Cinco de Mayo 2012: Pico de gallo guacamole and beef and black bean enchilada bake

Hello everyone.

It has been quite the two weeks since we last spoke. Since my April 27 post (womp womp), I’ve moved 489 kilometres north, transferred four years worth of personal pack-rat belongings into my high school bedroom (which I promptly redecorated and rearranged as to not seem like I was back in grade 12. More on that later), and finished the first two weeks of my post-graduation “adult” job with CBC here in town.

Whew. Now that I’ve at least partially settled in, I hope to cook more for myself and family, and blog more as a result. I’ll be the first to admit that the past two weeks have come as a bit of a life shock. One Monday I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom in my pajamas laughing at The Devil Wears Prada and the next I was waking up early and donning my three-quarter-length “adult” GAP pants. Yes, that’s how I define adulthood. By the length of my pants. Clearly I have a lot to learn.

Anyways.

Yes, as this post suggests, this meal was indeed made last Saturday, a full week from today. I am hanging my head in shame, (and simultaneously lapping up a mug of coffee, a liquid which BAM, I have become addicted to. I’m a real journalist now. FYI I also measure adulthood by the amount of coffee one must consume).

This is the first meal I made upon my glorious return, and it happened to correspond with two events: Cinco de Mayo and my dad’s birthday. I’ve informally celebrated the former ever since taking spanish in grade nine, and love the day because it gives me an excuse to sing and dance to this song while cooking (I think I link to this tune in every Mexican-style meal I make…). As for my dad’s birthday…well Tex-Mex style food is one thing my entire family can agree on. So here we are.

When scribbling out my grocery list for dinner, I was terribly worried. In Ottawa, it’s likely that all things Mexican would have been sold out/in low demand at the grocery store because all the yuppies in my neighbourhood would be having themed taco nights. Then I remembered: I live in Sudbury now. People do not care about themed holiday meals. More tortillas, jalapenos, and avocados for me!

The first two courses of the Cinco de Mayo/dad’s birthday fiesta turned out perfectly. My dad kindly volunteered to be the hand model for these photos, so long as he got to eat each styled, guacamole-filled chip. Every ounce of credit for the dip’s success goes to this brilliant Pioneer Woman Cooks recipe. She is a goddess.

Dad hand. I am of the impression that he deliberately created several blurry photos, just so I would have to re-shoot them with different chips.

Oh boy, the enchilada bake was awesome too. It didn’t collapse and sink in upon cutting, nor did my plate fall off the deck when I took the picture you see at the bottom of this post (this is actually a serious risk!!!). Tiny celebrations.

Enchilada layers, illustrated. A four-storey Tex-Mex tower

Oh right, also regarding the enchilada bake: I used a February 2012 Canadian Living recipe, but my kitchen obedience pretty much stopped there. I was worried the original ingredient amounts wouldn’t make enough, so ended up tossing in some quinoa, extra black beans and corn. All resulted in me stuffing my 8-inch casserole dish to the maximum capacity, and pressing down on the tortilla layers as saucy bits came bubbling up. BUT IT WORKED.

My dad said it was exquisite. I don’t think a knock-off Tex-Mex dinner has ever been described in such a way, but hey, I’ll take it.

Next up: A whole pile of carrot cake. And then a post about how I’ve decorated my bedroom, because, you know, I have nothing better to do except take pictures of my ceramic elephants and marble collection.

After that: Mother’s day. May is fun.

Recipe: Pico de gallo guacamole
Follow this recipe and die a happy, full camper

Recipe: Beef and black bean enchilada bake
Adapted from Canadian Living
– 2 cups bottled strained tomatoes (should be by the tomato sauce in your grocery store)
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tbsp chili powder
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
–  Pinch of salt
– 1 lb (454 g) lean ground beef
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– Can of black beans, drained and rinsed
– Can of corn kernels, drained and rinsed
– 1 cup cooked quinoa
– 4 large tortillas
– 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
– 1/4 cup sour cream
– 1 green onion, chopped

Cook your quinoa ahead of time. Half a cup of dry quinoa should yield about what you need. Cook it with a cup of water and let it simmer until all that H20 is absorbed.

In small saucepan, bring strained tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, oregano, chipotle pepper and salt to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. (Note: it will splash and bubble, so make sure you have a lid on hand!)

Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, brown beef over medium-high heat, breaking up with wooden spoon. With slotted spoon, remove beef and set aside. Drain fat from pan.

Add oil to skillet; cook onion over medium heat until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add black beans, corn and cooked quinoa. Return beef to pan, stirring to combine. Stir in 1 cup of the sauce, mixing well.

Place 1 of the tortillas in greased 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish. Top with 1/4 cup of the cheese and half of the meat mixture. Repeat layers of tortilla, cheese and meat mixture once. Top with remaining tortilla and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in 375°F oven until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Put the dish on a baking tray, in case anything bubbles over.

Let cool and set for at least 10 minutes. 

Slice and serve garnished with sour cream and green onion.

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