Friday, March 15, 2013

Easy Taco Bake

A few years back, almost as a joke, I made Thursdays unofficially "Taco Salad Night". It stemmed from the fact that the little deli next to where I worked offered a taco salad special only on Thursdays, and I'd splurge and buy lunch on that day instead eating my normal packed lunch. Now, years later, when Thursday dinner prep rolls around it seems my thoughts automatically turn to Mexican.  What's that joke about Mexican food?  It's the same six ingredients just arranged in different fashions?  I've had this next recipe pinned in my "recipes to try" folder on Pinterest for a while now.  My first attempt making it was last night (Thursday of course), so I thought I'd share my results with you.  The original recipe came from Brandie over at her blog The Country Cook. I only changed two small things.  She made fresh taco meat for the meal (I used left overs) and she used a jar of queso/salsa and I made my own.

Easy Taco Bake - A Pinterest recipe test that turned into a winner

You will need:

1 lb of cooked taco meat
8 oz Velveeta cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup of your favorite salsa
3 large flour tortillas (8 in)
1 bag Mexican cheese blend
8 inch round pan or 8 inch spring form pan

The original recipe says to use a jar of salsa con queso, which you can do if you want.  Sometimes that can be too spicy for my small fry (and I was too tired to run to the store) so I thought I'd make my own.  Just take 8oz of Velveeta cheese cubed and put in a large sauce pot on medium heat.

I had some Velveeta left over from my Mexican Cheese Soup recipe, so it was perfect
Once it starts melting, add 1/2 cup (or more) of your family's favorite salsa to the pot.

Adding your own salsa helps control your family's heat level of how spicy this dish gets
Stir that around until everything starts to get smooth and creamy

taco-y, creamy, cheesy goodness

After that I just dumped in my left over taco meat.  By the way anytime now that I cook regular tacos I will always add in an extra pound of meat and then save/freeze the extras for soups or new recipes such as this.  Saves time in the long run.

Mmmmmm meaty

A few more stirs and now you have the main filling for the taco bake

Not super pretty, but we'll be covering it up with lots of melted cheese

The next step is to get a spring form or bottom release 8-inch round pan.  You can also use a regular 8 inch round pan, or I have even heard of people doubling the recipe and making a big 9x13 pan.  It's up to you. Next we are going to make some layers.  Spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray and add one 8 inch tortilla

My 8-year-old was very excited to help me with these layers.
 After that place 1/3 of the cheesy meat mixture on top

 Now you want to sprinkle some Mexican blend cheeses on top of that

Repeat the process two more times until the layers come up to the top of the pan.  Finished with the last sprinkle of cheese

A tower of meat and cheese

Next toss it into the oven and bake at 350ยบ for 15-20 minutes until everything is melty and gooey.

Let it sit a few minutes and then you can cut pie slices right from the pan.  Because I made it in the bottom release pan I could set the whole taco bake out on the cutting board for easier slicing.

You can see the three layers nicely here
 I was actually surprised when I cut into this.  I thought for sure it would squish into a sloppy mess.  It did end up slicing into nice straight wedges with no problem, and I think letting it rest a few minutes really helped with that aspect.

Can you smell it?
My husband really ended up liking this dinner quite a bit and gave his thumbs up for it to be moved into regular rotation.  Hooray.  This would make 6-8 servings, depending on slices.  It made six very large hearty slices.  We served ours with a side of Mexican rice, olives, salad, and chips and salsa.

So here is another tested Pinterest recipe that actually turned out great and we will now make it again and add it to our dinner rotation now and then.  Oh, and the funny thing about this was it was March 14th yesterday, or 3.14, aka "Pi Day".  I had been planning on making a pie for dessert to celebrate (for my nerdy hubby) and I realized only after that fact that I had also made dinner a "pie" of sorts as well.  A taco pie.  Pies for everyone!!  A round of pies for my friends!  Speaking of pie... this is what we had for dessert:

Razzleberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream!  The perfect way to celebrate Pi day (3.14)
It was tasty wedges of pie as far as the eye could see last night.  Thanks for letting me share.  

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