Ground Turkey Taco Casserole

I love Mexican,
Cuban and South American food.  While more authentic dishes are always the best, I also love to using those flavors and ingredients to make something non-traditional. Playing in the kitchen is fun and for a weekday night, I like to keep it easy and relaxing. 

This casserole was inspired by a recipe I saw on another website. The author literally looked in her cupboards and fridge and came up with it.  I originally was going to make it as she wrote it, but then discovered she used a whopping 9 tablespoons of store bought taco seasoning. I honestly don't care for the flavor of those packages of seasoning, so time to mix things up.

I took the initial
idea and changed it up to something that appealed to me by adding diced, canned tomatoes and creating my own seasoning  mix to add to the meat mixture. I also reduced the amount of cheese just a bit and added fresh cilantro to the layers. While it is super easy, it does take a little time to make the meat mixture. you could do it earlier in the day and then just assemble it all at supper time.

Fortunately it turned out
. Nothing fancy, just a warm evening meal that was really filling.  It was a little hard to eat the tortilla crust, so just I just left it on my plate.  My husband took a really large serving, ate every bite - including tortilla - and told me twice how much he liked it. As it's only 2 of us, I was going to freeze the leftovers for another day, but realized I had an out day. So we're having it again tonight. I might even take a serving, heat just the filling and place it on top of a bed of lettuce to make a taco salad type creation. 

As always - have fun and don't be afraid to play with this just like I did. Make it your own.  ENJOY!

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Ground Turkey South of the Border Casserole
6 large or 8 medium servings

Ingredients -

2 lbs.                 Ground Turkey
1                        Small sweet onion, diced
1 T                    Cooking Oil
1 can                 Dice Tomatoes with juice (540 ml)
1 C                    Water
2 T                     Chili Powder
1 tsp                  Cumin
1 tsp                  Garlic Powder
1 tsp                  Onion Powder
1 tsp                  Dry Oregano
1 tsp                  Salt
1/2 tsp               Black Pepper
1/4 tsp               Crushed Red Pepper flakes (optional)
2 C                    Frozen Corn, thawed
1-1/2 C              Shredded Tex Mex Cheese
1/2                    Bunch Cilantro leaves, chopped
2                       Handfuls of Que Paso tortilla chips, coarsely crushed
1/2 C                 Heritage grape or cherry tomatoes in different colors, diced
1/4 C                 Sliced Black Olives or more to taste
                       medium flour tortillas (2 whole, 2 cut in half to make half circles)

Options you could serve on the side - salsa, sour cream or Greek yogurt, sliced avocado and diced jalapenos.

Instructions - 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I large non-stick frying pan cook the ground turkey and onion in oil until all pink is gone and onion is soft. Add can diced tomatoes with liquid, water, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Still well and simmer until liquid is gone. Be careful not to cook totally dry. 

Prepare a 9 x 13 glass casserole with cooking spray. Lay 2 whole tortillas on each end, overlapping in the middle and going up the side a little.  Then place the 4 half circles 2 on each long side bending up the sides. It ends up being a tortilla lined casserole with the sides and bottom covered. 

Place half the meat mixture in the casserole in an even layer.  Sprinkle half the corn on top, then half the cilantro, then half the cheese and then a sprinkle of crushed tortilla chips. Repeat meat, corn, cilantro, cheese layer. Then top with the diced tomatoes and the sliced ripe olives. Finish with a sprinkling of crushed tortilla chips. 

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the casserole is fully heated through. Let set 5-10 minutes, then cut into individual servings (I used a serrated steak knife as the tortilla layers is hard to cut.  Serve with coleslaw, green salad, or fruit salad. You can also offer bowls of sides guests can add if they want at the table.