Halloween night always brought a great big group of hungry and excited ghouls and goblins to our house. The kids in our neighborhood would typically meet up at our place before heading out for the big trick-or-treat fest. It was my job to put out some enticing, hearty items to take up some space in those tummies before they started filling up on all the candy they would collect by the end of the night. I always found it best to go buffet style, including lots of kid-friendly cuisine so that as they arrived, they could head down the line and grab what appealed to them. Many times it was homemade pizza, mac and cheese and fresh fruit, and I found that pretty much anything sandwiched between crescent roll dough was always a big hit.
These Crescent Roll Taco Squares, a Mexican-inspired take on my Sloppy Joe Squares, aren’t just kid-friendly; the whole family will love them. As a matter of fact, this here casserole of goodness was recently devoured by my husband and grown children in nothing flat. I may have helped a little too.
It’s pretty simple to pull together, so let’s get to work!
Brown a couple of pounds of lean ground beef in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add some chopped onion and cook, stirring, until the beef is crumbled and completely cooked. See the recipe below for the exact measurements. Drain off as much of the grease from the pan as possible and return it to the heat.
Add a small can of mild diced green chiles, a small can of chopped olives and some taco seasoning mix. You can use the store-bought, packaged variety if you’d like, but I always have a jar of Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix in my pantry for recipes like this. I’ve not bought one single packet from the store since I made my first batch. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Stir in a can of tomato sauce and season it with some fresh ground black pepper. I also like to add a little crushed red pepper for heat. You can omit it or adjust the amount to your family’s taste; however, if you’re making this for a group of adults for a football party, bring on the crushed red pepper!
Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and crack open one canister of crescent roll dough. Carefully unroll the dough and place it in the prepared baking dish. Gently stretch the dough to fit to the edges of the pan, using your fingers to pinch together the seams. Don’t be concerned if it doesn’t look perfect. We’re going to layer this up and nobody will know!
Spoon the taco seasoned meat over the crescent roll dough.
Sprinkle a good amount of both shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack over the top of the meat layer.
Pop open a second canister of crescent roll dough and carefully unroll it. I find it easiest to place the dough on a cutting board first and lightly stretch it out a bit and then transfer it to the dish right over the top of the cheese layer. Gently stretch it to fit, if necessary, and then pinch together the seams the best you can. You can see mine is not perfect but it’s going to bake up beautifully.
This step is completely unnecessary, but it is going to add a nice finishing touch. Brush the top of the dough with a little milk.
Then, sprinkle on some sesame seeds.
In the oven she goes. It will only take about 15 minutes in a 425-degree oven.
When the top of the casserole is nicely golden brown, it’s time to come out of the oven.
They are delicious all on their own.
Or, dress them up as much as you’d like with all kinds of toppings. Put out anything and everything that you would pile on to tacos — shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, avocado, salsa and sour cream, and let everyone customize it to their liking.
Crescent Roll Taco Squares
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 1 (4-ounce) can mild diced green chiles, undrained
- 1 (2.25-ounce) can chopped olives
- 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 (8-ounce) packages refrigerated crescent roll dough
- 1 cup each shredded cheddar and Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Optional toppings: sour cream, tomato, avocado, lettuce, salsa
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onions until meat crumbles and no pink remains. Drain well and return skillet to heat.
- Add olives, green chiles and taco seasoning mix. Stir to combine and then stir in tomato sauce, fresh ground pepper and crushed red pepper (if using). Bring just to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 13-by-9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press one can of the crescent roll dough into the prepared pan, pressing with your fingers to cover the bottom of the pan and pinching the seams together.
- Spoon the meat mixture on top of the dough and sprinkle evenly with cheese.
- Lay the second sheet of crescent roll dough out onto a cutting board and stretch and press it out lightly so it will fit over the top. Carefully transfer the dough and place on top of the cheese, lightly pressing the seams together and pulling the dough out to the edges of the pan.
- Brush the top of the dough with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake uncovered for 13 to 15 minutes until nicely golden brown. Cut into squares and serve with toppings.