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IDEA ALLEY: Alley Kats adapting old recipes a welcome sight

by Kelly Brant | September 21, 2022 at 1:53 a.m.
(Illustration by Kelly Brant)

Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I love hearing from readers when they try one of our recipes — whether they love or hate it. It makes my work feel worthwhile to know others are putting it to use. Recently, Rhonda Banks Newsom sent me a note about a recipe I wrote about more than a decade ago — Layered Enchilada Bake. The casserole is a long-standing favorite in rotation at my house.

Newsom put her own spin on the dish — as I hope most of you do when applicable — and wanted to share the results with me.

And now, I'm sharing them with you.

(For the curious, my version uses corn tortillas, a little less meat and cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, no Fiesta blend.)

Rhonda's Layered Enchilada Bake

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (4-ounce) can fire-roasted green chiles, drained
  • Ground cumin
  • 1 pound cooked taco meat
  • 1 (16-ounce can) chili beans, partially drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste, optional
  • Flour tortillas
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese and Fiesta blend cheese
  • Salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a small skillet with enough vegetable oil to coat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add drained green chiles and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add cumin to taste and cook 1 minute more. Add beef and beans and cook until heated through. Remove from heat.

In a shallow dish combine enchilada sauce, optional hot sauce and ground cumin.

Coat a pie plate with vegetable oil.

Coat a flour tortilla in enchilada sauce and place it in the pie plate. Top tortilla with a layer of beef-bean mixture. Sprinkle with cheeses. Repeat layers of enchilada-sauce coated tortillas, beef-bean mixture and cheese. Then top with a final layer of tortilla. Pour any remaining enchilada sauce over the top tortilla and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until filling is bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with a dollop of salsa, guacamole or sour cream, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

■  ■  ■

A few weeks ago Audrey Aikman requested a recipe for Cinnamon Cream Pie like that served at the much-missed Franke's Cafeteria. So far no one has responded, but I came across a recipe at that sounds like it might be similar.

The recipe suggested topping the pie with a meringue, but if memory serves, Franke's pie was topped with whipped cream.

I'll let you make the call. For convenience, I've included instructions for a basic meringue below.

Little Rock Cinnamon Cream Pie

  • 1 ¼ cups sugar, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Dash salt
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup butter, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (8- or 9-inch) prepared graham cracker pie shell
  • Whipped cream or meringue, for topping

Mix together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir into scalded milk, then very gradually blend in slightly beaten egg yolks. Cut 4 tablespoons of the butter into several pieces and add to milk mixture. Cook mixture in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in vanilla. Cool.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining ½ cup butter and combine it with the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and the remaining ¼ cup sugar; mix well.

Pour half the filling into prepared pie shell. Sprinkle cinnamon-graham cracker mixture over it and carefully spoon on remaining cream filling to cover cinnamon-graham cracker mixture.

Top with whipped cream or meringue (see note).

Makes 1 pie.

Note: To make a standard 3-egg meringue, in a mixing bowl, beat 3 egg whites to soft peaks with an electric mixer. Gradually add 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, beating until sugar dissolves and egg whites are glossy. Mound the meringue over the pie filling, spreading it from edge to edge making sure it reaches the crust, forming a seal. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 20 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating or serving. Serve pie chilled or at room temperature.

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