Monday, January 31, 2011

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

My Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole has its roots in Kay Yamashita's Chicken Tortilla Casserole from my childhood. I thought of this over the weekend while attending the ESGVJCC's 60th Anniversary Luncheon, Kay was one of the many women being honored.

Mrs. Yamashita always brought the best food to pot-lucks & picnics, and she always shared her recipes. Remember the layered finger jello & the rainbow jello cake? Mrs. Yamashita was the first one I remember making them! 

My mother made Mrs. Yamashita's Chicken Tortilla Casserole when I was growing up. Later, so did I, and so did my friends.

Now I add beans instead of chicken, green chile enchilada sauce instead of the canned soups, and some other ingredients to make it my own.

Again, this is going to make a lot.

I made two big pans of this casserole in two days, one to take to my mother's and one for home.


3 dozen corn tortillas (for one casserole)

Diced green chiles

Green chile enchilada sauce

Canned pinto beans


Mexican blend cheese

ricotta cheese

chopped onions, celery, mushrooms & grated carrots

Chop one large sweet onion, 4 celery stalks and a small package of mushrooms. Grate 2 carrots.

Chop 2 cloves garlic and add to a hot pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Saute until vegetables are wilted.

Slice the olives and add enchilada sauce, green chiles, pinto beans and sauteed vegetables to a large bowl.

Stir well to combine.

Separate sauce into two portions. 

Toast the tortillas. 

When they're all toasted, tear them into pieces and add them to half of the sauce mixture. 

Stir to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add a little water until the mixture is soupy.

Spray your casserole with non-stick spray. Add half of the mixture to the casserole dish, dollops of ricotta cheese, a thin layer of the Mexican blend cheese--then repeat the layer ending with the Mexican blend cheese.

Sprinkle with dried oregano.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with a green salad.

For the meat eaters, you can serve a scoop of the chile verde on top!

I served this for lunch to Gary & his siblings--the original FOODjimotos--and the casserole was almost gone!

Thank you, Mrs. Yamashita for the inspiration!

Our entire family, the Hamachis & the Fujimotos, are grateful for Bob & Kay Yamashita's service to the community, we all played Sabers basketball growing up.

Arigatou gozaimashita!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Coming Attractions: February 2011

Some of the dishes you will see here in February...

Vegetarian Enchilladas


Oyako Donburi

Vegetarian Chili

Shrimp & Grits

Oven Baked Ribs


Our First Giveaway!

Stay Tuned!

Friday, January 28, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

Today we have a Guest Blogger!

Sue Godinez

Sue and I first met at her wedding. Our husbands and their brothers went to elementary school together and played football together in high school. Her husband Rick says my brother-in-law Eugene played a huge part in his childhood, helping him assimilate when he came to the US from Mexico. We met at their wedding, but didn't see each other again until our sons played soccer together when they were 5 years old.

Then, when Sue's family moved down the street a few years later and our sons became friends, Sue and I became fast friends also. Sue is always game for anything, the life of the party, has a generous spirit and is never without her bluetooth.

Unless one of her mini wiener dogs chews it up!

We are so happy Sue is sharing her fabulous German Chocolate Cake recipe with us!


It's all about the nuts.

Let's start from the very beginning...

A very good place to start...

Hershey's German Chocolate Cake


1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

The full recipe can be found here.

Spray non-stick spray into three 9" round cake pans.  Cut wax paper and place in bottom of pans.  I also spray the wax paper with a little Pam then wipe it evenly with a paper towel.

Measure out the boiling water and add the Cocoa. Pour buttermilk into an easy pour cup then set them both aside.

Measure flour, salt and soda and set aside.

Butter should be a little softened; add sugar and vanilla and mix together.  Add eggs one at a time mixing between each addition.

Pour in flour mixture, Cocoa mixture and buttermilk alternating 1/3 of each at a time.

Pour into three prepared cake pans then bake at 350.  I usually 1 1/2 the recipe, so I bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Yummmm, the icing! I always double the icing recipe just to make sure there is enough for licking the spoon.

Coconut Pecan Frosting 


1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups MOUNDS Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1 cup chopped pecans

Separate the egg yolks and save the whites for Bryan's breakfast.

Chop pecans and set aside.

Pour sweetened condensed milk into a 2 qt saucepan.  Add yolks and stir together before turning on the burner.  Add butter then bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly.  Let boil till thickened, just a couple minutes.

After removing from heat, add coconut.

I buy this size Bakers Coconut and use half of the package.

Add chopped pecans.

You usually need a little more than a lick of the spoon.

Perfect! I use a dinner knife to separate cake from the edges of the pan.

Place cakes on cooling racks and remove wax paper carefully and immediately.

Spread icing generously on bottom layer.

Place second layer on top then place a couple of toothpicks through layers to keep from sliding.

Ice second layer generously.

Spread icing on top layer and garnish with pecan halves.


