My husband and I took a trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico this summer. It was beautiful! We loved every aspect of our trip; from the resort and activities, to the history and excursions. But our FAVORITE part of the trip was the food, of course!
For one of our dinners, we took a taxi to Playa’s 5th Avenue. It’s a long touristy road, packed with people and every tourist item you could possibly want to buy. And even though we were really excited to check it out, after about ten minutes we were ready to leave. It’s not that we’re snobs (well… sometimes ;)), we just really don’t like crowds… or street venders whispering, “Weed? Crack? Ecstasy? Anything, man”…. or random people saying; “WHOA! Look at that guy!”, “How tall are you? 6’8”? 6’9”?”, and the absolute worst… “How’s the weather up there?”. I can’t tell you how annoying that is! And it’s not like they ask nicely; they interrupt us while we are talking to each other (might as well have brought the kids!). They yell it over people; which of course, make even more people look and wonder how tall he is; and on a small street, like the one we were on, they will even yell it from the cafes where they are eating! It drives Sasha CRAZY, makes him uncomfortable; and thus, pisses me off!
It’s actually ironic… I use to get mad at my husband when he was rude to people who ask those questions. I would try to lighten up the situation by smiling and laughing, or even answering the questions for him so that they wouldn’t think he was an ass! He would explain to me that he’s been asked these questions since high school and that he’s sick of answering them! One of his buddies even made him a shirt that said, “6’11””. He thought MAYBE, if Sasha wore it, people wouldn’t feel the need to ask ;). It took me a little time to see where he was coming from; but after 10 years of being together, I get it. I still try to be nice and answer in certain situations (like when it’s someone from KU, Rock Chalk!!!), but for the most part… it’s just annoying.
Ok, well I guess that’s my rant for the week (day ;)). Enough about tall people problems! He’s just being a drama queen, anyway. Try being 5’2” and not being able to reach anything! 😉 (Just kidding honey… Love you! )
So, after we walked a couple blocks, we decided that we’d buy gifts somewhere other than 5th Avenue. Instead, we headed for the nearest restaurant. Most of the restaurant patios were empty (never a good sign). The only patios that were full were the ones with live music. So, even at that, you don’t know if the food is any good. But, rather than wait for people to leave the awesome live music and go home… at 7… in Playa… in the summer…; we opted to just pick an empty restaurant and give it a shot! I can’t even tell you what a great decision that was!
We happened to walk into a restaurant called, Aldea Corazón. It was empty outside, but when we asked for a table, they walked us through the patio, past the bar, around the corner, and then down to a dining area over a cenote! It was amazing! There was natural foliage, birds, a waterfalls, and actual Mayan performers! But the best part?… The food was actually AMAZING! It was the best meal we had in Playa, and we will definitely dine there again if we get to go back!
We chose three starters: melted cheese served with warm tortillas, beef tacos, and chips and salsa (…we eat… A LOT ;)). It was all awesome. I’m not sure what the true name for the cheese was, as the translation on the menu was literally “melted cheese,” but it was to die for. For our mains, I ordered the Mexican Lasagna and my husband ordered the… ummm… yeah, I have no idea. I was too excited about my lasagna ;).
When the waiter brought out the Mexican Lasagna, I was in heaven! What’s not to like? It’s a lasagna with layers of tortilla chips, ground beef, cheese… and apparently a little of that crack they were offering us on the street! I did my best to try and figure out the spices and other ingredients used, but I just couldn’t help but devour it! About the time I realized that I had eaten so much I needed to unbutton my pants; there was only a bite or two left. I reluctantly offered the last little bit to my husband. He loved it too. And, although he was very happy with whatever it was that he ordered ;), he wished he had ordered the lasagna too!
Unfortunately, we had to leave the restaurant and eventually leave Playa. After we got home, the first thing my husband asked me to make for dinner was Mexican Lasagna 🙂 So, here is my version of this awesome dish! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
¼ c. olive oil
½ – ¾ c. chorizo
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 lbs. beef
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 pinch pepper
1 11 oz. bag of tortilla chips
3 medium tomatoes
¾ c. Mexican/Fiesta blend shredded cheese
1 c. sour cream
1 c. salsa
4 oz. Queso fresco
- In a large bowl, add and combine the ground beef and chorizo. Set aside. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Using a large saucepan, heat the oil on high. Add the meat mixture, diced onion, and minced garlic. Fry on high for 8-10 minutes or until all of the pink color of the meat is gone. Sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder, and salt & pepper over the meat and fry until the meat starts to turn a dark brown. Remove from heat and set aside. DON’T DRAIN!
- Spray or coat a 9X9” square pan with olive oil. Cover base of pan with a layer of tortilla chips. Try to cover each and every seem of chips with another chip (basically 2 layers) so that there are no holes. I used about 30ish chips… not necessarily all whole chips, but some whole and some fragments.
- Cover this layer of chips with half of the meat mixture (about two cups or so). Drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the chip and then gently spread with a spatula so that the chips don’t move.
- Thinly slice the tomatoes. Place them on top of the meat mixture in one even layer.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with all of the Mexican/fiesta shredded cheese. Using both palms, press down on the cheese to compress the layers.
- Cover the shredded cheese with another layer of tortilla chips. Again, I used around 30 or so.
- Once more, gently cover the chips with the remaining meat mixture. Your baking dish is probably full right about now, but that’s ok! If you can, use your hands again, or a hard spatula, to compress the lasagna. Then, proceed to add the following three layers.
- Gently coat the beef/chorizo mixture with the sour cream. (It’s impossible to spread the sour cream without it partially combining with the meet. Don’t worry about that. The sour cream is mostly being used to add moisture.)
- Add the salsa in spoonfuls on top of the sour cream and gently spread with a spatula. (Once again, this is nearly impossible without it sot of mixing together. No biggie!)
- For the last layer, crumble the queso fresco over the salsa.
- Set the lasagna aside. Let it rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. This is crucial because it allows time for the oil, grease, tomato juices, sour cream, and salsa to seep into and soften the tortilla chips.
- While the lasagna rests, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- After 20-30 minutes, the chips will be moist and you will be able to compress the lasagna down into the pan/dish. Press down on the lasagna with either your hands, a spatula, or anything else you have. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top starts to brown.
- Remove from oven and serve hot with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and/or hot sauce. Enjoy!