On the whole, though, we've adjusted to our new home.
Probably the toughest thing to get used to was the food. Two twenty-year vegetarians moving to the heart of cattle country? Sounds like the premise for a bad sit-com. I thought my hill-billy kin were bad about slipping bacon into everything on the menu, but they've got nothing on Texans. There's pork fat, chicken stock, or lard hiding in just about everything.
So for the past five years, it's been us versus Texas food.
Except when it comes to Tex-Mex. Oh my. Tex-Mex is where Team WatHawk and Texas find common ground. We have to be vigilant about the above-mentioned stealth pork, but Tex-Mex can be done well without the meat, and we're huge fans.
This casserole is my homage to Texas, but totally animal-free: no meat, no dairy, no eggs. In a word, vegan. The potato filling is so luscious and the sauce so, well, saucy, you'll never miss the cheese. What's more, it's quick to put together and doesn't require much stove time, so it's become one of my go-to summer dinner party meals. If you really want to, you could add some cheese (cheddar or jack would be good). Or you could make a totally different filling. It's the sauce--with its special ingredient--that you simply must try!
(By the way, the dish is named for our cat Todd. He has never made the dish for us, though I like to think he would. If he were a little taller and had thumbs.)
Todd's Potato and Pinto Enchilada Bake
Here's what you'll need before you begin assembly. Don't fret. There are lots of pieces, but they're all super-easy.
1 recipe enchilada sauce
1 recipe potato filling
1 recipe pinto bean filling
18 6-inch corn tortillas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs. flour
1/4 cup chili powder
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 oz. Mexican chocolate*
salt to taste
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent flour from burning. Stir in chili powder, then slowly mix in vegie broth, getting rid of any lumps. Stir tomato sauce, cumin, and garlic powder into sauce and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Stir in chocolate to melt. Season to taste with salt.
* Mexican chocolate comes in tablets for making hot chocolate. Abuelita is the brand I get most often, but there are several. Look for them in the Hispanic or international food section of your grocery store. If you cannot find Mexican chocolate, you can use unsweetened chocolate and add a dash of cinnamon.
1 bag frozen, steam-in-bag russet or sweet potatoes*
10-16 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed (whatever size your grocery store carries!)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
dash of ground chipotle or cayenne
Press as much water out of the spinach as you can (put it in a colander and press with the back of a spoon). Mash the potatoes with a fork or a potato masher; they don’t need to be smooth, just mushed a bit. Stir in the spinach, cumin, garlic powder, and chipotle/cayenne.
*In the alternative, use 2 pounds russet or sweet potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled in salted water until tender.
Pinto Bean Filling
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fat free refried beans
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan, mashing some of the beans with the back of a fork. Heat over medium-low flame until hot.
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan with a little non-stick spray and spread about 1/2 a cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom. Arrange 6 corn tortillas on the bottom, tearing and overlapping so that the whole bottom of the pan is covered.
Spread 1/2 of the potato filling on the tortillas.
Ladle half of the pinto filling over the potatoes, and drizzle about 1/2 a cup of enchilada sauce over the pintos.
Repeat with another 6 tortillas, the rest of the potatoes, the rest of the pintos, and another 1/2 cup of sauce. Top with the last 6 corn tortillas and ladle the rest of the sauce over the tortillas (so they are totally covered).
Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes.
Voila! Delicious, nutritious, and so, so easy!
For information about Wendy's Mysteries a la Mode and more yummy recipes, visit her website. The first in the series, I Scream, You Scream, is available now; the second Mystery a la Mode, Scoop to Kill, will be released in September.
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