Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mexican Casserole

I'mmmm Baaack, well back on paleo that is.  I don't know why I leave it for a couple of weeks especially since  I feel so much better eating no sugar, grains and dairy.  I officially quit sugars on Monday, but had a half of a carton of milk that I needed to use before committing to a fully paleo diet.   Now that the milk is gone (2 recipes of sugar free pudding!) I have run out of excuses so it's going to be veggies, meats and fruits for me. (If I am being totally honest, I will probably let Easter  slide, but then hop right back on the following Monday)

I had already planned a Mexican Casserole for tonight, but when I envisioned it I had thought of something cheesy with black beans and crushed Fritos on top.  Not exactly paleo compliant so I had to quickly rethink my master plan using real food I already had.  After a quick Google search I found a recipe I could use as a starting point, knowing there might be many substitutions along the way. It is located here at Popular Paleo.  I did a cursory scroll through her site, then bookmarked it for later browsing.  It looks promising!

I am posting this as I made it, just follow the link to see the recipe in its original form, but these are the substitutions I used.

                                                            Mexican Casserole

1 medium pepper diced (I used yellow cause I had it)
4 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 bag of pre-washed spinach
couple of pinches of salt
1 heaping tablespoon ghee
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (No less than an 80/20 blend)
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix ( I didn't have any so I had to punt but use prepared if you want)
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (I didn't drain mine and should have)
2 large sweet potatoes, grated
1/3 cup coconut oil*melted
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350
In a large saucepan, melt the ghee and add the pepper, carrots and onions.  Cook until they are nearly tender then add the spinach.  Cook and stir until all the vegetables are tender.  Add a couple of pinches of salt, remove from the pan and let it rest in a bowl.  Wipe out the pan and add the ground beef to begin browning,  When it is about halfway cooked add the taco seasoning and the minced garlic.  Cook until the garlic is wilted then add the drained tomatoes.  Stir well and cook together for a couple of minutes.  Stir the vegetables back into the pan with the beef and mix thoroughly.  Put the meat mixture into a 9x13 oven proof pan.  Melt the coconut oil* and toss the grated sweet potatoes in it, coating it well.  Quickly stir in the chili powder, coriander, and the garlic salt.  Spread the potatoes over the meat mix, cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove the foil, turn the broiler on and let the sweet potatoes crisp a little.  Serve piping hot with a couple of avocado slices on top of it!

This was a mostly tasty dish, but there are a few further modifications I will make next time. (And yes, I will make it again. Can you say Cinco de Mayo?)  In addition to the sweet pepper, I will add 1 can of drained, chopped medium heat chili peppers.  The original recipe called for zucchini and I had none but I will make sure I have it before making this again.  It also called for a parsnip but we are not big parsnip fans so I will omit it again.  As I said in the ingredient list, be sure to drain the tomatoes.  The body of the casserole just had too much liquid for me.

*This next thing is strictly a personal preference.  I do not like sweetness in savory dishes and I thought the coconut oil gave the sweet potatoes entirely too much sweetness,  Next time I will not mix any oil with the potatoes, but will just blend the seasonings in well and cook as instructed. Then right before I broil them I will give them a spritz with grape seed oil. (I keep 3 sprayers filled with different oils and grape seed oil has not taste so it will be my choice. Pam would work equally well) It might not crisp as well as the coconut oil does, but for my personal taste it should work better.

I had planned on having corn on the cob as a side, but no one wanted it, so a simple side salad was all it took to call it a meal.  Even the non-paleos liked it and were talking about having it again.  If you are looking for a little lighter Mexican dish this might be for you.  Next time I will probably serve theirs with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream, and make guacamole for mine.

Now go do some international-ish cooking!


  1. I'm hungry because I haven't had breakfast yet. This has me drooling.

    1. The leftovers are for my breakfast this morning!

  2. I can't punt and substitute. You are just too talented for me. My son cried once when I made him eat my meatloaf. Rotten kid, meatloaf is one of the few things that I can make well. Or so I thought.

  3. My sister and I have decided I cook well because I have this weird cross sensory thing going and see colors when I eat foods. I think I just use the same "colored" foods as substitutions. Not sure though.
    Meatloaf is one of my favorite foods! I am one of those weird people who orders it in restaurants