Cheesy Cajun Beef and Potato Bake
There’s almost nothing I love more than a cheesy, spicy comfort food casserole. I was in the mood for just such a dish when I came up with this Cheesy Cajun Beef and Potato Bake. I knew I wanted to use potatoes and after remembering how easy and delicious my Cheeseburger Hash Brown Cups were, I decided shredded hash brown potatoes would be an awesome base. I absolutely love all things Cajun or blackened, so even though this isn’t really a Cajun dish, I wanted to use the seasoning. To top it all off I made a rich, creamy and spicy Pepper Jack cheese sauce to pour over the top. It may seem like kind of a mish-mosh, but the results were delicious and my husband loved it just as much as I did, if not more.
I was able to make the cheese sauce and cook the beef and vegetables while the potatoes were in the oven, so this dinner took about an hour to make, start to finish, including baking time. It’s perfect for a weeknight (or weekend) dinner – just serve with a side of roasted veggies or a salad!
Cheesy Cajun Beef and Potato Bake
Yield: 8 servings
- 20 oz bag of refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simple Potatoes or Reser’s)
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1/3 cup diced bell pepper (I used red but green or any other color would be fine)
- 1 lb uncooked 95% lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Cajun or blackened seasoning
- 3 tablespoons light butter, sliced (I used Land O’Lakes)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ cups skim milk
- 8 oz 50% reduced fat Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (I used Cabot)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375. Lightly mist a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the shredded potatoes in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the salt and pepper and stir together until ingredients are well mixed. Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish and press them down across the surface of the dish and partially up the sides to form a “crust” along the bottom of the pan. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
- While the potatoes are baking, bring the butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan until melted. Add the flour a little at a time, whisking it into the butter until combined. Add the milk a little bit at a time, whisking it into the flour mixture until smooth and well combined. Turn the heat up to medium for a few minutes until the milk is warmed. Add the shredded cheese to the mixture and whisk the mixture together. Continue to heat for another 3-5 minutes, whisking periodically, until the cheese is melted into the sauce. Set aside to thicken while completing step 4.
- Pour the remaining teaspoon of oil into a skillet and bring over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes until both are softened. Add the ground beef and continue to cook, breaking the beef up into small pieces with a cooking spoon until the beef is cooked through. Add the Cajun or blackened seasoning and stir together until well combined.
- When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven (edges will be starting to brown). Pour the meat mixture into the potato crust and spread across the surface. Pour the cheese sauce over top of the meat and return the dish to the oven to bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Weight Watchers Freestyle SmartPoints:
9 per serving (SP calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Weight Watchers Points Plus:
8 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
304 calories, 21 g carbs, 0 g sugars, 14 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 24 g protein, 3 g fiber (from myfitnesspal.com)
an Emily Bites Original