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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

second most-requested recipe...

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a serial baker.. and therefore, most of the recipes people request from me are for cupcakes, cakes, cookies, etc. My most-requested recipe is here if you're interested. ;)

However, recently many people have been requesting the recipe for my mom's taco casserole. I think she actually refers to it as "mexican casserole" .. but you catch my drift. It's super yummy, and can easily be modified to suit your tastes. For example, I use brummel and brown yogurt spread instead of butter, 94/6 ground beef or higher, and the light shredded cheese blend from trader joe's. However, I'll write it out as given to me by my mom.. since it is her recipe. That being said.. it's not very exact. lol.

MEXICAN CASSEROLE.. adapted from the kitchen of Nancy Eitel.. <3
this recipe is written for a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.

2 lbs ground beef
2 packets taco seasoning
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis (such as rotel)
2 cans sliced black olives, drained (or you can slice the whole ones yourself.. i'm lazy)
fresh cilantro, chopped*
1 pack large corn tortillas
butter
1 bag shredded mexican cheese blend

*optional, i know a lot of people don't like cilantro

Butter both sides of the corn tortillas, you will use about 4 per layer, depending on the size. Each layer will kind of look like this.. pardon my horrible illustration.
okay.. i'll admit.. i had fun with it. see the tomatoes and olives and cheese?! yes, that's cheese sprinkled on top of the buttered tortillas. lol.
Anyways, what I'm getting at is that you'll have to cut some of the tortillas in half to get them to fit right in the dish.. Also, I don't really know what happens when you don't butter the tortillas.. let me know if you try doing it that way. Set the buttered tortillas aside while you cook the beef mixture.

Brown ground beef in a large pan, drain, and add seasoning according to package instructions. If you want, you can use less water than called for, and add the cans of tomatoes without draining. Simmer the ground beef/tomato mixture until most of the moisture is gone, then add the olives, reserving a handful for the top of the casserole. Remove the ground beef from the heat, and stir in some chopped fresh cilantro to taste.

Now you're ready to assemble! Be sure to spray the dish with nonstick spray. Layer tortillas, cheese, ground beef (enough to cover the tortillas), and repeat. I think I've put the cheese on top of the beef mixture in some cases.. I doubt it matters. Keep layering until you run out of beef. It will probably be about 4 layers, and make sure you end with a layer of tortillas. On the top, sprinkle some shredded cheese and the reserved olives.

I think the last time I made it I baked it, covered with foil, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, removed the foil, and baked it an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese browned a little bit. The key is I think. It's all cooked, it basically just needs to be heated through. Also, my mom told me that when she makes it she adds about a half cup of water inside the pan, around the edges, to prevent the tortillas from burning. I've never done this.. and I've never had a problem. After removing it from the oven, sprinkle on some fresh cilantro for garnish. ENJOY! yummm...

PLEASE don't hesitate to make changes.. there have been times where I've thrown a bunch of extra stuff into the beef mixture. (i.e. my mom doesn't put in the rotel or the cilantro, but I thought it sounded good, and I also usually add chili powder since my bf likes stuff spicy). I hope you like it!