December 23, 2014

Fresh from the Kitchen: Quesadilla Casserole

As I have stated several times, our family adores Mexican food. We are always willing to try new recipes for Mexican dishes and many times I find keepers the whole family enjoys. One such recipe was for a Quesadilla Casserole. It was delicious, but only after I made quite a few revisions to it. I am happy to share this spicy and delicious meal with you--did I mention it's also really easy?
quesadilla casserole recipe

Almost everything you need for my Quesadilla Casserole can be found in your pantry and it is ready in under an hour--a big winner in my book! 

Go grab:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 to 1/2 cup Fresh (or frozen) chopped peppers (your preference!)
2 cans (15 oz ea) of tomato sauce
15 oz can of black beans
My Homemade Taco Seasoning 
(OR 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 tsp chili powder and 1/2 tsp oregano)
4-6 flour tortillas
3-4 cups of shredded cheese

Are you ready? Let's cook!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, grease a 2.5 quart baking dish or a 13 x 9 dish and you are ready to go!
I love using my oven-to-table baking dish for this recipe! 
As expected you start by browning up your beef, onions and peppers in a skillet on medium high heat. You can drain the meat if you need to. Thankfully I never need to with my beef--but then it is our own 100% Grass Fed Black Angus. Next to NO fat on that stuff!

I love using my cast iron skillet for anything taco related. Just holds heat so well!
Add tomato sauce and beans; mix well. Some people like corn or green chiles in their taco stuff. We don't--okay, I do. But Love-Of-My-Life doesn't, so they don't get added here. But if you do, you can add a can of each at this step.
I was all out of my organic black beans, but these worked fine. 
The original recipe called for half as much tomato sauce, but that's just not enough for this recipe. I tried it and was like--seriously? This is it?  I love how the 2 cans of sauce just makes it a nice filling dish.
Now it's time to stir in all the spices. If you are using my HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING, you can add just it. If you don't have it made (yet!), use the other spices I have listed above (cumin, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder and oregano) and it works perfectly fine! 

Bring to a boil, Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
Yum! I also sprinkled a little more red pepper flakes for kick!

Now it's time to layer it all up! 

Let's talk cheese for a second. The original recipe called for only 2 cups of cheese. That seems like a lot, right? Well it's not. At least not for us! We like our casseroles cheesy! So I experimented and found that about 3-4 cups of cheese works best. I have used bagged shredded cheese or I just shred my own.
Tillamook Cheddar...NATURALLY! 
Get all your remaining ingredients out for quick layering and move your baking dish and taco mixture there too.
I love uncooked tortillas for this recipe--I just cook them as I'm making the taco mixture.
But any flour tortillas will work.
I always use a ladle. So much easier.
Spread 1/2 cup of the taco mixture on the bottom of your baking dish (greased!). Layer with 2-3 tortillas, overlapping as needed.

Yes, i am messy. Keeping it real. LOL!
In my 2.5 quart dish, two tortillas works fine for the layer.
 Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese.
Spread it around to cover your tortillas
I use about 2 cups of cheese per layer. We are very cheesy.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese (in that order!)
All layered up!
I love the taste of cilantro on my Mexican dishes, so I always sprinkle cilantro on the top of the cheese. It adds just a hint more flavor to tie it all together! At this point I also wiped clean all the sauce smears from my pan. LOL! 

Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 15 minutes or until heated and melted through. It will be bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheesy and absolutely delicious!
I typically serve this dish with tortilla chips and sour cream. The chips are great for scooping up all the extra bits your fork misses! I will warn you--if you use my HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING for this will have a bit of a kick. If you use just the spices I have listed it will be more mild. Play around with it and find your own "perfect" heat!

Ready to print off the recipe to try yourself?!

*Print Quesadilla Casserole Recipe Here*

This is a GREAT recipe to take to potlucks, or to serve a group of people! It is very filling. I can get my family of 4 at least 2 meals out of it--so that matches the approximate 8 servings it suggests. If you doubled the recipe it would be EASY to make two of them with little extra work.

And the kids love helping! They enjoy the layering and each has a job--either the tortillas or the cheese!

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