Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

This is one of those recipes that I have had pretty much as long as I have been cooking. However, I am embarrassed to tell you how I first made it. If you have read my bio you know I admittedly did NOT cook well at all for many many years. I was the Hamburger Helper Queen! That is how this recipe came to be. My desire to "tweek" Hamburger Helper (hanging head in shame). I used packaged taco seasoning, cheeseburger macaroni Hamburger Helper, cheese, and tortillas and just layer them all up. Talk about carb overload!!! Macaroni AND tortillas? WOW

After I lost all of the weight and was just beginning to actually cook real food, my kids actually requested that old awful Hamburger Helper dish. I wanted to make it for them but NOT the old way so that is when I came up with this. I got rid of the packaged taco seasoning to try to cut down some sodium. Of course dropped the Hamburger Helper with the macaroni, added some veggies and low fat cheese, and felt a bit better about serving this to my family.

What is funny is that Kevin and I have been together for 3 1/2 years now and I had never made this for him before last night. I couldn't believe it. I guess it is just that I have been trying so hard to work on new recipes with lots of "flash" and have left some of my kids comfort food recipes on the back burner so to speak. This recipe is a fun simple meal that my kids will request for birthdays over and over. No steaks, roasts, shrimp on a skewer, fish en papillote for them, they want chili mac or Mexican lasagna!

Mexican Lasagna 

2 pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package flour tortillas
1 can fat free refried beans
4 cups low fat jack or cheddar cheese (or a combo of both), shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water, plus a bit to thin out the beans
A good handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped and reserve a small amount for garnish
Low fat or fat free sour cream
Your favorite taco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet add the meat, onions, jalapeno, and garlic, breaking up the ground beef or turkey until it is an small bits and brown well. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Stir to combine and then add the water. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cilantro and stir.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot, heat the refried beans over medium-high heat, adding enough water to thin the beans out.

Tear tortillas in triangle shaped pieces and places one layer of them in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan or medium casserole dish. Pour half of the beans over the first layer of tortillas and then top with some of the shredded cheese. Add another layer of tortillas and then top with half of the meat mixture, sprinkle more cheese over the top. Repeat the process with the other half of the beans and meat mixture. Top off with another layer of tortillas and then sprinkle the top with some of the shredded cheese.

Place dish on a baking sheet and bake in the over for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle cilantro on top. Garnish with sour cream and taco sauce (optional).

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