The Best Mexican Casserole Ever

Do you have foods that immediately take you back to a certain memory in your life?  Fried chicken reminds me of my Mammaw, and snickerdoodles remind me of spending the night at my friend Dana’s house.  This Mexican casserole takes me back to the Home-Economics room at Chandler High School.  During an FHA (our younger readers will know this org. as FCCLA) cooking contest, my friend Sherri made this incredible casserole that was modeled after a recipe of her grandmother’s.  Every time I make this version (which is often), it’s 1989 again and we’re back in that classroom learning, laughing, and making sure our 80’s hair didn’t fall!  FHA_andbigHair

I’m still friends with all of those girls, and though we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, I’m so thankful for the memories of food, fun, and friendship that have stayed with me aaaaallll these years!   ~Tracy

MexicanCasseroleLogoIngredients:

1 lb. 95% lean ground beef

½ c. chopped onion

2 c. condensed cream of mushroom soup, unprepared*

½ soup can of water

1 can Ro-tel tomatos with green chilis

1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning

2 c. shredded sharp cheddar or your favorite blend of cheese*

6 to 8 flour tortillas*

Instructions:

In a deep skillet, cook hamburger meat and onion.  Add Ro-tel, water, taco seasoning, and soup.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, approximately 10 minutes.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with Pam or similar cooking spray.  Pour a thin layer of the meat mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish.  Lightly sprinkle approximately ½ c. of cheese on top of mixture.  Tear tortillas into strips and place on top of cheese.  Continue layering the meat, cheese, and tortillas, working to end with sauce and cheese.

Bake at 375°F until bubbly and heated through.  Usually around 20 minutes.

Weight Watchers Info.:  Makes 8 servings at 5 SmartPoints each.

*WW points were figured using 98% fat free soup, 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, and 6 medium fat free tortillas.

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White Chicken Chili

I couldn’t ever find a white chicken chili I liked, so after trying several “meh” recipes, I decided to make my own.  Threw this together on a whim thinking it would at least be a quick, easy weekend prep to weekday meal kind of item.  But it turns out that Barry declared this his favorite thing I’ve ever made, so I figured I better share.  I make this pretty spicy but you can adjust (or eliminate) the heat easily. ~Robin 

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Ingredients: 

2 T. olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, diced*

4 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded, diced (reduce for lessened spice)

4 4-oz. cans (2 c.) chopped Hatch** green chiles; don’t drain (I use mild on these – more for flavor than heat)

4 cloves minced fresh garlic (or about 2 tsp. minced jarred garlic)

13 c. low-sodium chicken broth (can always add more if you need it, but you don’t want it too soupy)

4 c. cooked shredded chicken breast

3 cans cannellini beans, drained well

3 T. fresh lime juice (I just juice one small lime)

1 T. cumin

1 – 3 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I do the whole tablespoon because I like it spicy!)  

23 c. cilantro (about 1/2 a bunch) chopped; reserve some for garnish

12 tsp. garlic salt

Optional garnishes/accompaniments (not figured in WW points): sliced avocado, shredded Monterey jack cheese, tortilla chips, and/or a cilantro sprig.

Instructions:

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil on med-high heat. Then add onion, jalapeño, chiles, garlic, and sauté for 5-7 minutes (until veggies soften).

Reduce to medium heat. Add drained beans, chicken, broth, cumin, lime juice, garlic salt (sounds like a lot of garlic, but it’s a whole lot of food too — trust me), cilantro, & red pepper flakes. Cook for 12-15 min.

Serve and garnish as desired.

Weight Watchers Info.: This makes a whopping 11 one-cup servings, only 4 SmartPoints each.  

*For easy onion dicing, using a gator chopper will save you some tears, literally. They have varied dicing sizes, so be sure to check on that before purchasing – I used one with a ¼ inch dicing size, but you could use a larger one as well. I used to hate chopping onions before my folks got me this for Christmas one year. Now I can chop without tears and much more quickly.  (We’re not paid or compensated in any way to advertise for the Alligator company; I just really love mine since I’m a big cryer with onions!) 

