It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Black bean enchilada bake

This one can be as basic or as fancied-up as you wish. I had a recipe once, no idea where I got it any more, but I’ve made it so many times I no longer use the recipe. Instead, I think in terms of component parts, and go from there.

I’ll give you the parts, I’ll suggest variations, and you can take it from there! Obviously, the ingredients will vary enormously depending on how you decide to whip it up. I’ll give you a basic list.

This is a layered dish, containing:

the tortilla layer
the protein layer
the veggie/sauce layer — this is the layer where you can really go to town, if you’re so inclined.
grated cheese on top


Tortilla layers: 3 large tortillas

Protein layer:
black beans (I like to smoosh these a bit. It’s strictly a texture thing. If you don’t mind eating little round smooth things, no smooshing required.)
tofu (I use extra-firm, crumbled)
Any combination of the above, totaling a cup, to a cup and a half. I rarely use hamburger, but when I do, never more than 200 grams. (A bit less than half a pound.)

I rarely use hamburger because I’m mostly vegetarian by inclination, and because you have to brown the meat first, which adds an extra step, and an extra pan to clean! Seems I’m lazy by inclination, too…

Veggie/Sauce layer:
2 onions, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced thin
Sautee the vegetables until soft.

Now, this is the very, very basic ingredient list, and me, I never stop there. You can add anything here, just keep them thinly sliced or finely diced. I’ve used mushrooms, diced (previously cooked) carrots, grated fresh carrots, zucchini, eggplant, squash, finely chopped kale… Really. Whatever you like!

I don’t measure, but I suspect that if you go much over two-three cups total, you might have trouble squeezing it all in the two layers. (Oh, well! You’ll just need an extra tortilla for the extra veggie layer! This is a very flexible dish!)

Sauce: Generally I use whatever jarred spaghetti sauce we have on hand, but a large can of crushed tomatoes will do just fine, and will likely have less sodium! Mix half a cup in with the veggies; save another few tablespoons for the top tortilla.

Grated cheese
. Cheddar, usually, as much as seems reasonable, though I’ve used hard, sorta dried-up feta in the past with good results. I tend to grate directly on to the dish as I prepare it, so I can’t tell you how much I use.


Preheat oven to 375F.

Put one tortilla in your baking dish. (Anything with a bit of an edge, as it will seep a bit. I use a quiche dish or a pie dish.)

Spread half the meat mixture on the tortilla.

Spread half the veggie mixture on top.

(You can sprinkle on a wee bit of grated cheddar, if you like.)

Another tortilla, followed by the rest of the meat mixture, and the rest of the veggie mixture.

Top it with the last tortilla, smear the tortilla with sauce, and top with a generous amount of grated cheese. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.

We cut ours into pie-shaped slices with a pizza wheel. Along with a salad and a hot vegetable, this serves our family of four — which includes a 19-year-old (female) and a 23-year-year old (male) — without difficulty.

January 5, 2013 Posted by | food | , , , | 6 Comments

What I’m doing on my summer vacation

I’m on holiday this week! No, I’m not going anywhere. And anyone who calls it a “staycation” can expect a smack upside the head. “Staycation.” Everyone knows “staycation” only means “I can’t afford a real vacation.” And you know what? I can’t. I’m good with that. My friends and neighbours may go jetting off hither and yon. I don’t. It’s a reality of my life which I have accepted with grace… and without cutesy-stupid euphemisms.

Staycation.” Pfft. Such a weaselly word, a word for cowards. Be brave! Be bold! OWN your poverty!!!

“So it’s a staycation, huh?”
“No, I’m just staying home this week.”

Now, I am a very experience home holiday-er. Because I’ve done this for years and years, I have developed patterns. I’ve discovered I need a balance of play, inertia, creativity and productivity to keep me happy. “Productivity” boils down to “work”. Yes, indeed. I must work during my holiday, otherwise, on the final Sunday afternoon, as I’m facing down Monday morning, I get depressed. “I didn’t MAKE USE of my time! I accomplished NOTHING! My time off was a WASTE!!!”

Yup. I have to “accomplish” stuff on my holiday. I’m not quite sure where I got my work ethic. Lord knows there are no “Type A’s” in my family. Truth be known, most days my work ethic is pretty damned lackadaisical, but for whatever reason it emerges with an ironical vengeance during holiday-times, and it seems I’m stuck with it.

So, while I hit the library for books, and socialize more than normal, and indulge in manicures and pedicures (the home variety), and putz around on the Internet (even MORE THAN USUAL! I KNOW!!!), I also have projects. I GET STUFF DONE. Stuff that is difficult to do with a houseful of toddlers.

This summer’s project list includes:
– paint the attic
– re-paint kitchen cupboards
– remove 50 pounds of weeks from front garden
– finish sewing the purse I started six months ago
– finish the northwest corner of the back yard play area
– organize my craft room

As I close in on the half-way point of my holiday, I am about half through that list. Not too shabby!

(Lest you all be worried for my sanity, I will assure you that I’ve played this week, too, and have enjoyed a few blissful hours of plain old inertia. My plans for later this week include a trip to the library, to stock up on all the books I plan to read next week. My plans for next week include much reading on the porch while sipped tea or wine, depending on the time of day.)

However, THIS week has been all about the productivity. All that physical labour needs to be interspersed with less demanding productivity, though, and it was the most recent issue of Cook’s magazine that provided the inspiration. Muffins! I will make muffins! Not just any muffins, though! I would purchase a so-cool muffin-top tin, and make muffin TOPS.

Neat idea, huh? Emma was delighted. “Everyone knows that the tops are the best part of the muffin!” I wandered to our local cute-and-fun shopping area (the one that’s being torn up to bits), and located myself a muffin-top pan, brought it home, whipped up a batch of apple-oatmeal batter, and waited for our six delectable muffin tops to emerge.

And when the timer pinged? Out from the oven came six large, wide, flat disks. There was no mounding of the top. There was no crispy outer crust. Booooo… The explanation was sitting on the counter. The can of baking powder. The unopened can of baking powder.

Well, damn.

They taste all right, these disks of muffin. But, “I wanted muffin tops,” I whine to Emma, “and instead I’ve made these… muffin cookies.”

Emma chews thoughtfully. “You know what you’ve done, mum?”


“You’ve made muffin BOTTOMS!”

She’s right. A magazine of expert advice, a shopping trip, a brand-spanking-new muffin-top pan, and, because of a teaspoon of oversight, I’ve made muffin BOTTOMS.


Guess I’ll stick with the painting for now…

August 25, 2011 Posted by | food, holidays, my kids | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Persistence pays off

goulash“Would you like some goulash?” Anna tips the ‘pot’ (aka cowboy hat) which she has been stirring with a ‘spoon’ (aka rhythm stick) so that Timmy can see the ‘goulash’ (aka wooden puzzle pieces). Timmy loks up from the puzzle he’s completing, peeks into the pot and makes his decision.

“No, thank you.”

“Would you like some goulash?”

“No, thank you.”

“Would you like some goulash?”

“No, thank you.”

She’s hearing him just fine. Nor is there any misunderstanding. He’s answering cheerfully and very clearly, each and every time. But he is also giving the Wrong Answer. Anna tries yet again.

“Would you like some goulash?”

“No, thank you.”

Repetition is not working.

“Okay, I’ll make you some goulash!!!”

Because, come hell or high water, this boy is going to get some GOULASH, dammit! Timmy’s head come up from his puzzle yet again.

“Oh, you’re going to make me some goulash?”



Toddlers are just plain weird.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Anna, Timmy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment