Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blitz Post 1: Mexican Lasagna

I like to go on and on and on and on... I love words, so sometimes my blog entries take WEEKS to write.  Other times, when I'm inspired, I can bang one out in a a day and a half.

The problem is, I have people that want content, and they want content NOW!  I want to give them content NOW too.

So starting with this post I'm going to try something I'm going to call a "BLITZ POST".  I'm still going to continue with my long form posts, but occasionally when I need to get you some good information or a couple of good pictures, etc. you'll get it in this format.  So without further ado,

BLITZ POST 1:  Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna?  Rick Bayless meets Mario Batali meets Cheap Dad

Grocery List:
  • Corn Tortillas 1 lb.
  • Refried Beans (pinto or black) 15 oz. can
  • Enchilada sauce 24oz.can
  • Queso Cotija (also known as the "Parmesan of Mexico") 16 oz.
  • Mexican Chorizo 1lb
  • Ground Beef 2lb
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (or Mexican blend) 16 oz.
  • Diced Tomatoes with Chilis 15oz can
  • Cilantro, 1 fresh bunch

In large skillet, remove casing from chorizo, brown and crumble, retain fat.

While browning, in large lasagna pan, spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce.  Spread refried beans on a tortilla and place bean side up in the pan.  Continue placing tortillas in pan until bottom is covered with a minimum of overlapping.  When chorizo is browned, add to pan.  Add several handfulls of Cotija, some cilantro and several tablespoons of enchilada sauce.

In the large skillet, begin browning the ground beef in fat from the chorizo.  While browning, in large lasagna pan, spread thicker layer of refried beans on another layer of tortillas and place bean side up in the pan. Spread remaining Cotija, the drained can of tomatoes with chilis, some cilantro and several tablespoons of enchilada sauce.  Add another layer of tortillas with a thinner layer of refried beans, the browned and the drained ground beef.  Add several handfulls of Cheddar, some cilantro and several tablespoons of enchilada sauce.

Finally top with plain tortillas, the remaining enchilada sauce, the remaining Cheddar, and several leaves of cilantro.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese is melted.

For now, this is the first Blitz Post.  Pictures to come later.  Maybe.

 Until next time, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I am at a crossroads.

Photo credit: Jonathan Billinger
Over the next few days and weeks I will be forced to make decisions about my life and future that I thought I had already made.  This is America in the 21st century, so I shouldn't be surprised.  There is no stability.

House of Cards
Photo credit: Paula Guinto

The economy is forcing changes in many areas and I am seeing it first hand.

Really it isn't bad news.  I have worked hard and will be paying off my mortgage, so no matter what happens I have provided a roof over the heads of my family.  Even if the WORST case scenario happens (which I think I may be legally bound against mentioning) I will still be able to pay off my car and I still teach at the local community college.

Photo Credit: Rebuild Lakeshore

Anxiety is the issue.  Which direction do I go now?  Who can I trust?  Do I follow my heart?  Do I follow my dreams, and if so at what cost?  Do I try to take the stable safe path, when I'm not sure that it's so stable and safe?

Does is matter what color my parachute is when I'm landing in a minefield?

Photo Credit: hmerinomx

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why Donuts are better than Oatmeal

Sometime long ago, someone dropped flour into the primordial hot oil and up rose the prehistoric donut, and since that time the donut has spread to every corner of the globe.
Most cultures have their own version, from the French Beignet, to the German Berliner, to the Italian Zeppole.  But for the past 200 years, the donut has been a quintessentially American pastry.

Yeast, cake, or filled.  Frosted, glazed, plain, powdered, cream filled, custard filled, jelly filled, fruit filled, coconut, peanut, cinnamon, sour cream, and even chocolate, there’s a taste for everyone.

Here in Wilkesboro we have 3 options, Day-old Fund-Raiser Krispy Kremes, Dunkin Donuts, and now Dixie Donuts.
But very soon, if my doctor has her way, donuts will be off my list.  It seems that as I approach 40, I need to start worrying about my heart, my weight, my colon, and all these other things.  She wants me to eat healthier, more vegetables, less meat, more exercise, less stress, and most of all, more oatmeal.  More oatmeal?  I stopped eating paste in kindergarten!
With this in mind I would like to explain to you why I feel that Donuts are actually better for you than Oatmeal.

Oatmeal CAN BE absolutely delicious! Once you add brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, blueberries, milk, and/or chocolate chips, you have had to doctor it up to the point where it has lost any nutritional value.  Donuts are absolutely delicious.  The only thing you have to add to improve a donut is add another donut.

