Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Everyone's Favorite Tex Mex Dish

For some reason, in my family, everyone loves Mexican food...well, it's probably Tex Mex in reality, but I don't know exactly what qualifies each. A few months ago, I had some taco seasoning and a bunch of ground beef, but no taco shells and no corn chips on hand (one of which is necessary for either tacos or taco salad), so I came up with something new that turned out to be one of my and my husband's favorite meals. I don't have an exact recipe, because I tend to use what I have on hand, but here's a general idea of what goes into this dish.

3/4 to 1 lb of ground beef, browned
1/2 of a 15 oz. can of crushed or diced tomatoes w/juice
2 cups frozen or canned corn (drain if using canned; thaw if using frozen)
1 1/2 cups rice, cooked (we like brown rice here; it's healthier)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup cooked beans, drained (I really like black beans in this)
LOTS of cheese (hey, we're from Wisconsin; it's a staple here)

(NOTE: We have little kids and somewhat picky adults, so we leave out peppers, onions, and green chilies in ours; feel free to accent your dish with these as you wish.)

Mix everything except the cheese together. Then shred the cheese (use 6-8 ounces). Mix in half the cheese with the rest of the mixture and sprinkle the other half on top when you're ready to bake it. I usually  bake mine at 350 degrees, uncovered) for about 20-25 minutes, or until it's a little bubbly, slightly brown. I usually bake mine in this old, vintage looking pyrex dish that I'm crazy about (It looks to be about 4-6 quarts; I'm not good at estimating, and I'm no chef).

Some variations: Use a whole can of tomatoes for a more "soupy" consistency and use this as filling in a whole wheat tortilla, rolled up. Use no meat and more beans for a vegetarian version. Of course, feel free to add onions, peppers, green chilies, salsa, less cheese (what??). Serve it with corn chips and sour cream.

This is a super easy meal to throw together, especially if you cook up a whole bunch of ground beef ahead of time and keep it frozen in 1/2 to 1 lb. increments. I'm always looking for fast, easy, cheap, kid-friendly meals for my family, especially those using ingredients we can find at Aldi grocery store (that really cheap place where you can find most things, but not everything--no whole wheat tortillas or brown rice here).

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