Do you like Mexican food? I sure do! Unless you are Mexican or eat in a Mexican restaurant what we prepare at home is what I call “Americanized” Mexican food. Remember all the taco casserole recipes that were popular in the recent past?
Mexican food has such a variety of flavors, colors, textures, and is just generally satisfyingly great! I have one friend who won’t eat Mexican food because she thinks it’s “too spicy” but to enjoy Mexican food you really don’t need a fire truck sitting by to put out the flames!
Mucho pleasure can be derived from eating a variety of spices, herbs, sauces, marinades and seasonings. Mexican food, even the “Americanized” version, fits the bill for food with great flavor. The first recipe, Pinto Beans Enchilada Stack, first appeared in Southern Living magazine, but I’ve added to and tweaked the original recipe. Flavor intensifiers include garlic, taco seasoning, onion and many of the optional suggested toppings.
Pinto Beans Enchilada Stack
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 (1.25 oz.) envelope taco seasoning mix
- 1 (16-oz.) can refried beans
- 1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 5 (10-inch) burrito-sized flour tortillas
- 2 1/2 cups (10 oz.) shredded cheese (Mexican, cheddar or your favorite)
- 1/2 cup canned enchilada sauce
- Toppings: chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, etc.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic until softened over medium heat in a large skillet. Remove from skillet.
- Brown ground beef in skillet over medium high heat 6-7 minutes until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.
- Add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water and cook 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
- Stir together refried beans and pinto beans.
- Place 1 tortilla on a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined pan. Top tortilla with half of the meat mixture and 1/2 cup cheese; top with another tortilla, half of the refried bean mixture, half of the enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup cheese.
- Top with another tortilla and repeat layers once. Top with remaining tortilla.
- Bake at 425 degrees F. for 16-18 minutes or until thoroughly heated and browned.
- Top tortilla with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
- Cut into wedges and serve with desired toppings.
- A deep pan just larger than the tortillas keeps the "stack" together better. Otherwise the stack may tend to shift when being moved into and out of the oven.
Dulce De Leche Cheesecake
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake is wonderfully caramel. This recipe is from Nestle who makes La Lechera, their brand name for Dulce de Leche. Dulce de Leche is traditionally a mixture of milk and sugar that’s slowly cooked until the sugar caramelizes. In the past some have made it by cooking sweetened condensed milk in the top of a double boiler over boiling water for 40-50 minutes until it becomes thick and caramel-colored. That sounds like a lot of trouble to go to when there is dulce de leche in a can readily available at Walmart as well as other retail stores.
I prepared this recipe once in a chocolate crumb crust but I found that I prefer the way it tastes in a graham cracker crust. Either way, it’s heavenly!
- 1 envelope (7 grams) unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 (13.4 oz.) can Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup whipped cream + 1 tablespoon sugar, whipped until soft peaks form
- 1 prepared 10" (9 oz.) graham cracker crust
- Optional: Chocolate Syrup
- Mix gelatin and hot water in a small bowl until gelatin is dissolved; set aside.
- Beat cream cheese and dulce de leche in a large mixer bowl until creamy.
- Stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla extract.
- Fold in whipped cream.
- Pour into graham cracker crust.
- Refrigerated for at least 3 hours or until set.
- Optional: Serve drizzled with chocolate syrup.
- Knox gelatin makes an unflavored gelatin which is usually located near Jello in the supermarket.
If you’ve never tried Mexican food, get outside your comfort zone and try some soon!
Remember to Savor the Flavor!