Monday, September 22, 2008

In the kitchen with Everyday Food

Last Wednesday, I had an excellent day. As I’m sure you know by now, two of my blog buddies, Matt from Matt Bites and Deb from Smitten Kitchen were on the Martha Stewart show and I was fortunate to have a ticket to see them live from the studio audience.

Now, what you don’t know is that the last time I saw Martha Stewart’s show live was with my mother three years ago. If you glance over at the archives, you’ll notice that I started this blog in September 2005 but I didn’t post much until the summer of 2006. This is because I spent that period dealing with some awful stuff in my life, which, strangely enough, began the day I last saw Martha Stewart (though it wasn’t her show’s fault I went through a rough period—I swear!).

When I started blogging again in August 2006, I was still a little sad but this blog helped me heal. Not to mention I made a ton of great friends along the way. So while the blog has archives from that period of eleven months, I’ve always felt that my blog’s official birthday was August 2006. I guess you could say it was born prematurely.

But what does this have to do with Martha Stewart? Well, that day three years ago when I was sitting in the studio audience, I had no idea that someday I’d be sitting in the audience again cheering on my friends as they baked alfajores or chatted about blogging with Martha. Nor did I know that I would have the opportunity to spend the afternoon in the Everyday Food test kitchen. Of course, you never know what the future may hold for you, but the next time I feel a little down I’ll just remember this happy turn of events—there’s always something wonderful on the horizon and everything usually comes full circle.

Enough about me, however—you want to know what it’s like in the Everyday Food kitchen. At the taping, I met one of my Twitter pals—Everday Food editor in chief Deb Puchalla a.k.a. @everydayfooddeb—and she invited me to join some of my fellow bloggers at the test kitchen after the show. We were sworn to secrecy about what they were cooking (did you know that they work almost a year in advance of publication?) but what I can say is that it is one of the most inspiring places I’ve been to in New York City.

Why is it so inspiring? Well, it’s a kitchen the size of my one-bedroom apartment overflowing with light that come from the big, bright windows; it has a wall of bookshelves filled floor to ceiling with cookbooks; it has ample counter space, beautiful stoves and ovens; room for cooling racks and desk space, too. Simply put: it’s paradise for food lovers, writers and photographers.

As Matt cooked his grandmother’s recipe for albondigas, the food editors shared with us some of the dishes they were working on. As mentioned, I can’t say what they shared, but I can say that one of them was for their "Freeze it" column.

Today is the first day of fall, and with the nip in the air I plan on spending more time cooking and baking, though I don’t have time to do that every night. And that’s the brilliance of Everyday Food—it’s designed for the working person who wants to cook but may not have the time, hence homemade frozen meals. I can so relate.

One of my favorite Sunday pastimes in the cooler months is making up big batches of food and then freezing it for future meals. My two stand-bys are my chilis—both red and green—but I also freeze various casseroles, such as King Ranch, lasagna and what I like to call enchilada casserole.

Enchilada casserole is so easy that it can be made the night I’m going to eat it, but there seems to be some inverse law that the shorter the hours of daylight, the longer the hours at work: fall is the return of our busy season. So having a few containers on hand makes for easy lunches and painless dinners. It’s similar to King Ranch casserole in that it involves tortillas, meat and sauce, but this one calls for flour tortillas and can be made with any type of protein. And like all the best casseroles it’s completely adjustable to whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Fall for me marks a time of renewal—a period of fresh change and new beginnings. Last Wednesday may have technically occurred during the summer, but its invigorating spirit was unadulterated autumn, all the way. Thanks to those new friends who added to such a wonderful day. I can't think of a finer way to begin a new season.

Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients:
9 six-inch flour tortillas
2 cups of protein, such as refried beans, shredded chicken, ground beef, cubed tofu, etc.
4 cups of salsa, either red or green
1 1/2 cups of chedder
1 1/2 cups of Monterrey Jack
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of sliced black olives
1/2 cup of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pour one cup of salsa into a 9x12 pan.
3. Layer 3 flour tortillas along the bottom (may have to tear one to make it fit).
4. Add one cup of protein, 1 cup of cheese, 1/4 cup each of onion, olives and cilantro, 1 cup of salsa and 1 cup of cheese.
5. Layer 3 flour tortillas on top, and again add 1 cup of protein, 1 cup of cheese, cup of salsa and 1/4 cup each of onion, olives and cilantro.
6. Add last 3 tortillas on top, sprinkle over them last 1 cup of salsa and 1 cup of cheese.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until bubbly.
Serves 8
Variations: The nice thing about this is you can add just about anything you like to it: mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or any other vegetable you have taking up space in your refrigerator. You can also add more or less cheese, more or less protein or whatever else you desire.

