Tortilla Pie

July 17th, 2012

I plan to continue my travel posts but decided to intersperse them with some recipes.  For you see, I am on a  mission.  We have a very busy Summer and Fall happening at the lake.  We have lots of company coming, including our large family for the Labor Day Weekend.  I am researching recipes that can be done ahead of time, can be frozen, are good in the crock pot, and just generally easy for me to prepare.  I am trying to eliminate chaos in the kitchen so that I can enjoy being with our guests as much as possible.

For an example, every Labor Day my DIL and I make BLTs for lunch.  When you have 14 plus people to feed that is a lot of bacon to fry, bread to toast and assembly to do.  This year I am making a big crock pot full of  pulled chicken with barbecue sauce.  Everyone can help themselves.  I will warm some buns and put out coleslaw and chips.  The  test chicken is in the crock pot right now.  I will post the recipe if it is a winner.

Another blogger is cooking for guests.  Mary of One Perfect Bite is visiting with her family which includes children.  This whole month she is featuring kid friendly, easy recipes to feed a crowd.  I have been following closely.  Mary always post great recipes.  This tortilla pie she featured on her blog is a winner.

This would make a great entree for the family coming with our Son and DIL later in September.  I can make several versions of the pie and pop them in the freezer.    This version is great with ground sirloin, corn, baby spinach and Monterey Jack cheese.   The Mom in the family is a vegetarian so I will make one of them with black beans instead of meat.   Served with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese and lettuce it will be easy to get on the table after a busy day on the lake.

Thanks for a great recipe Mary.

TORTILLA PIE (From One Perfect Bite inspired by Martha Stewart)

4 four tortillas (10-inch)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pan
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef sirloin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 package (10 ounce) frozen corn kernels (shoepeg corn if possible)
1- 6 ounce package fresh baby spinach, torn into pieces
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan (use bottom of the pan as a guide).  For some reason my tortillas fit perfectly in the pan without trimming.  Lightly oil bottom and sides of pan.  Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, cumin, and red pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.  Raise heat to medium-high; add beef and garlic.  Cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until no longer pink, 4 to 6 minutes.  Add corn and spinach; stir until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes.

3. Place one tortilla in the prepared pan.  Spreading evenly, top with 1 1/2 packed cups beef mixture, then 1/2 cup cheese.  Repeat with two more layers.  Top with last tortilla, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

4.  Bake pie until top is lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.  Run knife around edge of pan; remove sides.  Using two wide metal spatulas, lift pie from bottom of pan, and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into wedges.  If desired, serve with cilantro and sour cream.  Yield 4 to 5 servings.

Printable recipe

Albondigas Soup

December 12th, 2011

I have been on a quest for new soup ideas this Fall and Winter.  I did a Spanish Cocido here and a Tortilla Soup here.  Now I have tried an Albondigas soup.  It is a Mexican meatball soup.  Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish.  The meatballs can be made from  ground beef alone, a combination of ground beef and chorizo sausage, or in this case, ground beef and ground pork.   They have cooked rice and bread in them to stretch the portions.  According to some sources fresh mint is a necessary flavor in the soup.  The broth is made from chicken stock flavored with vegetables such as carrots, onions, zucchini and tomatoes.  It is a very satisfying combination.

Speaking of vegetables,  I am so happy to be in Florida right now.  I went to the Flagler Beach Farmers’ Market last Friday.  Here are some of the images.

Colorful Peppers.

Local Farmers.

Red Bell Peppers priced at 2 for $1.00.  I spent $10.00 total and came home with 2 peppers, 5 ears of corn, 1 head of lettuce, 1 pound of green beans, an acorn squash, 3 tomatoes, 2 zucchinis, 5 limes and 2 lemons. 

You can add any vegetables that you have to this soup, but in this case, I followed the recipe from My Recipes for Grandma Salazar’s Albondigas Soup.  My fennel breadsticks went very well with it.


