Sunday, November 13, 2011

Enchilada Casserole

This is my husband's favorite meal.  Ever.  Well, except for Shrimp Etouffee, which is so time-consuming and labor-intensive that I only make it once a year for his birthday.  The hardest part about Enchilada Casserole, on the other hand, is remembering to make it a day in advance (which is harder than it sounds, at least for me).  I can also never remember the order for layering the ingredients, but this time I actually got it right--without calling my mother-in-law, I might add.  Success!

This recipe calls for some non-co-op ingredients, but they aren't too expensive.  This recipe also freezes well, so if you're only cooking for a couple of people (like me), you can make it in two pans and freeze one for another meal.  Cheese is on sale this week at Kroger/Scott's ($2.99 for 16 oz. shredded or chunk), so I stocked up (the shredded stuff freezes well; the chunk, not so well).  Target has the best prices for canned enchilada sauce (regularly $.99 for 10 oz.) and diced green chilies (regularly $.57 for 4 oz.)--both in the Mexican food section.  Kroger's enchilada sauce is the same price, but the chilies are more expensive.  Aldi doesn't carry either, but they do have the cheapest tortillas ($.99 for 10).  I saw tortillas at the co-op last week, too.  I usually get olives from Aldi, if I can't find them at the co-op.  All that to say that even if you have to buy several ingredients, it's still under $5 for 8 people.  Not too bad for a bubbling, cheesy, gooey pan of comfort food.  Even if it's not terribly authentic, I still think my Hispanic grandpa might have approved.

Enchilada Casserole (from the kitchen of my mother-in-law)
Serves:  6-8
Time:  1 1/2 hours + 24 hours

1 lb. ground beef
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 T. chili powder (or 1 T. if you're scared of a little heat)
1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
1 (10 oz.) can red enchilada sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped ripe (black) olives
1 pkg. 8" flour tortillas (about 6-10)
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese

Combine beef, pepper, and onion in a large skillet; brown and drain.  Remove from heat.  Add next 6 ingredients (through olives); stir well.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish (or two 8" or 9" round dishes); add alternating layers of tortilla followed by meat mixture, ending with meat.  (You should be able to get at least three layers, if you use the meat sparingly.  If using a rectangular baking dish, tear pieces of tortilla to fit any "holes.")  Top with cheese.  Refrigerate 24 hours.  Can be frozen.  Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

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