Tag Archive | recipes

Car Troubles and Casseroles

So…I managed a couple of drama-free days, which, unfortunately,  seem to translate into blog-free days.  So, blog=drama, right?

Anyway, I spent a quiet morning at home, studying and composing a shopping list so I could, you know, actually eat tonight.  When the time came when I could take a break from the studying, I headed down to my car, turned the key…and nothin’.

My car has been temperamental all winter, so I didn’t think much of it, it’s been taking two or thee tries to get it started.

After ten, it TRIED to turn over, but it still didn’t start.  A few more tries, and a jump-start attempt later I did what any responsible grown woman would do.

I called my Daddy for help.

My wonderful father drove an hour and a half to look at my car.  After doing some mechanical magic, Dad declared my battery to be fine,  and my starter being what  has issues.  Which means, a trip to my home-town this weekend, providing I can get my car started, of course. Fortunately,  every where else I’ll need to go this week can be reached easily by bus.

Dad was kind enough to drive me to the grocery store and back so dinner, at least, is right on track.

I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods.  We call it tortilla casserole.  I don’t know if my mom found this recipe somewhere, or if she made it up–I’ve never seen her use a written recipe to make it, and I was taught to make it without  a recipe as well.

Tortilla Casserole 

the ingredents

1 lb ground beef.  (I used ground turkey.  If you ask, it’s to save on fat and calories and in no way simply because ground turkey was 75¢ a pound cheaper than the ground beef)

1/2 of an onion, diced

1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken, or celery, or whatever you have on hand) soup

1 4oz can of chopped green chilies. (er, here’s the thing about the chilies.  I usually use Hatch brand green chilies, but the store didn’t have any.  They did have the  4 oz cans, but in a brand I wasn’t sure of.  Now, I’m not particularly picky when it comes to brand names, but I’ve had a few bad experiences with off-brand chilies.  So, with great hesitation, I got a 7 oz can of the Wal-Mart brand of chilies.  It worked fine, but I’d still prefer to have used the smaller can of the brand I’m familiar with.)

4-6 soft taco sized flour tortillas

that looks about right

Shredded cheese.  Growing up, we usually used mild cheddar, because that’s what we had in the fridge.  Here, I used colby jack.  How much? Yeah, no clue.  One of those things that, because I’ve never seen this recipe written down, I don’t know how much to tell you.  I will tell you this:  I love cheese.  My dad doesn’t, so I’ll use more cheese when I’m making this for myself than I would if I were making this for my family.

Okay, on to directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add meat (if you are using ground turkey, or some other low-fat meat, you’ll want to add a bit of oil to the pan first), onion and green chilies.  Stir constantly, until meat is browned and onions are clear. Add the can of soup to the meat mixture and blend throughly. In a line the bottom of a 9×9 baking dis with a layer of tortillas.  Now, tortillas are round, and the baking dish is square, and this can cause some issues.



I thought I got a picture of this next step, but apparently I didn’t.  Grrr.

Anyway, tortillas are easy to crease and tear, like paper.  So, take another tortilla, fold it into fourths, and tear it so that you’ve got nice little patches for the corner.  The bottom is the only layer that you need to worry about covering completely.

Spoon some of the meat mixture on top of the tortillas, spreading evenly.  You should use about a third of the mixture.


yum. And yeah, I have very little counter-space. The stove often pulls double-duty.

Next spread a generous amount of cheese over the meat mixture.  Or not, depending on who your making this for.

I had to restart my computer twice before I could upload this image. I hope it was worth it.

Next, tear a tortilla in half, and line up the torn edges with opposite sides of the pan.   If it’s not on the bottom, you don’t need to worry about covering the whole pan.

Continue layering the meat mixture, cheese and tortillas like a lasagna, until you’ve used up all of the meat.  I can usually get three layers.  You’ll want to alternate what side you put the straight edges of the tortillas on, to give your casserole added support.

I like to end with a layer of cheese on top of  the last tortillas.


Hmmm. Maybe I should have grated more cheese.

Put the casserole in your pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through.  Above is what it looks like before going into the oven, and below is what it looks like coming out of the oven:


Dinners ready!

And this is what it looks like after two little dogs got fed up with my not dropping food and decided that they needed to go for a walk, and I could come back in and actually sit down to eat:


Okay, so I'm not a food photographer, and the light in my kitchen is less than great. Still...are you curious, yet?

This casserole will serve about six, depending upon what you’re using as side dishes.

Taste wise, the chilies give a nice little kick, but not too much of one.  I’ve had people who only eat the extra-mild salsa rave about this dish.

Anyway, go, cook, enjoy!  And be grateful when you put your key into the ignition of your car and it actually starts up.

