Pinto & Corn Quesadilla Bake

This is a perfect weeknight meal and you can easily substitute the beans and corn for other pantry staples.  It was a crowd-pleaser, it is filling, quick & simple, and can be made for meat-lovers, vegetarians, vegans, and foodies alike. 

Start with salsa or enchilada sauce of your choice – I used salsa verde.  Layer the sauce, then the bean/onion mixture, then cord, cheese and top with a tortilla.  Repeat until your heart’s desire or ingredients run out, whichever comes first.

On the last layer, add a sprinkling of cheese.  In a small bowl, whisk 2 – 3 eggs together.  Pour egg mixture over the top. 

Look at those delicious layers!

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes or til whites are solid.

Slice and enjoy.  We ate our bake with watermelon and Greta gobbled this meal down. 

Pinto & Corn Quesadilla Bake – serves 4 – 5

1. In a small saucepan, saute 1 small yellow onion until soft.  Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 15 oz of cooked, rinsed pinto beans.  Stir well.  Set aside.  Defrost or open can of 15 oz corn.  Have 4 – 5 soft taco sized tortillas ready for layering.

2.  In an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, spread a layer of salsa verde.  Add bean mixture (see top photo) and corn on top of salsa.  Top with tortilla and sprinkling of cheese.  Repeat this step until bean mixture and corn are used up. 

3.  After last layer of beans and corn, place quesadilla on top and covered in sprinkled cheese.  Whisk together 2-3 eggs and pour mixture over the top.

4.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot and egg whites are cooked solid.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Sugar Free Cupcakes

I tried a variation on my original sugar-free banana peanut butter muffins – adding cocoa!  This addition and a one other, makes these dense, rich treats more cupcake-like than before.  I highly recommend you try this and some other swaps – you could switch the peanut butter for any nut butter.  You could switch the banana for applesauce or another pureed fruit.  Let your imagination run wild with this recipe.

I added ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the flour mix.  Be sure to check your peanut butter and almond milk if you want to truly keep this recipe sugar-free.  Those are two areas that sugar lurks – read your labels!

I added 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed – use a coffee grinder blender, or baby food processor to grind these.
I found a tip on Pinterest about cupcakes and decided to try it with this recipe.  It does not work as well as I think it would with other recipes, as this recipe lacks refined sugar.  Sugar is not just used for flavor – it also adds volume, tenderness, texture, color, and acts a preservative.  See information on sugar at the Joy of Cooking site here.  Knowing your ingredients and their job/role in each recipe is one of the most important aspects to cooking and baking effectively.  Knowing the function of a particular ingredient will also help you to make substitutions that work.  (Insert PSA about science in the classrooms and how every student should take science in every school, in every state, across the country here).

So, this time I filled the cups ¾ full, baked them at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Yum!  Two big ones for the adults in the house and 1 small one for the toddler.

Greta inhaled her muff-cake (that is what I called cupcakes the first time I tried them as a toddler).
We are off to the Banff Film Festival this evening, hosted by Greensboro REI.  I am looking forward to an evening full of short films about the the outdoors.  If you are able to catch this series, I highly recommend it.
One of my favorites from the 2010 year, is called Take a Seat, where Dominic Gill from the United Kingdom rides 32, 000 kilometers from the northern most tip of Alaska to the southern most tip of South America on a tandem bicycle.  The catch is, he must pick people up along the way to help him pedal.  The journey takes him two years to complete and is an amazing tale.
One of these years Eric and I talk about being in Banff for the actual film festival itself.  It would be a great way to celebrate an anniversary – since we went to Banff for our honeymoon.
Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins/Cupcakes – makes 16 -18 2 cakes, adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1974.
Have all ingredients at about 70 degrees.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease or line 16 -18 muffin tins, set aside.
1. Beat until soft: ⅓ cup margarine.  Add gradually: 1 cup mashed bananas (about 1 ½ bananas).  When these ingredients are light and fluffy, beat and blend in well: ½ cup peanut butter.  Combine and beat until  light: 2 eggs, ½ cup stevia, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 2 tablespoons ground flax seed.
2.  In a separate bowl, stir together: 2 cups all-purpose flour, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.  
3.  Beat the egg mixture into the margarine mixture.  Add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts with ¾ cup almond milk.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.  Fill about ¾ of the way full.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan about 5 minutes, then remove to cool on wire baking racks.
All muffin pans should come with lids.  Seriously.


