Let’s grab one of my family’s favorite quick fix meals. When I released my first cookbook in 2008 my mother, Betty, gave me her Taco Salad Casserole recipe. I guess I was out to lunch or something, because I was confused with which recipe was in my book. We go home in December, and mom asks our son, Phillip, what he wants to eat and he tells her some sort of pasta casserole. Mom served this and Phillip just went crazy over the meal. Obviously the taco salad casserole that I thought she had in my book, was not this one!
The recipe is a little ‘loose’ around the edges on amounts, but perhaps that’s what makes it so good! For a small package of noodles I usually reach for at least 12 ounces. Two small cans of tomatoes would be about 15.5 ounces each. For the cheese our family uses cheddars.
Many adaptions can be added and taken away from this dish. I’ve prepared it using chicken instead of beef! I agree it uses ‘Cream of Mushroom’ soup, but as I indicated in the first paragraph this is a quick-fix meal. If the little tid bits of mushroom bother the kids grab a blender and pulverize them smooth. One time when I was shopping I even found a package of ‘No-Salt’ Taco seasoning, which was a real delight. Sad thing is I haven’t located it since.
Not only is this a make-ahead dish, I have frozen this quite nicely. It came out of the freezer with no residual after effects. I did pick up small metal tins, with the hard cardboard tops that you pinch down, for this project. If you happen to be a weekend camper or you’re working on meals for the family vacation this will be a winner. Add a salad or vegetable and French bread and the natives should be content.
Need additional ideas to yank this a bit more? Yes, I thought so too. Start with the choice of meat, and let’s choose chicken or turkey. Continue with the onion and the pasta of choice. Instead of cream of mushroom use cream of chicken soup. Stay with the canned tomatoes, and stir in a 15.5 ounce can of drained corn. Use the taco seasonings and switch the cheese out to pepper jack. You might even consider a small can (3-5oz.) of chopped green chilies. Now rename it Southwest Chicken casserole! Now then, that was fun. I’m sure there’s several of you out there who could use ham and leftover roast beef in a clever quick-fix casserole.
When I grew up in Lewistown, Missouri, we always seemed to be taking casseroles to shut-ins, folks just getting home from the hospital, and families with new babies. In the event that lots of friends have the same idea; I would consider delivering this dish ready for the freezer, labeled with baking instructions, etc.
This week I’m pulling together a couple of new recipes and finishing up outside gardening & mulching. The sewing machine may hum even if it’s just to sew up a couple of small repairs. The weather has been oh so perfect, and this sweatshirt and blue jeans girl feels like she’s back in the Colorado Mountains. The fish have been biting on Table Rock Lake, and tonight for dinner I’ve got a bag of crappie and bass. Have an outstanding week friends and enjoy each and every day!
Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Taco Salad Casserole
1 1/2 lbs. cooked ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 small (around 12-16 ozs.) package noodles, cooked & drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 small cans of chopped/petite tomatoes (15-20oz. each)
1 envelope taco seasonings
Your choice shredded cheese, at least 2 cups.
Cook the beef and onions and drain well. Add the cooked noodles and remaining ingredients, excluding the cheese. In a large baking dish layer in half of the mixture. Sprinkle over with chosen cheese. Place rest of casserole in pan and remaining shredded cheese. Bake long enough so that cheeses are totally melted and casserole is hot thoroughly. Usually this is 35-45 minutes depending upon the baking pan of choice. Bake at 350 degrees. Should serve 8-10 people unless our son, Phillip, is coming over. Freezing instructions are included within the column.