Friday, May 1, 2009

Mexican Rice Casserole

I found this recipe at For the Love of Cooking and decided to try it because the ingredients were very economical and it looked yummy. This recipe is also very forgiving, as it allows you a lot of room to play with it. For example, I can't make anything too spicy or else my husband won't eat very much leaving me with lots of leftovers to eat all by myself. So I added half of the red pepper flakes, and instead of using spicy tomato sauce, I used mild salsa. If you wanted to make it even more economical, you could omit the ground beef. (Honestly, I couldn't really even tell it was in the recipe. If you do this, just season the beans with the seasoning instead.) This was really good, however, and I served it with cornbread and salad. It was also filling. I made a whole batch this time around, and my husband and I only ate 1/4 of it. Next time I'll probably do a half recipe to have some for dinner and then a little left over instead of most of a pan.

Mexican Rice Casserole

  • 1 1/2 cups of white rice, prepared per instructions
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp paprika***
  • 1 tsp chili powder***
  • 1 tsp dried cumin***
  • 1 tsp garlic powder***
  • 1 tsp dried oregano***
  • 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes***
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed (I made my own)
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 8 oz can of spicy tomato sauce (such as El Pato- or you could use 1 cup of salsa)

  • 3-4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (divided) (I didn't use this)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 tomatoes, sliced thickly (I didn't use these either. I'm not a huge fan of large tomato chunks)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare rice per instructions. While the rice is cooking heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the ground beef, making sure to break it up into crumbles. Cook the beef for 3-4 minutes then add the diced onion and all of the seasonings. Stir until well combined and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the beef is cooked through and the onion is tender. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly for an additional 60 seconds. Add the cooked rice, drained and rinsed black beans, tomato sauce and a bit of cilantro (reserving some for garnishing) to the beef and onion mixture. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, taste and re-season if needed.

    Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray and pour the rice mixture into the dish, spreading it evenly. Place the tomato slices on top of the rice mixture then top with cheddar cheese.

    Spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray (so the cheese won't stick) and cover the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes (at 350 F) then remove the tin foil. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Top with a dollop of sour cream and the remaining chopped cilantro. Enjoy.

    ***Or you can use 1 packet of taco seasoning instead of individual spices.

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