16 April 2010

2 Crowd Pleasing Easy Casseroles: Mexican Lasagna, Turkey Tetrazzini

From Denny: Our local newspaper often runs some very easy recipes that are real crowd pleasers. They are great to have on hand for entertaining, gatherings for christenings, homecomings, reunions or funerals. Even though this is a big city people still rally together when there is a death in the family. When that happens neighbors always bring over a dish of food so the grieving family does not have the burden of cooking during a stressful time when friends and relatives gather.

Other times neighbors pull a dish out of their freezer, ready to go, when there is a new baby born or other special homecoming like a soldier returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. Around here in south Louisiana people love to cook and love to share their simple food with everyone. It's just tradition to give of your food!

Both of these recipes can be made ahead and then reheated, often tasting better as the flavors have a chance to sit and have a long conversation of mingling. :)

The Mexican version of lasagna will please all your beef eaters in the family. Ground beef is cooked along with green bell peppers and taco seasoning spices and diced Ro-tel tomatoes (jalapenos and tomatoes). Then this ground beef mixture gets layered up with a cream cheese and sour cream combination, then layers of lasagna noodles, yummy cheese and olives.

Now Turkey Tetrazzini is one of those comfort food casseroles you like to make for someone when they are recovering from a cold or the flu. You can also make it with chicken or include bits of ham.

This recipe comes from the local newspaper food writer, Carol Anne Blitzer. She adapted this recipe from Mrs. Lenton Sartain’s Chicken Tetrazzini recipe from local but nationally popular cookbook, “River Road Recipes.” She doubles the recipe so she can freeze one casserole to have ready to go.

Another version of Mexican lasagna by moacirpdsp @ flickr

Mexican Lasagna

From: Lynette Nolan, "This makes a big dish so I always make this for company. It’s one of those dishes everyone likes, and all you need to go with it is a vegetable and a big green salad."

Makes: 12-15 servings


2 tbls. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground meat
1 (10-oz.) can Ro-tel tomatoes and green chilies (original or mild)
2 tbls. chili powder
1 (1-oz.) pkg. taco seasoning mix
2 (8-ozs.) cans tomato sauce
8 ozs. lasagna noodles (either the precooked or the type you cook)
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 or 2 green onions, chopped
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese
with jalapeño peppers (or plain, if desired), shredded
1 (2.25-oz.) can sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives


1. In skillet, heat oil and add onions, bell peppers, garlic and ground meat. Cook until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are beginning to soften. If any fat accumulates around edges, remove it with a spoon. Add Ro-tel tomatoes, chili powder, taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Continue simmering for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 325 degrees and cook the noodles according to package directions. Some brands do not require cooking beforehand.

3. Blend sour cream and cream cheese together until smooth. Stir chopped green onions into cream cheese mixture and set aside.

4. Spray 9x13-inch baking dish or pan with nonstick coating. Layer bottom of dish with lasagna noodles. Spread half of the meat mixture over noodles. Add half of the sour cream/cream cheese mixture. The easiest way is to drop spoonfuls of the creamy mixture over surface and then spread. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.

5. Repeat layers but add olives before adding grated cheese: (noodles, meat, sour cream/cream cheese mixture, olives, then grated cheese). Cover with foil but tent it slightly so top will not stick to cheese.

6. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour or until bubbly and noodles are tender.

Another version of Turkey Tetrazzini by jasonlam @ flickr

Turkey Tetrazzini

From: Mrs. Lenton Sartain from “River Road Recipes” is adapted by Carol Anne Blitzer, food writer from 2theadvocate.

Fills 2 (9 x 11-inch) aluminum foil, deep-dish pans, each of which serves about 8.


1 to 1-1/4 lbs. spaghetti
1 stick butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 qt. whole milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, to taste
4 to 5 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 (8-oz.) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1/2 to 1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated


1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions to the al dente stage.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and blend in the flour. Slowly add the milk, stirring over low heat until mixture forms a medium white sauce. Add dry mustard, black pepper, lemon juice and Tony Chachere’s seasoning.

3. Mix in the turkey and the drained mushrooms.

4. Drain the spaghetti and add into the sauce mixture.

5. Divide into 2 casseroles. Top with cheese. At this point, Carol Anne Blitzer freezes the casserole(s) until needed. When ready to serve, thaw casserole in the refrigerator and reheat at 350 degrees until bubbly. Be careful to make a tent of a sheet of aluminum foil to place over the casserole as it bakes so that the cheese does not stick to the foil and the spaghetti doesn’t dry out.

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