Beef and Bean Nacho Casserole

Who doesn’t love nachos? This Beef and Bean Nacho Casserole layers ground beef, black beans, melty cheddar, sour cream, and more on crispy tortilla chips for a delicious, easy Mexican dinner.


Remember recipe keepers? As in, the OG Pinterest? When I got married, a friend gave me this once-stylish (and once covered) Trapper Keeper-esque recipe binder–complete with pockets for recipes torn from magazines and plenty of space to write down favorite breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and more.

Just like new…ūüėā

Please ignore my awkwardly placed finger in this photo.

Little did I know that the internet would soon virtually eliminate my need for such a thing. With every recipe under the sun online, there’s less and less call for physical recipe keepers.

And yet…I do still actually use this book. (I’m in the generation that straddles the line between liking old school pen and paper and digital everything.) As you can probably tell from its appearance, this binder has seen 16 years of flipping, sorting, and stuffing. And while there are plenty of recipes I made in 2004 that I’d never consider now–lookin’ at you, chili with a spaghetti sauce base (yikes)–there are some I come back to time and again.


This Beef and Bean Nacho Casserole is one of them. Can you see why? Look at that gooey melted cheese, those dollops of sour cream, those lovable pops of cherry tomatoes! Come on, this meal is a nacho lover’s DREAM.

I honestly don’t know where this recipe originally came from, but it’s been in my recipe keeper almost since I acquired it. Some generous soul must have shared it with me, knowing what an inexperienced cook I was back then. Over the years I’ve tweaked it to make it my own. I’ve added fire-roasted corn, extra taco seasoning, and changed it from a single layer to a double layer. It’s not rocket science, certainly, but I can tell you it does make a crave-able Mexican meal that feeds a crowd. ‘Cause who doesn’t love nachos?

Typically, of course, nachos are not without their issues. The problem with making them in the microwave or under the broiler is getting the cheese to melt just right. Go too long and you’ll get a plate of scorched, blackened cheese crust–but too short a duration leaves you with a weird mish-mash that can’t decide if it’s melted or unmelted.

This recipe solves the problem by baking at 350 for about 30 minutes–perfect cheese-melting conditions, if you ask me. And though it may seem strange to bake dollops of sour cream, I promise it turns out as creamy as ever. Meanwhile, black beans add texture and fiber, and slivers of green onion finish things off with a piquant bite.

Hungry yet? Grab your nacho ingredients and get cooking! And tell me…do you have a recipe keeper? What’s yours like, and is it as messy (and well-loved) as mine?

Beef and Bean Nacho Casserole

In this delicious Mexican dinner, layers of ground beef, black beans, cheddar cheese, and more cover tortilla chips. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes and you're done!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Servings: 8 as a main dish

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained
  • 2 c. salsa
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels, preferably fire-roasted
  • 5 c. tortilla chips, roughly crushed
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 c. green onions, sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain, then add black beans, salsa, taco seasoning, and frozen corn. Cook until heated through.
  • Spread half the crushed tortilla chips in a layer in the prepared pan. Top with half the beef-bean mixture. Dollop with half the sour cream and sprinkle with half the cheddar. Repeat these layers: chips, beef-bean mixture, sour cream, shredded cheddar. Distribute halved cherry tomatoes, cut side down, over the top of the casserole and sprinkle with slicedgreen onions.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese has melted.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

Steak Chopped Salad

Steak chopped salad

Somewhere¬†early on in my learning the German language, I read the original Grimm fairy tale of Rapunzel. It’s pretty¬†different from the Disney movie, FYI, from the lack of catchy musical numbers to the fact that the prince who comes to rescue Rapunzel from her tower ends up blinded when he attempts suicide by leaping out her window. (Hard to imagine that¬†fitting in a catchy musical number anyway, now that I think about it.)¬†But the especially bizarre¬†thing that always stood out to me about the original German version of Rapunzel is that almost the entire first half of the story, which happens before Rapunzel’s birth, has to do with her pregnant¬†mother’s insane¬†lust for the lettuce growing¬†in her neighbor’s¬†garden. The mother’s desire for a salad made of the beautiful green lettuce she sees growing in this¬†garden is so strong that she sends her husband to steal some. The husband, dutiful man that he is, does so, only to find his wife’s cravings intensified threefold after she finally tastes the forbidden lettuce. Dang those pregnancy cravings!

Steak chopped salad

When he eventually gets caught by the neighbor (who–didja guess? happens to be a witch), he promises to hand over the baby to her at birth, so long as his wife can continue to have a supply of the lettuce for her surreptitious salads. Cause, you know, baby…lettuce…it’s all good.