Berry Peach & Oat Smoothie

I am home with a sick Greta today.  She woke up in the middle of the night with a fever, so I ran in to school, put together some sub plans, switched with Eric, and came home to a runny nose, feverish, whimpering  and hand-pumping toddler.  Greta uses a mixture of baby sign language and American Sign Language to communicate her needs.  She pumps her hand like she is milking a cow and says, “Peez,” when she wants milk.  I am telling you, baby sign language is one of the best things we ever did for our daughter and I recommend that EVERYONE use this communication tool.  For the most part, it has prevented meltdowns over the simple things.    
So back to her being sick, she still has an appetite but keeps asking for milk, and due to past experiences, I wanted to avoid dairy until her fever subsides.  I made this smoothie because it is filling, simple, not sugary, and would hopefully interest her until she forgot about her repeated requests for milk.  

 I chose frozen berries and peaches because they are two of Greta’s current favorites.  I threw in some spinach as hidden greens.

The oats were added for a little filling grain and the ginger for flavor and to prevent a possibly unhappy tummy. 
I blended the fruits, spinach, ginger, and oats together with almond milk and orange juice.  I am still loving my Baby Bullet and still recommend it to all parents – it doubles as a great compact blender when you are done making baby food purees.  

Greta has a cough right now too, so I added in some honey for sweetness and to slow down her coughing.  One of the nurses at her doctor’s offices told me to use honey, not cough syrup for her cough.  Children below 1 year should never be given honey due to the risk of botulism, a serious form of food poisoning.

The finished product – Greta’s fire fighter cup, or in this case, germ busting smoothie cup and my breakfast smoothie.  She loved it and I think it distracted her from her milk hankering.  I’m off to find a bagel before she wakes from her nap.  Smoothies never hold me over for very long.  
Berry Peach Oat Smoothie – makes 1 large serving or 2 smaller servings
1. In a blender, combine 1 cup frozen mixed berries, 4 – 5 frozen peach slices, 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 1/4 cup oats, a sprinkling of ginger, 1 cup almond milk, and a splash or two of orange juice to help blend.  
2. Blend until smooth and free of lumps.  Garnish with a drizzle of honey

Enchilada Casserole

This is another classic dinner in our house for two reasons: 1. It is fast, easy, and filling.   2. This recipe can be easily adapted and changed depending on the items you have on hand. 
You will need 1 can refried beans, 1 can corn (or substitute frozen corn, fresh or frozen sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.), 1 can enchilada sauce, 8 oz of salsa, 4-1/2 – 6 soft shell taco tortillas, 1-2 cups of shredded cheese, 1 bag soy crumbles (or substitute meat of your choice) and 1 -2 fresh tomatoes.  
Mix the can of refried beans and salsa in a bowl.  Microwave until warm and soft.  
I used Mrs. Renfro’s Tequila Salsa- usually pricey but on sale recently.  Spread 1/3 of the bean and salsa mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  
Top with 3 halves of soft taco tortillas.  

Sprinkle with 1/3 of the can of corn, soy crumbles (or another meat of your choice) , and a sprinkling of cheese.    
Repeat first layer 2 to 3 more times, depending on amount of ingredients and level of hunger.    

Pour 1 can of enchilada sauce over the top of the top layer.  
Top with fresh chopped tomatoes.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 

Serve with a side of cooked rice.  This meal is one of my favorites and the leftovers are always so satisfying.  
Mommy’s Medley Enchilada Casserole
1. Mix 1 can of refried beans and 8 oz. salsa in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave until warm and soft – about 1-2 minutes. 
2. Spread 1/3 of the bean and salsa mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Top with 3 halves of soft taco tortillas.
3. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the can of corn, soy crumblesand a sprinkling of cheese.  Repeat 2-3 more times.  
4. Pour 1 can of enchilada sauce over the top of the top layer. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with a side of cooked rice. 

