Braille Monitor                                                           April 2007

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This month’s recipes have been contributed by members of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.

Fred's Mexican Fiesta Casserole
by Fred Wurtzel

Fred WurtzelFred Wurtzel is president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. He and Mary, the Michigan affiliate’s first lady, live in Lansing along with their high school senior Marc, the youngest of their three children, their dog Schatzi, and their cockatiel Albert Einstein Wurtzel. This is what he says about his offering:

Since I retired in the summer of 2006, I have been experimenting a little with cooking. Mary would say, "Very little!" She also says about retirement, "Twice the husband, half the money." One of my creations is a pseudo Mexican concoction. Everyone who has sampled it agrees it is quite yummy. It is not gourmet, but very tasty. This is a good dish for a church potluck or NFB chapter potluck or get-together.

3 cups brown rice, uncooked
7 1/2 cups beef stock or beef stock paste or cubes and 7 1/2 cups water
2 cups Chi Chi’s Fiesta Thick and Chunky Salsa (mild, medium, or hot depending on personal taste)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound chorizo or other savory bulk pork sausage (not link sausage)
Black pepper to taste
2 envelopes taco seasoning mix
2 cups water
2 medium onions, sliced or coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh garlic in oil
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 cans diced garlic tomatoes
1 can refried beans
2 8-ounce packages shredded Monterey Jack, Mexican, or cheddar cheese
Cumin to taste
4 cups crushed Doritos or other tortilla chips

Method: Combine 7 1/2 cups beef stock and rice in rice cooker or large saucepan and cook slowly until rice is tender. While rice is cooking, in large, deep frying pan sauté onions and garlic in butter or olive oil. When onions are soft and slightly caramelized, add sausage and brown for five minutes. Then add ground beef and brown thoroughly. Drain meat and onion mixture as needed, being careful not to lose onions. In separate bowl mix 2 envelopes taco mix and 2 cups warm water. Stir until powder is completely dissolved. When meat is browned and drained, return meat to deep skillet. Add taco seasoning mixture and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to simmer until liquid is reduced and somewhat thickened. Add black pepper and cumin to taste. I coarsely grind a generous amount of black pepper and add at least one teaspoon of ground cumin. Vary these amounts according to your taste.

When rice is cooked, place it in the bottom of a nine-by-thirteen-inch or larger casserole dish. I prefer Pampered Chef stoneware sprayed with cooking spray. You may wish to add salt and ground black pepper to the rice at this point. Evenly spread salsa over rice. Then evenly layer half of the shredded cheese over rice and salsa. Pat down a little to form a packed layer of cheese. Layer meat, tomato, and onion mixture over cheese. Then spread refried beans over beef. Use a wide rubber spatula to spread beans evenly over hot meat mixture. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over beans and top with remaining shredded cheese. You may wish to add some jalapeño or canned green chilies or other hot peppers to the onions and garlic mixture when browning. Cover baking dish with foil and place in a preheated 350-degree oven for fifty to sixty minutes. When dish is heated through and bubbly, uncover and serve. Generously serves eight people. I suggest serving with bottles of Corona beer with a wedge of lime stuck in each bottle. A scoop of cinnamon ice cream topped with chocolate syrup is a perfect dessert.

Kick It up a Notch Vegetarian Chili
by Ann Zanger

This recipe is a two-time winner in the city of Lansing citywide chili contest. The Commission for the Blind staff and blind vendors entered the contest and took first place. The recipe is an adaptation by Ann Zanger, daughter of Business Enterprise Assistant Administrator Constance Zanger. Ann is studying for her degree in orientation and mobility. Federationists David Robinson and Fred Wurtzel helped prepare the chili and served hundreds of people who visited the booth. Winning first place in a contest with many local restaurants is a good example of the abilities of blind people.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 cup red bell peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 to 3 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced, depending upon taste
1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed, and cut into small dice
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) [I use frozen corn]
1 1/2 pounds portabello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed, wiped clean, and cubed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped [I use a good-quality canned, diced tomato]
3 cups cooked black beans or canned beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Cooked brown rice, accompaniment
Sour cream or strained plain yogurt, garnish
Diced avocado, garnish
Essence, recipe follows, garnish
Chopped green onions, garnish

Method: In a large, heavy pot heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and Serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about three minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about six minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about thirty seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about twenty minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

To serve, place 1/4 cup of brown rice in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the chili into the bowls over the rice. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and spoonful of avocado. Sprinkle with Essence and green onions and serve.

Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning
(also referred to as Bayou Blast)

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Method: Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Yield: 2/3 cup.
Recipe from New Orleans Cooking, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Asian Mushroom Soup
by George Wurtzel

George WurtzelGeorge Wurtzel is the brother of Fred. George is executive director of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind (OUB) and spoke at the 2006 national convention in Dallas. This recipe was developed for a segment of Cooking without Looking, a National Public Television cooking program. He is Michigan’s celebrity chef.

