True Texans, Bob and I can't go long without a Mexican-food fix. Make that nachos, burritos, enchilada casserole or just about anything with a little kick.
So I couldn't wait to try this Taco Lasagna recipe from The Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook (Reader's Digest, March 2012, $17.99). It's one of about 400 best-loved recipes handpicked by the school's instructors. (Don't you just love cooking with a pro?)
Loaded with beans, meat and cheese, this layered, comfort-food casserole makes a super easy one-dish meal with a mild, Mexican taste. You don't have to worry about adding lots of fancy sides because it features good-for-you veggies like green pepper, onion, beans and tomatoes. Instead, think soft, corn tortillas; sliced, fresh tomatoes (my favorite!), and a simple dessert like chocolate chip cookies.
Besides offering a little ZING, this hearty meal-maker meets one of my other top requirements for week nights ... make that most anytime: no run-all-over-hunting-them-down ingredients. In fact, if you stock these nine basics, you're already in business: ground beef, green pepper, onion, taco seasoning, diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel's our favorite brand), canned black and refried beans, flour tortillas, and shredded cheese. The recipe calls for a Mexican cheese blend but cheddar or pepper jack alone work just as well.
We choose taco seasoning and black beans with reduced sodium and 2 percent cheese to make it even healthier. And you'll need 1 1/2 cans of Rotel tomatoes.
Feeling rushed at the end of another hectic day? No worries, this tasty, Mexican-inspired concoction comes together in a snap. You brown the the ground beef with the green pepper and onion. Then add water and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Complete the chili-like sauce by mixing in Rotel tomatoes (undrained) and black beans (drained) and simmering about 10 more minutes.Once that's done, layer soft-taco-size flour tortillas, refried beans, the sauce and cheese in a big, 9- x 13-inch casserole and repeat. Then top with more tortillas and cheese. Yum!
The sauce takes care of softening the tortillas so you don't even need to warm them. If desired, you can garnish the dish with parsley, tomato or a sliced, fresh jalapeno. What a pretty way to up the heat factor!
Cover your creation with foil that's been sprayed with Pam so it doesn't stick to all that luscious cheese. Then bake for about 30 minutes and prepare to enjoy some great, burrito-like goodness. You'll have eight to nine servings depending on your crowd's hunger level (less if teenage boys are around!).
Since it's usually only the two of us, we had enough left over to make several, time-saving freezer meals. Bonus! If there's anything I like better than cooking a delicious dinner from scratch, it's just warming one up!
Hope you enjoy this Taste of Home treasure as much as we did. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
By Terri Keenan // Tuscaloosa, AL
In a large skillet, cook the beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add water and taco seasoning; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Stir in black beans and tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Place two tortillas in a greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Spread with half of the refried beans and the beef mixture; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese.
Cover and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 448 calories, 21 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 69 mg cholesterol, 1,152 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 25 g protein.
Recipe from the Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook*
Other Works: Editor-in-Chief of Taste of Home magazine, website and cookbooks and responsible for editorial direction for the magazines Simple & Delicious, Healthy Cooking, Birds and Blooms, Country, Country Woman, Farm and Ranch Living, and Reminisce. Prior to joining Taste of Home, she was editor-in-chief of Prevention.
Publisher: Reader's Digest
Penned: March 15, 2012
What's Inside: More than 400 tasty recipes for everything from cocktails to candy from the Taste of Home Cooking School's expert instructors. In addition to their favorite recipes, you'll find step-by-step instructions (now I can try deveining shrimp), tips (no wine ... substitute chicken bouillon and water) and easy entertaining ideas (ever dream of becoming an ice cream pie artist?).
Time Out: 320 pages
Available: Amazon and most book retailers
* Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Want another easy, one-dish delight? Try:
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