Easy Mexican Lasagna, with apologies…

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Apologies to my Mexican friends, and any other Mexican I will ever meet….I’m sure this isn’t authentic Mexican food, just one of those crazy northern improvisations….but I can’t help it–I love the taste!  And it’s EASY!! :)  (I’m sure the lasagna that they eat in Mexico is the same as the “Italian” version we eat here anyways….)

We’ve come to love this casserole-type recipe (I don’t call things “casseroles” around my house, but I will here!) for several reasons: it’s quite fast and easy, it smells heavenly when it’s baking in the oven, it makes great leftovers and it actually tastes super!!  I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com and when I read the ingredients I thought, what’s the big whoop?  these are all the same things I use all the time, in taco salad and other stuff.  But I decided to try it anyways, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  I’ve made it over and over since finding it a few weeks ago!

The original recipe is here, but I’ve changed it a bit.  It’s really one of those dishes that you can throw together with what you have on hand and it seems to turn out great (not one of those measure-carefully recipes).denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casserole

List of ingredients:

ground beef (about one pound or more)

salsa (1 or 2 cups)

green onions (one bunch)

corn tortillas (about 4 large or 6-8 small) or tortilla chips

can of beans (chili beans-red kidney or black)

a few cups of grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or monterrey jack)

cilantro (optional)

black olives (optional)

cream cheese (cream cheese spread or sour cream)

sprinkle of paprika (optional)

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Prepare a 9×13 pan or glass casserole dish by giving it a quick spray with cooking spray (I’m not totally sure this is necessary but haven’t tried it without).  Line the dish with one layer of corn tortillas, about 3 large ones.  In these photos I was using those large tortillas that are a blend of corn and wheat flour, but I like the straight corn tortillas best, though it will take a few more of those smaller ones to cover the bottom.  Another variation is to crunch up tortilla chips and make that the bottom layer (haven’t tried that yet).  This recipe only needs one layer of each ingredient.  Next, prepare the meat.denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casserole

When we buy ground beef, I brown it all up and make most of it into taco-seasoned meat, then freeze in meal-sized portions.  So I use already browned and taco seasoned meat for this recipe.  But you can brown up about one pound to 2 pounds of beef, and add some seasoned or plain salt (if you don’t want to add taco seasoning, though I’d recommend it).  Then add some salsa, from one cup to 2 cups.  Add in the beans…try red kidney beans, it tastes great!!  I use the whole black beans if I don’t have the kidney ones, as I did in these photos.  If you have already-prepared meat, then you can just mix everything in a bowl and microwave it for a bit to warm it up.  Or you can mix everything in a pot and warm it on the stove.denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroleChop up some green onions and cilantro, if you like cilantro!!  And black olives, if you like them (my kids don’t, maybe someday).  And a tomato or two if you want (I haven’t tried it with fresh tomatos, I just skip that). Whatever you do, don’t skip the green onions!!!denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroleStir these ingredients into the meat mixture, and start spreading it onto the tortillas.  The meat layer doesn’t have to be really thick…denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroledenna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casserole(If you want you could now add a layer of sour cream, but I also haven’t tried that).  Then add a layer of grated cheese.  We always use mozzarella.  I think cheddar might be too rich, but use what you like best!  (In these photos I sprinkled the cilantro onto the meat instead of mixing it in).  When the cheese is covering the meat, add some dots of cream cheese….I just use the spreadable stuff, and scoop it out with the back of a teaspoon and plop it on in random dots across the casserole.  This is the ingredient that really makes the Mexican lasagna sing, in my opinion!!!  (don’t skip it!)denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroledenna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroleThen sprinkle the top with some paprika.denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroleI skipped a step when I was baking this batch….I forgot to top it with some ripped up tortilla bits!  If you are using the large tortillas, it only takes one or 2 small ones, ripped up into bits and sprinkled over the top.  These bits bake up crunchy and really add to the casserole.  You could also use tortillas chips.  As you can see, I forgot to add them this time, but it still was great!  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Hmm, I think I left this one in for 3 minutes too long, heh heh!denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroleAnd there you go!! Ready to slice and eat!  This time I made a 9×13 casserole and an extra 8×8 one to share with some friends to see what they thought…(it only took one tortilla to line the 8×8 pan)…denna's ideas: easy Mexican lasagna casseroleI was pleased with their response! :)  I didn’t have a photo of this dish served up on a plate with salad….I’m afraid most of my photos are taken in the kitchen with little or no natural light and many times my photos are too blurry to post….but Carrie just sent me one that she took on her phone of her serving….denna's ideas: easy mexican lasagna casserole(I think she added the large salad because she wan’t sure if she’d like the Mexican lasagna, but I guess she did, since she asked for the recipe!!)  So thank you Carrie!

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