|Tex-Mex Casserole (right) with Frosted Brownies (left). An easy and uplifting meal!|
Convinced you want to make this for dinner tonight? Well, here's what you need to do.
Tex-Mex Casserole (serves four, or two very hungry adults)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or you can cook your own dried beans, you'll need about 2 1/2-3 cups)
4 cups cooked brown rice (you can use microwavable frozen rice, 1 package)
at least 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (add this much and then taste, I use about 5-6)
1 regular-size jar red salsa, whichever brand and spiciness you prefer
1 1/2-2 cups grated cheese. Plain cheddar is fine, or you can buy Mexican-style grated cheese in an 8 oz package and use this (that's what I usually do)
sour cream for topping
tortilla chips (our favorite are Juanita's)
Optional, but recommended:
Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees. In 9x9 casserole dish, combine rice and taco seasoning. Taste and add additional taco seasoning as desired. Add beans; stir to combine evenly. Rinsing the beans is important because canned beans are very salty, and you want them to taste spicy, not just salty. If you'd like to jazz up the beans a bit further, you can add 1-2 tbsp. onion flakes and 1 tsp. garlic powder before mixing with the rice. You can microwave the beans and spices for 30-60 seconds to help the flavor take hold.
Pour salsa over rice and bean mixture, using a spatula to spread evenly. Top with cheese. Here is your chance to be artistic! You can put the cheese in the middle only, leaving some of the salsa exposed, or you can cover the casserole completely, whichever you'd like. You can cover the casserole dish and refrigerate at this point for several hours until you are ready to bake it, or you can put it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a heap of tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Leftovers, if you happen to have any, can be covered and refrigerated and reheated in the microwave the next day.
Part of the beauty of this recipe is that you can adapt the ingredients to fit what you have on hand and what you like. I made it yesterday with kidney beans and black beans mixed because I had one can of each, and it was just as good. I've used different blends of cheese, different kinds of salsa, made my own taco seasoning, added vegetables (peppers, onions, corn, tomatoes) and experimented with the level of spiciness. The above version would be suitable for a family with young kids; if you'd like it spicier, you can always increase the amount of seasoning. If your family is very sensitive to spicy foods, you can start with less, taste, and add more as desired.
I have yet to serve this to someone who didn't love it, so what are you waiting for? Make this for dinner tonight!
I'm not going to pretend I regularly make brownies from scratch - I don't. The truth is, you can enhance brownie mix to make some really yummy, and quick, brownies! My theory is that somewhat homemade baked goods are far superior to no baked goods, Don't you agree?
To one package of brownie mix batter (to be baked in 8x8 pan, double additions for larger packages) add 3/4 cup (or more, if you like) chocolate chips. Fold in chocolate chips and bake as directed. Cool. Frost thickly with your favorite chocolate frosting. Top with more chocolate chips. This makes a fantastic dessert to follow the Tex-Mex casserole!
Enjoy, everybody! Let me know what you think!