7-Layer Tortilla Pie

I love meatless dinners.  If the focus is Mexican, I love it even more.  I don’t remember what I was looking for when I spotted this recipe on the Internet.  I’ve had consistent good luck with the recipes I’ve tried from allrecipes.  I’ve been holding on to it for awhile, waiting for just the right moment.  Cooking from the pantry seemed like the perfect time.

2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup salsa, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

7 (8 inch) flour tortillas

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mash pinto beans.  Stir in 3/4 cup salsa and the garlic.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup salsa, cilantro, black beans and tomatoes.

Place 1 tortilla in a pie plate or tart dish.  Spread 3/4 cup pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2 inch of edge.  Top with 1/4 cup cheese, and cover with another tortilla.  Spread 2/3 cup black bean mixture, and top with 1/4 cup cheese.  Repeat layering twice.  Cover with remaining tortilla, and spread with remaining pinto bean mixture and cheese.

Cover with foil, and bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes.  Cut into wedges, and serve with salsa and sour cream.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I have many caveats for this recipe.  The only fresh ingredient I had was tomatoes.  That was fine with G, he is not a cilantro fan.  Also, I rarely use fresh garlic.  Yes, I know it’s better, but I’ve been honest about how lazy I am.  I was also tortilla challenged.  We eat more tortillas than bread, so my supply was a bit low.  I did not make the number of layers suggested by the recipe.

As you can tell by the picture, we decided a bit of green was in order.  I think cabbage would have been better for the crunch.  Also, my bean collection is way down.  I used white beans instead of black and kidney beans instead of pinto.  It was all good.

We both gave this recipe a thumbs up.

and remember what Alice Longworth said:  I have a simple philosophy:  fill what’s empty, empty what’s full.  Scratch where it itches.  Big kiss, Lynn

Norwegian Meatballs

Don’t even be thinking I got the name wrong.  How many times have I said I was Norwegian?  How many times have I said I was Swedish?  So, what kind of meatballs do you think I make?  Exactly.  I had a bit of an epiphany the other day.  I was reading about Sean Brock, one of the best Southern chefs.  I kind of have a crush on him; he’s all that and more.  I was getting ready to order his book when I thought, Why?  My family is not from the South.  None of my family emigrated to the South.  The few times I was in the South it made me nervous, so WHY?

So, back to the epiphany.  Why am I studying the South when I’ve got my own heritage to study.  So, here we go, it’s time to go Nordic.  Before the libraries were closed, I’d checked out a few books to explore.   The New Nordic:  Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen and Sweet Paul Eat and Make were my favorites and I ordered both.  Remember my rule:  Check it out twice before ordering so I don’t have buyers remorse.  So, let’s make Norwegian Meatballs.

2 pounds ground meat

2 cloves minced garlic

2 eggs

1 cup grated Parmesan (this is my non-Norwegian addition)

1 ½ tablespoons chopped parsley (I had no parsley, bummer)

S & P

1 ½ cups lukewarm water

Olive oil if you’re frying

½ cup panko

Combine meat with garlic, parsley, cheese, eggs, S&P.

Blend in panko.

Slowly add water, ½ cup at a time.  The mixture should be very moist but hold its shape.  I use it all.

Form into meatballs.  And the easiest way to do that is to form the meatball mixture into a rectangle and cut it into squares.  You will get the exact number of meatballs you need and they will all be of equal size.  (I know, and you thought I was just another pretty face.)

Fry in olive oil or bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, turning after 10 or 15 minutes.

Next is the Brown Gravy.

2 1/2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons flour

2 to 3 tablespoons butter

S & P to taste

Make a roux of the butter and flour.  Brown for a few minutes.  Slowly add the beef broth.  Allow to thicken.

I serve this with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes and of course, a spoonful of ligonberry jam.  If you’re feeling really Norwegian, go for mashed rutabagas or cauliflower.

*  From the Recipe Box:

The New Nordic is going to make you hungry for a trip to Norway.

Couple of notes:  I do not go to the store for 1 item.  Currently I can’t go to the store at all, so you’re right, that is raspberry jam not ligonberry jam.  I had no beef broth, so I used au jus.  I didn’t love it, but I’m a firm believer in faking it.

and remember:   Oscar Wilde said it best:  Never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary.   Big kiss, Lynn

Caprese Salad

I made the most amazing salad for dinner the other night.  I know, I know, everyone knows how to make a caprese salad, but wait.  Look at this beauty.  I used small mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes that I halved, micro greens for garnish and to top it all off, balsamic reduction.  OMG!!!

You’re thinking, Lynn, get a grip, but I want you to realize how wonderful a plate of veggies can be.  Sometime you just want something light and refreshing.  I’m not a good meat eater, so after a day or 2 of having meat, I want something light.  G had this with a pork chop, but this is all I had for dinner and I was totally full and happy.

I bought individually wrapped mozzarella balls at Costco.  They are so cute.  They actually come 3 mini balls in each package.  The only problem I have sourcing ingredients is the micro greens.  I currently pick them up at Trader Joe’s, but I don’t know how long that will be an option for me.  Unfortunately, I’m currently housebound.  I’ve had some absolutely incredibly loving helpers, but it’s hard to expect them to go to TJ’s for micro greens.  If anyone knows of any here on my Island, please let me know.