This is why it's difficult to get me to make this cake.  "Hey Rick!"


Pam first brought this cake to one of our parties, and needless to say it was a big hit, but I think Sue has now made it more times than Pam.

We are so thankful to have two awesome bakers in our family!

Thanks, Sue!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Albondigas Soup

While we're having 80 degree weather here in Southern California, in other parts of the country it's COLD!

Keith in NYC is going sledding.

My childhood friends & relatives in Iowa, South Dakota & the Pacific Northwest are posting pictures of snow in their yards, and relatives in Kenosha, WI are commenting 'No global warming here!'

Even when the weather is warm, I love soup.

In honor of all that are cold, here's a repost of my Albondigas Soup from Facebook.

Growing up in Southern California exposes one to a lot of delicious Mexican food. Not only are there a lot of really good restaurants, but one learns the best cooking tips from friends and their families. 

Albondigas soup is a family favorite. I remember cooking it when we'd take the kids around the Eastern Sierra--when they were little--and we had a truck & camper. It's so easy to make, even in that tiny kitchen. The four of us would snuggle up on a cold night in that camper, with snow outside, warming ourselves with this soup.

Recently, Karen made it for the ladies at her church, with great results. I decided to make a pot and deliver some to family & friends.


This recipe makes a lot. It will fill a 12 quart pot, so you'll have lots to share!

For the meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground turkey

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup Mrs. Cubbison's Dressing

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 eggs

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

My mom always used Mrs. Cubbison's seasoned dressing, that's why the smell and taste of these breadcrumbs signals comfort food to me.

I start the meatball mixture with 1 cup crushed dressing crumbs, but Gary likes the meatballs less meaty, so I might use 2 cups of crumbs. 

I crush the breadcrumbs with a tenderizer mallet, makes less of a mess if you crush them in the bag.

I have some flat leafed parsley growing in my front yard. Whenever I need some, I go out and pick a small bunch. It's so convenient to always have it on hand. There's curly leafed parsley growing here too.

Be on the lookout for any pesky snails.

Chop the parsley and add it to the rest of the ingredients to make the albondigas. 

Or, adondibodie, as a favorite salad-dodger nephew might say.

"WHO put too many vegetables in the a-don-di-bodeeeee???!!!"

I'm easily distracted :)

Back to the recipe.

Mix until well combined.

Using a small ice cream/cookie scoop, or a tablespoon, make the meatballs. Keep a small bowl of water handy to wet your hands and the scooper so the mixture doesn't stick.

Now to make the soup.


1 large sweet onion

6 carrots

4 stalks celery

1 leek

1 large potato

1 bunch cilantro

2 cans stewed tomatoes

tomato paste chicken broth 


1/2 cup red wine

I like these Mayan sweet onions at Costco.

Begin by cutting the onion in half, cutting off the ends and taking off the outer skin layer.

Then remove the root core.

Cut the onion in both directions, vertically & horizontally, keeping it together.

Then slice across.

Next, the leek.

Leeks have a lot of dirt between the leaves, so you have to cut them and wash them thoroughly.

There's dirt in-between the layers of the green part too. The worst thing is crunching into sand, so be sure to wash them well!

Slice the stalk and dice into small pieces.

If you grew up at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center like I did, you might be remembering Beans Sogioka about now, and his joke, "Take A Leek from Sogioka Farms!"

Slice up the tops, too. You don't want to be wasteful, or hear my voice saying, 'mottainai'.

Give the garlic a rough chop.

Saute the onions in a little bit of olive oil and get them sizzling and sweating.

Chop the celery.

Peel & chop the carrots.

And the potato.

Add them, along with the mushrooms, into the pot.

Add two cans of stewed tomatoes.

Chop them up a bit the your spoon.

Add a little red wine. About a half-cup or so. 

There was a little bit left in this bottle my dad brought over for Thanksgiving. Homemade wine. I didn't have any of it, but those who did said it was good!

I like to add about a half cup of pearl barley. I like the chewiness of it.

After the veggies have softened a bit, add water and some tomato paste. A small can is plenty for this large pot.

Add water to cover the vegetables, so they're floating in broth, not just sitting.

When the soup boils, it's time to add the meatballs.

Don't worry about the foam just yet. You're going to skim that off later.

As the meatballs cook, the fat in the meat is released. Skim the fat off.

 Skim the foam off too.

The meatballs are done when they float to the top.

Lower the heat and simmer gently 15 to 20 minutes to let the flavors meld.

After the flavors have a chance to come together, taste the broth. Adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.

Add some chopped cilantro to each bowl or to the whole pot.

The secret to making good albondigas soup is to make it with ingredients you like.

Add more/less tomato, squashes, corn, spices--thyme, rosemary, etc., whatever you have on hand.

Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to all my Facebook friends that wrote to tell me they tried the soup and how it was a hit with their families. Love you guys!