I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty healthy eater, but since I began a weight loss program to get in better shape for summer just over a month ago, I’ve become extra aware of my food choices and the dishes I’m cooking at home. I’m not about deprivation–I love food way too much! However, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that allow me to indulge and enjoy the flavors I know and love without sacrificing taste and my waistline.
Mexican food, especially in quaint Southern towns, is an inevitable part of life. There’s just something so darn good about ordering a diet coke and eating chips and salsa, quesadillas and enchiladas covered in taco sauce! I never drive passed our local Mexican restaurant when the parking lot is not full.
From the time I was a little girl, I’ve loved taco night. I specifically remember the dish my mother served all the fixings in. It was a large white and plastic divided container that held individualized compartments for the ground beef, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. My brother would get in trouble for pinching handfuls of the freshly shredded cheddar from the dish before it was time to sit down and eat.
The words “Mexican food” and “casserole” don’t typically add up to being light. The good news is, I’ve discovered a recipe for Mexican Casserole that’s just that. Plus, I’ve lost nearly 12 pounds and I fully credit my success to making smart substitutions in recipes like this. Made with lean ground beef and reduced-fat cheese, it’s packed with protein from the black beans and has a creamy filling. The casserole comes together quickly and makes for easy clean up because it only requires one dish. Try it at home and let me know what you think!
Mexican Casserole (serves 6)
Recipe inspired by Kitchme.com
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1⁄2 cup onion, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup sliced jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 2 cup fresh tomato, chopped (or one 15 oz can diced tomatoes)
- 1 can (15 oz) corn, kernels drained
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 package (1 1/4 oz) taco seasoning mix
- 8 corn tortilla
- 3⁄4 cup nonfat sour cream
- 1⁄3 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1⁄3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste (less or more)
Brown ground beef and chopped onions in large skillet; brown 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Drain well and rinse with warm water to remove all fat; return beef/onions to skillet. Add corn, black beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile spray 12 x 8 inch (2 quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each tortilla in half; place 8 halves in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping slightly.
Spoon half of beef mixture evenly over tortillas.Spoon sour cream over beef mixture; spread evenly. Top with remaining 8 tortilla halves and remaining beef mixture. (Cover tightly with foil & freeze for later or cook as directed below).
Thaw overnight if frozen. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.
The portions are large and super satisfying. I like to serve this dish with my go-to guacamole and crispy tortilla chips.
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Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC TV’s “The Taste,” she is the Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the program “Statesboro Cooks.” Lingenfelser is a student at the award-winning Culinary Institute of Savannah. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk or connect with Rebekah on social media by following Some Kinda Good onFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.