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BLOG: Tasty Enchilada Bake

What's better than a fabulous Cinco de Mayo themed casserole dish almost a week late? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Per my usual, I'm arriving "seasonably tardy" (as opposed to "fashionably late") to the Cinco de Mayo food blogging but really, what's a party without a few late guests, am I right? Am I? Right? No? Well then. Onward!

I never used to be a fan of Mexican food, thanks in part to the fact that my father would buy these awful frozen dinners that consisted of a rock-hard cheese enchilada, what had to be day-old-upon-packaging refried beans, rice (I guess), and corn that was cold no matter how long you heated it up. It was less than thrilling.

BUT! Many years later I slowly began to reintroduce myself to Mexican food, only to be delightfully surprised to find that I really, really liked it. My husband can be convinced to eat very bland versions of some things (think fajitas with just a tortilla and meat or a taco with just beef and cheese...yeah. That.) so it's a challenge to balance my love of spice and flavor with his less-than-adventuresome tastes. I did it though - thanks to good folks at McCormick who posted a recipe on Facebook (which I did NOT make) that lead me to another recipe on their website (that I DID make) - a Layered Enchilada Bake. Let's nom with it.

So, this recipe calls for you to use a McCormick product (natch), and in this case that product is their Enchilada Sauce Mix...which I totally didn't use. I was feeling a little saucy (ha!) so I tickled my keyboard and looked on allrecipes.com for a quick enchilada sauce and found one I could work with - a 10-minute sauce, they said - I can handle that! Reviews stated that the sauce was too heavy on the chili powder - I noted that.

For the sauce, I heated 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium heat, then added 2 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of taco seasoning. Now, the recipe actually called for 1/4 cup of chili powder to go in with the flour instead of taco seasoning but (a) I had already seen that the reviewers had said that was too much, plus all that heat wouldn't fly with my crowd, and (b) I didn't have any chili powder anyways. So, I substituted the taco seasoning instead. Once you add the flour and seasoning, whisk immediately to prevent burning but go ahead and let it brown lightly. Slowly stir in one 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Let that cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

While the sauce was heating, I browned 1 pound of ground beef. Once browned, I drained the fat from the pan and added a 16-ounce can of drained dark red kidney beans, 1 cup of frozen corn, and 1/2 of a cup of the now-finished enchilada sauce. I gave that a good stir and let it sit while I started to prepare the casserole dish.

To start, I greased a 13 x 9 inch baking dish (hit it with a shot of Pam canola spray) and layed out 4 6-inch tortillas - they will overlap a little, and that's ok. Then I added a layer of enchilada sauce, a layer of the beef mixture, and a layer of shredded cheddar (or mexican blend, guess which we used?) cheese. It says 1 cup for each layer, but my mother-in-law firmly believes that more cheese = more awesomeness (and I have to agree) so feel free to break the rules and load that bad boy up all you want. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, sauce, beef, and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

While it's baking, dice some sweet onion, shred a little lettuce, and drain a can of sliced black olives. Find the sour cream, and yes, also find another bag of shredded cheese (it's more awesome that way, remember?). Top until your heart's content.

I don't think I can adequately explain to you how delicious this enchilada bake turned out, but I'm sure gonna try. It's chewy, cheesy, soft, and savory. The corn adds a nice firm texture against the softness of the beans and the ground beef, and the addition of sour cream as a nice, cool topping along with the crunchy onions and crisp lettuce acts as good balance to the rest of the dish. The only thing I wish I had done was to add a light layer of sauce to the bottom of the dish before I started making my layers, but everything else was just perfect. This is one of those rare meals that actually gets better as it sits, so it was not only amazing right out of the oven, it was even better the next day...and the day after that...and a day or two after that, as well. Even picky husband liked it.

Did you make it? How'd you like it? What did you make for your Cinco de Mayo feast? Tell me in the comments!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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