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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tex-Mex Casserole, marinated vegetables, and salsa

I guess it's says something about my life lately that I've posted three times on Potluck with Judy when sometimes I go for too long without a new post on the food blog. But today I spent most of the day cooking--to provide a meal for my neighbors. Susan's mother died yesterday morning, and though they have a few family members here today, they will have a lot more tomorrow. So I made a casserole that serves at least fifteen, plus marinated vegetables, a really simple salsa, and I bought a big bag of tortilla chips.
The marinated vegetables couldn't be easier. You can marinate them raw, but I prefer to blanche broccoli and cauliflower flowerets and baby carrots first. Then I dump in a large can of cut green beans. Sometimes I add artichoke hearts, and today I have some Napa cabbage I meant to add but the big pot I did it in was already full. The original recipe calls for avocado and iceberg lettuce, but I think they just get soggy and lost. And onion? I don't like to come across raw onion in a salad like that, though I love a good red onion as much as anyone. Dump a bottle of any kind of vinaigrette on the mixture, ((I used Kraft Italian--but not Zesty Italian, which has too many bits of stuff floating in it.) Refrigerate.
The salsa, or pico de gallo (I'm never sure of the difference, but I think pico de gallo is chunkier, which makes this salsa) is on my April 29 post--masquerading as pico de gallo.
But the piece de resistannce is the Texas-Mex casserole. Here's the recipe:

Tex-Mex casserole

4 lbs. ground round or chuck
2 large onions, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup chili powder, or more to taste
6 c. tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
2  4-oz cans chopped green chilies
Brown meat in batches in skillet. Add onions, garlic, and chili powder. Add tomato sauce, sugar, salt, and green chiles to meat mixture. You may have to do this in the largest mixing bowl you have--my skillet and everyday bowls wouldn't hold it. While meat cooks, soften 24 corn tortillas in small frying pan or microwave.
Separately, mix
4 cups small-curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
Have ready:
1 lb. thinly sliced Jack cheese
2 cups grated cheddar
Grease a six-quart casserole (I use my big paella pan). Layer meat sauce, half the Jack cheese, half the cottage cheese/egg mixture, and half the softened tortillas. Repeat, finishing with a final layer of meat. Cover with grated cheddar and bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Pass chopped green onions and sour cream.

Warning: when I got the paella pan full of this mixture, it was so heavy I was afraid I wouldn't make it to the oven an later, from oven to stovetop with the hot casserole. I did, but it dripped into the oven. It might be good to try this in two 9x13 casserole dishes.

I've come to think of this as my funeral casserole, which is an unfortunate designation, but I've given it to grieving families more than once. My friend Jeannie's family liked it so well they offered to pay for the recipe--I told them to buy my cookbook, Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books. Now Jeannie cooks it for family gatherings, even when no grief is involved. I sometimes swear it serves Cox' s Army.


  1. Judy,

    I am one of Susan's cousins who enjoyed this fantastic dish. Thanks for the recipe. I can hardly wait to make it for my friends in Maine.


  2. Thanks, Deb. Hope you enjoy it. Sorry you tried it in sad circumstances.