Monday, January 28, 2013

Mexican Breakfast Casserole

There is a proverb attributed to Buddhism that goes something like this: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Recently, I was reminded about how true this is. You see, ever since I moved to North America, I've been wanting to learn how to quilt. The US has an incredible quilting tradition, so I wanted to learn at least the basics of this beautiful craft. Well, quilting was yet another entry on the long list of "Someday I want to {insert exciting activity here}" that I (and most of us, I think) seem to carry around in our heads.

Two years ago, I managed to buy a sewing machine. A year later, I even learned how to thread the darn thing. Yeah, it has been one of those learning curves.

And then I was fortunate enough to meet a lovely person named MP. We stayed at MP's home when we were house-hunting here in GA, and I basically wanted to move in with her. Every wall was covered in incredible quilts, all made by her. I mentioned my long time aspiration of learning to quilt. A few weeks ago, she called me and said, come over to my place tomorrow at 10 AM, we're going to quilt. And along with another friend, I found myself getting a beginner quilting lesson. MP is serious about teaching- she assigned us homework (sewing strips of fabric together with precise 1/4 inch seams). I am equally serious about learning- I stayed up and laboriously completed the homework, and held my breath the next morning as my teacher pulled out a ruler and measured my seams down to the fraction of the inch.

And that's how I find myself finally, finally working on first quilt using this easy pattern. Here's a quick look at my quilt top in progress:


So, anyway, the quilting teacher and us two quilting students have formed a nice little trio. We meet once a week or so, something for quilting sessions, and other times for knitting sessions since we're all knitters too. This Saturday, I hosted the knitting meet at my place and it was the most wonderful way to spend the day, sprawled out in the living room surrounded by yarn and patterns and knitting needles in the company of two creative and intelligent women. If our schedules allow us to keep this up, life is going to be very exciting indeed.

To fuel our crafting session, I made a big breakfast casserole with Mexican flavors. This recipe is something I made up, but it is inspired by many such recipes on the Internet. The nice thing is that the casserole is assembled and them set aside for several hours before baking, making it an ideal make-ahead recipe when you're feeding a crowd. If you have a large enough pan, the vegetables and beans could all be cooked together. This casserole easily makes 8 generous servings.

Big Breakfast Casserole With Mexican Flavors

 1. Tortillas: Cut 8 to 10 corn tortillas into six pieces each.










2. Cheese mixture: Mix together 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 3-4 minced scallions (green and white parts).
 3. Egg mixture: Whisk 8 eggs and add a splash of cream, salt and pepper to taste.
4. Vegetable mixture: Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and saute 1 diced onion, 1 diced green pepper, 2 diced yellow squash and 1 cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned). Season with Mexican spice mix or chili powder.
5. Bean mixture: In a pan, briefly saute sliced vegan chorizo (optional) and 2 cups cooked black beans.
6. Assemble the casserole in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish by layering the tortilla pieces, cheese mixture and veggies and beans. Once all the layers are made, pour the egg mixture evenly over the whole dish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake (minimum 2 hours, at most 8 hours).

7. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 60 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and an inserted knife comes clean.


I served big squares of the casserole with a side of quick homemade chipotle salsa.

Blender Salsa

This salsa takes 5 minutes to make if you have a toddler dangling off your leg and 2 minutes if you don't. All the ingredients are pantry staples for me so this is a good salsa to throw together at the last minute.

Add the following to a blender jar:
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tbsp. minced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
Large handful cilantro, roughly chopped (I used half a large bunch, stem and leaves)
1 canned chipotle chili, chopped and 1 tbsp. adobo sauce
Juice of half a lime/lemon
Salt to taste

Let the blender whirr and your salsa will come together in no time!

As I was typing this post, I noticed that Kalyn just posted a recipe with similar flavors- a vegetarian bean and chile casserole- doesn't that sound good?

PS: 20 swappers have signed up for the Spice and Something Nice swap so far. If you live in the US and would like to join us, see this post for details. You have until Sunday to sign up. Sign ups are now closed.

48 comments:

  1. Hi Nupur, love your blog! Breakfast is the meal that I struggle most with. I never used to eat / make breakfast (husband ate cereal, I just had a strong chai), but I finally got into the habit of it with gestational diabetes and now an-almost-one-year-old baby. Could you post some more suggestions for hot, non-sweet, (ideally baby-friendly) breakfasts?

    The only four that I actually manage to make before we all head out the door between 8 and 8.30 are bread and eggs, poha, upma, and vermicelli upma. We are now so. very. bored. Would love suggestions, especially now that the baby wants to eat whatever we do. Thanks a lot!

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    1. Vasudha- I'll definitely try and address your question in a post in the next week or two, so stay tuned. It is something we all struggle with, trying to find a variety of foods that fits the morning rush hour.

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  2. Oh Nupur! Your quilt looks so beautiful, I love the colours and the lady bug patch. Isn't a quilt same as our 'godhadi'? I think they are the coziest comforters ever! My nani used to hand stitch those with her soft well-worn cotton saris, I still remember the motherly feel of those althought its been decades since she and her godhadi's are long gone. I would love to learn the art, hope I find my teacher too.