Rice Crispies and Turtles

Yesterday, I had a cacophony of bad smells descend on my house–and so, in order to escape, I loaded my two gassy dogs into the car, and drove to my sister’s house.

You know, the one with the 9-month-old who thinks he needs to exclusively eat grown-up food, and thus has very…interesting diapers.

They had been to the aquarium before I got there–I was slightly disappointed, because the aquarium had become the home of a sea turtle since the last time I’d been there.

I really did try to find a text version of that, but… oh well.

Anyway, I was so jealous, I went to the aquarium today, mostly to avoid washing all my clothes that had adsorbed all the bad smells from yesterday–that’s what Fabreeze is for, right?

And I have to say, I don’t think the weights are quite doing their job…

The red is a reflection from something outside the tank.

Anyway, before I went up to Salt Lake yesterday, I felt like I needed to bribe the B-I-L into letting me continue to come to his house, so I did my part to add to the weird smell in my house, by doing some experimenting in the kitchen–and had a resounding success, if I do say so myself.

So…I don’t really measure any of these ingredients, so they’re approximations.   That’s what I love about this recipe–you don’t need to be exact to get amazing results.

The best rice-crispy treats ever

okay, I’m not good at titles.

  • 1 c peanut butter
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1 Tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 5 c crisp rice cereal
  • 1 c trail mix (I bought a mix that had peanuts, almonds, raisins and m&m’s in bulk, and that’s what I used)
  • 3/4 c dried cherries
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine cereal, trail mix, cherries and chocolate chips.  Set aside.

In a heavy sauce pan, combine peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Heat over medium heat until everything has melted and blended together.  Carefully pour it into the bowl with the cereal mixture.   Mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased 9×9 pan, and press down firmly.  If desired, drizzle with melted chocolate.

Simple, right?  And they are so rich and decadent.  I love the combination of the dried fruit and chocolate–and I generally dislike mixing fruit and chocolate.

So, enjoy.  And go and check out the turtle at the aquarium.  But bring a child, because it was surprisingly boring without being able to talk to all the kids about the fish.

Fried Zucchini

It’s been one of those days when I’ve been busy, but unless you want to hear the details about cleaning bathrooms, I don’t have anything to post about.

However, Dad’s garden is continuing to produce bountifully, and for dinner tonight we had fried zucchini.  And fry sauce.  With watermelon for dessert.

So, I know there’s as many recipes for fried zucchini as there are people who fry zucchini, but I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with myself.  I don’t really know how to fry food–I don’t know what temperature the oil should be at, I don’t know what the consistency of the batter should be like, and I don’t know the best methods for putting the food into and taking it out of the oil.    This is probably a good thing.

Today’s fried zucchini is my very first attempt ever at deep fat frying something without someone looking over my shoulder.  And I’m happy with how it turned out:

Okay, the picture’s not that great, but you get the idea.

To make this, I took one large (and I mean ginormous) zucchini, and cut it into wedges.  The batter is 1 c plus a bit of flour, 1 c milk, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1 c milk.  I also put some Mrs. Dash in the batter, and used a wire whisk to mix it all up.

I heated the oil until dropping water in it made it spit and sputter, then I coated the zucchini in the batter.  I found the easiest way to do that was to put the wedges in the batter and stir them around.  I the fried them until they were golden and crispy.

I probably should have cut the zucchini a bit smaller, because some of the larger pieces weren’t done, but live and learn, right?

As for the fry sauce…if you don’t live in Mormon-dom (Utah, and parts of Idaho and Nevada) or have never visited a Mom-and-Pop fast food joint in that area, there’s a good chance you don’t know what you’re missing out on.  Fry sauce is simply a mixture of one part ketchup and two parts mayonnaise, and is quite frankly, delicious with all things fried.

Happy Canada Day!

So today is Canada Day, the day in which we celebrate our neighbor to the north.  Yay Canada!

I’m kidding, of course.  I know that Canada Day celebrates the forming of the Canadian government, effectively turning them into a sovereign state, rather than a British Colony.  And I didn’t have to ask Wikipedia about it or anything.

Having served my mission in Canada, I’ve tried to organize my friends and family to Canada Day celebrations every year since returning home.  Usually, with little success.  Today, I’ve celebrated by drinking the last of my Canada Dry ginger ale, making tortillas (I should have made bannock, but I didn’t think about it until after I was done.) and debating if it would be worth it to go grocery shopping to get the ingredients necessary to make that quintessential Canadian goodie, the Nanaimo bar.

My wallet and my waistline got together and boycotted the idea of Nanaimo bars, the spoil-sports.   But, as the only other thing I have to write about today would be the can of worms that I opened between family members, I thought I’d share a recipe for them, so you, dear readers, can make them yourselves.

