Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Beefy Mexican Lasagna

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This is one of my favorite go-to casseroles y’all.

Actually, I’ve really decided I’m like the casserole queen.

Like, for reals.

That’s all I did, was cook casseroles. It had to be something in a 9 x 13 pan, I’d cook once or twice a week, and then we’d eat the leftovers throughout the week for lunch and dinner. It was so EASY!

I use past tense because I’ve been trying this whole “Paleo” thing. Basically it means eating like a caveman.

No sugar, dairy (gulp), or grains. You read that right. I’ve embarked on a disaster journey.

I heard about the Whole30 program, and my mother bought me the book, as well as the Practical Paleo cookbook.

(Here’s an affiliate link: It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways and Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle)

So far, I love it. It’s been hard, and I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve been pretty close, and I’ll share my meals with you along the way.

And don’t worry, I won’t (read: CAN’T) give up baking; I’ve just got to get off this sugar addiction thing first, before I learn what a healthy amount is. (HA)


ANYWAYS, if I haven’t scared you away by now, back to the casserole.

It also happens to be a childhood favorite of mine.
I seem to have some recollection of being 8 years old and dropping my brother off at his first junior high dance…. he was supposed to bring food. Mom made the mexican lasagna, but burnt it slightly (which is atypical for my mother). I was lying in the back of the van – pretending not to exist – holding the lasagna, while my brother and his friends were in the middle seat.


Anyways, there’s no punchline here. No, I didn’t send the lasagna flying into the middle seat at a stoplight. No, I didn’t gouge my hand into the dinner as I was so hungry as we dropped them off. No, I didn’t upchuck my mexican lasagna dinner as my brother and his friends watched….

All these would have been good endings though…..

We just dropped him off.





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All of you should be proud. My best friend is half Hispanic, so she convinced me to start cooking tortillas from half-scratch. I didn’t make tortilla dough, but they do have the dough already rolled out and packaged, and all that needs to be done is toast it in a pan.

Many burned fingers later, this little gringa had herself a pile of hot, fresh tortillas.


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Add in some taco seasoning, beans, and my favorite Red Gold diced tomatoes, and we’re almost there.

I usually use the Red Gold diced tomatoes and green chiles, but I had used my last can!

Next, you’ll mix up your cottage cheese mixture, and assemble.

I’m hoping y’all have some good stories for me after reading this.

Come ON, bring on the family pranks. *GRIN*

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~ Peace, Love, and Tex-Mex Y’all

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Beefy Mexican Lasagna

Yield: serves 10


1 pound ground beef
14.5 ounces Red Gold diced tomatoes
16 ounces refried beans
1.25 ounce packet taco seasoning
2.8 ounce can of french fried onions
24 ounces cottage cheese
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
2 eggs, beaten
12 tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Begin by browning meat over medium heat. Once browned, add in tomatoes, beans and taco seasoning. Stir in half the can of french fried onions, then simmer for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, eggs, and shredded cheese.

Create your assembly line of one 9x13 pan, tortillas, meat mixture, and cheese mixture. Begin by spreading a few spoonfuls of meat mixture on the bottom of the pan to keep the tortillas from sticking. Next, layer tortillas. Then, layer meat, then cheese. Continue layering tortillas, meat, then cheese. The last layer should be the cottage cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top of the casserole and the remaining french fried onions. Bake covered for 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.

*Freezes great!


Monday, June 10, 2013

The unpacking begins…

Just wanted to give y’all a quick update. While I’m working on my recap from the fabulous BlogHer Food 2013, Austin – this is what happened today.



The unpacking begins. Five bags of swag (which is significantly less than many people) and lots and lots and lots of dirty clothes to go through.

Numerous business cards to sort through…. NanaBread gave me this great idea: Next year I’m going to tape them into my notepad as I meet them, then I can take notes about what we talked about, what we connected on, or where they got their great shoes.



But then I got distracted.

My sister-in-law (and brother. Love you Ryan!) got me this TO DIE FOR ring from Sundance. I heart that catalog.

I want to curl up inside it, snuggle up on the Indian trade quilt, slip on the calfskin boots, wrap up in the cashmere sweater (not in Texas heat), and live. In. It.

The ring was a gift to celebrate my recently finished Master’s of Education. WOOHOO.

The job search is now in full effect as my stomach is filled with knots every morning waiting for interviews to be scheduled for a school counselor position.

The ring is a green amethyst. I googled it… supposed to bring good luck, inner peace, strengthen my intuition –

And clairvoyance.

If you’re into that sort of thing.

I am. *winks*



Oops. Got distracted again. Well NOW I can’t sort through all those business cards with that cute little dog all curled up on my bag!

Lord help me when I have kids.