4 quarts chicken broth (The more flavorful the broth, the better the soup will be. Homemade broth simmered with fresh vegetables and herbs is best.)
8 ounces button mushrooms
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
8 ounces portabella mushrooms
8 ounces straw mushrooms
8 ounces crimini mushrooms
2 stalks celery
1 leek
1 large yellow onion
2 ounces jalapeños
4 cloves garlic
4 ounces sesame oil
4 ounces olive oil
4 ounces peanut oil
4 ounces walnut oil
4 ounces butter
1 medium knob fresh ginger root
Soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt

Method: Pour broth into four-quart or larger crock-pot and set on high to heat through. Chop all vegetables to medium fineness and keep separated from each other. Lightly sauté button mushrooms and leek in butter; set aside. Sauté shiitake mushrooms, onion, and garlic in olive oil; set aside. Sauté portabella mushrooms and celery in walnut oil; set aside. Sauté straw mushrooms and ginger in sesame oil; set aside. Sauté crimini mushrooms and jalapeños in peanut oil; set aside. When ready to serve, place some of each mushroom mixture in individual soup bowls and add broth. Season to taste with soy sauce, sea salt, and pepper and enjoy immediately.

Winter Salad
by Reggie Alvarado

Reggie Alvarado is a member of the Western Wayne County Chapter of the NFB of Michigan. He is a medical transcriptionist, a guide dog user, and a leader in the Michigan affiliate.

1 can, about 8 ounces, mandarin oranges
1 can, about 16 ounces, cherry pie filling
1 can, about 8 ounces, crushed pineapple
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 small carton Cool Whip, regular, not flavored
About 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Method: In a mixing bowl mix the sweetened condensed milk and the cherry pie filling. Drain mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple and add to cherry mixture. Mix in half of the cup of chopped walnuts. Fold in Cool Whip and top with the remainder of the walnuts. Cover and chill until ready to use. Can be served as a dessert or as a side salad with pork, turkey, or chicken.

Nacho Chip Dip
by Diane Thurston

Diane Thurston is a member of the Michigan Affiliate. She is the parent of April and Andrew, who are now college students. Diane reads for Fred and Mary in exchange for information about blindness to help her be the great parent she is. In addition to reading, Diane is responsible for sending thank-you letters to all contributors to the NFB of Michigan. Here is her recipe for nacho dip. Make sure you read the second recipe for her dad’s nachos. Yum!

2 pounds ground beef, browned
2 small onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 can tomato soup
1 pound Velveeta cheese

Method: Brown ground beef and drain well. Place all ingredients in crock-pot. Heat on low until cheese is melted and veggies are tender. Serve with Frito scoops.

Dad’s Microwave Nachos
by Diane Thurston

1 prepackaged large single-serving bag tortilla chips
1 handful pre-grated cheddar cheese
1 microwave oven
1 television with remote
Ice cold drink of choice (Some people like adult carbonated grain-based beverage found in bottles or cans.)

Method: Remove enough tortilla chips from bag to cover standard dinner plate. Sprinkle handful of grated cheddar cheese over chips. Place plate in center of microwave oven. Turn on TV and place TV remote in left hand. Set oven timer for one minute on medium high. Adjust volume on TV and check out five or six channels. When microwave stops, remove plate carefully; plate and contents will be extremely hot. Select least offensive TV program and exchange remote for cold drink. Eat nachos directly from plate. Serves one (although children can be distracted by placing a handful of chips on a paper plate. The peace is well worth the loss of a few chips). Variation: use serving platter instead of dinner plate.

Peanut Butter Brownies
by Melinda Latham

Melinda Latham is a member of the Lansing Chapter. She is employed by the Lansing Parks and Recreation Department, where she is responsible for supervising youth programs at the Gier Community Center. She is Michigan’s Youth SLAM Coordinator and an all ’round great person.

1 box brownie mix
1 16-ounce container of Cool Whip
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Method: Prepare and bake brownies according to package directions. In a large bowl combine peanut butter and frozen Cool Whip. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for about thirty seconds until mixture is fluffy. The key to this recipe is to make sure the Cool Whip is frozen, or the frosting will become too runny. Frost the brownies with the peanut butter topping. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
by Donna Posont

Donna PosontDonna Posont is immediate past first vice president of the Michigan affiliate. She currently serves as president of the Western Wayne County Chapter, where she has presided for many years. Donna is the mother of five great children.

2 sticks butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
Hershey’s Kisses

Method: Combine and beat all ingredients, except Kisses, thoroughly. Roll dough into one-inch balls. Dip one side in sugar. Place sugar-side-down on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for eight to eleven minutes at 350 degrees. Remove cookies from oven. Gently press an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss in the center of each cookie and return cookie sheet to oven for three to five more minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Enjoy.

Hot Water Corn Bread
by Sue Perry

Sue Perry is an at-large member of the NFB of Michigan. She lives in Macomb Township.

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 generous pinch salt
1 1/4 cups water
4 tablespoons cooking oil

Method: Combine corn meal, salt, and water to make a thick batter or dough. Heat oil in a skillet and one at a time drop batter formed into balls made of two tablespoons of dough into pan. Press the mound to flatten as it cooks. Turn once halfway through frying. When corn bread is golden brown; remove to keep warm on a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about seven individual cakes of corn bread.

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