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47 comments:

kkryno said...

Gosh, that must have been so much fun! I can't imagine being privy to a test kitchen! BTW, are you still thinking of starting a culinary school? I have a hard time with fall. It is a beautiful season, but I always lament the end of summer. Fall is just a prelude to winter for me and the seemingly endless grey, dreary days ahead. Even before moving to AK, I had difficulty with fall. The aroma of roasting green chile is the highlight of that time of year(my realitives came through and sent me some; yeah!) Good time for some blue corn green chile enchilladas!

Paula said...

Oh, how cool! I'm not happy that you had a rough patch, but am thrilled that you are in a much better place now ... including being in the Test Kitchen! COOL! Love this recipe. It would be great to bring to a potluck, too! So glad that you have this blog; I so enjoy your writing and your food!

AT said...

Oh my gosh, how exciting! I love Everyday Food. I even have the official Everyday Food cookbook (organized by season - very cool).

Have I been doing too much reading in Google Reader or is this redesign new? Very fancy! I'm off to explore all the new buttons.

Julie said...

I like the new redesign and I'm glad to see your old banner is incorporated. That banner is one of my favorite banners from any blog --perhaps my very favorite banner.

Sounds like you had a great day; the test kitchen sounds like a perfect place to hang out. And you got to hang out there with Matt! How wonderful.

ann said...

What a fun time it looks like you guys had!! I can't wait to hear more about it next week. Hang tight 'til then, it sounds like you've got a good plan going :-)

matt said...

First, the new banner? I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!



Second, I'm still all smiles and my cheeks hurt from that day. Meeting and hanging with you was one of the highlights of the entire trip and maybe it's because I'm a texan and maybe it's because you're just so incredible but I'm completely glad you blog and share all this with the world.

You are amazing, Lisa!

Mike said...

I like your new digs here....looks perfect.
Now, let's see...I need to print this enchilada casserole recipe and I'm set....

take care

Esmeralda said...

When I think "enchilada casserole," I think of the casserole my mom used to make for Friday's during Lent, using the always popular cream of mushroom soup!! with green chiles and onions. I think just about everything my mom made required cream of something soup! :)
Can't wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing!

Tommy said...

I absolutely love the EveryDay Food show that airs on my PBS affilitate.

All the presenters are top notch and make things seem so easy and effortless.

Martha's class and influence is evident on every episode.

deb said...

It was so much fun hanging out with you all that day. I would move into the Test Kitchen, if I could work out the logistics.

Meanwhile, the Martha episode with the hot dogs is on today (not that I am watching when I should be working) with MANY jokes about length. They're serving hot dogs to everyone in the audience, which is just mean, given how they didn't share last week.

Any Little Reason said...

Ooooh, I'm so jealous! Martha AND the test kitchen...you lucky thing!! The enchilada casserole sounds great - perfect time of year for it!

Homesick Texan said...

Kkryno--I've put the culinary school idea on hold for now, though I'm thinking I might see if I can teach a Texas cooking class here in NYC. And I bet AK winters are tough! Gladd you got some green chiles--what did you make with them?

Paula--It's awesome for potlucks! Always a crowd pleaser.

AT--Yep, things look a bit different around here. I thought after a couple of years the blog was do a makeover.

Julie--That was the toughest design challenge for me--keeping the photo in a new header. I love it so much,too! And yes, Matt's a doll.

Ann--Yeah, should be a crazy week but it'll be good to catch up next week!

Matt--Awwwww, shucks...thank you. Likewise! Now y'all come back soon, hear?

Mike--Thank you and enjoy!

Esmeralda--I agree, it's tough to find a casserole that doesn't call for cream of mushroom soup.

Tommy--You know, I don't watch their show (probably because I don't watch any food TV...weird, huh), but I'm going to start. If it's anything like the magazine I bet it's wonderful.

Deb--I think there was some space under the desks for a bed. But seriously, if I owned my apartment I would remodel it after the test kitchen. I love my easy-bake kitchen and all, but sometimes a girl needs to stretch.

