Friday, April 26, 2013

What’s for dinner?

Today I am taking one of my favorite meals and breaking it down into a list of what you'd need in your pantry or food storage in order to make it in an emergency.

This is the recipe
Cheap easy enchilada meal
·         1 can beanless chili
·         1 small onion chopped
·         1 can tomato sauce
·         1 can sliced olives
·         1 small can mild enchilada sauce
·         1 can pork n beans (this one ingredient is very important!)

Mix all ingredients together
Then layer in a 9x13 inch casserole dish, corn tortillas, enchilada mixture, and cheese - repeat until all is used and top off with cheese.

I add a thin layer of ground beef, diced tomatoes and green chilies to mine and omit the olives but many other substitutions can also be made.

Cover and bake at 350 in over for 1 hour. When I bake this in a regular oven I do not change the cooking time or temp because it ruins it. I have however had it come out quite fine when cooked in a crock pot on low for about 3-4 hours. When cooking in the oven take the cover off at the last 10 min and if you can sprinkle with crumbled tortilla chips during that last 10 min.
Let cool for about an hour otherwise it’s pretty messy.
Cut into squares.   Top with sour cream, plain yogurt or whatever you want.
Very good as leftovers too! Holds together very well after refrigerated!

I picked this because it is a meal that goes a long way and you can keep most of the ingredients on a shelf over a good long period of time. These are just your standard size cans from the grocery store and the last time I made it the ingredients cost me around $8-$10 USD with the following items.

·         1 can beanless chili
·         1 can tomato sauce
·         1 can sliced olives
·         1 small can mild enchilada sauce
·         1 can pork n beans
·         1 can diced tomatoes
·         1 can green chilies
·         1 medium yellow onion
·         1 pkg. 30 count corn tortillas (I only used about 15)
·         2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Any canned food without a pop top is suitable for pantry or long term food storage as long as you are vigilant about rotating your stock so the oldest items are used first. If it has a pop top I prefer to use it within 90 days or by the use by date whichever comes first.

As you can tell there are three items that are not really pantry items. Tortillas, cheese, and onions. So let's talk about those.

Onion-- If you do not have fresh onion available that is ok I have made it without onions. I have also substituted with both onion powder and dehydrated onions, seasoning to taste. It still came out fine.

Tortillas however are a main ingredient. It’s a good thing tortillas are relatively easy to make fresh. You will need a cast iron pan and a varying list of ingredients depending on what type of stores you have and what type of tortilla you choose to make.

The easiest and the one requiring the least supplies is this recipe for basic corn tortillas.

1-3/4 cups masa harina + 1-1/8 cups water.

Mix together masa harina and HOT water until thoroughly combined. Turn dough out and knead until pliable and smooth. If dough is too sticky, add more masa harina; if it begins to dry out, sprinkle with water. Cover and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Separate into 12-15 balls. Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle to a medium-high heat. Using your hands pat each ball flat to the desired thickness and size. Place tortilla in preheated pan and allow it to cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until browned and slightly puffy. Turn tortilla over, brown on second side for approximately 30 seconds more, then transfer to a plate. Repeat process with each ball of dough. Keep tortillas covered with a towel until ready to use.

Masa Harina is a flour made from hominy. It is available in the ethnic sections of some stores or at markets specializing in Mexican food. You may find it under its major brand name Maseca or being called Harina de Maiz. It is not equivalent to corn meal and they are not interchangeable.

If you desire to make a corn tortilla with cornmeal you'll need a few more ingredients.
·         3/4 cup cornmeal
·         1-1/4 cups flour
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or oil
·         1 cup boiling water

Put the water on to boil. Combine the dry ingredients. In this case the cornmeal, flour and salt. Using a metal cup to measure the water if possible, measure out the boiling water but do not add it yet. Plastic melts and glass sometimes shatters so a metal container is the safest bet for this. In an emergency a soup can will do. Place the shortening in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Pour the boiling water over everything and stir it up with a fork. You will Stir and stir and stir some more before it turns into dough because it will lump up quite a bit. Allow the mixture to cool. Divide the dough into 10-12 lumps about the size of golf balls. Flour your hands a bit and Pat the balls into the desired sized and thickness and lay the tortilla down on a hot dry skillet. When the underside of the tortilla is dry with a few brown spots, turn it and cook the other side.

The flour tortillas are a very similar recipe and process.
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon baking powder
·         1 tablespoon shortening
·         1/2 cup water

Combine together flour, salt and baking powder. Work in shortening with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough can be gathered together. If necessary, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into rounds. On a lightly floured surface or with lightly floured hands flatten and stretch each round into a circle about 7 inches across.
Cook on an ungreased skillet over medium high heat until brown spots begin to appear. Keep covered until ready to serve.

The pantry ingredients you need for tortillas can be as simple as Masa Harina and water or as diverse as cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, vegetable shortening or oil and water. Generally speaking this recipe works best with corn tortillas but in a pinch flour ones will do.

That leaves just the cheese which I admit you can omit though it is a bit sloppier as the cheese helps to hold it together. I myself prefer cheddar or pepper jack cheese but nearly any cheese including farmers cheese works in a pinch. You may also choose a freeze dried or dehydrated cheese as an alternative. There are a few I've found to be ok to cook with. On the bonus side If you or a neighbor have a milk cow you can make your own farmers cheese pretty simply but that's a lesson for another day.


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