Mexican Lasagne (or Burrito Casserole) | A Crockpot Win

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Because of Tyler's hockey schedule, I have no choice but to dust off the crockpot and get organized with meal planning. We're out until odd hours and when we get back home everyone is starving, especially Tyler.

Last night I decided to try a recipe on Stephanie's A Year of Slow Cooking. I like Mexican food and I was able to do this almost entirely with things I had on hand. I modified Stephanie's recipe because I wanted it to be even more of a one pot meal. I also cut the recipe about in half. We're not that good with leftovers and so many crockpot recipes make huge portions. Phil re-named my version Mexican Lasagna. Below is Stephanie's recipe with my notations after.


Ingredients
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (4-ounce) can roasted green chiles, undrained
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
8 flour or brown rice tortillas (brown rice tortillas are GF; read packing carefully)
4 cups cooked pinto beans (three 15-ounce cans, drained)
4 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Optional garnishes: sour cream, sliced avocado, etc.

Directions
Use a 4-quart slow cooker. If you only have a large one, that's okay--but reduce cooking time a few hours.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, chiles, and spices.

Put a layer of tortillas into the bottom of your cooker---you may need to tear them a bit to get good coverage. Add a scoop of the onion/tomato mixture and layer on a healthy spoonful of beans and then a layer of cheese. Repeat layers until you've run out of ingredients. Top with a healthy dose of cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours (if using a 6-quart, do 3 to 4 hours on low, then let it click over to warm--there's nothing really to cook--you're just heating thoroughly and getting the cheese to get that yummy crust).

My Changes
I did not use an onion, pepper or green chilies. I only used one can of tomatoes (because all of us don't care for whole tomato). They were Mexican style with onions and chiles, the store brand equivalent of Rotel. 

I used two 15 ounce cans of beans and partially drained one (to make up for the missing liquid from the second can of tomatoes). I only used 4 tortillas. My crockpot is just the size for Mission's medium soft taco size tortillas. The tortillas were just barely too big. I did use a lot of cheese, but maybe only three cups of shredded taco seasoned cheese. 

Now for my biggest changes: I bought one 6 ounce package of Tyson grilled chicken strips and two packages of Lipton Fiesta Sides Taco Rice. I made both packets according to directions but cut the water to 3 cups. I diced the chicken into pretty small pieces.

I layered the ingredients: tomato, rice, beans, chicken, cheese. The top was tortilla to keep the moisture in. Since the rice and chicken were already cooked, I only had this in the crockpot on low for an hour just to warm it through. I didn't use all the prepared rice in my dish. There's about 1 1/2 cups leftover. I still think I'd make two packages; using only one would make the meal skimpy unless I doubled the chicken.

Please excuse my lack of food photography skills
The results: we loved it. I cut it into four really good sized triangles and served everyone a wedge. Tyler could barely finish. This is very filling! The only change I'll make when I prepare this again is to add some salt. The brand of tomatoes I used made the dish sweeter than I like Mexican food to be.

If you're in need of crockpot inspiration, definitely take a look at Stephanie's site. I've had good luck with her recipes. Which food site do you have good luck with?

Where Has Melanie Been?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Well, hello! How are you? I have neglected you guys the past week and I'm sorry. I have no excuses, just lots of reasons.

Tyler's hockey schedule keeps us hopping. We had an 8am game this past weekend at a rink about 40 minutes away. 

I've read three books since my last review.

I've been working on the San Diego Blog Conference site (which I haven't told you about!) that I started a few months ago with Katie and Deb. If you'll be attending BlogHer this summer you'll definitely want to check it out.

I bought another URL. I've been looking into ways to get that project up and running. 

I started online traffic school for my speeding ticket. 

I've been to a social media Tweetup and a Mad Men theme birthday party.

I'm revising my promo/giveaway documents.

I'm fighting with my bank over a charge I didn't authorize and hoping all my money shows up in the proper accounts post haste.

We've had a Pirates of the Caribbean movie marathon and went to see Thor.

AND I took on a consulting client. 

Y'all, I've barely got my head above water. If you could see the condition of my house, you'd agree.

But, I'm having fun. Better busy than bored I always say. What's going on your world?

Future San Diego Padre | Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hoorah! | Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Resonating

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.                                                           - Marianne Williamson
This has been in my head for days. I don't get quotes or passages stuck in my head. Usually it's song lyrics. I heard the first five sentences of the quote and was moved enough to look up the rest. I know I'm supposed to do something with this. Take action somehow. There's a specific message, just for me, in here somewhere. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon. They are such beautiful words, it would be a shame not to pick up on whatever the universe is trying to tell me.

