Tortilla beef casserole ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)

Tortilla beef casserole ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)

Cooking for Pleasure: Tortilla beef casserole for Cinco de Maya

When my kids were growing up their appetites were insatiable. Every night I had to come up with a meal to satisfy their bottomless stomachs. They loved Mexican food, so one day I came up with this casserole. It completely fills a typical lasagna pan and will feed six people generously. Although I usually fry my own tortillas, a large bag of unflavored tortilla chips works just fine in this recipe. It is the same with chilies. You can use canned ones or roast your own. Season the ground beef mixture just the way you like it. In other words, you can adapt this recipe to please your own taste buds. But this is the way I make it and there are never any complaints.

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, they taste great microwaved for lunch the next day if your kids don’t find them first.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound of ground beef (or a little more)

1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (hot or mild)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 minced clove of garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tablespoons (or more) chili powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 large can of chopped green chilies (or two large roasted green chilies (Anaheim or Poblano) peeled, seeded and chopped

1 pint of sour cream

4 cups of grated mild cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack

1 dozen fresh corn tortillas, cut into wedges and fried until just crisp (or one large bag of Mexican tortilla chips, unflavored)

PREPARATION

Step one:

Brown ground beef in large frying pan. Add chopped onions and stir until soft. Add garlic, chopped tomatoes and tomatoes and chilies. Bring to a simmer then add oregano, chili powder, salt and cumin. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.

Step two:

Mix two cups of the grated cheese with the sour cream and chopped green chilies. Set aside.

Taste ground beef mixture again to make sure you like it. Add more salt, cayenne or chili powder if you wish.

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Step three:

Using a 9 X 13 baking pan, line the bottom with one-third of the tortilla chips. Carefully spread one-half of the ground beef mixture on top. Top this with another third of the chips. Then spread the sour cream/cheese mixture on top. Cover with the remaining chips. Spoon the remainder of the ground beef mixture on the chips, then sprinkle with the saved two cups of grated cheese.

Step four:

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes until the casserole is bubbling.

Serve hot to your family and watch it disappear.

Note: This is great served with guacamole and chips along with a bean/corn salad (see my next column) or another of your choice.

• Patty Schied is a longtime Juneau resident who studied at the Cordon Bleu in London, has cooked meals for both AWARE and the Glory Hall, and has written a cookbook. Cooking For Pleasure appears every other week in Capital City Weekly.

Cooking ingredients for tortilla beef casserole. (Photo by Patty Schied)

Cooking ingredients for tortilla beef casserole. (Photo by Patty Schied)

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