If you’re like me, and I suppose like most people who like to cook, new cookbooks “call” you. I’m always looking for that next great recipe. A new cookbook always holds so much promise. However, with the accessibility of the Internet, I have to admit that I’ve cut back on cookbook purchases. With a click of my mouse, I can instantly have thirty recipe options for whatever dish I have in mind. I’ve also downloaded the AllRecipes.com app on my iPhone. Now all I have to do is input the ingredients I have on hand and multiple recipes are suggested.
UpperProvidence Elementary School was compiling their own cookbook, entitled, “Planting the Seeds for Success.” I was even more excited when school’s principal, Dr. Missie Patschke contacted me and told me a copy was waiting for me at the school. TADITK blog followers will remember the post about the staff pie contest that Steve Bonetz and I judged last November. In addition to great recipes from staff members and UPES classes, all of the recipes for the pies in the contest can be found in the cookbook. If you’d like your own UPES cookbook, they are $10. Call the school office at 610-705-6150, and tell them the Dad in the Kitchen sent you!
During my tenure in Spring-Ford, I had the opportunity to work with many of the staff members who submitted favorite recipes. As I perused the pages of the cookbook, it was interesting to connect each recipe with the person who submitted it. One recipe from school psychologist, Dr. Reesa Wurtz provides options. Isn’t that what any good psychologist should do? The recipes from Mark Matthews read as long narratives; pretty much that same way Mark conducts IEP meetings. The recipes from Jean Lare are short and to the point, just the way Jean operates; naturally, because she’s doing twelve things at the same time.
Jean Lare is one of my favorite people. She is the person that every principal daydreams about. I’m not talking about having Jean on the teaching staff, although that would definitely be a plus. I’m talking about having Jean as a parent in your school…which I am fortunate to say I did. Jean is the most positive, most hard-working, supportive, and understanding parent with whom I’ve ever worked as a principal. She is a possibility thinker and simply put, she makes things happen. Often, Jean has a cadre of like-minded, supportive parents surrounding her, all pitching in to get the job done.
Under Jean’s leadership, the little summer enrichment program called “Cool School” that I started at Royersford Elementary School fourteen years ago, grew from just over 100 students to more than 600 children participating in scores of fun summer classes. (Registration for Cool School 2012 is open now, and Early Bird pricing is available until June 3. Click here to register!)
The following recipe from the UPES cookbook is a Lare family favorite. It comes from the days when Jean’s family lived in Texas. For many years, the Rotelle canned tomatoes called for in the recipe would be loaded into suitcases and “exported” to Pennsylvania by any visiting family member. Fortunately, you can get them in our area now, and Wegman’s carries them.
I do have to confess that I messed up Jean’s original recipe. I was supposed to keep the browned ground beef and onions, and the combined Cream of Chicken soup and Rotelle tomatoes separate. Instead, not following directions, (the result of breaking the first kitchen commandment of not reading the whole recipe before lifting a spoon), I mixed all four ingredients together. Jean had informed me that the recipe was “not pretty, but very good.” I was afraid that now I had ruined the “very good” part. Such was not the case. The resulting casserole was fantastic, and Jean said, “Yours is even prettier than mine!” Wow! So, it’s just like two recipes in one. You have choices. Could have come from a psychologist.
(click on any image to enlarge it)
|Will it all fit?|
2 packages of Corn Tortillas (approx. 12-16)
1 or 2 15 oz. cans Chili or Kidney Beans, drained
1½ lbs. Velveeta Cheese (I used shredded Mexican mix)
2 cans Rotelle Tomatoes
2 cans Cream of Chicken condensed soup
2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
Brown the ground beef and sauté the onion together. I also added a small can of mild green chilies to Jean's recipe. Set aside. (You can see I didn’t get very far until I messed up!)
Combine the Cream of Chicken soup and the Rotelle tomatoes, (undrained), and heat on medium heat. Set aside. Here's what it looks like when all four ingredients are combined.
Line a large, deep (at least 2”) lasagna or baking dish with half of the corn tortillas. (I used non-stick cooking spray on the dish before lining with the tortillas.) The tortillas will overlap.
Put the meat and onion mixture on top of the tortillas. (If you decide to combine all four of the ingredients, (as I did), put about half of the mixture on the tortillas at this point.)
Sprinkle with approximately ½ teaspoon garlic powder and about ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. (You may want to add more to suit your own taste. Keep in mind that the Rotelle tomatoes pack a little “heat” as do the chili beans.) Next, sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of chili powder on top, less if it’s spicy.
Add the beans (drained) as a layer. Jean recommends chili beans, as they have added spices. I used two cans, and it wasn’t too many. Sprinkle the top of the beans with more garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
Lay the Velveeta cheese, or sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the entire top.
Lay the other half of the corn tortillas over the cheese layer,
and pour the soup and tomato mixture, (or the other half of the combined mixture) over the top.
For my “version,” I used 1 lb. of the shredded cheese in the casserole and then sprinkled the other half pound on top when there was only about ten minutes baking time left.
The casserole should be baked at 375° for 45 minutes, covered with foil. If adding cheese during the last 10 minutes, remove the foil and leave it off as the cheese melts.
This dish will serve better if you can allow it to sit for approximately 15 minutes. It also keeps well, and leftovers microwave well.