    The Mexican Casserole and Salsa sounds delicious! And I have all the ingredients needed to make your salsa, I'm going to make some really soon. Your weekly quilting and knitting sessions surrounded with yarn and patterns sound like one of my 'One day I will...' kinda stuff. I love you for all the lovely things you do.

    - Priti

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    1. Priti, yes, quilts are the same as godhadi! There's nothing quite like the feel of soft cotton, it becomes as soft as silk. Of course, I'm using new fabrics because I don't have old sarees lying around :)

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  3. Hello,
    I am silent but avid follower of your blog for few years now. Have tried a lot of your recipes successfully....so thank you much for sharing them. I want to try the casserole but was wondering how to scale it down for family of 3?

    Mukta

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    1. Mukta- you could try halving the recipe and baking it in an 8 x 8 dish. Baking time would probably reduce to 35-45 minutes. If you try this, let us know if it works!

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    2. Tried it today...came out really good. Thanks again!
      Mukta

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  4. Wow! Quilting. My long time dream is to do a quilt. Still at the wishing stage unfortunately. And yummy recipe you have posted too. You are so talented Nupur. Keep it up! And thanks for sharing,again....

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  5. What a wonderful storytelling style you have!

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  6. Your one lucky lady Nupur to find MP. Wish someone could teach me how to sew,leave alone quilt. I bought a sewing machine during Thanksgiving and the learning has been terribly slow. Today I tried to patch my daughter torn jeans, to no success. Nevertheless, I did successfully seam, though not the 1/4th inch seam. You give me confidence that one day I will use the sewing machine with ease.

    have one question for you. After you sew these strips of fabric, do you have to use a backing/interfacing to strengthen them?
    Thanks,
    Sapna

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    1. Well, the sewing part I did learn on my own, by using YouTube videos/internet tutorials and the sewing machine manual. So I would say- just choose a simple project and plunge into it!!
      Patching jeans may be a bit tricky because denim is a thick fabric and sometimes needs special needles etc. So don't be discouraged by that. And torn jeans are fashionable anyway :)

      No, I'm not using backing on this patched fabric. What I will do is make a "quilt sandwich" with this pieced fabric, batting (soft cotton filling) and a fabric which will make the back of the quilt. After sewing them all together, it will make a fairly thick strong quilt.

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  7. Love your bright and cheery quilt!! Like you, I've had a hankering to learn quilting (I've been following some quilting/fabric blogs) for years. I've been longing for a teacher or a crafting buddy - just hasn't happened. So took matters into my own hands and bought a sewing machine 2 yrs ago and then learned to thread it last year....sound familiar ;-) And then bought a little quilting kit of scrap fabrics at Joannes.
    Thats about as far as I've gotten. Have had two kids in the meantime, so thats been keeping me busy. Maybe once they're in school and I actually have the time (or willing babysitters), my teacher will appear ;-) Happy quilting!!!
    And that breakfast casserole looks so yum!! Will have to make it for a brunch one of these days.

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    1. Thanks- I did choose very bright (some might say garish) fabrics, didn't I? :) You know, I've been lucky to find these two crafting buddies here, but honestly, much of my life I've been crafting solo. With the Internet, there's a world of resources at our fingertips.
      Good luck with making a quilt with your kit! I'd love to see what you make :)

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  8. Great post and recipe...I like your Buddhist proverb - so true!

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    1. Yes, it definitely rang true for me.

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  9. Love the patterns on your quilt...
    And that breakfast casserole sounds totally divine.

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  10. My aunt saves every little piece of cloth she finds and makes quilts with them. My mom too has started quilting recently.
    Your quilt is really pretty, such happy, bright colours...Its wonderful that you have found such nice people there. It isn't always that you find people with similar interests. That casserole sounds delicious. Seems like one hearty breakfast.

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    1. Oh those scrap quilts make with random bits of fabric turn out to be the most fun ones!! I'm so new to quilting that I have to yet build a fabric stash.

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  11. your enthusiasm is so contagious - I want to go do some "crafty" things :) Although Im no craft person. I love how you pick something new that interests you , break it down and master it. Its the best way to go through life!!!
    and as usual, I see your food post and wonder if you are telepathic! invariably if its not the same exact food Ive cooked, its atleast the same "theme"! I made a mexican rice bowl that had the same flavors from your casserole. I should start a food blog! :)
    Archana

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    1. You should definitely start a food blog, it is lots of fun :)

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  12. Wow! Th quilt is pretty gorgeous for a beginners :D Lucky you... you finally get to cross one thing of that list!

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    1. Yeah, 2013 looks like it will be year of the quilt for me.

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  13. Had to laugh at the toddler dangling off your leg while you made salsa! My son would roar in fear when I turned the blender on--Lila is obviously a warrior woman.

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    1. Oh yeah Lila is very fond of noisy appliances- blender, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer- she likes imitating them!

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  14. Your quilt looks so pretty Nupur! Reminds me of the one my grandma made a long time ago using leftover pieces of fabric she had gathered over some time.

