Thursday, August 27, 2015

Green Chile Casserole

Over the past few years, I've backed off a bit on the pressure I place on myself to cook the most optimally healthy food I can. The operative word is is 'can'. What I 'can' do now as a full-time working wife and mom with a stressful and tiring job is vastly different from what I was able to do when I was a full-time mom with a small child.

Back then my kitchen resembled a laboratory with jars of fermenting vegetables and drinks everywhere. Surfaces were taken up with sprouting seeds, soaking grains and dehydrating fruits and vegetables. My oven worked overnight making bone broth or yogurt. We drove long distances to buy raw milk and butter. Everything I could make from scratch, I did and my fondest wish was for a wheat grinder so that I could grind my own sprouted wheat.

There is no way I could do all that now. I make no apologies and have no guilt. I do the best that I am able with the time and energy I have, and if a few 'convenience foods' creep in now and then, there are definitely worse things. Much worse things. It doesn't mean I throw up my hands and we eat 'junk' all the time now - doing the best I can means just that.

This is one of the recipes that has moved into our rotation that includes some of those convenience foods - boxed cream of chicken soup and purchased corn tortillas - both things I would have made myself in the past. My family loves it. It's creamy and comforting, and so easy it's now my youngest son's favorite meal to prepare himself. We've tweaked it to suit our tastes, which means fewer tortillas and additional beef and chilies. Freshly roasted green chilies are everywhere this time of the year where I live, but if you can't get them, you can use canned.

Green Chile Casserole

1 box (or can) cream of chicken soup
1/2 pound each grated monterey jack and mild cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced green chilies
6- 8 corn tortillas, cut in half

Combine the soup, milk, cheese and chilies in a saucepan, reserving some cheese for the top.  Heat until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, brown the ground beef. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until the onion is soft. Add the salt.

Cook tortillas slightly in coconut oil, lard or beef fat until softened, but not hard. Layer half of the tortillas, cut side out,  in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Top with 1/2 the meat mixture and 1/2 the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle on remaining grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

'Crazy' Chocolate Cake

This was the very first cake I made on my own when I was a kid. Since then I've baked a lot of chocolate cakes - most of them fancier and more complicated (especially after watching an episode of Bake Off ). They haven't really been better, and they've definitely not been easier.

I've seen it by various other names, we always called it crazy. The only change I made from the original recipe I used as a child is that I use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil, and I cut the amount of soda since I now live at high altitude. 

The icing recipe is the same one my grandmother used. It's very much like old fashioned fudge (back before marshmallow fudge took over). I cook it a little longer than I used to, again, because of the altitude. My mother used to beat it over a pan of ice water to thicken it to frosting consistency, but I pour it on warm, so that some of the icing will soak into the cake before it cools. 

Crazy Chocolate Cake  

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 cup water

Blend dry ingredients in a 9x9 inch square baking pan. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Blend with a fork.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to  40 minutes

Chocolate Icing

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

Mix sugar, water and cocoa in a medium saucepan (it will bubble up quite high when it boils). 

Bring to a boil and cook without stirring for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Beat until thick.