From: A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles."

(Gently) Pushing Buttons

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm used to being the OBITR (Only Black In The Room). It happens all the time. Depending on the situation, occasionally I take my position very seriously and use it to raise awareness of an issue, challenge a perception or present another way of thinking. I feel as though I've been talking about race a lot lately, but it's been all around me in posts, books I've read and discussions I've had so it's been on my mind a lot. Most recently I had to educate my book club friends a little bit. [warning: book spoiler alerts]

The last title we read for book club was The Hunger Games. In the first part of the evening while we having dinner, almost everyone was talking about the books (most went on to read the other two right away). The comments were all about how much they loved the series and were excited to hear all the casting news for the movie. After dinner we talked about the current book, The Kitchen House.

All of us loved this book, too. It's set on a tobacco plantation in the south. The story is told through two narrators. One is Lavinia, an Irish indentured servant whose parents die on the trip over from Ireland. Her brother is sold to a different owner and she lives the first years of her life on the plantation with the slaves. The other narrator, Belle, is one of the slaves on the plantation. She works in the kitchen house and her connection to the plantation owner causes problems for everyone throughout most of the book. 

As the conversation went on, someone said they typically don't like to read books with a lot of tragedy and violence in them and said she was glad the author, Kathleen Grissom, didn't get too descriptive with the treatment of the slaves because she probably wouldn't have liked the book as much. Many others agreed.

Now, if you've read The Hunger Games series, you might be shaking your head. If you haven't read them, let me explain the premise: Every year, the ruling class of a post apocalyptic dystopian society, The Capitol, hosts The Hunger Games. The games are a punishment for the lower classes' previous attempted rebellion.  The Capitol creates an outdoor arena with all types of hazards and then forces 24 children chosen at random to fight to the death in the arena on live TV.

I had to take a moment because it struck me as odd. In The Hunger Games, half the contests die at each others' hands in the first few moment's of the games. Through the rest of the book there are poisonous plants, wasps whose venom either kills or brings on hallucinations, knives to the back, rocks to the skull and death by spear. And that's only in the first half of the first book!

So, reading about teenagers killing each other or dying violently as sport for the rich is fine, but slaves being whipped, burned or hung is just too much? As OBITR, I felt I needed to (gently) point out what I saw as a hypocrisy*. I said I was glad Grissom didn't try to clean up what happened to slaves. 

"I think it's sad authors have to dumb down the type of violence blacks experienced at the hands of their owners and make it more palatable in order for people to want to educate themselves about the time period."

Yep, I went there.

I can only presume the woman who made the original statement was thinking that Hunger Games is pure fiction, whereas The Kitchen House is fiction based in factual events. For the record she also said she couldn't watch Schindler's List for the same reason. I guess I just can't imagine avoiding certain topics because of their truth. In my mind, it's the truthfulness that leads to empathy. I'm not Jewish, but the little I know about the Holocaust made me want to learn more about the difference between Judaism and Catholicism. 

In my opinion, The Kitchen House isn't overly graphic. I think the events in the book are part of the characters' truth, and the truth is they were slaves on a plantation. Bad (beyond horrible) things happened to slaves on plantations. To ignore that, to leave it out of the story wouldn't have been an accurate representation of the south during that time.

My fellow book club members' response struck me as the literary equivalent of sticking her fingers in her ears. "La, la, la, la I can't hear you." Which everyone has a right to do.


My statement was well received. Not that I care about that too much but I don't want to make book club awkward. I enjoy my time there but don't want to be "that person" who turns every conversation into controversy. I can only hope I gave everyone something to think about. Omitting details or downplaying them doesn't make them any less true.

Do you feel the same way as my club member about the books you read? Is there such a thing as too real?

*Hypocrisy is probably too strong of a word but I couldn't think of better one. Photo from Google Images

Threepeat! | Wordless Wednesday

Thanks for the Warning

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to me?

Tyler: "Mom, I'm sorry."

Me: "What for?"

Tyler: "When I was coloring your Mother's Day card at school, I messed up."
Me: "I'm sure it will be fine."

Tyler: "I don't know how to draw faces. I accidentally gave you a beak."

Me: "Oh, well, uh, thank you for trying."

Tyler: "I'm sorry I drew you ugly."

Me: "That's OK."

So now, in addition to Phil being out of town for two weeks and the 7am hockey game on Mother's Day, the only card I'll be getting is a portrait of me with a beak. 

The joys of motherhood. :D
 
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