Kid-Approved Comfort Food

At my home, I'm lucky enough to have a little helper in the kitchen. No, I'm not referring to a glass of wine while I cook (although I ought to do that now and again). I'm talking about my youngster, the aspiring chef. More often than not, if I'm getting ready to do something in the kitchen, she's there asking if she can help. Sometimes there's not much beyond setting the table that I can offer, but pretty often she's mixing, rolling, patting, and sprinkling on my behalf. Whether it's topping our homemade pizzas or mixing my newest cookie dough, she's excited about food and cooking. So when it's time to make a casserole, of course she becomes my sous chef! And our most recent creation got thumbs up from both of us and my husband:

This simple casserole consists of your favorite taco meat, bean, and veggie mix nestled into the bottom of a pan with a sprinkle of cheese over the top and a layer of flaky crescent rolls resting on the cheese. My youngster was happy to leave the stovetop and oven part of the meal to me and be in charge of cheese sprinkling (she's a pro) and rolling 16 crescent rolls with the care and concern an artist might have while sitting in front of a canvas. For cheese, we opted for a mix of cheddar and pepper jack. Just pepper jack might have been a bit too spicy for the youngster, but a little was just perfect. If you're not a fan of heat at all, opt for just cheddar. If you have a palate that dreams of heat, stick with just pepper jack. I used corn and black beans in the taco mix, but you could use any number of veggies you have on hand or your family prefers.

One garnish I think I'll add next time that I didn't use this time around is diced avocado. Of course, that's because our youngster loves it. Want to know the secret of how I got that to happen? I had her help me make guacamole. In the end, kids get invested in their own projects just like adults do. Use that knowledge to help them learn great cooking skills and create healthy eating habits and they will thank you when they are older … and probably right now, too!

Tex-Mex Crescent Casserole

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion - peeled and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
  • 2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1 large chopped tomato - for garnish
  • 2 c. thinly sliced lettuce - for garnish
  • Sour cream - for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet with the onion. When the meat is fully cooked, add the corn and black beans and cook until bubbling. Add the taco seasoning and water, according to the taco seasoning packet instructions. Place the meat mixture evenly in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the meat.

Unwrap the crescent roll dough and roll up each triangle from the large end to the small end. Carefully arrange them in the pan over the meat and cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until sauce and cheese are bubbly and the crescent rolls are browned. Serve with the tomato, lettuce, and sour cream as garnishes.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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