**You can use any chopped green chile, but I prefer Hatch chiles.  

Street Tacos

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I’m always on the search for something different for dinner.   The same-old, same-old, turns into “I don’t want that tonight.”  I have a house full of boys who love meat.  I think it is in their DNA!  One day while in the city, I had a taco from a vendor that was out of this world!  I’ve been on a quest to replicate this meaty deliciousness.  These fit the bill and are approved by me and all the dudes in my house.  ~Kathy

Ingredients:

2 lbs. flank steak

2 c. orange juice, without pulp

3 T fresh squeezed lime juice

½ tsp lime zest

1 tsp cumin

3 – 4 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. cilantro, chopped, divided

1 slice onion (plus more onion diced for serving)

1 tsp salt

½ black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

Tortillas (we used Mission Street Taco sized flour tortillas) & desired toppings

Instructions:

In a large ziplock bag, combine orange and lime juice, zest, cumin, garlic, and ¼ c. cilantro, slice of onion and seasonings.  Mix to combine well.  Add flank steak and turn to coat.  Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but at least 4 hours.

Remove steak from bag and discard marinade.  Grill on a lightly oiled grill, heated to medium high heat.   Cook to desired doneness.  Allow steak to rest on cutting board for about 10 minutes.  Slice thinly against the grain.

Serve with heated tortillas, remaining cilantro, chopped onion, hot sauce, chopped radishes, avocado, or salsa.  

Weight Watchers info:  (2 street size tortillas, 4 ounces meat divided between the tortillas, onion, cilantro, and any other desired zero SmartPoint veggies)  Total of 9 SmartPoints for both tacos.

Taco Slaw Bowls

Posted by Erin

Did you try our most popular recipe, Egg Roll in a Bowl? This Mexican version was inspired by that dish, and you will love it!

I’m one busy woman, as pretty much all moms (and dads!) are. We are always rushing to get kids to their extra-curricular activities, get homework done, etc. so I try to come up with recipes that don’t require a lot of time-consuming chopping and prep-work. This one fits the bill. 

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Another bonus to this recipe, for those of us with picky kids, is that it somewhat disguises the veggies. I don’t know about your kids, but mine won’t eat raw shredded lettuce and chopped tomato on a taco. They will, however, eat the tomatoes & shredded cabbage cooked with this taco meat. The flavors blend so well, they don’t even detect the veggies. I serve theirs in a taco shell, topped with cheese, but I like mine over rice. Either way, it’s delicious!  

Ingredients:

1 lb. 93% lean ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 (1 oz.) packet low sodium taco seasoning

1 (1 oz.) packet ranch dip mix, dry

1 (14 oz.) bag classic slaw/chopped cabbage with carrots

1 (10 oz.) can mild Ro-tel, undrained

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime, plus more for serving

1 tsp. each:  chili powder, cumin, paprika

½ a bunch of cilantro, chopped

Chopped green onion for garnish

Other optional garnishes & serving ideas:  rice, taco shells, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, salsa

Instructions:

Brown the beef in a large skillet with the diced onions, garlic, taco seasoning, and ranch seasoning; set aside onto a paper towel-covered plate to remove any residual oil from beef.  

Heat olive oil in the skillet over medium heat; add the slaw, Ro-tel, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and paprika.  

Stir and cook until cabbage is wilted and tender.  

Add the beef mixture back to the skillet; stir and heat through.  

Serve over rice with lime wedges, chopped green onions, etc.

Weight Watchers info.:  This makes 5 servings of about 1 cup each; 6 SmartPoints per serving (not including rice or optional garnishes).

 

Chicken South of the Border

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Posted by Robin

If I’m pressed to name my favorite entrée (let’s be real; my favorite food is a tie between several kinds of dessert), this has to be it.  I think it’s beg-for-it-for-your-birthday level good — and I’m pretty sure I did just that a few times as a kid.

This is a very Tex-Mex kind of dish.  But what could be better for Cinco de Mayo, the holiday mooostly celebrated in the US?

Speaking of celebrating, this dish does pair quite nicely with a margarita on the rocks. I may have to cook this favorite myself now (most of the time), but being a grown up does have some perks!

