Monday, December 22, 2008

Tex-Mex Casserole

Every time I flip through magazines, I would see these recipes for "casseroles."

In all such articles, which on closer look turn out to be advertisements for well-known national brands (Kraft, Campbells et al), casseroles are touted as the working mother's mealsavers, something that she could put on the table in a jiffy and cheaply to feed her hungry tots.

I've always been skeptical of those promises. Having grown up in a casserole-less culture, I would look at the pictures with suspicion, not quite believing that it would indeed be as healthy and delicious as the pictures make them appear to be. Because you know how advertisers are always truthful.

When I read the recipes, I would be even more suspicious, because they seem to rely too much on already processed ingredients.

How can I feed my family cheaply if I have to buy all of these ingredients? Canned soup, canned broth, et al -- well, these are all what I have read, in my limited business matter reading, to be "value-added items," a.k.a. already more expensive.

Time-saver? Well, perhaps, but most of the recipes I've seen call for two-step processes where I have to cook the meat first and then assemble everything together, to be baked for a seemingly-long time, considering that all the ingredients are already cooked. It probably would take a couple of hours for me to put a casserole-like dish on the table.

Not that casseroles are without their appeal. Somehow, some way, the advertisers have burrowed their message into some cranny of my brain and there are times when I want a casserole or casserole-like dish.

The timing of my casserole-wish coincided with a craving of Tex-Mex flavours -- hence, our Tex-Mex casserole. I can't vouch for the authenticity of this dish, on both the "casserole" and the Tex-Mex front, but this was kinda delicious.

I started with some ground beef which I browned with some chili powder (ok, lots of chili powder) and ground cumin.

Then it was time for the assembly, which was easy but not as easy as I would have liked (as in, just plonked down).

I put down a layer of corn tortillas, added the beef, some chopped tomatoes, and red onions.

Some grated cheddar cheese.

I also opened a can of kidney beans that we have sitting in our pantry and added a layer of the beans.

Repeat the process until I run out of room on top. I also added some cilantro in between the layers when I remembered.

Sprinkle some more grated cheese on top.

Into the oven at 400F for about 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted through and bubbly.

I suppose, if I ever make another Tex-Mex casserole again, I would try to have more sauce in between the layers as it wasn't liquid-y enough.

For me, it was quite fine, because I tend to like my food a little bit "drier" as opposed to "wetter." A little salsa on the side added some wetness for those who liked a more "stew-y" consistency.

Hm, I've always been intrigued by "enchilada sauce," so next time, I might try my hand making such a sauce and making another casserole with it.


  1. Looks delicious and I love tex mex flavors in any form!

  2. Looks awesome! It's almost like a Tex-Mex lasagna;)

  3. That's an interesting take on casserole or what we in Minnesota call hotdish.

  4. All I'm saying is that I could TOTALLY go for this!


  5. love it, looks so comforting. Looks like lasagna and tacos at the same time, both of which I really like. Happy Holidays JS & TS ^o^

  6. I hadn't thought about those recipes that way till you described it... And you're right, though there is still kind of a bit of time economy (compared to making your own broth, or rehydrating beans, for instance). And of course, there is that melty, hot appeal factor, such as in your tex-mex casserole now :)

  7. Since I'm not Tex or Mex, I can't say whether this is "authentic," but it looks like it to me. As for quick and healthy way to feed your family... Hehe. No way. Those same ads would say the same thing about macaroni and cheese casseroles and I don't make those often either.

  8. Mmmmmm it does look fantastic!!!
    I thought that a casserole was like a big pot with handles and a lid (made of iron, or earthenware or stainless steel), but you seem to be talking about the dish itself.
    Then, I see no casserole but a tray...
    Soooooo much to learn!!!!!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the holiday :D :D :D


  9. Thanks!

    Oh cool. Maybe we'll call it hotdish too, to prevent "casserole" associations. =)

    Happy Holidays, Wiffy!

    I guess we just don't understand why it needs about an hour in the oven when all the ingredients in the assembly are cooked already. =)

    Wandering Chopsticks:
    Haha. So it's not just us, then. We're more of the dump-everything-into-a-pot kind of people.

    Teehee. Don't worry, we of course didn't know what a "casserole" was before moving to North America! =D

    Happy New Year!

  10. WOW your photos jump off the screen and are making my mouth water.. You will be loved in this house as we are big Mexican food eaters and this is incredible!! YUM

  11. Cathy:
    Thanks! Sometimes a good Tex-Mex meal really hits the spot.

  12. That looks really good! I've bookmarked it!

  13. MMM...looks like something I made before!!

  14. Amanda:
    Thanks for the bookmark!

    Quite yummy, isn't it?


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