Turkey Taco Casserole

by jenna on February 25, 2013

Looking for a an easy man-child-family-everyone-friendly dinner? Well, look no further.

I worked to lighten up one of my favorite dinners of Mexican casserole with lean ground turkey instead of beef, fat-free refried beans and a light Mexican cheese blend. No, I’m not on a diet over here but sometimes it’s just nice to have a lighter alternative…you know? I mean…let’s be honest — swim suit season is right around the corner and so is my wedding. I feel like without trying, I pretty much follow an 80/20 “healthy eating” principle in my life. That means if I eat healthy(ish) 80% of the time, I can afford to splurge 20% of the time. And splurge to me means weekly french toast and bacon, In n’ Out cheeseburgers and mint chocolate gelato. It’s all about balance, people!

I ended up loving the lightened up version of this casserole so much more than the original! It’s perfectly spicy, cheesy and satisfying without being too greasy and heavy.

You start with lean ground turkey, zesty diced tomatoes, fire roasted green chilies and lots of spice. This meat blend would also be great served over lettuce as a taco salad! Just make sure to drain your tomatoes before using so your meat doesn’t get too soupy.

Next, you layer the spicy ground turkey with strips of tortilla, refried beans, more diced chilies and a sprinkle of cheese. Kinda like a Mexican lasagna!

After a quick bake in the oven, dinner is served. I loved mine with avocado, sour cream and a {big} splash of hot sauce! You know me and hot sauce.

I hope y’all enjoy this dinner as much as Adam and I did! I actually gave him the leftovers to take to work and apparently everyone practically licked their plates clean.

Turkey Taco Casserole

serves 4-6

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:

a little over 1 lb lean ground turkey

1 16-oz can refried beans

2 4-oz cans diced green chilies

1 cup fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained of extra “juice”

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 flour tortillas, cut into 1″ strips

1/2 cup salsa, plus more for serving

1 1/2 cups reduced fat Mexican blend cheese {or cheddar cheese}

sour cream for serving

sliced avocado for serving

Directions:

Spray an 8″ square casserole pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Once hot, add the ground turkey. Brown turkey, breaking up the bits and pieces with a rubber spatula. When turkey has browned {but hasn’t quite cooked all the way through yet}, add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Add one can of the diced green chilies to the turkey, along with the fire roasted diced tomatoes. Stir well and continue to cook until turkey is completely done. Then, remove from heat.

Spread a thin layer of ground turkey at the bottom of your casserole pan. Top with a layer of refried beans, more green chilies, a heavy sprinkle of cheese and four of the tortilla strips. Repeat this process three times until all of the ground turkey has been used. After laying on your last four tortilla strips, spread the salsa over top along with remaining cheese.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Cheese will be melted and bubbling. When casserole comes out of the oven, let sit for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with sour cream, hot sauce and sliced avocado!

Time:

1 hour

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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Mila February 25, 2013 at 3:53 am

One word: YUM!

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Jen February 25, 2013 at 4:16 am

Ground beef, cheese, avocado…what’s not to love?

Jenna – what webhost do you use or recommend?

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Anne February 25, 2013 at 4:34 am

Oh I cannot wait to make this for a friend who just had a baby this week!!!

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Sara @ sarasmiles February 25, 2013 at 4:49 am

umm hellooo…pinned it!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat February 25, 2013 at 5:01 am

This looks beautiful Jenna! I’ve just discovered my love for avocados (especially when mashed on toast!) and this dish is hugely appealing right now. Great photos!

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Molly @ RDexposed February 25, 2013 at 5:15 am

I love dishes like this! I make a taco pie that I load up with the same fixings. So good and easy!

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Suzanne de Cornelia February 25, 2013 at 5:30 am

Yes, great photo…

Jenna, I posted a French dress on my site today and realized it is PEFECT for you after I thought, hmm, that model looks like a certain girl who will be in France before too long…. esp with your new blunt haircut.

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Joelle ( on a pink typewriter) February 25, 2013 at 6:03 am

I’ve been more 95-5 lately and I really need to revert back to 80-20. This looks like a good way to do it:)

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Makenzie Ann February 25, 2013 at 6:14 am

That looks amazing. Definitley passing it along to my sorority cook!!

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Kerry February 25, 2013 at 6:25 am

MMMMM looks delish! Will definitely be making this for my family! Thanks for sharing!

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Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} February 25, 2013 at 6:47 am

Yum. Great pictures! I love the strips of tortilla, they make me smile :)

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Laurie {Simply Scratch} February 25, 2013 at 6:53 am

Ohhhh why yes I’d totally unhinge my jaw to inhale a piece of this deliciousness and I’m not ashamed to say so! Looks great Jenna!

