Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lasagna-inspired Mexican casserole

Not long ago, Julie wowed us with her homemade lasagna! I've had a hankering for Mexican food lately, and since everyone is always underwhelmed by the spiciness of my dishes (false alarm chili), I made an effort this time to spice it up to the edge of my comfort level. This dish was ridiculously easy to make, and also quite cheap!

Taco-layer casserole (aka Randi throwing random Mexican ingredients in a 13x9 pan):

1/2 package corn tortillas (1 pack=$1.14, so $0.57)
1 can refried beans ($0.69)
2 lbs. ground beef ($4.76)
homemade taco seasoning, see below
1 can Hatch Tex-Mex diced tomatoes & green chilies ($0.50)
1/2 jar salsa ($1.99/2=$1)
1 pack shredded cheddar ($1.95)
one tomato, diced ($0.38)
1 c. sour cream ($1.22)

I found this a long time ago and have used it religiously ever since. I almost never keep the taco seasoning packets on hand, but I always have the ingredients to throw together taco seasoning, plus you can modify this to your personal taste. I like lots of cumin!

In a small bowl, mix together the homemade taco seasoning:
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
chili powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350 (because I hate recipes that don't tell you to preheat, and then I get all the way to the end with everything assembled, and realize I have to wait 5 min for my oven to heat).

In a large pan, brown ground beef, draining the fat afterward. Mix in the homemade taco seasoning and the can of Hatch tomatoes. Set aside.

In 13x9 pan, layer corn tortillas, refried beans, seasoned beef, salsa, and 1/2 package shredded cheese. Repeat layers without cheese. Top with tortillas, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and rest of shredded cheese. Bake for 30 min, until warmed through and cheese is melted. 8 servings.

This was just at the border of my tolerable spiciness where I was still able to truly enjoy the meal, although I think the spiciness faded a little with time. I ate mine with tortilla chips to reign in the spice a bit. The Hatch chilies are amazing, but their availability is tied to central Texas, so in a pinch you can substitute Rotel tomatoes and chilies, which will have slightly different seasonings.

I listed the costs per item above, but the final total comes to $11.07, which is $1.38 per serving. Stop and think about that. You could easily go out to eat and spend that on one meal. For the same price, you can feed 8 people (or yourself 8 times)!

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