1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup short-grain rice
Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion, divided
1 1/4 cup white bread crumbed
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 tespoon salt
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound ground sirloin
2 large egg whites (or 1 whole egg)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped seeded peeled tomato (or canned tomatoes, chopped)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth  ( I used more )
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pour water over rice, and let stand 20 minutes.  Drain.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add 1/2 cup onion to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse until couarse crumbs form.  Measure out 1 1/4 cups.  Combine rice, cooked onion, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup cilantro, oregano, and next 5 ingredients, stirring well.  Shape mixture into 29 (1 inch) meatballs.  Chill 20 minutes.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add 10 meatballs, and cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove meatballs from pan; drain well on paper towels.  Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel.  Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining meatballs.  Return pan to heat.  Coat with cooking spray.  Add 1 1/2 cups onion, carrot and garlic to pan; saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Stir in tomato and broth, bring mixture to a boil.  Add meatballs and mint to pan.  Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes.  Add zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan.  Cook 10 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro.

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Tortilla Meatball Soup

November 2nd, 2011

There are so many variations on tortilla soup.  In my opinion you can’t  go wrong with any of them.  Tortilla soup is warming both in temperature and in taste.  Jalapeno peppers give it just the right heat and the garlic infused broth adds pleasure for the soul.  With the addition of flavorful meatballs to the soup, you will gild the lily of satisfaction.

Sometime I want to do a series of posts on what you can do with a pound of hamburger.  That is just what Cooking Light Magazine has done in it’s latest issue.  One of the recipes featured was this tortilla meatball soup, which I have adapted.  A Summer and Fall of overindulgences have brought us to the realization that we need to temper our calorie intake.  This soup is full of flavor and I have discovered that, for us, flavor trumps richness every time.  Eating lighter fare does not have to be a sacrifice.

There are several steps involved in making this soup, but all of them add to the depth of flavor.  This is a good soup to make on a lazy weekend afternoon.


2 jalapeno peppers
1 red bell pepper
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch strips
Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/3 cup panko crumbs
1 pound ground round
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cups cubed red potatoes
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preheat broiler.

Cut jalapenos and bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes.  Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until blackened.  Place peppers in a paper bag; fold to seal.  Let stand 15 minutes; peel.  Mince jalapenos, and coarsely chop bell pepper.

Place tortlla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat with cooking spray.  Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown.  Watch closely so the strips do not burn.  Set aside.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove, panko, ground round, egg and minced chipotle chile in a large bowl, and gently mix until just combines.  Shape the meat mixture into small meatballs.  I ended up with 28.

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add meatballs to pan; saute for 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.  Remove from pan.  Add onion, potatoes, and carrot to pan; saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add peppers, broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally.  Return meatballs to pan.  Add remaining salt and the corn; return to a simmer.  Cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done.  Ladle soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with cheese, cilantro and tortilla strips.  380 Calories.

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My new website is under construction.  I plan to launch it on the third anniversary of my blog in January.  Here is a sneak peak.

I am so excited.  It will be a collaborative effort of my talented Son and Daughter-In-Law.  Check out Kristen’s business blog here.

Mexican Casserole

August 27th, 2011

It was a good idea.  I was looking for an easy to assemble casserole that was tasty and would feed a crowd.  This may be that very thing, but you see, sometimes I can’t leave a recipe alone.  The recipe was on Epicurious.  It was called  My Favorite Mexican Casserole.  It won a blue ribbon from Parade Magazine.  It is made from shredded cooked chicken ( a chance to use a rotisserie chicken ), canned kidney beans, garbanzo beans and corn.  It uses crushed tortilla chips instead of corn tortillas.

I made some good changes to the recipe.  I used frozen corn instead of canned corn.  I used black beans instead of garbanzo beans.  For the final layer I mixed crushed tortilla chips with the last of the cheeses.  But my big mistake was using two layers of corn tortillas where there was no call for them.  It made the casserole too dry.  The only tortilla chips called for were a layer on the bottom.

I will give you the recipe as written and if anyone tries it without messing with it, I would like to know about it.  Not everything we make can be a success.  Now I have to figure out what to do with this huge casserole when there are only the two of us to eat it.


