Friday, March 23, 2012

Make Ahead & Freeze - Tex Mex Casserole With Monterey Jack

I'm all about short cuts.  If there is a way to get a healthy, home cooked meal on my kitchen table with minimal effort, then I'm totally in.  I'm sure you'll agree that with busy lives, working full time and getting the kids off to their various afters school activities, there isn't always time to slave away in the kitchen. 

Sometimes on a Sunday, I will make a couple of casseroles that can be frozen, and pulled out of the freezer during the week for a quick hot meal.  This is one of those recipes and it's great.

Tex Mex Casserole With Monterey Jack
1 T Olive Oil
2 onions chopped
2 cubanelle peppers chopped (I used sweet peppers)
2lb ground beef
2 garlic minced
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (I used about 2 T)
3 T tomato paste
1 can whole tomatoes, chopped (I used a can of chopped tomatoes)
2c chopped zucchini (I left this out, my daughter doesn't like zucchini)
2/3c beef broth
6 large tortillas
3 1/2c shredded monterey jack cheese (I used the shredded taco mix that you can buy)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook oil with onions, and peppers for 7 minutes.  Push to the side of the pan and add the to the other side.  Cook, breaking apart the meat, for 4 minutes.  Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes, zucchini, and broth.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Let cool.  Spread 1c of the beef mixture in a 13x9 dish (I use the aluminum disposable pans for easy clean up; I just throw it out when it's done).  Layer with 2 tortillas, then a generous 2c of the beef mixture.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Starting with the tortillas, repeat the layers twice.  Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.  uncover and broil until cheese is browned, about 4 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

To make ahead and freeze, make it but don't bake it.  Cover with plastic wrap and then foil.  Freeze for up to 2 months.  Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours, remove the plastic, re-cover with the foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.  Then broil for 4 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Try it, eat it, love it!