Tuesday's Tip: Tex Mex Flex

October 19,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

It is a common kitchen quandary: you plan to make a particular dish for dinner, and when it comes time to prepare the meal, you find an ingredient missing. I can’t tell you how many times I have meticulously planned out our meals for the week, dutifully written out a grocery list, only to return home from the store to realized I never wrote a necessary ingredient on my list. I *try* to be careful, but I am a mom, and therefore, frequently distracted in the middle of making my list with important emergencies such as, “Mom! We can’t find Han Solo’s arm!” And so, this is how I returned home from the grocery a few weeks ago, with plans to make lasagna, realizing early on in the preparation that I had, in fact, failed to purchase lasagna noodles (this turned out to be a fortuitous mistake, as it allowed me to develop this recipe). If necessity is the mother of invention, I’ve had my share of inventive moments at about 5:00 when I need to get dinner cooking for our family. I’ve also learned that of all the flexibility tricks in the kitchen, southwestern meals are the most forgiving to alter. What started out as a recipe for enchiladas was quickly altered to a Mexican Lasagna when I realized my tortilla supply had been winnowed down to a mere 4. While my family has long since passed the time when 4 enchiladas would suffice for dinner, those 4 tortillas worked beautifully to create two layers of the Mexican Lasagna. I simply used the filling as layers, along with some cheese and topped the whole lasagna with the enchilada sauce. Likewise a taquito recipe could be altered to create enchiladas, or even burritos. So my Tuesday’s Tip of the week is to use your creativity when an ingredient for a recipe is lacking; you might just come up with a new family kitchen sensation! SPC