This recipe comes from my Great Canadian Cookies, Bars, & Squares book–in fact, it’s the cover model for the book.  It’s also the best recipe for Nanaimo bars I’ve ever found.  You can find the original recipe on page 21 of the Google Book preview that I’ve just linked to.  But, if you don’t want to click and scroll, (lazy buggers) I’ve typed it out for you, using html and everything!

Queen of the Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer

1/2 c butter, softened

1/4 c sugar

5 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg, beaten

1 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs

1 c shredded coconut

1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Place the softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg in the top part in a glass or metal bowl. Place over boiling water and stir until the butter melts and the mixture resembles custard. In a separate bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and walnuts, blending well. Ad to the custard-like mixture. Press evenly into a greased 9×9 pan. Cool to set.

Middle Layer

1/4 c butter, softened
3 Tbsp Milk
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 c powdered sugar (or, if you’re in Canada, 2 c icing sugar)

Mix the butter, milk, custard powder and powdered sugar throughly, and spread over the cooled bottom layer

Top Layer

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp butter

Melt the chocolate with the butter. When it is cool but still liquid, pour and spread over the middle bar.

Chill the Nanaimo bars in the refrigerator, making sure that they are completely chilled before serving

The story goes that the original recipe for Nanaimo bars was published in a newspaper in Nanaimo, British Columbia.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, all I know is that we were served (usually boughten) Nanaimo bars at about half of the dinners we’d have with members.  I was told that they were difficult to make, and that’s why they usually came from a bakery.  I even purchased a box of Nanaimo bar mix from a Canadian import store, because I missed them, and remembered how difficult I was told they were.  Finally, I found a can of custard powder in the grocery store where I usually shopped at the time, and decided to try it for myself.

They take a lot of dishes to make, and a lot of steps, but they are fairly easy.  You even have time to wash the dishes between steps, so you don’t end up with a sink full dirty dishes.

So, enjoy these for your own Canada Day celebrations, or, seeing as I’m a slacker and didn’t get this online ’til almost 6pm local time, enjoy them tomorrow for, er, birthday celebrations for Canadian hockey player Jumbo Joe Thornton.

Best cookie/bar/treat things ever!

So, with E’s adoption being finalized yesterday, and his sealing on Saturday, my sister is in a state of panic.  There’s going to be a big party on Saturday to celebrate the sealing, and a lot more out-of-town relatives have RSVP’d than she was expecting–which means, food and preparation for more people.

In an effort to mitigate said panic, she asked me to come up today and help her get ready, so I’m spending the next few days at her house.  Even if my job is simply to keep G out of her hair, well, that’s a huge help I’m sure.

I’ve spent the last two and a half hours trying (with various degrees of success) to disassemble a beef loin.

With a less than sharp knife.

And only a vague idea of what I was doing.

Sis and I ended up with two bones the size of my little dogs, a big pile of skin and connective tissue, and one crock-pot roaster full of meat–when we were expecting to get two.  Not to mention aching feet, legs, back, shoulders and a face that wouldn’t stop itching just because my hands was covered in bits of raw beef.

The dogs will LOVE me tonight.

So, I’m too tired to come up with a topic, and haven’t had anything other than keeping Sis from killing G party preparations, I don’t have anything to write about. And it only took me 209 words to say so.

Maybe I’ve been reading too many cooking blogs, but I’ve decided that when I don’t have anything to write about, I can at least post a recipe.  These are for a treat that I made today for the party, and will probably make another batch before all is said and done.  The original recipe came from the Great Canadian Cookies, Bars and Squares book I’ve talked about before, but I’ve tweaked it from there.  (by the way, the recipe called “Charlotte’s Chocolate Squares” that you can see in the preview is my all time favorite rice crispy treat recipe.  So, this is a twofer.

So in the GCCBS book, the following recipe is called “Marie’s Treats” as I don’t know Marie (or any Marie for that matter.  A couple of AnneMarie’s, but no just Marie’s) I’m not sure I can call it that.  In fact, I don’t know what to call it.  Besides delicious.

Random Canadian Treat Recipe:

1 c butter (margarine will work, but it leaves a weird white film over the cookies.  The taste is the same, but they don’t look as good)

1 c brown sugar

graham crackers

chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Line a 9″ x12″ cookie sheet (1/4 sheet pan) with aluminum foil, shiny side down.  Lay graham crackers in a single layer over the aluminum foil.

In a heavy sauce pan, melt butter and sugar, stirring constantly.  When mixture comes to a rolling boil, pour and spread evenly over the graham crackers.

Bake for 6-8 minutes until done.  I hate when recipes say that, and I don’t know how to describe done-ness, but you should be able to tell.  It’s well after the graham crackers stop popping up and down. (if you can, this is a fun recipe to watch bake)

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let set for a minute to allow the chocolate to melt. Spread evenly.

