Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I have a confession.  I am TERRIBLE at following recipes.  I know that they are written down with the intent to be followed precisely...but that's just not how I cook.  For starters, I rarely manage to have all the ingredients, because even though I meal plan weekly, I tend to forget to check each recipe beforehand to make sure I have all the ingredients.  When I'm doing my dinnertime prep during naptime...I always find that I'm missing some ingredient...and I just veer off the beaten path at that point, resulting in my own "creation".

For example, tonight I wanted to make a yummy chicken enchilada casserole recipe from Pintrest.  Only, I forgot to write the recipe down and I don't have computer access until Justin gets home around 6:30 or 7:00.  Plus, we were out of chicken.  So, at 3:00 when I started to make dinner, I realized I had to wing it completely...yet again.  To my credit, I did remember to start soaking the black beans before I went to bed last night.  Anyways, this is what I came up with and it turned out to be a home run in our house.  Even Jackson cleaned his plate!

Enchillada "Inspired" Casserole

1/2 cp dried black beans or 1 can black beans
1 cp uncooked rice
1 lb ground beef 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 cp chopped fresh cilantro
1 small can diced olives
4-6 flour tortillas
1 1/2 - 2 cps diced tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cp flour
3 tsp cumin
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp granulated garlic
2 cps shredded cheddar cheese

The night before, rinse dried beans, place in pot, and cover with water.  About 2 hours prior to starting dinner, rinse beans, cover with 2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Bring 2 cps of water to a boil.  Add rice.  Reduce heat to low.  Cook covered for 15 minutes.  When finished, add chopped cilantro and beans.  Stir to combine.

Heat a large skillet, add oil, saute onions.  Add ground beef.  Saute until beef is cooked.  Add half of the cumin, chili powder, and garlic.

Puree tomatoes.  Add other half of spices to the flour.  Stir into the tomatoes.  Cook over medium heat until "sauce" thickens.

In a deep casserole dish, place a small amount of sauce and meat - just enough to cover bottom.  Cover with a layer flour tortillas.  Next, layer half of remaining meat, rice/bean mixture, half of remaining sauce, half of olives, remainder of meat, and half of the cheese.  Top with another layer of tortillas, the rest of sauce, cheese, and olives. 

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

I think that's what I did.  I hope so, because it was good and I'd like to recreate it in the future.  Also, I hope the directions/ingredients are complete in case anyone else tries to make it!  You may have to play with the amount of spices...I tend to forget to actually measure those.  I like to just dump things in and go by taste.  I'm still learning how to cook without using any processed ingredients.  If anyone has a great flour tortilla recipe, please pass it along.  This is currently the only "bread" product that I haven't tried to tackle homemade and I really want to! 

 No before picture, but here's what was left. 

In other news around here, we have begun to celebrate fall.  I LOVE FALL.  The kids get excited about all the pumpkins and gourds.  We all enjoy the cooler weather.  Here are a few pictures of our fall "decor".  The homeschool program we are following focuses on nature, so it really plays into the new decorations.

 Pintrest inspired candle holders.  I didn't have any of the cute tealights, like in the picture online.  But I did have plenty of large candles.  It's not quite as cute, but it works.  Up until this point we were using our Christmas candle holders...so at least we're in the right season.
 Pumpkins - some fake, some real.
Tiger stripe pumpkins (the kids love the name), mini pumpkins, and gourds.  These are on the coffee table.  The kids love sorting and observing them.  I love it when something so natural and simple is so engaging to them.

We also have our homegrown snake gourds and "once upon a blue moon" pumpkin on our front stoop, but I forgot to take a picture of that before the weather turned nasty.  I'll make sure I post a picture next time...or when I remember!