Photo Credit  ainna1102
Oatmeal is quick, convenient, and relatively inexpensive per serving.  I can’t call ahead my order for Oatmeal.  I have Dixie Donuts on speed dial.  Per serving, Oatmeal is more expensive than a lot of other breakfast foods including eggs and toast.  As for convenience, I can’t drive and eat oatmeal. I can drive and eat a donut.

Photo Credit Naked Truth Nutritionist

Oatmeal contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
and is a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron.  Blah Blah Blah.  Donuts contain wheat which is full of vitamins and minerals, and donuts are great sources for simple carbohydrates which are easy for the body to digest and give you quick energy.

Photo Credit spike55151

Oatmeal can help you control your weight.  If you lose weight by skipping breakfast, then yes, oatmeal can help you lose weight.  Any time you skip a meal, your body goes into “fasting mode”. During this fasting, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are all used for energy. Carbohydrates are the number one source of fuel, followed by protein and then fat, and donuts are excellent sources of carbohydrates and fat.

Photo Credit Lilu Interiors
You probably already have oats in your kitchen.  You probably also have tuna fish, hot sauce, green beans, and salad in your kitchen.  Those wouldn’t make a very good breakfast either.  Oatmeal is a breakfast food.  Donuts can be eaten anytime you’d like, but especially breakfast.  And as an added bonus, you can dunk donuts in coffee.  You can’t dunk oatmeal in coffee.

Oatmeal may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Eating oatmeal may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.  A diet that includes oatmeal may help reduce high blood pressure.  The fiber and other nutrients found in oatmeal may actually reduce the risk for certain cancers.  Wow, it’s the miracle food.  But donuts are diet food too.  Donuts have less fat and calories than regular pastries.  Isn’t it obvious? Just look at the hole in the middle.

No recipe today, until next time, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Wuthering Heights" with a side of bacon EDITED


DL: Today I'd like to introduce to you Alex. She may occasionally guest blog for me.

What should I blog about tonight?

Photo Credit
AL: At the question, "What should I blog about tonight?" my answer was needles. How we got to bacon, I don't know, but I can tell you that some people would rather poke themselves with a thousand needles than bear 400 pages of British literature. For many of those people bacon makes things better (including asparagus, McDoubles, and tales of the despondent histories of the Yorkshire moors).

DL: True, bacon does make many things better. I don't see how it would help needles though. I definitely see how it could help British Lit, but it would take a lot of bacon, and maybe chocolate. What were they eating in the story you were reading? The "Editor-in-Chief" keeps reminding me that this is supposed to be a food blog, so I need to include a recipe at some point.

AL: The English language is all about Thinking Sideways, so please turn this around for the Editor-in-chief: gruel, lumpy oatmeal, bread crusts, and coffee. Please realize that the late 16th century setting put you in a dank kitchen with a "kitchen fire". Have fun with that.

DL: How depressing! I forgot how much I hated British lit in high school. But I do like coffee. So a dank kitchen with a kitchen fire. Was it smoky? Were there rats? And if there were crusts of bread, what happened to the rest of the bread?

AL: Their lives are too sad for the rest of the bread.

AL: Honestly, though, did you seriously just ask me if there were rats? I think the better question would be "Were there zombies?" Yes, master, I stole your line, and you must realize by now that I'm working on my vengeful plot to steal your estate and rights to your blog. I'm half way there.

 Mwahahahahaha (this is totally a word).

 As I was saying about zombies. Once in the book, a character was on his way back to the Heights and stopped by the market in the village with his eye on the mule with the wobbly ankle to carry the ingredients for his gruel all the way back to his estate. I could only wish Emily Bronte would Think so Sideways (Ha! I did it again!) FYI: it is my personal belief that Lady Gaga wrote Bad Romance about this book. Soon, it will be the anthem for this blog. That's right, Lady Gaga, you just keep Thinking...um...Sideways if that's what you call it. So, tell me how a zombie might tackle the greasy, gruelly, crusty, caffeinated challenge of Wuthering Heights with a side of bacon.

The Greasy, Gruelly, Crusty, Caffeinated Aftermath

I really can't say I'm surprised. She wants to steal my estate and the rights to my blog. At her age I wanted to rule the world (no, really I did... one of the issues I'm still working through in therapy: my frustrated megalomania). In fact, I still have my copy of the UN Charter with all of my crib notes on how to change it into a federal system and install myself as president of the Earth. Ah, dreams...

