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By Karen Schulz

Back to school also means, back to the kitchen, my favorite classroom, and this burrito pie recipe gets an A+.

This protein-packed dinner is not only delicious but yields plenty for leftovers. It can stand alone, as it incorporates all of your food groups, consists of ingredients usually already in your pantry, and is perfect for cooking together if you have kids who are willing.

You can prep the pie in advance and pop it in the oven at dinnertime, or you can cook it completely in advance and simply reheat it for dinner. Feel free to substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef, and play with the heat. If your family is not afraid of a little spice, turn it up a notch with a little extra chili powder, or add some jarred jalapenos to one of the layers.

Kids who cook, are a lot more likely to try and/or eat something that they helped make. Trimming the tortillas and building the pie layer after layer are fun ways for the kids to help out with this dish. If you have picky eaters, definitely get them in the kitchen to help with the cooking. You can also have your child make a salad, which is a perfect accompaniment to this dense, filling main course. Let them choose what goes in the salad, maybe something harvested from your garden, or have them add colors with carrots and radishes.

Whatever is on the menu, the kitchen is a wonderful learning environment offering lessons in science, math, teamwork, patience, nutrition, motor skills, and so much more. So, whenever you can, rope a child in to help with dinner. Who knows, a fun conversation may happen over some chopping and stirring.

<<Burrito Pie>>

Serves 8-10

<Ingredients>

2 T. vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¾ lb. lean ground beef

2 t. chili powder

1 t. cumin

½ t. kosher salt

¾ cup water

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1½ cups frozen corn kernels

4 10-inch flour tortillas

½ cup sour cream

1 cup salsa

8 oz. cheddar or Monterey jack, grated

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring often. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.

Turn up the heat to medium, and add the ground beef, chili powder, and cumin. Cook until the beef is browned, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, water, black beans, and corn, and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally, until the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Heat oven to 350°. Using the rim of a 9-inch spring-form pan as a template, trim three of the tortillas to the size of the pan. Leave the fourth tortilla untrimmed. (If you do not have a spring-form pan, you can use a 9-inch round cake pan and serve it like lasagna.)

Butter the bottom and sides of the pan. Press the untrimmed tortilla evenly into the pan’s bottom. Spread 2 T. of the sour cream over the tortilla, followed by ¼ cup of the salsa. Spoon and spread a quarter of the beef mixture over the salsa, then sprinkle a quarter of the grated cheese evenly over the top.

Place one of the trimmed tortillas on the top of the cheese, then repeat the layering of the sour cream, salsa, beef, and cheese. Continue this until the ingredients and tortillas are used up. You should end up with four layers, topped with the final sprinkling of cheese.

Bake the pie until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and remove the rim from the spring-form pan, if you used one. Slice the pie into wedges using a sharp knife.


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