband like it since he was the one who had eaten it at the local restaurant. I needn’t be worried!! He said it was ten times better that the restaurant’s soup and please make this again, soon!!

Ding ding ding!! Ladies and Gentleman, we have a winner!! I love when I make something that just hits a new level of HOLY YUM!

And soooo… I am here to share it with you!! I hope you and your family enjoy this as much as we did!

Happy Fall and happy soup weather!

Lasagna Soup

Servings 8

For a little bit of family fun, don’t remove the bay leaf. Whoever gets the bay leaf is lucky and doesn’t have to help with dishes!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
7 cups chicken stock
8 ounces Mafalda pasta or bow ties
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
8 ounces ricotta cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in Instant Pot on the Saute setting. Add sausage, onion, and garlic, breaking up sausage into bite sized piece. Cook until sausage is browned. Add Italian Seasoning, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in red wine and stir.
Change setting on Instant Pot to simmer.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and gently stir to moisten all pasta noodles. Set the pot to manual high for 8 minutes and seal the cooker. It should take about 10-12 minutes to come up to temperature.
As soon as it is done, quick release and stir. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the ricotta mixture. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, parsley, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a scoop of the ricotta cheese mixture in each soup bowl, and then ladle the hot soup over the cheese. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Garnish with fresh basil.



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Summer Sous Vide Cooking

Hi friends! How is your summer going? If it’s been anything like mine it’s been crazy busy and crazy fun too!

The weather here has been just perfect as far as I’m concerned. Not too hot and just enough rain between warm days to keep everything green and less dusty. Which is perfect for camping, atv riding, and even just playing in the backyard, and dinner on the patio.

I have found a new kitchen gadget that has become my most used appliance in my kitchen and I wanted to share it with you!

I had heard of sous vide cooking before but hadn’t given it a lot of thought until I watched a show on America’s Test Kitchen about it. I was enthralled and needed to own one!!

One day my husband came and home and surprised me with one! I was so excited! I immediately used it to make chicken breast and I was hooked!

I have made leg of lamb, pork tenderloin, steaks, pork chops, beef roast, chicken hindquarters and of course chicken breasts. Nothing has been less than amazing. Everything has been perfectly cooked, not the least bit dry (notice I didn’t use that word no one likes! ) tender and super flavorful. The thing I like the most about it, well……besides that everything turns out perfectly every time, is that I can put whatever I am making in the sous vide several hours before it needs to be done and it will be done and perfect when all the rest of dinner is ready. I don’t have to try to worry about the chicken being done when the broccoli is done! It IS done and it’s not getting over done! I can spend my time making creative side dishes or just save myself some time and hassle at dinner time. Plus, it doesn’t heat up your kitchen at all! You can briefly finish on the BBQ and feel like you have done something super “summery’!

This is a busy person’s kitchen miracle!

I have the Anova Nano. It connects to an app. The app shows current temperature, target temperature and time remaining. The same info is visible on the Sous Vide itself as well. The app includes thousands of recipes and cooking guides.

We purchased ours at Target for $79. I believe it was on sale. You can spend a lot of money on them but I don’t think it is necessary.

If you would like to learn more about Sous Vide Cooking I will link this article, “Sous vide basics with America’s Test Kitchen” It has some really good basic info.

If you are really into the science and all the techy stuff about Sous Vide, here is something you will enjoy! “Testing Sous Vide Machines”

Finally, here is the America’s Test Kitchen episode I watched that got me hooked on Sous Vide Cooking! Enjoy!

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Have fun looking into Sous Vide cooking so you can take it easy and spend more time with family and friends this summer!

Cheers! From my Family to Yours!

Wine is divine

I wanted to incorporate wine in my food blog because, well…. wine is divine! Two of my daughters and I absolutely love wine!

My oldest daughter and my husband love good beer… not cheap beer, good beer. They love the local crafted beers and we have plenty of those near here!

The whole family enjoys a good cider now and then. We prefer them on the dry side. Not too sweet.

I will be sharing about all of those things we love, wines, beers and ciders, along with mixed drinks, liquors and even bubbles with you!

I am in no way a connoisseur of wine, I just like to drink it! Nor am I an expert on craft beer and I am not a bartender. I just wanted a way to share the wines and drinks that we love with others and have a way to keep track of them as well!

Today I want to share a wine with you that we have enjoyed for a few years now. My husband and I went to a local restaurant called The Porch for a date night dinner a few years ago. We ordered a bottle of wine at the suggestion of the server. We were NOT disappointed! It was a Townshend Red Blend, T3. Oh WOW! It was incredible!

As soon as we were done with dinner we went directly to the grocery store to purchase another bottle. We were unable to find the same one but found this one. Townshend Vortex Red. It is amazing as well!

Townshend Vortex Red, Red Wine

It is a $15 bottle, which I feel is pretty reasonable, especially given how wonderfully rich and deep and smooth this wine is. We buy it often for a nice dinner on the weekend.

I did just check on Townshend’s website and they are sold out! It is really that good!!

Townshend is a Washington Winery, not far from us, established in 1998. Their tasting room is in Green Bluff. If you are local then you know what that is! It is a huge area of growers of pretty much everything. It is a super fun place to go to pick your own fruits and veggies and pumpkins and even get your Christmas tree! Green Bluff turns pumpkin and apple picking into a party and makes memories that will last forever!

Click here to check out Green Bluff and all the exciting events they have coming up this year!

By the way, Townshend not only grows grapes, they grow Christmas trees too! You could pick out and cut down a Christmas tree and do a little wine tasting before heading home! Sounds like a tradition I could get behind!

Check out their website and all their wines here.

I haven’t been to their tasting room yet but that is going to change this year for sure!

Cheers!

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