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.

'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. 


We've been on a bit of a crepe-fest around here. I'm not sure what prompted it, but possibly it was just that I found a recipe that was simple and never failed. It's so good, in fact, that the teenager in the house used the recipe to make a 20 layer crepe cake for a French class assignment with no help from me.

Our usual fillings are much less grand. Fresh squeezed lemon juice and sugar is the most frequent, with Nutella and strawberries a close second, although recently we combined the two with lemon curd and strawberries.

The original recipe came from Paper and Ink. The only alteration we make is to reduce the amount of sugar and vanilla. Maybe it's my vanilla, but I felt it was too strong, and with so many of our fillings being very sweet, having the crepes a little less sweet gave a better balance. I leave both vanilla and sugar out for savory crepes

Basic Crepes

1 c flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 T sugar
1 1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla
3 eggs
3 T melted butter

Sift together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together the milk, vanilla and eggs. Gradually whisk the milk/egg mixture into the dry ingredients blending thoroughly to eliminate lumps. Whisk in the melted butter. If possible, allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes.

Heat a crepe pan or 12-inch nonstick skillet to medium. Lightly coat it with butter. About 1/3 cup batter and quickly swirl to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the underside is golden brown - about 2 minutes. Loosen the edge with a spatula, flip the crepe and cook another minute. Repeat until the batter is used up, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

This dessert combines some of my favorite things - it's smooth and creamy, very chocolate-y and super quick and easy. 

Chocolate Panna Cotta

1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 Tbs Sugar (adjust depending on your taste or the sweetness of your chocolate)
2 oz finely chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
dash of salt

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cream, and leave to stand until softened - about 10 minutes. 

Pour the remaining 1 1/2 cup cream into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Heat slowly until it just reaches the boiling point. 

Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and add the gelatin mixture. Heat gently until it is completely dissolved. 

Pour into ramekins or stemmed glasses. Chill several hours or until set.