Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Cooking

Our house is situated so that the sun shines on the back of house in the late afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, the kitchen is in the back of the house. On those 80+ degree days, the kitchen can feel much hotter than the rest of the house even is I keep the back door and the window blinds closed.

This makes me less inclined to want to make a meal cooked in the oven. In fact we often joke that the oven is "broken" from June to early September because we don't use it during that time. (Though we do use the toaster oven because it doesn't heat up the kitchen any more than it already is.) The downside of not making any oven meals is by the time mid-August rolls around I'm really tired of paninis, of salad - various pasta types and the lettuce types, sandwiches, pizza and other types of take out. Plus I still try to make healthy meals at least 5 days out of the week.

One day last week I was complaining to my sister that as much as I don't want summer to end, I'll be glad when the weather gets cooler so I can use the oven and not pass out from heat stroke. She hates the hot weather in general so she's always glad when summer comes to an end. (She wears shorts even when it's in the middle of winter because she's always overheated.) Anyway, she said that she uses her slow cooker/crock pot a lot in the summer and gave me the recipe listed below. I made it for dinner one night and it was a huge hit so I thought I'd share it.

Slow-Cooker Enchilada Lasagna

1 lb ground beef (I used 90% lean)
2 cans (10oz each) enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso brand)
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (to make it spicier, use diced tomatoes with green chiles)
1 8oz package softened cream cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 8oz package shredded cheddar cheese (Colby-Jack works well too)
6 uncooked lasagna noodles

Cook the ground beef until browned. Drain any fat that has accumulated during cooking. Leaving the cooked ground beef in the pan, stir in the enchilada sauce, black beans, and tomatoes. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese and milk until well blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese.

Place 2 cups of the meat sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer 3 of the lasagna noodles over the meat sauce. (You'll probably have to break the noodles to make them fit properly into the slow cooker.) Next layer in the cheese mixture. Repeat all of the layers one more time. Put the rest of the meat sauce over the top of the last cheese layer and cover with slow cooker lid.

Cook on Low heat setting for 4 hours or until the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over the top. Let stand with the lid on for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Uncover and let stand an additional 15 minutes before serving.

Makes approximately 8 servings

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