Friday, May 23, 2014

Tex-Mex Ground Beef Casserole

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup, uncooked rice (I use brown and wild rice mix)
1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 jar salsa, about 1 cup
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup cheese shredded (I used Provolone)
French fried onion rings.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook rice according to package.  Brown ground beef and drain.  Add bell pepper and cook over medium high heat until tender.  Add salsa, tomato sauce, olives, chili powder, oregano, salt and cumin.  Let simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes allowing the ingredients to blend.  Stir in rice.  Pour into a 3 quart baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Top with cheese and add crushed onion rings around the outside of the cheese.  Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Comment:  The recipe that brought on this dish came form a 1981 Creamettes booklet.  I've made other dishes from this book and they have all been delicious.  This recipe was called Mexican Beef Casserole and called for noodles, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, corn and cheddar cheese.  As you can see, I didn't include those ingredients.  I used the salsa in place of the canned tomatoes, onions and garlic, which are ingredients within the salsa.  A friend had given me a jar of brown and wild rice that I wanted to use instead of the macaroni.  This turned out to be a great change.  The cheese I changed to Provolone instead of cheddar and I sprinkled the onion rings around the edge instead of corn chips.  This dish had so much flavor and texture that I could have eaten a lot more than I allowed myself.  It is simply delicious!

Comment from Food Tester Carol:  This dish has several layers, each of which is tasty in itself, yet together they are surprising and exciting to eat.  The blended rice (made up of a variety of rices and grains) mixed with the ground beef, tomato and spices is delicious but with the melted provolone layer, it's double delicious an then you find the crispy fried onions on top and it's super delicious!

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