Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Edible Meals in Under One Day

That would be the title of the cookbook I would write. Y'know, kind of like 30 Minute Meals, or Meals That Melt in Your Mouth, except lower your expectations. WAY down. As many of you know, I am a self-professed foodie. If there is an exquisite food out there - I want to taste it. If there is down-home cookin' going on somewhere - invite me. If there is some up and coming thing having to do with food - waffles with fried chicken, chocolate covered berries that prevent cancer, hummus at Costco - lead me to the free samples.

This desire to taste great food does not extend to my own kitchen. No. My requirements for meals in this house are: 1. Can I spell and pronounce all the needed ingredients? 2. If I am sure I can say and spell the ingredients, do I know what the ingredients are? 3. Can the ingredients be purchased at a normal grocery store? 4. Are there less than three steps involved in the recipe? 5. Will the total cost of the meal for six be less than an airline ticket? 6. Can I reasonably make the meal (that means in under one day - that's usually what "30 minutes" translates to in this house) while: breastfeeding (well not anymore but earlier that was definitely a requirement), tending to hurt kids, supervising homework, running outside at various times during meal prep for various reasons, answering to five people, looking for something my husband has misplaced, waiting on hold with AT&T, and anything else that might come up between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.? 7. Will four people under the age of nine be willing to taste it? and the last and possibly most important requirement 8. Will I be able to see my kitchen under the mess after the meal has been made and consumed (always in about a third of the time it has taken to prepare the meal, by the way)?

If the recipe does not meet the requirements, or even if I don't think it does I will glance at it and think, "Hmm. That sounds really good. I'll have to make that......................When I'm SIXTY."

So, as any good friend would I am here to give you three take aways (call me Oprah) today. I am going to give you three recipes that are super simple and that will make you believe you are a Mexican. They are - quite simply - cheese enchiladas, Mexican beans, and - hold on to your hats - Mexican rice. People always ask me for these recipes. No, I am not being sarcastic here. And since it takes me, oh, about...........never...............to send the recipes their way (mainly because this will be the first time ever I have written these down) - I am just going to send my friends to this post. So, if you didn't ask for these recipes, consider this a BONUS for reading. You can thank me later. ;o) And I will now be able to refer my kids to this post later on this week when I make them do all the cooking.

Monica's Cheesy Enchiladas Estilo Rapido

About 24 corn tortillas - don't go cheap on these get some nice fresh pliable ones
Two cans of red enchilada sauce - do not spend more than 30 seconds deciding which one - just grab one - if you don't like it try a different one next time
Lots of grated cheddar cheese - about 2 - 3 bags of pre-grated cheese or one dinner plate full if you are grating it
Lots of oil

One 9 x 13 pan
One oven - preheated to 350

You are going to get messy, so make sure you have your answering machine on, cell phone off, etc. You are not going to want to stop to chit-chat - only for blood or protruding bones. Take all the tortillas out of the package (to avoid getting anything messy later). Place them on a plate. Have your grated cheese accessible. Spray your 9 x 13 pan with Pam Place a tortilla in a small frying pan with about 1/4 inch of warm (but not super hot) oil. When the tortilla is pliable take it out and put it on a paper towel lined large platter. You can do this step to all your tortillas occasionally getting more paper towels (you do want any excess grease).

When you have your pile of lightly greased tortillas, you need to dip them all in the warmed enchilada sauce. The best way I have found to do this is to put the sauce into a pie plate and put the pie plate on the burner on low. Take care not to burn your fingers. Shake excess sauce off the tortillas before stacking the now sauced tortillas.

Now you are ready to roll and place the enchiladas. Take each fried, sauced tortilla and fill it with enough cheese to taste - not too much to not be able to roll tightly. Roll it tightly and stick it in the pan. As you roll each tortilla and place it in the pan - push it tightly up against the previous one so that you are not wasting space and getting them nice and close in the pan. Keep this up until you have filled the pan (you may need to put some going the other way on the edges because the tortillas do not extend all the way to the edges.) Pour any left over sauce over the top. Sprinkle some cheese over the top as well.

Cover with aluminum foil and pop in the over for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

There are many, many variations on this recipe to include - meat, chicken, onions, grated and fried zucchini, olives, sour cream, etc., etc. My kids like straight up cheese. I, of course, am open to trying anything new.

Monica's Pot Beans

6 cups of pinto beans
3 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno
chili powder

Rinse the six cups of beans well. Pour into a large pot (not a stock pot). Add water to cover the beans and then about one additional inch. Bring this water to a roaring boil. Pour the water out and put in clean water. Add a little more this time (to about half an inch below the top of the pot). And three cloves of garlic (whole cloves - they will cook down and virtually dissolve. If you are not re frying the beans you may want to remove them later), the jalapeno, enough cumin to cover the top of the pan (about 1-2 tablespoons), and enough chili powder to cover the top of the pan. Bring this to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for at least two hours (depending on your "simmer" it could be more - till the beans are tender) - but up to eight hours. The longer the better. I like to put the pot on in the morning and cook them until dinner. You will have to add a little more water so that the beans do not burn and to keep the water level about a half an inch from the top of the pan. 30 minutes before you are planning on eating the beans or frying them - add about 3 teaspoons of salt (or salt to taste). There are two very important things to remember when making beans 1. There is NOTHING worse than the smell of burned beans. Your family will hate you. 2. DO NOT put beans in the refrigerator when they are still even WARM to the touch. LET THEM COMPLETELY COOL. There is only one thing worse than the smell of burned beans - the smell of rancid beans because you put them away warm. Your family will hate you. To re fry beans: Heat oil (don't be shy here - you want enough to be able to taste it - about one tablespoon for a small pan) to medium hot (when water will sizzle on it). Pour beans in and use a grease catcher on top (or back away quickly or you will get burned). Let the beans simmer in the grease for about five minutes. Smash them with a potato smasher. Serve hot.

Monica's (well not really mine) Mexican Rice

1 cup of rice
2 cups and just a splash more of water or chicken stock
If using water you will need a chicken bouillon cube
1/2 can of tomato sauce
chili powder
one minced clove of garlic or garlic powder

Heat some oil in a pan (not too much - about one shy tablespoon). Lightly fry the rice. Do not let it burn or get brown - keep stirring it. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle on your spices - enough to color the rice (about three pinches of cumin and chili powder and a good sprinkling of garlic powder or your minced clove) and turn the heat back up to medium high. As soon as your spices are mixed, pour in your tomato sauce. No need to measure - just guess a half a can (the small can). It should be hot enough at this point to sizzle. Mix the sauce in so that it is all incorporated. Then immediately pour your water or chicken stock. Turn the heat up to high. Stir it all so that it is blended nicely and the rice lays EVENLY in the pan. When it boils, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium (it should still be bubbling LIGHTLY). Set the timer for 20 minutes. Resist the temptation to remove the cover until the timer rings. When the timer rings, turn off the heat and leave it covered for about another five minutes.

The woman who gave me this fool-proof recipe (if it doesn't come out the first time - adjust the liquid slightly or spices - and KEEP TRYING) said not to make it when you are sad. The rice will be hard. ;o)

As always - Happy eating!

1 comment:

a pair of pettijohns said...

i smell mexican night at the cracker's house! :) GREAT recipes!! we can't wait to eat these in remembrance of y'all!