No need to be intimidated, cooks.
Lori Hammer realizes her salsa-based "Mexican" lasagna has 15 ingredients.
But "this was really easy to make," she insists. "I just walked out to the garden and
picked a few things, plus some of my herbs."
Hammer and her husband live inside the Bowling Green city limits, so their garden isn’t large. It boasts
tomatoes plus green, jalapeno and banana peppers.
But they have a huge "bonus garden" at her husband’s former home in the country. "We sold
the house to a relative but kept the garden. So we live out of the freezer," she said with healthy
That’s why her decision – with some prompting – to make a last-minute entry for the Wood County Fair’s
"Cooking With Salsa" contest was not a source of too much anxiety.
She just called in the troops – meaning her kids. They put their heads together, trying to come up with
the perfect recipe for the contest sponsored by Bowling Green-based Stadium Salsa.
"We were throwing around ideas. A dip? No, everyone will do a dip. Stuffed peppers? No, too
hot" for a 93-degree day.
Then somebody suggested the obvious: "How about Lacey’s lasagna?"
Lacey Stier is her son Dustin Dunn’s friend. Both were up from their home in Indianapolis for fair
"They make it quite often," said Hammer, who was quickly persuaded to borrow the pair’s winning
recipe. But she made a couple of last-minute changes.
"My son said he didn’t use the spinach tortillas (in the lasagna) and it makes a huge
There’s also the fact that "jalapeno peppers taste different out of a garden!"
Both judges and members of the audience, who got to taste samples, were impressed.
The celebrity judges awarded Hammer’s lasagna first place. The dish also received a third place
"Audience Choice" award.
All dishes were judged on taste, creativity and appearance. The lasagna, with its colorful red, yellow
and green toppings, was a winner in all three areas.
Hammer loves the recipe herself because it’s "a 20-minute, everything on top of the stove, quick to
make" version of lasagna.
Ironically, in view of her brand-new cooking contest award, she said her husband of four years
"usually does the cooking in our family."
For her part, Hammer collects cookbooks obsessively.
"I have a million!"
She’s well known locally as a member of the Dunn’s Kiddie Care staff, where she is in her 27th year.
1 lb ground beef
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
½ red onion
1 green pepper (diced)
1 jalapeno (finely diced)
1-15 oz can black beans (drained)
1 can whole corn kernels
½ jar Stadium Salsa Medium
salt to taste
8 large spinach flour tortillas, cut in half to fit pan
3 cups shredded cheddar and/or mozzarella cheese
1 small tomato (chopped)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pre-heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium
heat. Add the ground beef, red onion, green pepper, jalapeno, chili powder and cumin. When meat is
browned, add Stadium Salsa, black beans and corn. Simmer mixture about 2-3 minutes and salt to taste.
Brush a 9 x 13 baking dish with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Begin the lasagna with a layer of
tortillas, top with meat mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat layers: tortillas, meat, cheese. End
lasagna with a tortilla layer topped with cheese.
Bake lasagna for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Top with scallions and tomato and accompany
with sour cream and additional salsa.