Monday, June 20, 2016

Easy Crockpot Mexican Lasagna

Confession: I'm off my cooking game. I've never been so off my cooking game. But I have good reason.

Reason: I started my own business in April, bidding adieu to corporate America and hustling all for myself. It's called By George Communications and I love it. But the thing is all of my creative energy is going into my business and writing and strategizing for my clients. I'm working from home, so I don't need to come home and unwind by cooking. I don't want to turn off my work brain the way I used to want and need to do.

These days when I do cook, it tends to be from recipes rather than something I create on my own. That has to be OK for right now. I mean we are eating here Chez George. Nobody is going hungry. And my Hot Dinner Happy Home cohorts Andrea and Erin keep telling me to give myself some grace. That's what we're about here. We recognize that we all want to put dinner on the table. But it's not always easy and so we take it one dinner at a time.

Here is an easy go-to dinner that I recently made for the third or fourth time and that everyone always loves. So, seriously, why am I complaining? This Easy Crockpot Mexican Lasagna is adapted slightly from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution; Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition.

Instead of microwaving the meat, I fry it up on the stove. It's impossible to get the meat to cook up into a super fine consistency – that you want for easy layering – via the microwave. I also omit the jarred jalapenos, because the kids and hubby don't like them. Finally, I use 90 percent lean ground beef, not 85 percent lean; 90 percent lean is easier to find at the grocery.

I hope you enjoy this easy dinner!


Easy Crockpot Mexican Lasagna

2 pounds 90 percent lean ground beef
20 ounces of red enchilada sauce (I have seen this in 10 and 20 ounce cans)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese (I typically use the latter, which is easier to find)
1/4 cup jarred jalapenos, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced (optional, but I use it)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Cook meat on stove top, breaking into super fine pieces, drain and return meat to skillet. Stir in one cup enchilada sauce, 1 cup of cheese, jalapenos (if using), and 1/4 cup cilantro.

Line your slow cooker with an aluminum foil collar and spray with vegetable oil spray. (The purpose of the foil collar is to put a layer between your food and the heating element of the slow cooker. Without a foil collar or sling – the latter involves lining the bottom of your slow cooker – some dishes, like this one, and fish, will overcook and dry out. To make a foil collar, simply fold two pieces of aluminum foil to fit around the inside of your slow cooker.)

Spread 1/4 cup enchilada sauce at bottom of crockpot.

Arrange 3 tortillas at the bottom, breaking the third tortilla in pieces so that it will fit to fully cover the bottom. Top with a third of the beef mixture and 3 more tortillas; repeat layering two more times until all 12 tortillas have been used. Cover the top layer of tortillas with enchilada sauce and cheese. (See pictures of all these steps below.)

Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low, until casserole is heated through.

Remove foil collar. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and serve.

Repeat layers above two more times and you end up with this...

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