Monday, February 22, 2010

Mexican Ravioli Casserole

Jay, David, Mama, Nina, and I all attended the 10th birthday party of a friend's little boy this weekend.  His name is Noah, and he wasn't supposed to live a few minutes after birth, much less the ten spongebob and happiness filled years he's had so far.  Among a few other less life-threatening issues, he's got hydrocephalus and only makes it every day because of the shunt in his head, so, needless to say, every birthday is a Big Deal.  So what does this have to do with food?  Well, what's a good party without plenty of good food!  This year his mom had the party at her apartment complex's clubhouse, and we were expecting a pretty good crowd, which we ended up having.  Noah's mom brought stuff for a taco bar, another friend of our brought her famous enchiladas, and I decided to bring some kind of mexican casserole.  I love to make this Mexican lasagna type stuff with layered corn tortillas and various fillings, but I also have a great recipe for Mexican Ravioli that I got out of a Lake Magazine (and modified to my tastes) a couple of years ago.

For a 7x11 dish (a weird size, I know) you need:
1 9 oz. packaged refrigerated  cheese ravioli
1 lb. ground beef with a little taco seasoning dashed in after cooking
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1/2 medium red onion, diced
Fresh cilantro to taste, I like about a quarter cup fresh, chopped cilantro
2 cans enchilada sauce, I prefer medium, but you can get it mild or hot
1 package shredded cheese, I use the Mexican four cheese blend.

Cook the ground beef and dash in the taco seasoning.
Drain your tomatoes and black beans.  Mix together in a bowl with the onions and fresh cilantro.
Pour enough enchilada sauce into your baking dish to cover the bottom of it.
Layer, from bottom to top, one layer ravioli, half your ground beef, half your tomato/bean/onion mixture, and half your remaining enchilada sauce.  Repeat for your second layer, using the rest of your ingredients.
Bake at 400 degree for about 25 minutes, then take out, cover it with as much or as little cheese as you like, and bake until the cheese is melty enough for you.  (I like it just melted, but others like it a little more browned.)

I hope you like it as much as my family does, and you can always change and swap ingredients for those that your family prefers.  When I found this recipe, it called for chicken instead of ground beef, green onion instead of red onion, and a tablespoon of cumin, which I never put in because, though I love it, I associate it with delicious Indian food and don't know how I feel about it in a Mexican casserole.  I liked it just fine with the chicken and green onions, but my eaters weren't as crazy about it, so I changed it up.  Voila!  A one dish meal everyone can get behind.

And because I know you, just as everyone else, wants to see a picture of our dear Noah, here he is:

This is Noah and I playing the game where I kiss his hand and make loud smacky noise and he gets all giggly and happy.  It's one of my favorites because it's an almost surefire way to get him to smile, laugh, and hug you.

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