Monday, November 7, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

Have you ever had one of those days where you look at the clock and suddenly it's magically 5pm and you have no idea what to make for dinner? It's a time warp filled with kindergarten homework, Wii-induced squabbles, and the neverending mess I call home. Welcome to my world. With four young boys (one of them a demanding but insanely cute 4-month old) my usual routine of meal planning and grocery shopping has gone out the window. Instead I find myself frantically searching through my kitchen cabinets for something somewhat healthy yet quick to prepare so that my little monsters don't turn into, well, monsters.

Luckily I have a few meals up my sleeve (not literally) that are not only quick and yummy, but I usually have all the fixings on hand - hooray for not having to take all the kids to the store! That should be a celebration in itself! One of those meals in Mexican Lasagna. Now this dinner is the first thing I ever saw Rachael Ray make on the Food Network. Sadly, I have not always been a decent chef. I shudder at the things I used to make my husband eat when we were first married. And if I wasn't making something with my limited skills, we were spending a fortune eating out. Then my sister told me about "30-minute Meals" and I was hooked after the first episode! This recipe is from Rachael Ray, adapted by me to fit my needs and the taste of my family. It's easy and fast to prepare and so kid-friendly! It makes an entire 9x13 pan, but it can be easily halved for a smaller family or doubled (or more!) for a crowd. And don't be afraid of the word "lasagna" - trust me, this is not a labor-intensive meal. I promise!
The stars of the show (that, yes, I had already in my kitchen just ready to go!)
About halfway into cooking the hamburger add the onion and taco seasoning. I buy the gargantuan container of taco seasoning at Costco - if you do too, use 1/4 cup or so. If not, use a seasoning packet. And the smaller you crumble your hamburger the better - it will layer better and be easier to eat. And we all want things that are easier to eat, right?
Once the onion is tender, add the tomatoes and salsa. I used a fire-roasted tomato salsa because I can't find fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes, and I have to have them petite because my boys will find them if they aren't petite and pick them all out. Go ahead and experiment with whatever salsa tickles your fancy.
Add the drained can of black beans and corn. Stir until the corn is not frozen anymore. Can you totally see this mix on your next batch of nachos?? Yum!
Once your meat mixture is ready, place half of  it in the bottom of your pan. Cut your tortillas and place over the meat mixture. I cut the tortillas as I need them - some in half and some in quarters and others in smaller pieces. Your goal is to cover the bottom of the pan, but don't stress about perfection. It will all come out okay in the end!
Sprinkle the cheese over the tortillas and repeat the process. Meat, tortillas, cheese. Top with green onion (the amount is really up to you). Cook for 20 minutes.
Top with sour cream and/or guacamole.

Mexican Lasagna
from Rachael Ray, adapted by Celeste Pearson

1 pound hamburger
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, diced
Taco Seasoning
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
2 cups frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained
Flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
Green onions (for garnish)

Cook hamburger on medium heat. When it starts to brown add diced onion and taco seasoning. Drain excess fat if you have a lot (my meat always has a lot!). Add salsa and tomatoes. Add frozen corn and beans, stirring to combine.

In a 9x13 pan spoon about half of the meat mixture into the bottom. Top with cut flour tortillas then 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layer of meat mixture, tortillas, and then top with cheese. Sprinkle green onions on top. Cook at 350 for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the lasagna is heated all the way through. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

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