Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Easy (and delicious!) Tex-Mex casserole

Part of my tagline is food, but I have definitely slacked when it comes to actually posting about food. So I decided to share a recipe with all you lovely readers today! This is my favorite kind of recipe - it's super easy, super delicious, reasonably healthy, and entirely adaptable. Oh, and did I mention I (mostly) created it myself? (I did have a bit of inspiration from a back-of-package recipe, but for comparison's sake, I made the original the other night, and Dan and I both agreed that what I make now is something entirely different, and much better!)
Tex-Mex Casserole (right) with Frosted Brownies (left). An easy and uplifting meal!
I love this casserole because it takes almost no time to get it ready for the oven, and you can either make it entirely from scratch or you can use ready-to-go versions of the ingredients, depending on the amount of time you have to prep. It has become my go-to meal. We eat it once a week, and I take it to people when I'm making them dinner. The leftovers are fantastic, if you're lucky enough to have any. I have to make about six servings to have one left for lunch the next day, and there are only two of us! I promise, once you try this, you'll be making it once a week too!

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: 
onion flakes
garlic powder

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!

Bonus "recipe":

Frosted Brownies
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!


  1. Looks delish! Now I want frosted brownies.

    1. Thanks! Me too, haha. I might have to make some today!

  2. Love the recipe for the casserole, going to try it for sure! Twin girls, lucky you!

    New follower from the Hop :)

    1. Thanks! Yes, we are very lucky. Heading over to follow you as well!

  3. I will have to try it! Do you think it would be just as good eaten with a fork/spoon but without the tortilla chips?

    1. Oh, for sure! I just add the chips for extra calories for me right now, and for the crunch factor for Dan :)