Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mexican Casserole - A Versatile Favorite

Mindy here, taking a break from deadlines and the mounting chaos of life, but I'll have more on that later.

To me, winter is the perfect time for casseroles. I mean, who wants to bake something in the oven for 20 minutes to an hour when it's hot outside. But when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, there's nothing better. Especially if you're the one in the kitchen, staying nice and toasty.
And the only thing better than a nice, warm casserole is a versatile casserole recipe. Make it easy and that scores even higher. Add a little bit of Tex-Mex and...well, you get the idea.

I shared this recipe a few years back, but it's one that's worth repeating. You can make it with either chicken or beef, depending on what you have on hand.

Here are the basic ingredients:

Corn tortillas (I'm not sure how many. I usually buy a pack of 20)
1 can of Ro-tel (diced tomatoes with green chilies - I use the milder version)
1 onion, chopped
1 packet enchilada seasoning
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Now, depending on which version you're making, you will need:

1-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I used venison)  AND 1 can cream of mushroom soup


Approx. 4-5 cups of cut up cooked chicken (if I'm really in a hurry I'll pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store, but this is also a good use of leftovers) AND one can cream of chicken soup

We're making the beef version, this time.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Brown your ground beef with the onions. For the chicken, simply sauté your onions in a little bit of olive oil. Drain the ground beef.
Add the Ro-tel, chicken (if that's the version you're making) and soup and stir to combine.
Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together enchilada seasoning, tomato sauce, and 1 1/2 C water (follow directions on seasoning packet, but you don't need to cook it). Whisking in important, because it's gets rid of any clumps.
Add to meat mixture and stir to mix.

Cut tortillas into triangles. I usually get about 8 per tortilla.
Add a thin layer of sauce to bottom of greased/sprayed 13 x 9 in. pan. Top with tortilla wedges. I took this pic half way through, but you do cover the whole thing.
Top with half of the remaining sauce and half of the cheese.
Then add another layer of tortillas.
Cover with the rest of the sauce and top with cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is browned and sides are bubbling.
I can't tell you which version I prefer, because I love them both. My guys scarf it up. Hubby likes to top his with jalapenos or salsa. Guess I don't make it hot enough for him.

And if I'm feeding a crowd, I simply make one of each variety.

Another bonus is that you can assemble this ahead and freeze it. Simply thaw before baking. This is a great option when you're looking for a dish to take to someone in need. And if you take it unbaked, they can decide if they want to freeze it or bake and eat it right away.

And this casserole is extra perfect when life throws curve balls at you like a pitching machine.
So yes, I have a looming deadline. Yes, we are in full prep mode for our move to the ranch in a couple of months. And then we find out that I'm going to have to have surgery in a couple of weeks for a torn rotator cuff.

Okay, surgery is one thing, but when you're looking at a 4-6 month recovery, especially when your family happens to be planning a big move during that time, well, then it's appropriate to freak out. I mean this is my dominant arm. How am I going to be able help with said move?

The way I see it, I have two options. I either become very adept at using my left arm/hand or I'm going to have to learn to delegate. Something this I-can-handle-it gal isn't very good at.

(insert BIG SIGH)

So what would you do if you were in my shoes? I mean, aside from freaking out and praying. I've got those covered. Would you fill your freezer with casseroles? If so, what would be your favorite?

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com.


  1. I would consider the surgery my "Get Out of Jail Free" card, binge watch Fixer Upper and Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice, and design gardens for the ranch.


    I'm so sorry you need to be fixed, and I know it's a big deal. :( But I'm thrilled for the move... and the book deadline... and praying for your full recovery.

    And anything the crew messes up will no doubt be sitting there, waiting for you to fix it this summer.


    1. Ruthy, you have just put a whole new spin on things. I never thought of it as a way to get out of doing stuff. Perhaps I need to rethink this whole surgery/recovery thing.

      And as for stuff sitting there and waiting for me to get better, that kinda makes me shudder.

  2. I agree with Ruthy -- she's so wise. I'm fiercely independent too but I've been learning the hard way that sometimes I need to accept help. And just think how much your family is going to appreciate all that you do when suddenly you can't!!! It's sure to be a learning curve for everyone. I'll be praying for you and a good recovery...and patience and restraint!!!!!

    I don't freeze casseroles -- I guess I should. I tend to make them and eat them until their gone -- a simple week of dinners for me.

    1. Kav, more often than not, that's exactly what I do with casseroles, too. Even though I have more people to feed, some don't do leftovers. The heathens. So I just make sure it's something I really like, then I'm good to go.

      Hmm...you ladies are point out all sorts of positive things that could come out of this surgery. I just keep dreading the looks from the 18 yo when he has to do stuff for me. It doesn't come natural to him. However, will still have one good arm that packs a pretty good punch. :P

  3. First of all, this casserole looks like it's a crowd pleaser! I'll have to put the recipe in my "carry-in ideas" file.

    And, oh, the surgery. :( I've been nursing my rotator cuff off and on for a few years, and am hoping to avoid surgery. But when it's torn rather than just acting up, that's a whole different ball game.

    But then, using the surgery as an excuse to get out of hauling boxes sounds like the perfect idea!

    BTW - to get your 18yo to help you, threaten to tell him stories about his birth, and how you went through the Valley of Death to give him life. Believe me, he'll do anything to avoid that!

    1. Jan, you literally had me laughing out loud. Probably because it's so true. Mom...don't talk about stuff like that. :D

      As for hauling the boxes, I really don't mind. I'm afraid I'll be bored on the sidelines. But it is what it is. God is obviously wanting to teach me something through this.

  4. I'm so sorry for your shoulder, Mindy. I think we can all identify with the "Can-do" mentality.

    I love the sound of this recipe. It reminds me of a Tex-Mex version of lasagna.

    1. That's exactly what I've always thought, Mary Cate. Mexican lasagna. And so very tasty.