Pat’s Pantry – Southwest Flair

By Pat Mills

Let’s try cooking foods from the Southwest this week, and let’s replace lasagna noodles with tortillas in this Mexican lasagna recipe and see how a combination of chocolate and orange sets this Mexican cream torte above other desserts. – Pat

Mexican lasagna

12 (6-in) corn tortillas, divided
1-½pound ground beef
1 (16-oz) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1-½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoons ground red pepper
2 cups small-curd cottage cheese
1-1/2 cups (6-oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
½ cup chopped tomato
¼ cup sliced ripe olives
3 green onions, chopped

Line bottom and sides of an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish with 6 tortillas. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles. Drain meat, discarding drippings; return meat to skillet. Add canned tomatoes and next 6 ingredients; cook, uncovered, over medium heat until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Spoon over tortillas in dish. Top with remaining 6 tortillas. Combine cottage cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and egg in a medium bowl; stir well. Spread cottage cheese mixture over tortillas. Cover and bake at 350 for 15 minutes; uncover and bake 15 additional minutes. Top with diagonal rows of remaining ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, ½ cup chopped tomato, olives, and green onions. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.

Spicy Monterey rice

2 cups water
1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon chicken-flavored bouillon granules
1 (16-oz) carton sour cream
1-½ cups (6-oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup (4-oz) shredded Monterey jack cheese
½ cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 (4-½ oz) can chopped green chilies, undrained
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combined water, rice and bouillon granules in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. In a large bowl, combine sour cream, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and next 4 ingredients. Stir in rice. Spoon into a buttered 1-½ quart casserole. Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheddar cheese; bake 5 additional minutes. Yield: 6 servings.

Mexican cream torte

2 cups crisp coconut cookie crumbs, divided
3 pints chocolate ice cream, softened and divided
3/4 cup chocolate syrup, divided
1 pint orange sherbet, softened
1 cup crushed peanut brittle

Sprinkle 2/3 cup cookie crumbs in bottom of a lightly greased 8-in spring form pan. Spread half of chocolate ice cream over crumbs; pour 1/4 cup chocolate syrup over ice cream layer. Cover and freeze until firm. Sprinkle 2/3 cup crumbs over frozen syrup; spread sherbet over crumbs. Pour ¼ cup chocolate syrup over sherbet; cover and freeze until firm. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup crumbs. Pour remaining chocolate ice cream over crumbs. Pour remaining ¼ cup syrup over ice cream; sprinkle with peanut brittle. Cover and freeze at least 8 hours. Carefully remove sides of spring form pan. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

• To store corn longer, cut a small piece off the stalk end, leave on the leaves, then store in a pot with about an inch of water, stems down.
• The color of an orange is no indication of its quality because oranges are usually dyed to improve their appearance.  Brown spots on the skin indicates a good quality orange.  Pick a sweet orange by examining the navel. Choose the ones with the biggest holes. If you put oranges in a hot oven before peeling them, no white fibers will be left on them.

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