March 23, 2011

Mexican Casserole that is Great as a Dip for Tortilla Strips!

When I was about 14 years old, I was a regular babysitter for a woman in our small town who had 3 children. One night she had left a casserole for me to bake and serve them. I loved it so much I had her write down the recipe and my own family enjoyed it regularly after that.

This week I was thinking about that recipe and although I've made it a number of times in our own marriage, I never officially copied down the recipe so I often 'forget' about it for a few years and then suddenly crave it again.

That's what I did this week. I don't think I've made this for about 5 years now but it's back on our mental list and I scribbled it down on a note card and slipped it into my recipe files to remind me!

Remember what I always say on this site when it comes to 'recipes'? Play with your food! Make it yours. Mix and match, leave things out if you hate them (black olives? Fine, don't use them!) Add what you know you love and would work well (I love jalapeno's and hot sauces!). Make this recipe yours by playing with it.

Mexican Casserole or Dip

1 lb. ground beef browned with
1 small onion, chopped
1 can refried beans
*optional - 1 c ground and browned sausage
4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can green chilies, chopped
*optional - 1 can diced jalapenos
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream
1 jar salsa or taco sauce
*optional - black olives, green olives, sliced
*optional - 1 1/2 c guacamole or avocado dip

Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a sprayed casserole dish for a meal or if you are using this recipe as a dip, spread it thinly on the bottom of a larger pan of your choice - (pizza pan, 9X13, anything you wish!) Brown the ground beef and/or sausage with the onion. Place half into a greased casserole dish or if you are using for a dip, use all of it over the refried beans in the larger pan. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Add the chilies and/or jalapenos, the sour cream, the salsa/sauce and the rest of the cheese in layers. Top with olives if you love them like I do!

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes for a thinner pan and bake 45 minutes if you have a thick casserole dish. When the cheese is melted and it's hot all the way through, remove and serve as a dip or let set for 5-8 minutes to 'set up' when serving as a casserole. It may be more runny when hot straight from the oven and it sets up (like lasagna does) when left to stand and cool a bit. We can never wait and don't care - we dig right in!

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