Anyway... Phyllis wants recipes. Alex wants it to be related to depressing Wuthering Heights: gruel, crusts of bread, coffee...

I think I can work with this.

First off, what is gruel? Simply put, gruel is a food preparation consisting of some type of cereal: millet, barley, oat, wheat, rye, or rice that is boiled in water or milk. Gruel is associated with poverty, So really any thin soup or boiled cereal preparation that is used. But I have been challenged to live up to the name of blog "Think sideways". Okay.

Gruel (my way)


  • 1/2 cup of Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup of Half and Half
  • 3/4 cup of Earl Grey Tea, Hot
  • 1/4 cup of currants or raisins
  • 1 cup of water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter


  1. Place currants in tea and allow to hydrate for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove currants. Roll in sugar.
  3. Place remaining tea and Half and Half into small saucepan. Bring to low simmer. Caution! Do not allow Half and Half to come to full boil or liquid may burn.
  4. Add Oatmeal and salt to saucepan. Raise heat. The oatmeal flakes will absorb the water and expand. Leave it until it bubbles.
  5. Lower the heat to medium when the oatmeal begins to get bubbly. Stir the pot and let it cook 2-3 minutes more.
  6. Cover and remove from heat. The residual heat should cook the oatmeal the rest of the way 5-7 minutes.
  7. Remove from saucepan and serve with sugared currants and butter.
Hail Britannia!
Earl Grey Tea and Currants!

Hah. That wasn't even worth my time. Let's see, what's next? "Crusts of Bread." Oh, I have so got this one.

Crusts of Bread
(my way)


  • 1 small loaf French bread
  • 6 eggs yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup raisins and or 2 tablespoons cognac


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9x14 glass baking pan
  3. Beat egg yolks an 1/4 sugar until smooth
  4. Add sweetened condensed milk, salt, and extract to egg mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Tear up bread unto bite size pieces and place into thick single layer in pan.
  6. Cover bread with egg mixture.
  7. Add raisins and/or cognac if desired
  8. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon over top
  9. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
As crusts of bread go, I think that looks pretty darn tasty, eh? Should make a good breakfast or dessert. Serve it with a little creme fraiche and you'll forget completely about the zombie hordes ready to consume London.

Now comes the hard one, the coffee. You see, believe it or not, I am a simple man with simple tastes. I like a good cup a joe. Nothing fancy, nothing foofy. Sure I like the occasional Espresso or Latte, but normally I want a good cup of coffee. But since I need to think sideways... (I'm going to cheat on this one though)

Coffee (food.com's way)


  • 1 (2 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 (2 1/2 ounce) package chocolate instant pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup coffee, chilled. (don't use a flavored coffee.)
  • whipped cream


  1. Follow the directions on the package for preparing the vanilla pudding: add 2 cups of cold milk and pudding mix in a bowl and whisk for two minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, prepare the chocolate pudding. The directions call for 2 cups of milk. Instead, put in 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of chilled coffee and pudding mix in a bowl and whisk for two minutes.
  3. Transfer about 4 tablespoons of the vanilla and 4 tablespoons of the chocolate pudding to a third bowl. Add 2 more tablespoons of coffee to this batch. Whisk this batch. It should appear a few shades lighter than the chocolate pudding's color. Drink the remainder of the coffee.
  4. Layer in cups or parfait glasses. Refrigerate for five minutes. Garnish with whipped cream before serving. (1)
You have your gruel, your crust of bread, and your coffee. The only thing I haven't given you yet is the side of bacon.

Okay, that wasn't nice. Funny, but not nice. What I was going to do was give you a little bit of advice.
  1. Look for Applewood smoked bacon. It is available occasionally, and it is very good.
  2. Finish your bacon before you serve it by putting real maple syrup in your pan to candy the bacon a little.
  3. Always ask your guests how they like their bacon. People are as picky about their bacon as they are their eggs. Your guests will appreciate it.
I've a good time with Alex's challenges today. I hope she has as much fun with British Lit (mwa-ha-ha - that would be the proper spelling per Dilbert) as I did writing today's blog. Alex - watch out for Zombies!

I want to thank a lot of you for the positive messages I've gotten over the last 24 hours. I really do have a lot of fun writing this blog and to know that you guys are reading it and are looking forward to the next installment means a lot to me. So in the immortal words of Chip Diller:

Until next time, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce

(1) http://www.food.com/recipe/cafe-au-lait-pudding-233763