Friday, July 24, 2009

Mexican Lasagna

My Aunt Sally makes a delicious dish that she calls Wet Tacos. This consists of making a big pot of ground beef, refried beans, and enchilada sauce (the mixture is soupy, not super thick like chili). Then you take corn tortillas and put them down in the sauce one or two at a time and let them get warm. Place the warmed tortilla on a plate and top with a little extra sauce...layer as many tortillas as you like. Top with desired toppings such as lettuce, cheese, tomato, peppers, etc. When you serve this up, especially for a bigger crowd, it takes a while as you have to do each plate individually in order to get the tortillas warm and holding their shape. I got the idea to adapt this into a mexican lasagna, not knowing how it would turn out. I made the wet taco mixture, except I added less enchilada sauce in order to make it thicker like a spaghetti sauce. I kept the dish pretty mild and provided toppings for everyone to put on their own plate. This is a dish you can easily adjust to your liking.

Mexican Lasagna/Wet Tacos

1.5 - 2 lb ground beef
2 cans refried beans (I use fat free)
1 28oz can enchilada sauce (I use mild, but use the hot if you like it)
**If making wet tacos you will want to add more enchilada sauce - maybe one 14oz can or even a second 28 oz can
Taco fixings - lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, peppers, etc

1. Brown the ground beef, draining the fat
2. Stir in the refried beans and add enchilada sauce. Once it is warm it is pretty much done, but I guess it could simmer a while to let the flavors soak in
3. Using a casserole dish, put some of the wet taco mixture in the bottom of the dish.
4. Place a layer of corn tortillas, topping with sauce and cheese. Keep repeating the layers, ending with sauce and a topping of cheese.
5. I left all the taco fixings out for everyone to top their own plate since I was feeding friends and I didn't know what they liked. Feel free to spice it up as you like with adding different ingredients to the layers.
6. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and it is bubbly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reese Peanut Butter Cake

I was reading a baking blog I found online yesterday and came across this amazing cake!! It combines my favorite thing in the world with cake - Reese peanut butter cups!!!! Thank goodness for Valerie wanting me to make her a cake so I could try out the recipe. It took a lot of willpower, but I didn't eat ANY of the cake. I made one 2-layer 6in cake for a birthday cake, and then the remaining batter made about a dozen cupcakes. The only problem with the cupcakes was that they didn't have as many Reese cups in them, and it is probably just the scoop I used didn't pick them up as much. I also changed the frosting and used the frosting on the Hershey's cocoa can instead of a dark chocolate ganache like the recipe called for. As I was making this, I thought about a future frosting and trying to make a ganache out of melted Reese cups...that will be another day another time. :)

Reese Peanut Butter Cake
Recipe came from

1 devils food cake mix (or any chocolate cake would probably do)
3 eggs
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c oil
Reese cups (I bought 2 bags)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2.Mix cake mix, eggs, buttermilk and oil together
3. Chop up Reese cups and then add in about 2 cups (or as many or as little as you want - I think I used 1/2 of a bag for the cake batter and kept the rest for garnishing).

4. Pour batter into cake pans or cupcake pans. Use the box as a guidelines for baking, but I think my 6in cakes took about 30-35 min and the cupcakes needed 15 min.

5. Let cakes cool before frosting.

6. Frost with desired frosting (I even tried a couple with some leftover cream cheese frosting but Val said that was too rich, so maybe stick with chocolate or come up with your own creation)

Hershey's Cocoa Frosting

1 stick butter or margarine
2/3 c cocoa
1/3 c milk
3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

1. Melt butter and stir in cocoa
2. Mix in powdered sugar, alternating with milk. I didn't measure the powdered sugar or the milk - just kept adding until it became a consistency I liked.
3. Stir in vanilla - then frost away!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


While we were in San Diego my Aunt Sally made this delicious cheesecake. The recipe comes from my new aunt Mary Jane and her sister. I used to hate cheesecake, but my tastes changed on my last trip to San Diego in 2003. I went to the Cheesecake Factory with my Aunt Sally and ended up ordering their Godiva chocolate cheesecake and that was when it went all downhill from there. Maybe that is one reason I have had a weight problem since then...

