Enchilada Casserole

November 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm (reading, recipes)

This has become one of our favorites, to the point where I always keep enough ground turkey, enchilada sauce, and beans on hand to make it any time I don’t know what else to make for dinner. 🙂 This is courtesy of one of my former coworkers, Michelle, so I don’t know if she made it up or got it out of a cookbook.

Enchilada Casserole
~1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 can black or pinto beans
enchilada sauce (you’ll use about 1/4 of the big can)
cheese, grated, approximately 2-3 cups (I like to combine cheddar and mozzarella)
small corn tortillas

Brown the meat, drain, and set aside. Drain beans, and set aside. Pour a layer of sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, then line with corn tortillas (my 9 x 13 pan works best if i cut the tortillas in half.) Try to get them as close together as possible, even overlapping, because it makes cutting/serving much easier! On top of the tortillas, put about 1/2 of the browned meat, 1/2 of the beans, and 1/3 of the cheese. Pour a little more sauce on, then add another layer of corn tortillas (again, it works best for me when they’re cut in half.) Add the rest of the meat, the rest of the beans, 1/3 of the cheese, and some more sauce. Add a final layer of tortillas, and top with sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly inside.

The wonder of this recipe is its versatility – don’t have ground beef or turkey? Use chopped or shredded cooked chicken. Like it really juicy, like an enchilada? Pour on more sauce. Like it really cheesy? Add more cheese. Want some vegetables? Add peppers, olives, onions, etc… You get the idea. I’ve never been a strict recipe follower, so ideas like this are perfect for me. I can play around with it however I like. And, it freezes SO well! A 9 x 13 is enough for Tyler and I to each have seconds, and then have four servings left over. (So I’m going to guess that if you have 4 people, you can probably polish off a pan!)

BBC Book List update: I have checked out The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe… hoping to start reading this weekend. Really wondering if I’ll like them – I like CS Lewis’s nonfiction writing style, but I am not a fan of fantasy nor scriptural allegory most of the time. But I’m giving it a shot – I’m tired of people’s shocked expressions when they find out I haven’t read Chronicles of Narnia. 🙂

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New goal: BBC’s 100 books list

November 19, 2010 at 11:22 pm (random, reading)

So in 2003 the BBC asked readers to nominate the top 100 novels that everyone should read. It’s an interesting list… you can read all 100 here. Because it’s chosen by readers some are popular, not exactly chosen for their literary merit. However, I haven’t read all 100, so I think that’s my goal for this next year: read/blog about the books below that I still need to read…

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (I’ve read the first two. They’re not my favorites so we’ll see if that counts or if I read the rest.)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (Heard him speak in Oxford. He’s very interesting.)
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I have no idea how many I’m missing… but I know I’m missing some.)
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (I think I’ve read this but not sure. Will revisit and confirm.)
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (in progress: finished Magician’s Nephew on 1/30/2011, Prince Caspian on 2/14/2011, The Horse and His Boy on 2/26/2011)
34 Emma -Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis (repeat… cheaters.) DONE!
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (I started this book and HATED IT. I might try again.)
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (Also started and didn’t like. Will try again.)
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I’ve read some Holmes books… but I can’t remember which ones.)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Whew. Long list. Not even going to count, I think that’d be too overwhelming.

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Hello again…

November 11, 2010 at 8:22 pm (random, recipes)

My dear friend Bethany has been telling me I should start a blog… I actually already have one… and have had this little blog since I studied abroad in Oxford in Sept-Dec 2007… but as you can see, I don’t do much with it anymore. Heck, I didn’t do much with it then.

But, my life has changed since college. College friends have moved away, and as I approach graduation in April with my teaching credential, we’re thinking about leaving too. A blog is a good way to keep in touch… so let’s see if I can be better about this. 🙂

To start off, I made this a few weeks ago for dinner after a rave review by a coworker:

Creamy Herbed Pasta
Ingredients
4 cups pasta (I used the spirals. I recommend something with a shape to catch the sauce.)
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1/2 of an 8-ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) low-fat cottage cheese
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry white wine or milk

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a heavy medium saucepan cook basil and
garlic in hot oil about 30 seconds. Reduce heat. Add cream cheese,
cottage cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Cook and stir until nearly smooth.
Stir in milk, parsley, and salt until combined; add wine. Bring to a
gentle boil; reduce heat. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes until slightly
thickened. Serve sauce over hot pasta. Makes 4 servings.

My notes: I didn’t have fresh basil. Boo. It would have been better with it. I also didn’t have parsley, at all, so I skipped that. I also used dried Parmesan and milk instead of fresh Parmesan and wine. All in all, I highly recommend this recipe… it was pretty simple, it tasted good, and we ate almost all of it. This comes from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook originally.

Enjoy! 🙂

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