Balsamic Reduction:

2 cups balsamic vinegar

1 cup Ruby Port (it must be Ruby, not Tawny)

1 large tablespoon brown sugar

Combine all in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until sauce has reduced to 1 cup.  This should take about 45 minutes to an hour.  You will want to use it on just about everything.  I keep it it a squirt bottle.  It will last quite awhile, unless you are like us and use it on everything.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I originally included this reduction recipe in Sept. 2018, but it deserves to be included twice.  Trader Joe’s and Costco each sell a good reduction as well.

and remember:  The Dalai Lama said it best:  Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive.  Big kiss, Lynn  ( I thought of this quote after reading about the woman who was making brown bag lunches and leaving them out for people who needed them.  About the teacher who drove by each of her student’s houses and held up a sign that said “I miss you”.  About the hot meals at rest stops being made for the truckers.  Ultimately, it’s about the people on the front lines:  the doctors, nurses, EMT’s, grocery workers, your help at the drive up window, truck drivers.  A huge thank you one and all and a major big kiss!!!!!!)

Chocolate Toffee Bark

So, I’m flipping through the newest Costco magazine when I came across this little ditty.  They had me at toffee.  There are siren songs that lure each of us.  G’s is meat in almost any form; mine is caramel.  I can’t even imagine a candy starting out with saltines as a base.  Someone has a better imagination than I do.

Who on Earth thought of this and may I worship at their feet?  This recipe was in the February 2020 Costco Connection.  I always scope them out for good recipes and I’ve gotten quite a few.  They work really hard at showcasing their products.  We both found this candy to be delightful.   Will you know there’s a saltine base?  I certainly can’t tell.  It’s the fun of telling people later that makes it so enjoyable.  Give it a try; I think you’ll get a kick out of them.


48 Saltine crackers

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup mixed nuts

3/4 cup dried cherries, cranberries or other dried fruit

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

red food color (optional)

Line a jelly roll pan (10 x 15 inches) with parchment paper.  Spray with nonstick spray and lay crackers on the paper in a single layer.  They will be 6 by 8.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. stirring occasionally, until butter is melted, then bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Carefully pour the mixture over the saltines, covering them.  Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture out evenly.

Put the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl that hold at least 4 cups.  Microwave the chocolate on 50 power for 1 minute, then stir.  Continue heating in 30 second intervals on the same power, stirring in between until melted.  Evenly spread  over the crackers.  Quickly sprinkle the nuts and dried fruit on top, gently pushing them into the chocolate.

If you want the white chocolate chips, melt them as above.  I do mix in the oil.  I use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate over all.

Refrigerate the bark for at least an hour.

*  From the Recipe Box:

If you want multi colors, use half the white chocolate chips and mix red food coloring into the other half.

and remember:  People say love is the best feeling, but I think finding a toilet when you have diarrhea is better.  Big kiss, Lynn

Red Eye Gravy

My dad had very interesting tastes.  He loved boiled beans that he would pour cream over.  He used to tell people it was part of his marriage contract; mom must always have a pot of beans on the back of the stove.  He would cut an avocado in half, remove the seed and combine mayo and ketchup in the hollow and enjoy the heck out of it.  But I think Red Eye gravy might be his favorite.

Red-eye gravy is a Southern favorite comprised of just two ingredients. It’s made from the drippings of fried country ham combined with black coffee. It may sound unusual, but it’s quite tasty and a fun way to spruce up an old-fashioned Southern meal of ham and biscuits, grits, or potatoes.

The name “red-eye gravy” is derived from the fact that a slightly reddish circle of liquid fat forms on the surface of the gravy when it is reduced. This sauce is also known as poor man’s gravy, red ham gravy, bird-eye gravy, cedar gravy, and bottom sop.

  • 1 slice of country ham
  • 1/2 cup boiling strong black coffee
  1. In a skillet, fry the ham slice in its own fat over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides. Once it is cooked, transfer the ham to a warm platter, keeping the drippings in the skillet.
  2. Add the boiling black coffee to the skillet. Deglaze, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet to dissolve any particles that developed when you cooked the ham.
  3. What is left in the skillet is red-eye gravy, which you can then pour over the ham and serve.


  • grease from frying ham
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 -2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup hot tap water
  • 1⁄cup strong coffee
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)


  • Heat grease, add flour and sugar until dissolved and incorporated with ham grease. Add water, coffee and bullion cube, stir until gravy is well blended. Turn down heat and cook for 1 minute, add butter and cook for 1 minute longer. Serve immediately with hot biscuits or grits.

*  From the Recipe Box:

We had a few problems with these recipes.  The ham slice I remember from my youth did not look like these.  There was no fat ring around the outer edge like I remembered, so we didn’t get any ham grease.

I want to know what makes the “eye” in the gravy when you’re reducing it.  I tried 2 different recipes and it looked the same on both.  Odd.

and remember:  Here’s to the nights that turned into mornings; the friends that turned into family; the dreams that turned into reality; and the likes that turned into loves.  Big kiss, Lynn