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Jacklyn February 25, 2013 at 7:02 am

I love that you’ve been trying to lighten up recipes like this. I live by the 80/20 rule too and have a higher protein diet so I am always in search of 1) a good way to sub turkey in for other types of meat and 2) something the husband will enjoy so we’re not making two dinners. Can’t wait to make this! Thanks so much for posting.

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Alexis February 25, 2013 at 7:05 am

Definitely making this as soon as I can. Looks so tasty!

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Sarah cook February 25, 2013 at 7:08 am

I love the idea of using tortilla strips!

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Jenna February 25, 2013 at 7:09 am

I love mexican food! Will have to try this

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Bev @ Bev Cooks February 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

Yeah you could shovel this into my head with a backhoe and I wouldn’t stop ya.

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Lauren February 25, 2013 at 7:14 am

I think this might also be tasty (and lighter?) with corn tortillas instead of flour…?

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Ash February 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I made my own version of this last night with corn tortilla strips and it was wonderful! If you put a few on top it they taste a bit like fritos :)

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Kim @ Soliloquy Of Food & Such February 25, 2013 at 7:14 am

Definitely adding to my Taco Tuesday repertoire.

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Colleen February 25, 2013 at 7:15 am

My kids will LOVE this – they are all about the tacos/fajitas. Thanks!

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Heather February 25, 2013 at 7:37 am

This looks like the perfect weeknight meal- and totally part of the 20% ;-)

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Padma February 25, 2013 at 7:48 am

You have the best recipes Jenna! Can’t wait to try this one. I wonder if I can substitute boca crumbles for ground turkey. Thanks for sharing!

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Christina February 25, 2013 at 7:48 am

This looks so yummy.

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Sharla February 25, 2013 at 8:13 am

I bet I could slide this version in on a weeknight and my husband wouldn’t even realized it’s “light”!

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Allison @ Life's a Bowl February 25, 2013 at 8:33 am

This looks delicious and great for a busy weeknight meal!

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Caroline L. February 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

80/20 rule – well said! This looks so amazing and would probably curb the Mexican cravings I’ve had for daaaaays! :)

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Sarah @ Yogi in Action February 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

This looks great! And I’m with you on the hot sauce- it’s the best :)

I am definitely going to make this soon!

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kim@hungryhealthygirl February 25, 2013 at 9:45 am

I love easy meals like this and Mexican always goes over well in my house. Printing this now and I will be for sure making it next week!

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Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog February 25, 2013 at 9:52 am

Anything topped with avocado is delicious! This sounds like the perfect way to enjoy some comfort food without totally blowing healthy eating efforts. I’m in complete agreement with you on the 80/20 rule!

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Blair @ The Seasoned Mom February 25, 2013 at 10:34 am

Jenna, this looks like the perfect compromise between waist-friendly and kid-friendly. My family will definitely see this on the dinner table soon! Thanks!

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Nicole @ youngbrokeandhungry February 25, 2013 at 10:38 am

Mexican is my favorite cuisine! And I love casseroles. So this recipe is right up my ally.

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Becky February 25, 2013 at 10:56 am

Do you think this will work well with corn tortillas strips instead? I am trying to adapt it to be gluten free and that ingredient is the only hang-up on something that otherwise my entire family would eat, gluten free and non-gluten free!

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Megan @ Megan's Miles February 25, 2013 at 11:22 am

Yum – I love casseroles and this looks delicious!

Do you think it would be OK to use corn tortillas instead of flour?

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jenna February 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

absolutely!

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Megan @ Megan's Miles February 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Awesome, thank you!

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Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe February 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

Jenna, this looks awesome! I actually have all of the ingredients sitting in my kitchen right now, except for the green chilies and the tortillas. I’ll make a quick stop at the grocery store on my way home from work so I can whip this up tonight. Sounds delicious and I bet it makes spectacular leftovers!

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Amanda February 25, 2013 at 11:29 am

Ooooh, this looks amazing! It seems pretty easy too. I’ll have to add this to my next meal plan.

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Pam February 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

Jenna,
This rivals your chicken enchilada recipe which I have made several times since you first posted it 4-5 yrs ago. I will be making this very soon and my husband will likely vote this a new favorite!
Thanks lady!!

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a farmer in the dell February 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

This is the perfect dish to bring to a party. Love all the avocado going on here as well!

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Lindsay February 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

mmmm…. i love anything taco! looks great!