Any Little Reason--It is, isn't I? I get so excited about being able to cook again!

Melissa said...

That casserole is too good to pass up - I'm going to give it a try this weekend! Like you, I love stocking my freezer during fall (my favorite season). I hope this fall brings as much rejuvenation and respite as your soul may need.

Homesick Texan said...

Melissa--Stocking the freezer makes me feel cozy. And I hope you enjoy the casserole!

Marion said...

Congrats on being today's Blog of Note - I'll be back to read more!

winsolu said...

great blog... :)

Madeline12 said...

Love the pictures!! Did you take them? Sounds like an exciting time. I love everything culinary and everything creative, what an opportunity. Great blog.

rachete said...

you make me wish I could cook :(


http://apaintersdiary.blogspot.com/

Kalyn said...

Sounds like such a fun time. Great photos too; it must have been so exciting to see their kitchen!

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Hi,

I love the new design. Thanks for the account of your day at Everyday Food- it sounds like it was a very special day. And hello...enchilada casserole? Yes please!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I love good food too... and I have been to Houston, Texas (back in 1981)... and to N.Y. City, in 1999 (have you been to Downtown Beiruth II? it´s a great place... say hi to Dave, in case you drop by...) I am a homesick brazilian, living as an italian in Lisbon, Portugal... Cheers!
Have food! Have fun! Mário Bazzo.

Globe Maps said...

I love food too!!!

lily said...

I found your site from Blogger's Blog of Note. I really enjoy your beautiful writing, photos and thoughts on life. I'll be back... and can't wait to try out some of your recipes!

~Madeline~ said...

What an amazing experience! Did that episode with your friends already air? I hope I didn't miss it. Your Enchilada Casserole sounds fantastic. I was just thinking about the Chili and Stew I was going to make for freezing. I'll have to add your casserole to the list. Oh, and the new design looks great!

Greg said...

Lightning killed my last TV over 7 years ago (THANK YOU!) so I don't know about the TV shows you mention.

I do like the redesigned digs here and I loves me some Albondigas.

barky said...

I just wanted to say that I like your blog. It must have been very cool being on the Martha set and getting to play in the kitchen! Well done.

Mrs Underhill said...

Hello Homesick Texan
Today as I was logging on to my blog (the much more amateur http://mrsunderhilldotcom.blogspot.com/) I saw a link on the Blogger site to your home on the web and, for the first time ever, followed the bait.
Boy am I glad I did!
I feel some serendipity is at work today. Firstly, I went to New York (i am in the land downunder) for the first time last year and this morning was asked to list some of my favourite haunts for a newspaper editor that is going there solo next week. Because I am a foodie at heart (and at waistline) I had investigated many great food, wine and coffee spots so loved returning to my notes to harangue her with recommendations. If only I had known about your site and all your tips. Next time!
Secondly, I head off to Austin Texas next week. Surely you, the Homesick TX can give me some tips for the best eating and watering holes.
Thanks ...

Jerry said...

How much fun is that?! Love Martha and think it's great that she is having food bloggers in the kitchen!
P.S. When I said I wanted to bring back bison meat on my flight from Texas, I was hoping to bring enough to survive me until next year. LOL.

storyofminajade.blogspot.com said...

I'm not a great cook, but I do like Martha Stewart, the lady is fun!

Katie said...

I also found your blog through Blogs of Note...and as a Texan I have to say it was the name of your blog that drew me in!

I'm a college student who is in the process of learning how to cook, and I have the feeling that your enchilada casserole will be the next thing on my list! :)

maggie said...

Oh how cool. What a great experience. And the recipe sounds perfect—I hear ya on the days at work stretching longer in the fall...

Homesick Texan said...

Marion--Thanks!

Winsolu--Thanks!

Madeline12--Yes, I take all the photos.

Rachete--Anyone can cook!

Kalyn--It was awesome! Like Deb, I want to live in that kitchen.

Tokyoastrogirl--Thanks! It was fun putting the new design together.

Anon--The love of good food is something that unites so many of us--no matter where we are.

Globe Maps--Yay! Another food lover!

Lily--Welcome--glad you liked the site.

Madeline--It aired last Wednesday, but there some clips from it on YouTube.

Greg--Matt's albondigas were fantastic!

Barky--Thanks! It was indeed great fun.

Mrs Underhill--Ha! I'm a foodie at waistline as well! Have fun in Austin!

