Over a Cup of Coffee: A craving for Mexican casseroles

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Perhaps it’s a craving for Mexican casseroles that sent me to my files, searching for casserole recipes. Most of the Mexican casserole recipes I use are pretty similar in ingredients and preparations, so I was hunting for something a little “different.”

Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

I came up with two recipes, the first of which will be tonight’s dinner — Taco hamburger and pasta casserole. It combines a taco-flavored meat mixture with pasta. Adjust the salsa to taste. (I’m wondering if a taco sauce might also be tasty?)

The second recipe, Mexican Goulash, is simple to prepare. It lends itself to experimentation; try adding your own ingredients.

Have fun with the casseroles. If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican casserole or anything else and you’d like to share it with readers, send the recipe to P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626 or call 970-824-8809.

Taco Hamburger and Pasta Casserole

3 cups shell or elbow macaroni

1 1/2 pounds hamburger

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 cups crushed taco chips

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

24-ounce jar salsa (mild or medium)

1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon pepper

16-ounce container sour cream

Note: You may set aside a little additional cheddar cheese to put on top of the casserole. Also, you may use a “hotter” kind of salsa, if you dare.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. While it cooks, brown the ground beef and onion. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Put half of the crushed chips in the bottom of the dish. Mix the macaroni and beef together. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour into the casserole dish. Put the remaining chips on top. (If you want to put cheese on top of the casserole, sprinkle it on before adding the chips.) Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with taco sauce, sour cream and even shredded lettuce if desired.

Mexican Goulash

1 1/2 to 2 pounds hamburger

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

garlic and salt to taste

1 cup sour cream

shredded cheddar cheese

Sliced black olives, to taste

tortilla chips, broken up

Note: You can substitute another kind of cheese if needed.

First, brown the ground beef. Drain off any excess grease. Add the refried beans and simmer until heated through. Meanwhile, break up the tortilla chips and add enough to a casserole dish to cover the bottom. Spoon the hamburger mixture on top of the chips. Spread sour cream over the top and follow with the tomato sauce. Top with the shredded cheese. Make sure the tomato sauce is covered. Warm up in the oven. (If you use a deep casserole dish that is small enough in diameter, you can also heat it in the microwave.) Last, cover the top with sliced black olives (as many as you like).

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