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Emily February 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Oh holy yum, that first picture blew me away! That looks fantastic.

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Anna |Apron Hearts| February 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Looks delicious and filling as well. I like that you served it with avocado slices and a dollop of sour cream.

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Morgan February 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I can’t wait to try this! But I’m going to use yves’s “fake” ground beef.!

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megabrooke February 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Yummy~ this is in the oven now! I had trouble spreading the refried beans— that layer kind of ended up being the meat mixture and refried beans… it was hard to spread it evenly and not have it come out in one clump… it’s kind of glue-like to move those beans around! Anyway, it’s all going in the same place so I’m pumped to try this lightened up recipe!

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jenna February 25, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Yeah…that tends to happen but don’t worry! It’s gonna taste delicious ;)

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Ash February 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I ditched the refried beans and added some canned pinto beans to the meat mixture…and some chopped zucchini lol It worked really well! Everyone devoured it!

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin February 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm

This looks so good! I make a taco casserole with brown rice and turkey, but I love this version with tortillas. I can’t wait to try it!

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Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl February 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

This looks tasty and SO easy to make. I think the use of soyrizo or lentils would be perfect for a vegetarian version :).

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Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. February 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm

You had me at taco! This looks so tasty!

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JaNelle February 26, 2013 at 4:59 am

This looks delicious.. Will definitely be trying it soon.

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Katie February 26, 2013 at 6:35 am

Jenna-I made this recipe last night and it was super delicious and really easy. Thanks for the lightened up version. I’m already looking forward to the leftovers after my workout today!

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Erika February 26, 2013 at 7:45 am

Made this last night! It was really good. My husband even ate it and he’s pretty picky. I’ve actually never had refried beans before (the look of them scared me!) but I had a can in the cupboard I bought months ago and have just been waiting for the perfect recipe. Thanks – this one definitely earns it’s own recipe card.

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Moni Meals February 26, 2013 at 7:47 am

Looks like a crowd pleaser all around! I am the same way: I call it 70/30 style of eating. I tell my clients this too. It is all about never being deprived.

Great recipe Jenna!

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rebecca February 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

my guy would LOVE this— must make it!

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susan February 26, 2013 at 10:22 am

Made this last night for my family. My girls asked for seconds, my son (late baseball practice) is waiting for his share tonight. And my husband gave it a HUGE thumbs up! Definitely moving into the rotation.

BTW, I used refried black beans instead of the usual…tasted fabulous…but I think it would be yummy with any kind of mashed-bean layer.

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Courtney February 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Just made this for dinner! I’m vegetarian and substituted the turkey for the ‘beef’ crumbles that Trader Joe’s sells.. DELISH! And so easy. So far you haven’t let me down yet, Jenna!

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erin @ Smallthings February 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I made this tonight! I switched up the order a little and spread the beans on top of the tortillas and it worked great. thanks for the easy recipe!

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Kristen February 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Jenna,
I LOVE your recipes and make them often – – I’ll definitely have to give this one a try soon. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to start posting nutritional information with your recipes…? I just started Weight Watchers as a way to lose a few pounds before my wedding in June, and it would be so helpful to have this info so that I can calculate the point values for your meals. I would be eternally grateful.
Thanks for considering!

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Denise February 26, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Photography is gorgeous in this post. I have not made many of your recipes but each has been great. Made biscoff chocolate chip cookies during the snowstorm this past weekend and have had 2 requests for the recipe so far. Enjoy reading and cooking, thank you.

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Bighrtd February 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Made this tonight. Subbed corn tortillas instead of the flour and used TJ’s Jalapeño Black Refried Beans. Delish! Thank you for the wonderful recipe. It’s a “keeper”.

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Raechel Myers February 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I’m so excited to try this!!
But.. not a refried beans fan – can I skip or substitute??
xoxo

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Katie February 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I’m looking for a good freezer recipe to deliver to some friends and this looks delicious! Do you think this would freeze okay?

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jenna February 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Yes – You could freeze after baking and then reheat in a 350 degree over for about 45 minutes until hot!

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Katie February 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Thanks!

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cianne February 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Made this yesterday. Had leftovers tonight. So delish! Will definitely sub turkey more often…. husband couldn’t even taste the difference! Score!

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Lynn Anne February 28, 2013 at 5:43 am

I made this last night and it was delicious! I totally reminded me of Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza! (But much healthier!)

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Carole February 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to posts about Mexican dishes and flavours. I do hope you link this one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Have a great week.