I ended up making this recipe last night to take as a housewarming dessert to our friends Mike and Taemi. Now my aunt told me this is a foolproof recipe and hers doesn't crack (and hers was gorgeous). However when I took mine out of the oven it had a crack the size of the Grand Canyon. Oh well - it should taste just as great! One of the problems could be that she used a 10in pan, whereas I only have a 9in pan. This recipe was also way too much for a 9in pan, but luckily for me I have a set of mini 4in pans so I was able to make an additional 3 mini cheesecakes with the batter. I brought 2 to work and left one at home for Kris. :)

Let me know your cheesecake secrets if you have any! I have a chocolate recipe to try but need a destination for it first because it can't sit around my house.

4 8oz packages cream cheese
2 c. sugar
16oz sour cream
6 eggs
2 t vanilla
***All ingredients should be at room temperature***

Graham cracker crust:
2 c crumbs
2 T sugar
1 stick butter (can use less - just need to get crumbs wet so they stick together)

1. Prepare graham cracker crust and press into springform pan (could do oreo crust if you prefer)
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Cream together the sugar and cream cheese.
4. Add in sour cream
5. Mix in eggs, one at a time
6. Add vanilla
7. Be careful not to overbeat (but who knows how much that means)
8. Pour into graham cracker crust
9. Put a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven
10. Bake cheesecake for 45 min. After 45 minutes, turn oven off and leave cheesecake in oven 1 hour longer and don't open the door during cooking. For the mini cheesecakes, I baked them 30 minutes and still left them in oven for an hour.
11. Remove cheesecake from oven and put directly into refrigerator UNCOVERED for 24 hours

Serve with whatever toppings you like and enjoy!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Roll

Growing up we didn't get to see our paternal grandparents as often as we (and they) would like since they lived in California, but that didn't mean we couldn't enjoy my grandmother Meme's cooking from afar! It was guaranteed that every Christmas we would receive a package in the mail containing her specialty treats....peanut butter roll and date roll. I don't think any of the kids ever ate the date roll, but we went straight for the peanut butter roll.

Peanut butter roll is a very very sweet and rich "candy" that may need an acquired taste to fully appreciate. In fact, most people that eat it for the first time as adults don't like it that much, but Kris is always the exception to the rule and he just finished up a whole roll by himself. I have memories of making peanut butter roll with Meme one summer when I was young (and an old picture capturing the moment I will try to get scanned) and I just had the opportunity over the 4th of July weekend to learn from her once again. Kris and I went for a long weekend to San Diego to visit family, see the sights, and cook with my grandmother of course. I was able to learn how to make peanut butter roll and her famous dinner rolls, which I can't wait to post as well. Give this recipe a try if you want to give your sweet tooth a run for the money!

Peanut Butter Roll

4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/2 stick butter (softened)
1/2 t vanilla
5 to 6 c powdered sugar
Creamy peanut butter

1. Cream together butter and cream cheese
2. Mix in vanilla
3. Gradually add powdered sugar until the mixture becomes thick and close to the consistency of playdoh. Try not to add too much powdered sugar (vague direction I know) because the more you add the more you risk the pb roll drying out. However if you plan to eat it all rather quickly like Kris, then don't worry!
4. For easiest handling, divide the dough into 2 parts. Roll out on top of wax paper to approximately 1/4 inch thick, using powdered sugar to prevent from sticking. (Try to do your best to keep it in a rectangle shape so there isn't too much excess edges to trim later)
5. Spread peanut butter in a thin layer over the whole layer of rolled out dough
6. Using the wax paper to help, start at one of the long sides of the dough and roll up tightly
7. Trim edges, then for easiest storage cut the roll in half and wrap in the already used wax paper, and again into foil.
8. The roll is ready to eat right away, but we usually refrigerate it and keep it cold. Enjoy!

There are more pictures to come of my grandmother and I making this - I just don't have them in my possession yet! :)