1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 pound shredded cooked chicken meat (from a small roasted chicken)
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 1/4 ounces) corn kernels, drained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce (I used enchilada sauce)
1 cup prepared salsa
1 cup chopped red onion
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
6 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese

2 cups diced (1/4-inch) ripe tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish, then scatter the crushed tortilla chips evenly on the bottom.

2. Combine the chicken, beans, corn, tomato sauce, salsa, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place half the mixture evenly in the baking dish. Combine the cheeses, then sprinkle half over the mixture.

3. Cover with the remaining half of the chicken-and-bean mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

4. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the garnishes in bowls, so guests can top their portions with diced tomatoes, sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Foster’s Market and a Cinco de Mayo Casserole

May 3rd, 2011

Sara Foster has two markets in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina.  The area includes Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The Research Triangle Complex.  So much happens in this incubator of thought, science, software and medical research.  The people drawn to this part of North Carolina are highly educated, enviromentally aware and demanding about what they eat.  It was the perfect place for Sara Foster to open her food emporiums.  Sara worked for Martha Stewart in the early years of her career and long ago branched out into her own style.  She has written several cookbooks and is recognized for her approach to cooking which involves simple honest food prepared with local  and seasonal ingredients.  Her cookbooks inspire me.

Over the Easter holiday we traveled to the coastal area of North Carolina.  While skirting Chapel Hill I suggested to David that we stop at Foster’s Market for lunch.  OK this is something that you need to know about me.  I take any and every opportunity to experience an interesting meal.  Forget the fast food joints;  I want “an experience” of unique eats.  Why waste your time on mediocre meals?  So we got off of Interstate 40 and proceeded to Foster’s Market.  It is not far, but our GPS gets confused.  I hate my “Betty” sometimes.  I thing she is trying to land us in a dump or no man’s land.  Right before we arrived at  the restaurant on the left of Martin Luther King Blvd, Betty sent us to the right through a winding neighborhood and landed us back on the right street to turn back to the left for a few yards.  Evil Betty!  That’s why my next picture is crooked.  I was upset.

The Chapel Hill branch of Foster’s Market is not as funky as the Durham restaurant, but is set up in the same manner.  Orders are placed in front of a display case of delicious looking salads.  You have your choice of interesting sandwiches, soups and salads.  There is also a bakery, shelves of jams and mixes, and a wine section.  One of the unique offerings of the restaurant is a weekly dinner offering for take out.  You sign up by Friday of the week before and on Monday you can pick up dinner for 5 nights, all packaged and ready to heat in the oven.  Check it out here.  Many of the current offerings are from Sara’s new cookbook Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen.  Click here to view all of her cookbooks.

We had the soup and sandwich combination featuring pork and black bean soup with a ham and cheese panini.  I didn’t get a good picture of our food but this is what the market looks like on the inside.

In honor of the upcoming Cinco de Mayo holiday, I made Sara Foster’s Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie with Chicken and Chili Mashed Potatoes.  It is in her Foster’s Market Cookbook.   If you are short on time you can use a rotisserie chicken.  There is a little heat to it, but not much.  It is an interesting take on shepherd’s pie and we loved it.  It was both homey and satisfying.


3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 red onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups shredded cooked, chicken
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn (1 cup fresh or frozen corn)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mashed potatoes made from 6 large Russet potatoes
2 teaspoons chili powder
Fresh parsley and fresh thyme, to garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the celery, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper and cook 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour starts to brown slightly, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken and wine and stir until the wine begins to evaporate, about 1 minute.  Slowly add the chicken broth, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.  Reduce heat to low, bring the mixture to a low boil, and cook 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and is creamy.

Remove from the heat and add the parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, and corn.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

To make the chili mashed potatoes,  Mix basic mashed potatoes with 1 teaspoon of the chili powder in a bowl until well combined.

Spoon the chili mashed potatoes on top of the chicken and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the potato peaks are slightly brown and the chicken mixture is bubbling around the sides of the dish.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining chili powder and the parsley and thyme, if desired.  Serve immediately.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.