Once the chocolate is spread, transfer to the freezer, and allow to freeze throughly.

Once the cookies are frozen, you can cut or break them apart–but be careful, the aluminum foil tends to stick to the back.

These taste better straight from the freezer, but are yummy any way you want to eat them!

A Taste of Childhood

I had every intention of going to church this morning.

But you know what they say about good intentions.

When I woke up, my hip had locked up on me, and I couldn’t move it.  I managed to hobble to the bathroom, and that loosened things up enough that I was able to hobble downstairs (and back up again) to take the dogs for a walk. I can move now, but I’m in a lot of pain–the kind that causes nausea, so I don’t want to take any painkillers that might further upset my stomach, and frankly, acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, doesn’t work for me so I don’t have any in the house.

Anyway, as I foresee a day mostly lying around the house, with lots of stretching, I really don’t have much to talk about.  So, in an effort to write a post with substance (not necessarily nutrition, but substance nonetheless) when I was in the kitchen making breakfast, I grabbed a cookbook with the idea of posting a recipe.  The cookbook in question was put out by CBC Radio, and is called Great Canadian Cookies, Bars and Squares.  The recipe that I intended to post is a variation on a lemon bar found in that book.  But, I found something even better.

I found a slip of yellow paper that had been tucked into the back of the book without my knowledge.  On it, my dad had written his favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. The fact that it’s in his handwriting, not mine or my mom’s just makes me smile.  So that’s what I’m going to share with you today.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 cup soft butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup boiling water

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups quick oats

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together, add the eggs and blend them in.  Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and stir into the butter/sugar mixture.  Add vanilla, then dry ingredients and chips.  Drop small balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12  minutes at 350°

Having typed that out, it seemed strange to me that there wasn’t any white sugar.  I seem to recall using white sugar to make these cookies, but we always made a double batch, so it’s possible that we would use one cup of brown sugar and one cup of white sugar for the double batch.  I looked at Recipezaar,  and the proportion of sugar and flour seem to be the same as other oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipes I could find…but I’d still appreciate if someone with access to the original recipe could check that for me.

Anyway, enjoy this little taste of my childhood.  If you need me, I’ll be in the corner whimpering in pain.

Tortillas and family history

I have conquered the flatbread!

Well, kind of.

Okay, a few months back Cari over at Life at #71 posted a recipe for pita from scratch.  I like pita bread, I like baking, and I like trying new things in the kitchen, so I gave it a go.  Three times.  I couldn’t make it work (although, the finished product that I came up with did make a wonderful pizza crust, with a bit of spaghetti sauce and cheese, then put put into the toaster oven until everything melted).

I decided that I was flat-bread deficient.  Then I got to thinking.  I don’t have any Mediterranean/Middle Eastern ancestors (that I know of), but my Great-Grandfather was born in Mexico. (His ancestors all came from England and Denmark, but dangit, he was Mexican!) So maybe I’d have better luck with tortillas.

I found a few recipes online, but mixing the fat in scared me a little bit.  I don’t know why, I have a pastry cutter, and don’t have any problems making shortbread or piecrust or the like, but yeah, I was a little intimidated.

While grocery shopping the other day, I found myself where the baking supplies meets the ethnic food isle, and saw this:

I know enough Spanish to know that “simplemente agrea aqua” means “just add water”  I didn’t look for the English instructions at all.  Yeah.

I made some last night, and they were easy and tasty, especially with my sister’s barbacoa pork recipe that mimics that of a popular local Mexican restaurant.

I have enough confidence now in my tortilla-making abilities that I’ll use the rest of the mix, then try them from scratch.

As for the family history–

I knew about this great-grandfather who was born in Mexico, but I wasn’t sure if he was great-grandfather or great-great grandfather, so I looked it up.  I clicked back a few generations to make sure I knew what I was talking about, and discovered a mystery.

My Mexican great-grandfather, one Johnathan Pratt Nelson, had a grandfather named Claybourne Montgomery Elder, who died and is buried in the tiny Central Utah town that my mom’s ancestors settled–the town where I lived until I was 8, and I’m related to almost every single resident of that town.

Now, here’s the mystery.  Claybourne’s wife died in Southeastern Utah in 1905.  Claybourne died in Leamington in 1912, at the age of 85.  Elder is not a Leamington name, so I don’t know why he went there, or when, though I think it’s safe to assume that it was sometime after 1905.

This is a mystery that I’d like to solve, and I guess that I have enough connections to Leamington that I could probably do it.

Honestly, this is the first family story that I’m interested in learning about.  I like to know the dates and places, and imagine what my ancestors lives were like, but haven’t really given much thought to finding out the stories.

But now, I need to know.

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