    Love the idea of the Mexican casserole! I'm not so much a fan of the regular french toast casserole, but this spicy treat looks like something we'll all enjoy for a Sunday brunch. Would love an update on baby Lila's eating habits, especially home-made snacks since I'm stumped most of the time on what to feed Baby Dear between meals when he gets hungry!

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    1. Meena- I don't go out of my way to make snacks for Lila. For snack she has crackers, fruit, veggies (cubes of sweet potato or avocado) and occasionally, yogurt or cheese.

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  15. Quilting is very close to me, may be because in Bengal quilting is a tradition of passing warmth of ma and grand ma to babies by using their old sarees for making hand made quilts or kanthas. I remmeber my grand ma engrossed in making kanthas for each of her grand children, entire year she used to cllect the nice borders of her hand woved cotton sarres and then mix and mathc them with new piece of cloths to form excellent kanthas. Also khesh is another quilt form used in the eastern region of India, now they are usning both the styles for modern use like Saree, or kurta or bag etc.

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    1. Oh the kantha hand work is extraordinarily beautiful! Some day if I find someone who knows how to do it or move to that part of the world, I'd love to learn it. Thanks for sharing your memories.

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  16. Keep Going Nupur - one foot in front of another :-) I want to learn at least 2 new things every year (one per semester. Yes I am in Academia :-)). I learnt quilting and made a baby quilt when my first son was born. Learnt to Crochet and made an Afghan when my second son was born. Learn to knit to make something special for my husband. I learnt sewing, charcoal drawing, stain glass work, painting, origami etc - all in the same spirit. Just want to learn enough to understand and appreciate the beauty and complexity involved in all these creative work. In other words I am not talented enough to go in depth, just the breadth. But you have the right attitude, time management skills and work ethics to get things done. I wish you the very best and would love to see many of your quilting work here.

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    1. That's just wonderful, Viji. You're exercising your brain and broadening your world at a steady pace! What a nice way to enjoy life.

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  17. What a fun quilt! I'd come to just eat the breakfast casserole...

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    1. LOL one of the husbands did just that!

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  18. how do you keep up with so many activities. U are definitely a motivator for sluggers like me!

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    1. Well, dabbling in these crafty things is what keeps me happy, so I do it.

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  19. Thanks for the shout out. Lots of quilters in my Mormon family!

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    1. Oh yes Utah has a strong quilting tradition!

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  20. You are so lucky to have found your quilting teacher! I have been collecting fabric scraps from decades to "one day" get to a quilt. Last year I did make a very small one for a friend's newborn baby. That is the first project I managed on my 2 year old 'new' machine (I have an antique foot-pedal Singer in working condition). But I was guessing my way through the quilting process; what I would give to have a real quilt-master teach me!

    I have read about 'batting' - do you know what might be the closest substitute here in India?

    I so envy your little group!

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    1. I do feel very lucky, Anita! Short of finding a local quilting teacher, I would suggest looking at quilting blogs and videos on YouTube- there is an incredible wealth of crafting knowledge out there on the Internet.
      As for batting: well, in Delhi with its cold weather, I am positive that there are places that manufacture and sell thick cotton comforters (are they called dhurries?? I'm not positive what the Hindi word is). In Mumbai, I used to know a place in Crawford Market that sold them, and you could try the garment district of Delhi. I am quite sure these shops that sheets of cotton batting and might sell them to you. Another substitute for batting would be layers of old cotton sarees.

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    2. Just remembered- those thick cotton comforters are called razais!

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    3. Razais usually use just regular fluffed cotton. As you suggested, I use a layer of thin cotton fabric.

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  21. Nupur, Lovely art in process. I am meddling with some glass painting, no teacher though :(
    I love to play with colors so your color palette on the quilt is gorgeous.Somethings should be bright and vibrant.

    I was wondering if I could substitute eggs in the above recipe with something else?
    Any ideas? Because everything else looks and sounds delishhh and doable except egg...

    As alwya pleasure stopping by! You sound like so much fun to be around, wish I was closer to your place....

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    1. Ooh glass painting- I've never tried it but my late grandmother used to do it once upon a time. Yes, I did choose bright/garish colors for this quilt- quilting is a perfect hobby for those who love to play with color.

      If you want to avoid eggs, you could look to recipes for vegan breakfast casseroles which use a puree of tofu and non-dairy milk as a substitute for that egg mixture- but I've never tried this myself. Alternatively, you could use enchilada sauce instead which might not be particularly breakfasty but would be plenty tasty.

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  22. Such a pretty quilt. Reminds me of the quilts that my little boy got when he was born. I loved those quilts and have kept them back at home. I definitely want to do something new and learn new things. You motivate me. Love your creativity. Casserole looks yummy!

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  23. You do inspire me to go and make some crafty stuff. Thanks for all these book suggestions. After having my son my visits to library have significantly reduced. But I take advantage of loaning ebooks from the libraries and I am thankful to the US library system that such an option exists.

    A couple of amazing books that I have read recently Glass Castle and Half broken horses by the same author

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  24. Your quilt looks amazing, Nupur. Can't wait to see after it's all done. The color combo is quite sunny and cheerful - a quilt which seems to bring it's own sunshine to the wearer even on a cloudy day!

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