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Lauren L. @ Newest Obsession March 3, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I just made this tonight and brought it over to our friends house who just had twins in January, and they loved it! I cut the salt back to 3/4 tsp, and I think next time I’d even cut it back to 1/2 tsp. I also used corn tortillas instead of flour. This is an excellent make a head meal! Thanks for sharing.

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Deb March 4, 2013 at 8:24 am

I made this on Friday night, and it was a HUGE hit with the husband and the kiddos. I did have to cut the chili powder back to a heaping 1/2 T, the cumin to 1.5 tsp, and the cayenne to 1/8 tsp. I have kids who sadly don’t appreciate burning lips and tongues.

This recipe is a keeper for our fam! It will definitely be in the meal rotation. Thanks so much for sharing it!

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Stefanie March 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

I made this last night. Thanks so much for the recipe! I’ve tried using ground turkey in many recipes before, but it always tasted bland to me–no matter how much I seasoned it. This, however, was really good and I will definitely add it to my repertoire.

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Sara March 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

My boyfriend and I have been applying the 80/20 rule to our lives as well. Tonight is his birthday and we ate awful the past week so I am making this for his birthday dinner! Very excited to try this!

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Lauren March 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Usually you don’t steer me wrong Jenna, but this was not my favorite. It was a bit bland for me.

I probably should have added more spice to it, because I basically drink hot sauce. But I think it just kind of turned into a mushy mess – maybe using corn tortillas instead of flour would help?

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Liz March 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I made this tonight and it was so delicious!! My boyfriend’s comment was “I want to put my face in it.”

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Kasey W. March 6, 2013 at 8:38 am

Do you happen to know the nutrition facts on this? I’m doing weight watchers and would love to try this. My family would love it just hoping I can have some ;) thanks.

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laura March 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I love Mexican style food, but dislike the standard recipes as they are too heavy. This will be another go to recipe for my family…we loved it!

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India March 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Just prepped this to put into the oven when I get home tomorrow. Can’t wait! This will be the 2nd recipe I tried from you — the first was your turkey meatloaf and I made it non-stop!

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Tamara March 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Just made this tonight & my husband just loved it:) This was a great success! Thank u:)

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Regina March 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Made this today. Awesomely delicious!

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Stella April 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I made this to bring to a potluck and guess who’s dish was the first to disappear? That’s right – Mine! Everyone LOVED it, adults and picky teenage girls alike. And it was so easy to make. Thank you!!

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Sydney May 8, 2013 at 9:59 am

I made this a few weeks ago when we had a group of people over for the college national championship basketball game and have been meaning to come back and comment! It was a HUGE hit with everyone and I froze and ate the leftovers for weeks! It will definitely be on rotation at my house! Thanks for the recipe!

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Kelley July 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

This is absolutely delicious! I LOVE this recipe. It’s become a favorite around my household!

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Eileen September 7, 2013 at 9:28 am

We really enjoyed this! I added a small can of sliced olives, and a small can of corn with the green chilies layered, and served with a side of spring mix salad. Next time I will try a lime vinaigrette on the salad to compliment the flavors. This was enough for 4 adult meals. Thanks for posting!

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stefan March 9, 2014 at 1:47 am

That great I will try that make.
Thanks I like that recipe! Thanks

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Elizabeth March 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I made this twice in one week! It’s soooo good and a great leftover that can even be eaten cold. My boyfriend is a police officer and this is officially his favorite meal to eat while on duty! Easy and delicious.

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Jackie April 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm

This recipe was right on! I served it over a bed of lettuce, topped it with sour cream, avocado, and a handful of black olives. My husband likes to eat the leftovers as a chip dip. Thanks! A new family favorite. :)

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Kelly May 28, 2014 at 9:49 pm

This was delicious!! Will definately make it again.

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Lynn July 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

making this for dinner tonite! Do you cover the casserole while it is baking?

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Jacqueline August 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm

I made this with Beyond Meat Beef Free Crumbles and Frontera Taco Skillet Sauce and it was amazing!

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Melanie August 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Often I get my hopes up when trying a new recipe and sometimes it is a flop. Not the case with this. It was phenomenal! I did have a few adjustments based on my family personal preference. I mixed the beans with the meat mixture to make it more creamy and I also saved an extra step on spreading the beans separately. I added a layer of frozen corn between meat and corn. I only used one can of green chilis and only one tsp. of salt instead of 1 1/4 tsp. I used whole grain tortillas. I saved the salsa for after cooking and made the top layer of tortilla strips with cheese on top. That way the tortillas had a little crispy cheesy crunch. This tasted way more decadent than it should have with a little Greek yogurt and guacamole on top. Thank you for our family new favorite meal!

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