I know, she’s spoiled rotten. I don’t need the lecture.



Oh muh GAWSH y’all!!! I was doing so well on my little Paleo adventure…. then BlogHer Food happened.

Today was a bad day. Went to help my great aunt with some chores before her back surgery, then she just *insisted* that we have Whataburger for lunch so she could use her free coupon, then I just HAD to have a hankerin’ for some fro-yo. So I did the bad brain thing of saying, “Well, my healthy eating is shot today, so why not REALLY blow it out of the water.”

UGH. #palmtoforehead

I’m back on the paleo bandwagon tomorrow.

BUT – the fro-yo was salted caramel corn and pistachio. Come ON y’all, it was GOOD.

ooOOoo, and I got schooled by ol’ Aunt Dorothy in how to correctly fold nurses corners on those bed corners. Maybe I’ll give y’all a tutorial.

Okie Dokie, off to start a blog recap!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

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Y’all want some real Texan cooking? This is the casserole.

This is the creme de la creme of Texas recipes.

Any good diner will have King Ranch Casserole on their blue plate special.

Oh, what’s that? You haven’t had King Ranch Casserole?

Well, bless your heart.

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King Ranch Casserole is named after the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas, my friends, and King Ranch is one of the biggest ranches in the world. Although mainly a cow camp, King Ranch also now raises horses and produced the 1946 US Triple Crown winner Assault and 1950 Kentucky Derby winner Middleground. Thank you Wikipedia.

When I lived in South Texas, my neighbor did her student teaching at the King Ranch! That’s no small potatoes, y’all!

Enough history? Back to the food.

This is a chicken casserole chock full of “Cream of”, Red Gold diced tomatoes and green chiles, and corn tortillas. Oh and cheese, plenty of cheese.

Plus some olives on half, and only half, because the husband doesn’t like olives. #boo (Nor does he like artichokes. What’s up with that?)

This is no casserole designed for the Whole30 program, y’all, this is pure, unadulterated, good ol’ homestyle, slap yo’mama home cookin’.

I mention that whole “Whole30” nonsense because I’ve been reading up on it. I think after a while of studying, and preparing my mind, I want to give it a shot. Basically it’s a Paleo thing. Like a diabetic diet lifestyle. Just whole foods, made from scratch. And, uh, ahem, no dairy.


(Here’s an affiliate link to the two books I read: It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways and Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle)

One of the reasons I’m really going to have to prepare mentally for this.

If I really do it, I know it’s a far step away from the normal contents of this blog, but I think I’ll share the recipes with y’all anyways.

If you’re like me, home cooking is good, but you’re always trying to be healthy too.

If you hate whatever I decide to post, don’t worry, in a month it will resume normal Southern Cooking.

Just don’t tell me. I get my feelings hurt easily.

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Ok… on to the casserole. I’ve given y’all a little onion tutorial, because it took me a long time to stop chopping my vegetables the size of silver dollars. I had to call my mother numerous times to ask her to explain this chop to me, and I’VE FINALLY GOT IT WORLD!

Why I really like this chop is because my eyes are SUPER SENSITIVE to onions. Like, I could walk into Subway during prep time and start tearing up.

Chopping this way keeps the juicy side down for the most part, and keeps those onion vapors out of the air, and away from your eyes.
I’ll even create a separate post just for this tutorial so you can find it easy.

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First, slice off the top of the onion.
Next, place flat side down, and slice in half, lengthwise.
Now you can easily pull the skin off!

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Now to chop.
Make vertical cuts, going almost to the root, but not through it.
Then make 2 cuts the other way, going parallel to the board.
Now chop!

Super easy, right?

~ Peace, Love, and Tex-Mex Y’all!

king ranch name

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King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Yield: serves 8-10


3 chicken breasts, cooked, or 1 rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
10 oz Red Gold diced tomatoes and chiles
10 oz enchilada sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
12 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 can (small) sliced black olives


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place in 9x13 pan and cover with foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, and juices run clear. Shred the chicken using two forks.

*OR, place the cooked, boneless breasts in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. On a low speed, turn the mixer on. You will have shredded chicken in 2 minutes! (Do not over mix, or you'll have chicken mush)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add chopped onions and garlic. Sautee 3-5 minutes, until onions are transparent.

In a large bowl, add shredded chicken, onions and garlic, cilantro, enchilada sauce, and "Cream Of" cans. Mix together.

In a 9x13 casserole pan, first spread a third of the chicken mixture, then top with tortillas. Continue layering with chicken, then cheese, then tortillas. Reserve some cheese and tortilla quarters for the top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until ingredients are heated through thoroughly.

If making the casserole ahead of time, and then baking after it's been in the refrigerator, bake for 45 minutes, or until heated through.