Chipotle Pasta Bake with Curried Acorn Squash

A perfect example of a Mommy’s Medley square meal.  
Roasted curried acorn squash, chipotle tomato pasta bake, and a mixed greens salad.  
Start with your acorn squash, this way the squash has time to bake while you prep and bake the pasta.  This particular squash is out of my garden.  
Cut 1 acorn squash in half, scoop out the innards, and place in a square glass baking dish.  
Fill the inside of the of squash with whatever spices you like and 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine per squash half.  I used Smart Balance margarine and powdered curry as my fillings.  Add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pan.  Bake in a 425 oven for 35 to 40 minutes or til soft.  
For the pasta bake, start by boiling a 16 oz box of pasta.  Cook according to the directions on the package.  I used whole wheat rotini this time around. 
Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, saute 1/2 of a diced yellow onion, and 1 diced green bell pepper in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes or til soft.  
For the sauce, mix 12 oz of tomato sauce, 1 cup of milk, 3 oz of tomato paste (about 1/2 the can), 2 cloves of minced garlic, and fresh ground pepper, to taste.  
Drain the cooked pasta and place in a large oven safe baking dish. Add the sauce mixture, mix well.  Slice grape tomatoes in half – I used a half a carton and add to the pasta mixture.  
For a little extra spice, I added 3 chipotle peppers.  These babies pack an amazing amount of hot smoky flavor in a small amount of pepper.  

Slice up 3 chipotle peppers and add to pasta mixture.  I also added some of the adobo sauce drippings from the can, for extra measure.  We like our food spicy in the Mommy Medley household!  
Add a light shredding of cheddar cheese on top.  
Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees, uncovered.  This pasta dish is a wonderful mix of cheesy, tomato goodness and the smoky chipotle goodness.  This one’s a keeper around here.

If you time things right, your squash and pasta will be done simultaneously.  Sadly, I think this squash was picked a little early.  It was soft and fleshy like an acorn squash should be, but it lacked the proper flavor.  Oh well, we have two to three more growing now, hopefully the next ones will taste better.  
Are any of you starting to see the food trends in my household?

Curried Acorn Squash
1. Cut 1 acorn squash in half, scoop out the innards, and place in a square glass baking dish.  
2. Fill the inside of the of squash with spices, such as curry or pepper and 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine per squash half.  Add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pan.  
3. Bake in a 425 oven for 35 to 40 minutes or til soft.  Test with a fork. 
Chipotle Pasta Bake

1. Boil 16 oz box of pasta.  Cook according to the directions on the package.  
2.  Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, saute 1/2 of a diced yellow onion, and 1 diced green bell pepper in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes or til soft.  
3. For the sauce, mix 12 oz of tomato sauce1 cup of milk3 oz of tomato paste (about 1/2 the can), 2 cloves of minced garlic, and fresh ground pepper, to taste.  
4. Drain the cooked pasta and place in a large oven safe baking dish. Add the sauce mixture and 1/2 pint of sliced grape tomatoes, mix well.  
5.  Thinly slice 3 chipotle peppers and add to pasta mixture.  Add some of the adobo sauce drippings from the can, for extra spicy measure.  Sprinkle a light shredding of cheddar cheese on top.  
6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees, uncovered.  

Curried Whole Cauliflower

Whoa was this an easy crowd pleaser at our house!  This veggie is sure to become a mainstay in our heavy rotation meals.  The recipe comes from the April 2012 issue of Eating Well.

What you need:
1 large head cauliflower
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons curry paste

What you do:

1. Remove leaves and trim woody core from cauliflower head. Place entire head in a microwave-safe bowl large enough to hold it.

2. Mix mayo with curry.  I used curry and garam masala, not curry paste.  I usually buy my curry (but as you see, this curry is World Market brand) and garam masalas at ethnic grocery stores, not the regular grocery stores.  They are tastier and more reasonably priced.  

3.  Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate.  Microwave on high until tender 6 to 9 minutes.  Let stand 2 more minutes, still covered.  Break into serving sizes.

We made a simple meal of curried cauliflower and veggie burgers on thin buns.  We even sliced tomatoes from our own garden.  
Look at that beauty!