Before we get into the recipe, there’s something you have to know.  Cheese whiz is part of this recipe.  Before you run screaming for the hills, just hear me out.  I know it’s not usually the most appealing ingredient, but I promise it’s perfect for this dish.  You could use Velveeta, but I tell you it’s just not the same (I’ve tried it and was disappointed).  Also, you’ll have such great 80s memories flash back — Fastback tennis shoes (somebody out there remembers those; don’t try to deny it), plus jellies shoes, mix tapes, and leg warmers, oh my!

Ingredients for Cornmeal Fried Chicken:

4 chicken cutlets, pounded flat

1 c. flour

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt

6 beaten eggs

1 to 1 ½ c. cornmeal

Ingredients for Salsa:

2 c. diced canned tomatoes, drained (which will probably be about 1.5 cans once drained)

1 small white onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. lime juice

1-3 jalapeños, diced (depending on heat pref. – I use 3)

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. garlic salt

¼ c. cilantro, chopped (optional—I love cilantro)

Other Ingredients:  

1 15 oz. jar of cheese whiz

Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions:

For salsa, in a medium bowl, start with diced canned tomatoes, drained. Add onion, green pepper, garlic, jalapeños, lime juice, salt, garlic salt, and cilantro (if desired).  Refrigerate.

Combine flour and seasoning in a medium (cereal bowl size is fine for these) bowl.  In a medium sized separate bowl, beat eggs slightly.  In a separate medium sized bowl, place cornmeal.  Set aside.

Trim any fat from chicken.  Place vegetable oil, about a half inch deep, in a deep frying pan on medium heat.

To coat each piece of chicken to prepare for cooking, dredge through flour mixture, egg, flour mix again, egg again, then cornmeal.  Gently place directly into hot oil.  Cook a few minutes on each side — until cooked through and cornmeal is a nice golden color.  Try not to turn it too often, as you don’t want to knock off that delicious batter. (Chicken should reach 165 degrees in center.)

As you cook chicken, set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Microwave a few servings of cheese whiz in a bowl, heating to liquid for 20 seconds at a time, then stirring each time.  (Do not look directly at the cheese whiz at this stage until it’s fully melted if you can avoid it.  Not pretty as a solid, but it will be good on your chicken once it’s melted. Really.) 🙂

To serve, plate chicken.  Spoon the piping hot cheese whiz over chicken.  Top with salsa.  Enjoy the magic.  And maybe a margarita.

Mango Salsa

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Visiting an old friend is always fun, but when that friend has a husband who cooks while you sip drinks….well, that’s friendship gold.  Tracy’s life-long friend Dana has a husband who whips up a great Mango Salsa that is a summery treat you’ll love.  Thanks for sharing this recipe, Marc!

 

Ingredients:

4 to 5 large Roma tomatoes, diced

½ yellow or white onion, diced

½ red or green bell pepper, seeded & diced

2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced

1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped

1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice

½ tsp. salt

 

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together well, and enjoy!

This salsa is best served over a juicy piece of grilled chicken with some tortilla chips on the side!

 

Weight Watchers info:  drumroll please…. ZERO Smartpoints.  Enjoy all you want.

 

Skillet Fiesta

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This is probably one of the more versatile recipes in our family recipe box.  We usually eat this dish with chips, but friends have put it in a taco shell or rolled it up in a tortilla.  Any way you eat it, it’s delicious!  Another great thing about this dish is that it’s only 6 SmartPoints per serving (minus the chips, of course)!

1 lb. lean ground beef

½ c. diced onion

½ t. salt

½ t. black pepper

1 t. garlic salt

2 t. chili powder

1, 16 oz. can petit diced tomatoes

1 c. frozen corn (or one small can, drained)

½ c. c. chopped green bell pepper

1 ½ c. prepared beef bullion

1 ½ c. minute rice

Cook meat and onion together until meat is browned.  Stir in salt, pepper, garlic salt, and chili powder.  Stir in tomatoes, corn, and green pepper.  Bring to a boil.

Stir in rice and bullion.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until rice is cooked through and liquid is mostly absorbed.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Note – 6 SmartPoints per serving.  Makes approximately 6 servings.