Growing up in the Minnesota meant that I ate lots of casseroles growing up.  Except we called them “hot dishes”.  Since I’m no longer living in Minnesota I thought casserole was a more universal term than hot dish so the recipe title reflects casserole, even though in my heart, it will always be a hot dish to me.

Cheesy Taco Casserole with chips
Growing up, we needed hearty and warm food in our bellies to sustain us through those cold, long winters.  Hot dishes were the way to go.  Not to mention, they made planned leftovers, and were an inexpensive way to feed a family.

Cheesy Taco Casserole with chips

It wasn’t gogi berries and dulse flakes and locally grown avocados and lemon trees in the backyard where I grew up.

Cheesy Taco Casserole with chips

It was food like this.

This casserole reminds me of my mom’s weekly taco night and my grandma’s rice-based hot dishes.

Cheesy Taco Casserole with chips

[print_this]

Cheesy Taco Casserole

2 c cooked rice (cook 1 c dry rice with 2 c water for a 2 c rice yield)

1 jar salsa (I used a 12 oz jar of salsa that was corn and bean based, not red sauce based.  Use something you like or have on hand)

optional: 1/2 c to 1 c diced veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions (whatever you’d add to tacos)

optional: 1 can beans (red, black, pinto, etc.)

2 tbsp taco seasoning (about 1/2 packet of commercially prepared taco seasonings, or the whole packet if you want extra taco flavor)

1 c sour cream (8 oz)

2 c shredded cheese + 1/2 c

Directions:

After cooking the rice, combine all the other ingredients with the rice in a large bowl and stir until combined.  Pour mixture into a foil-lined 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 shreeded cheese on top.  Bake at 375F for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until cheese and the top is beginning to brown.  If you added extra beans, veggies, or your salsa was watery, this could lengthen cooking time.

Allow casserole to rest and cool for about 10 minutes to make slicing easier.

Yields: 12 hearty squares of casserole from the 9 x 13 pan.  Store leftovers in fridge or freeze squares in individual sized containers in the freezer for your a homemade, fast, “tv dinner”.

Notes: To make this vegan (and it’s already gluten-free)

For the sour cream, use a vegan/soy-based sour cream such as Follow Your Heart, or use a vegan/soy-based cream cheese such as Tofutti + splash of almond mik or water to thin it out.

For the shredded cheese, use a vegan cheese such as Follow Your Heart or Daiya.

[/print_this]

Cook the rice

Rice in pot

Add all ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.

Peppery Sweet Corn Salsa jar

Carrots, corn, and cheese in green bowl

Press into a foil-lined 9 x 13 pan, and top with extra cheese before baking.

Cheesy casserole in pan

After baking….

Casserole baked in panCasserole baked in pan

…Garnish with sour cream and a bit more cheese, and serve with your favorite chips, if desired.

Cheezy Casserole with chips

It combines flavors of my childhood into an easy meal.

Cheezy Casserole with chips

And Scott and Skylar raved about it. 

Then again, anything with cheese and real sour cream is off to a good start, right?

Cheezy Casserole with chips

Cheezy Casserole with chips

Planned leftovers save the day.  Refrigerate or freeze, as I suggested in the recipe portion, for a hectic workweek meal option to have on hand.

Cheezy Casserole in pan

Cheezy Casserole in pan

Cheezy Casserole with chips

From my last posts, a big thank you to everyone who continues to wish us a Happy 10 Year Anniversary.  I am blown away by how many of you have commented and how touching your comments are.  Thank you.

And, thanks for congratulating me on being featured in Women’s Health Magazine.  I am pretty excited about that one!

Questions:

1. Did you grow up eating casseroles or hot dishes?

Oh, you know I did!

Cheap, easy, leftovers, can make in advance.  They were a mom’s best friend.  I understand that all better now that I’m a working mom.

2. Any favorite casserole recipes or go-to dishes that are your salvation for when you’re busy?

I’m all ears!  (One or two links, max, or your comment will go into moderation.)

3.  Best thing you’re eaten or done over the weekend?

Getting to Aruba, celebrating my 10 year anniversary, and being featured in a magazineIt’s been a great weekend for me!

P.S. If you’re just catching up on posts, here are mine since Friday:

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.