Friday, July 3, 2009

Crock pot squash enchilada casserole

Crock pot squash enchilada casserole, adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker CookbookI originally had other plans for this month's cookbook of the month but, due to extenuating circumstances (that I will soon share), I decided to hold off on those for a while. Instead, we're going to change things up a little bit this month and try out some recipes from Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann's "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook." I haven't used my crock pot in a while, and it's time to change that. Although you can cook just about anything in the crock pot, I especially love it for things that get better with time, like soups, chilis, and casseroles. Slow and steady is definitely the way to go for those things, and that's where the crock pot reigns over all other cooking methods. Crock pots also use far less energy than ovens and don't heat up the room (and I'm hoping this will help me accomplish my goal of not turning on my A/C this year). This book includes a ton of delicious recipes, and hopefully these will help satisfy my comfort food cravings that have been plaguing me lately. The only downside is that crock pot concoctions do not tend to be very photogenic, so bear with me on that.

Crock pot squash enchilada casserole (adapted from "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2" rounds
2 medium yellow summer squash, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (or 1 can)
2 cups green chile sauce
6 corn tortillas, each cut into 4 strips
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 oz. queso fresco, crumbled

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute onion until it gets soft (about 5 min). Add garlic, zucchini, squash, oregano, and cumin and cook until squash and zucchini start to brown (about 7 min). Stir in corn and cook for another 2 min. Remove this mixture from heat and add in beans.

Spread 1/3 cup chile sauce in the bottom of a medium crock pot (I used a 3 1/2 quart one). Layer 6 tortilla strips, about 1/3 cup sauce, a third of the veggies, and a quarter of the cheddar and queso fresco. Repeat these layers two more times, and then top with the remaining tortilla strips, sauce, and cheeses. Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours. Serves 5.

This is the perfect example of how crock pots can enhance your basic casserole. It was wonderful - easily one of my favorite meals in a long time. The squash and zucchini were falling apart, which is just how I like them, and all of the flavors melded into one. It had a little bit of spice, but was in no way "hot"; it was cheesy, but not overwhelmingly so. I'm already excited about the rest of the month!

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