Jerry--I love Martha, too and it's cool how much she's embraced blogging and bloggers. As for the bison meat--how big is your freezer?

Storyofminajade--She's a blast!

Katie--Welcome! And enjoy the enchilada casserole.

Maggie--Yep, it's the busy season.

OptimizeFuel said...

That is an amazing story! Like you I started blogging, and then dropped it, but since then have started back again. I am interested to see where this goes. Thanks for your inspiration, and for the cooking story. I used to cook and have left that behind, too. I hope my cooking will start going again soon.

Jenny in Mexico said...

Hi, Tex,
Just came across your blog today and know I will be enjoying it. I learned to cook in MS, but polished my kitchen skills in TX and have been doing TX-Mx for the past thirty-five years. I think I'll fix chicen fried steak for tomorrow. Come join us.

ReMARKable Palate said...

As one of the bloggers present, I can testify that it was a fun time for all! In fact, here's the video we did of the event for the Culinary Media Network (you can even see Homesick Texan in it for a bit)

http://www.culinarymedianetwork.com/culinarypodcastnetwork/2008/09/cmn-video-food-blogger-playdate-at.html

Dreamlight said...

You have a new fresh look ! Love it.
From a Big D girl.(Dallas) for you yankees.

Melissa said...

I have that apron!!

Andrea Meyers said...

My children were not happy that I preempted Sesame Street to watch you, Deb, Matt, and the other food bloggers last week! It was a fun show and I'm totally envious of your tour of the kitchen. What a great experience!

Andrew said...

Howdy from Austin TEXAS ! I saw your Homesick Texan title and thought I would drop by and say HEY Y'all ! I am from San Antonio originally and have lived in Kentucky(worked in cincinnatti) and Utah and got back to TEXAS as fast as I could ! If you are ever down San Antonio way make sure you got to Los Barrios on Blanco Rd. by Basse.Delicious! And if you are here in Austin...Hills Cafe ! Awesome Chicken Fried Steak AND free concerts on wednesdays ! Cmon Down ! HOOK EM HORNS !!

Bee said...

It's always a bit disconcerting when someone changes up their site . . . but I like the new details of an index (such a good idea) and your Amazon book list. (Speaking of the book list, I notice that you discovered Rebecca Rather! I was also reminded that I've always meant to read Edna Lewis's cookbook . . . ever since I learned about it from Laurie Colwin, who is probably my favorite-ever food writer.)

I like the way you connect your past and present -- both blogwise and to Martha Stewart -- in this post. Food has always had healing properties . . . but writing (and reading) about food is healing, too. You've certainly helped a lot of displaced Texans.

SteamyKitchen said...

big hugs!

i think i saw your bighappysmiling face in the audience!

Anonymous said...

Iwas wondering what to do with the other 2 cups of salsa, maybe to use when serving? I know this will be a frequent request at my house

EAT! said...

I was in the audience for the Martha blog Show also. How much fun to see all the bloggers - including me even though I was only pretending - blogging away. glad your blog is taking you interesting places!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Girl - I am JEALOUS, JEALOUS, JEALOUS!

Glad you had a great day in the wonderful Everyday Food kitchen. I have been dying to go see Martha, but with the new job, I will have to wait a while...

Can't wait to see you on Martha as one of the featured bloggers!

Jennifer said...

There seems to be 1 cup too much salsa listed in the ingredients still? I made this last night and it was wonderful, but I think some of the measurements are off. I kinda just "winged" it. When I printed it there were 2 cups too many cups of salsa, but I see that I was supposed to put some salsa in the middle layer now....

Anyway, even though I was TOTALLY confused, it came out fine and we all enjoyed it! We put some sour cream on top! MMMM.

Thanks,
Jennifer (Homesick Houstonian living in Florida)

Dee said...

Love this recipe, so glad I found your blog. I feel kinship here since we are homesick some of the time & living between Texas (Austin) & Mexico. Wonderful recipe post.

JoJo5 said...

I know this posting about Everyday Food is dated 2008 but I was wondering if you met the Art Director of Everyday Food while you were there. He's my son and a terrific guy.

By the way, I just bumped into your blog today and find it very interesting. I'm going to try some of your recipes. They look so delicious in the pictures. I'm a born and bred Italian New Englander so your cuisine is far removed from my own, but none the less fascinating.

Thanks,

Joanne

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