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Beef and Hashbrown Mexican Casserole

I’ve got another casserole recipe coming your way today. A Mexican casserole, to be exact!

A popular mis-conception about casseroles is that they aren’t healthy. This may, in fact, be true depending on the kinds of ingredients you plan to use. But here on Simply Writeous, I really strive to share good and healthy dishes you can serve your family without guilt. Doesn’t mean I always hit the mark – but this one surely does!

This particular recipe was adopted from a recipe posted by The Midnight Baker on her blog. In true Simply Writeous fashion, I changed it up a bit by adding and omitting ingredients from the original.

One of my favorite things is the cheesy, bell-peppery, hashbrown topping. My picture doesn’t reveal this bit of detail but it’s got just a bit of wonderful crunch. A texture I’m never mad at when it comes to casseroles.

Let’s gather some ingredients and get the ball rolling!

Beef & Hashbrown Mexican Casserole: Ingredients

1.5-2 lbs ground beef or turkey
Small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
Small can red enchilada sauce (or home-make your own, following this recipe by Skinny Taste, to avoid preservatives)
Small can diced tomatoes, drained (straight out of the pantry, home-canned from the garden)
1 can corn
1 can black beans
2 cups cheese, shredded (any variety cheddar, or Mexican blend will do)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 bag frozen, shredded hashbrowns, thawed

Beef & Hashbrown Mexican Casserole: Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 and spray casserole dish with cooking spray
Brown hamburger (or turkey) with chopped onion and half of the chopped bell peppers (1/4 cup each, green & red)
In large bowl stir together hashbrowns, melted butter, remaining bell peppers, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and 1 cup cheese.
Add enchilada sauce, tomatoes, corn, black beans, and 1 cup shredded cheese to browned meat. Stir until it’s all mixed together
Pour meat, etc. mixture into casserole dish
Top with hashbrowns
Bake for 20-25’ish minutes at 375 degrees
Switch oven over to broil for 5 additional minutes to really brown and crisp up the top layer of hashbrowns
Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and serve!

Serve alongside some chips and guac…and a nice margarita if you’re feeling especially saucy!

And, you guessed it! This dish can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to warm (you’ll want to tack on 5-10 more min to the warming time). It can also be prepped as a freezer meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day Casserole Recipe

Today, April 4th,  is National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day!! If you struggled to read that with lots of enthusiasm, I don’t blame you. I had trouble adding the exclamation points. I’m not sure why there needs to be a national day of recognition for Chicken Cordon Bleu, but knowing this odd detail did inspire the recipe I intend to share with you today.

Chicken Cordon Bleu takes a handful of common ingredients and transforms them into something of a fancy main dish affair. Always on a quest for simple and make-ahead dishes (fancy being optional) I stumbled upon a chicken cordon bleu casserole recipe from My Kitchen Escapades. I’ve made the recipe as written several times but recently made a couple tweaks that hit just the right spot (the kiddos gobbled it down in record time, and the addition of noodles made the main dish stretch further without busting our grocery budget)!

Leftover ham from the Easter holiday? This is a perfect way to put those leftovers to work! Shredded chicken in the freezer from an incredible sale you scored on previously? Thaw it out and make your prep even more simple!

I actually didn’t have leftover ham from the Easter holiday because our plans changed as a result of illness wreaking havoc on our household. BUT, I did have leftover ham I had tucked away in the freezer from the previous Christmas holiday season sale. If you don’t have any ham leftover from your Resurrection Day celebration, and your freezer is void as well, any variety of ham will do. Including the lunchmeat variety.

I also didn’t have any shredded chicken in the freezer because we’ve used all that up and are awaiting the next sale. Instead I dropped a couple breasts into boiling water for a quick cook and chopped them up for this go-round. Another fabulous and quick option is a rotisserie chicken from the grocery deli.

The key to the meats for this recipe is that they are cooked prior to assembling your casserole and cut into bite sized pieces. The noodles are cooked ahead of time as well.

Chicken Cordon Bleu: Sauce Ingredients and Instructions

  1. create a roux by melting 4 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet or sauce pan and adding 4 Tbsp of flour
  2. season with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
  3. slowly pour in 3 cups milk, whisking out any lumps
  4. allow sauce to boil and thicken, stirring frequently
  5. remove from heat and add 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Chicken Cordon Bleu: Casserole Assembly (Ingredients) & Cooking Time

  1. in a large bowl, combine 2 cups chopped cooked ham, 2 cups chopped (or shredded) cooked chicken, and 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  2. pour sauce over ingredients and stir to combine well
  3. add 2 cups cooked pasta (I used egg noodles) and stir gently to combine
  4. transfer into a greased casserole dish
  5. in separate small bowl, melt 2 Tbsp butter
  6. to melted butter, add 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs and 1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese – stir to combine
  7. sprinkle topping over casserole
  8. cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min, removing foil the last 10 minutes to brown topping

This casserole can be prepped and tucked away in the fridge for warming at a later time. If warming from the fridge you may need a few extra minutes to ensure the casserole warms through. Though I’ve not yet tried it, I feel confident this casserole can also be assembled and frozen as part of a freezer meal prep project. I’d suggest thawing prior to cooking if you choose to go this route.

The leftovers are as good as round one and this main dish serves up nicely alongside a salad or green beans canned from the 2017 garden!

Happy Chicken Cordon Bleu Day!

Enjoy!

 

Photo Credit: Tulips: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

Frugal Friday: Shredded Chicken

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a frugal Friday tip. A recent sale on chicken sparked my memory and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share with you all.

Bone-in, skin-on chicken periodically goes on sale for an unbelievable price. At my local grocery store, 88 cents per pound simply can’t be passed up.

Thing is, I don’t cook bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts all that often. So, I got creative with how to make the most of this sale…AND it’s super simple.

Stock up on several packages of the chicken breasts at the store. Then, cut the skins off and toss them in the crock pot. Once the chicken is cooked through, shred (if you have a stand mixer, a super quick and simple way to shred is to throw the cooked chicken in and let the mixer roll), portion into containers, and toss in the freezer!

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It’s an excellent way to take advantage of an awesome deal PLUS you will have cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer for the many meals calling for this ingredient….chicken salad, tacos, enchiladas, pasta, salad topper, sandwiches…the list goes on and on!

Do yourself a favor – take advantage of this tip. You will be thrilled that you did, especially when you’re in a pinch for a quick dinner!