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Adventures in a Smaller Kitchen: Burrito Pie

Here's one of my family's favorite recipes.

I've always wanted to cook. I even thought of going to chef school. I love dining out, drinking fine wine, and taking photos of what I find (Facebook friends are rolling their eyes.) My problem was that I was overwhelmed. I couldn't figure out how to make my ever increasing grocery bill translate into dinner on the table a minimum of five nights a week with leftovers for my husband to take for lunch the next day.

I decided about a month ago that after 13 years of marriage, the least I could do for my wonderful husband was give him dinner every night, even if he has to heat it up after the kids and I have gone to bed. There's something about a home cooked meal at the end of the day that makes life just that much sweeter. But with a 1 year old that goes to bed at 5pm, a 6 year old that goes down at 7pm, and an Ironman husband that eats like a horse getting home at 9pm, I found myself very scattered, and basically making 3 "meals" at night...none of which were particularly inspired.

After stumbling upon a wonderful food blog that included great recipes, beautiful pictures and fantastic advice, I started sitting down with cookbooks on Thursday mornings, making a menu for the week (based on family activity schedule), checking my pantry, and then making my grocery list. Not only did I feel more organized, I actually had a plan, and started to look forward to feeding my troops.

I spent 8 years in a kitchen that would make professional chef's drool and cooked only a handful of times. We've downsized recently, and my much smaller kitchen with its casement windows overlooking my bird feeder suits me much better. I'm finally experimenting, um....cooking, and loving every minute of it.

Here is our family favorite:

 

Burrito Pie (from familyfun.com)

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 pound lean ground beef

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water

1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup salsa

8 ounces Cheddar or Monterey Jack, grated

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

Increase the heat to medium, then add the ground beef, chili powder, and cumin. Cook the mixture until the beef is browned and no longer pink, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, water, black beans, and corn, and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow it to continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350º. Using the rim of a 9-inch springform pan (see "Tools of the Trade" above) as a template, trim 3 of the tortillas to the size of the pan. Leave the fourth tortilla untrimmed. Note: You can also bake this dish in a 9-inch round cake pan and serve it like a lasagna.

Butter the bottom and the sides of the pan. Press the untrimmed tortilla evenly into the pan's bottom. Spread 2 tablespoons of the sour cream over the tortilla, followed by 1/4 cup of the salsa. Spoon and spread a quarter of the beef mixture over the salsa, then sprinkle a quarter of the grated cheese evenly over the top.

Place one of the trimmed tortillas on top of the cheese, then repeat the layering of the sour cream, salsa, beef, and cheese. Continue this way until the ingredients and tortillas are used up. You should end up with four layers, topped with the final sprinkling of cheese.

Bake the pie until heated through, about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the rim from the springform pan, if you used one. Slice the pie into wedges using a sharp knife. Serves 10.

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Lisa Gentes-Hunt August 31, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Great recipe! Going to have to try this!
Paul Shurin August 31, 2012 at 07:24 PM
You are absolutely right. A small kitchen is the way to go. I used to have 12 knives, 14 pots and pans, (5 with lids) 6 mixers in different sizes, at least 30 small gadgets, This choice leaves you with least 30,000 combinations for your brain to mull over before laying out the tools and making each recipe. Now try a scaled-down kitchen with 2 tools of each type. Leaves only 16 choices! Even my brain can handle that! If something special is needed for the job, you can focus on that problem instead of the 30,000 useless choices. You may need to cook for a large number of guests. You still don’t need a large number of implements. Add 1 large soup pot, 1 large salad bowl, possibly something for a great desert … and you’re there. Another tip is to use tools designed for work, not for show in the kitchen. Pliers have been called "essentially an extension of your arm." For holding or crushing about anything in the kitchen, I prefer large Multigrip Pliers, borrowed from my shop, to any kitchen gadget. (Use the size that fits your hand. It goes through the dishwasher and back to the shop as needed). Paul A. Shurin, MD South Nyack
Kaete Nazaroff August 31, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Paul, thanks for the tool tip. I occasionally kick myself for not cooking more in my former kitchen (when I run out of counter space), but mostly I like the coziness of my current kitchen. Everything is within arms reach...and it still manages to be the heart of our home. Thanks for reading!

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