Category Archives: Casseroles

Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole

I remember the first night living in a small village in Thailand (no, I didn’t have a Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole). Normally in small villages in Thailand there are at least noodle stands in someone’s front lawn (think ‘lemonade for sale’ but on a slightly bigger scale).  However, when I landed in Ban Chaleang, there was nothing but dusty roads for as long as I could see.

The main drag…DSC01664

Lucky and pals on our afternoon walk…
CK's visit July 2006 (13)

What the hell was I supposed to eat for dinner?  I remember my Thai mother (we just met 3 hours earlier, and I was already calling her ‘mom’) brought her friends over and some vegetables, and they stared as I tried to make dinner.  They didn’t really know what to do with a vegan, or else they would have had me over for some ant eggs, fish heads, or how about this… yes, that’s dinner.

yai puts them in cold water

I’m sure they still laugh about it today.  Let’s just say from that moment forward I made it my mission to learn how to cook during my 2 years in Thailand.  I spent lots of time in the kitchen (or outside on the patio) with a notepad watching my friends cook and taking notes furiously.

My Thai Mother making curry paste… CK's visit July 2006 (84)

Mah showing me the way….
CK's visit July 2006 (85)

My other ‘Mah’ making curry paste.
maah g'ja makes pret gang

The beauty of Thai cooking is that nothing is really measured; they cook by taste.  There are no recipes, cookbooks, or blogs to cite.  They throw things in a wok or pot and taste till they get it just right.

This is how Thais “bake” …. in bamboo and in the ground.

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What I learned in the Thai kitchen has really helped me in the comfort of my kitchen back in the states.  Although I might need to move to France to learn how to bake.  I didn’t master the bamboo in the ground “baking” method.

From Thailand to Mexican Food….

Tonight’s dinner, though inspired from two different recipes, was not one that was preciously measured and calculated.  Through the skills and confidence I learned in the Thai kitchen, I can now cook.  I don’t just follow recipes, I am confident to throw things together, taste as I go, and normally they turn out pretty good.

At least Dave approves.  Lucky too!

Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole

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Serves 4
Inspired from Health Tipping Point’s Corn Tortilla Casserole and Oh She Glow’s Mexican Tortilla Pie

Since this was a throw together type of meal, there really are no precise measurements.  I’ve listed things with approximates.

Ingredients
12 6-inch corn tortillas (I used Food for Life’s Sprouted Corn Tortillas)
1/2 onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained
2 cups Spinach (approximately)
3 T Hummus (approximately)
1 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 cup Salsa (approximately)
1 cup Enchilada Sauce (approximately)

Before baking….DSC00882

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Grease an 8×8 casserole dish, and layer with four corn tortillas.
3.  Build your first layer:
– spread 1/3 the amount of hummus
– sprinkle 1/3 the amount of nutritional yeast
– lay 1/3 the amount of spinach
– sprinkle 1/3 the amount of onion
– sprinkle 1/3 the amount of black beans
– and top with 1/3 the amount of salsa
4.  Lay four more corn tortillas and repeat step 3.
5.  Repeat step 4, so you have three levels and then top with enchilada sauce.
6.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Ready for my belly…
DSC00886

Enjoy!

Eat well,
Carolyn

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Recipe of the Month: Quinoa Casserole

Now that the wedding has come and gone; the honeymoon has come and gone; and the move has come – but not yet gone – it is time to pick up my “Things to Manifest in 2010” list. One of the things I wanted to make a habit in 2010 was to cook a new recipe each month.  It is probably easier to accomplish now that Dave and I are married, and I can’t get away with having a salad every night.

It was perfect timing to start this tradition when yesterday I stumbled upon my friend Kate’s blog – Vegetarian Mama.  I was in the Peace Corps with Kate in Thailand.  Kate is a very sweet girl who now resides in Seattle.  She is raising the newest addition to her family, Nora, to be a healthy eater. I’m so excited Kate and Robert are now parents.  Since I met Kate, she always said she wanted to be a Mama.

I’ve been wanting to try a casserole recipes since Dave and I got a beautiful Casafina casserole dish for a wedding present, but I just haven’t found the right one… until last night.  Kate blogged about “Quinoa Casserole” and I thought – this will be March’s Recipe of the Month.

Here is the recipe, re-posted, with my modifications noted in parenthesis.

Quinoa Casserole
1 T canola oil (I used 1 T Olive Oil)
1 medium onion, diced (I used 1 large onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced ( I used 3 gloves)
1 red or green bell pepper, diced (optional)  ( I used 1 red bell pepper)
1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed in a wire strainer under cold running water for 2 minutes (We don’t have a wire strainer yet, so I didn’t rinse the quinoa.)
1 can black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained ( I used Eden’s organic black beans)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (Dave doesn’t like to use canned tomatoes, so I used 2 1/4 cup diced tomatoes and roughly 1/2 cup water as a replacement)
1 T chili powder (optional) (I used 1 T chili powder)
1 tsp ground cumin (optional) (I used 1 tsp ground cumin)
2 cups vegetable broth – approximately ( I used 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth)

NOTE: I also added 1/2 cooked potato – diced – that we had leftover from last night’s dinner when I checked on the dish after 45 minutes.

OTHER POSSIBLE ADDITIONS:  I would have liked to of  added fresh corn, cut off the cob, but I didn’t have any. Also, diced carrots would have been a nice touch and maybe some spinach stirred in at the 45 minute check to get some greens in there.   And the most needed addition – more spices!

1. Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper (if using) in oil until softened.
2. Mix all ingredients except the vegetable broth in a casserole dish.
3. Add the vegetable broth until the mixture is a couple of centimeters from the top of the dish.
4. Bake in 375 degree oven for 1 hour. Check after about 45 minutes, stir, add more broth if needed.
5. The quinoa is finished when it is puffy and translucent.

THE VERDICT:
My initial reaction was the dish was too bland.  However, I’m a person who carries cayenne pepper in my purse, so take what I say with a grain of salt.  After I added some avocado, cayenne and s&p, the dish was more my style.  Dave doctored his up with some pepper and he thought it was good.  It definitely wasn’t his favorite, but he thought it was good.  This recipe is a keeper.  Easy and Delicious.  I will make it again, but with some more modifications as noted above in the “other possible additions.”  Also the leftovers will make a great taco stuffing.

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