You’ll have to read the original Grimm fairy tale if you want to know how things pan out for Rapunzel and kooky family, but whenever I recall¬†the story, I always think, DANG, that must have been one awesome salad to make her parents hand over their firstborn for it. (That or they¬†weren’t too thrilled about having a baby in the first place?) Every time I have a great salad, I kind of chuckle to myself, like, “Could this be the one someone would relinquish their children for?” Just so you know, I have yet to find the salad I’d be willing to trade my kids in for…

Steak chopped salad

BUT…while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about¬†this uh-may-zing Steak Chopped Salad. Thankfully, you don’t need to make a deal with your neighborhood mistress of the dark arts for a taste. Nor do you need to go hopping fences to steal magical lettuce. All you need are some¬†pantry staples, a good piece of sirloin, and some garden-fresh red cabbage and romaine. The combination of roasted red peppers, creamy feta, marinated steak, and crunchy lettuce with a zingy Mediterranean-style dressing is sublime enough to make you think magic was involved. I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we had it a few night ago.

So I can only assume this is the salad Rapunzel’s mother made, because IF there were a salad that could make me go to crazy lengths to eat it, well, this is the one.

Steak chopped salad

Steak Chopped Salad

A fresh, whole foods chopped salad you'll want to make again and again!
Course: Beef, Main Dish
Servings: 4 as a main course

Ingredients

For the steak:

  • 1 lb. sirloin steak
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the salad:

  • 2 c. red cabbage, chopped into strips
  • 6 c. romaine lettuce, chopped into strips
  • 3/4 c. jarred roasted red peppers, diced
  • 3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • generous pinch salt and pepper

Instructions

Make the steak:

  • Combine garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper in a gallon freezer bag. Add steak to the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes-2 hours.
  • Bring steak to room temperature by removing from refrigerator 15-30 minutes prior to cooking. Remove from marinade and pat dry. Set an oven rack 4-5 inches from broiler heating element and preheat broiler to high.
  • Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add steak and sear 2-3 minutes per side, using tongs to flip in between. Place skillet in oven under broiler and broil on each side 2-3 minutes, again using tongs to flip.
  • Carefully tent aluminum foil over skillet and let steak rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Make the salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss chopped red cabbage, chopped romaine, red peppers, feta, and cannellini beans.

Make the dressing:

  • In a 1-cup measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Using an immersion blender, mix until emulsified.

Put it all together:

  • Slice steak into cubes, cutting against the grain, and add to salad. Serve with dressing on the side.

Notes

Loosely inspired by Real Simple.

Pecan-Crusted Skirt Steak

Pecan Crusted Skirt Steak

It is finally election day. Having slogged through the most miserable, acrimonious election cycle in the history of the USA, I’d say we all deserve a reward. I wish I could offer something truly useful, like a magic wand we could wave to start the whole thing over with candidates we actually believe in.¬†But in the absence of a magic wand, how about¬†a big old-fashioned steak dinner?

This easy skirt steak is adorned with an irresistible¬†honey-sweetened, buttery-crunchy pecan topping, and it comes with the added benefit of possibly putting us into a food coma and making us forget our electoral woes. Our family enjoyed it recently as part of a spontaneous dinner-for-lunch when we had steak to use up one Sunday afternoon. It was so unexpectedly fancy to have a steak meal for lunch–especially one this pretty–that I got out the good china and set the table with candles. It apparently made quite the impression on my five-year-old daughter, who is still talking about it weeks later. (Not sure if it was the table setting or the steak she remembers most, but for me, it is definitely the steak.) Even my husband, when he saw I was going to blog about this recipe, said, “Ohhhhh, yeah. That was SO good.”

So, my friends, let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for today we vote. May God bless this food to our bodies, and this nation whose future we are determining.

Pecan-Crusted Skirt Steak

Course: Beef, Main Dish
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 c. pecan pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat broiler on high and position oven rack about 6 inches from broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray generously with baking spray.
  • Season the steak with about 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • In a food processor, pulse the pecans, butter, honey, rosemary, salt, and pepper a few times until combined.
  • Broil the steak 3 minutes on each side. Spread pecan mixture on top and broil an additional 1-2 minutes, until pecans are lightly toasted.
  • Allow the steak to rest 5 minutes, then slice against the grain.

Notes

Adapted from Fine Cooking.

Beef Kofta Meatballs

Beef Kofta

Hey! Remember that post a few days ago about the¬†Rice with Almonds and Golden Raisins¬†inspired¬†by our favorite local ’50s-diner-themed Middle Eastern restaurant? Well, as delightful as that recipe is, I wanted to share the veritable meat centerpiece that topped it off when we enjoyed it last week. (P.S. Please do not Google “meat centerpiece” like I just did. You will be sorry.) After all, even an inspired side dish¬†needs a little something extra to make an actual meal, unless you’re working on your Biggest Loser extreme weight loss 900-calories-a-day life plan. And that little something extra might as well be as intriguing and delicious as the rice, something like, oh, maybe beef kofta meatballs?

Beef Kofta

Some people may say less is more, but the combination of eleven¬†spices (commonly found in your pantry, don’t panic) in these meatballs provides a flavor package that makes me say MORE is sometimes actually more. In a one-and-a-half-inch diameter, these little morsels contain garlic, parsley, cilantro, onion, cumin, and even a hint of cinnamon. And 5 other spices, but¬†I won’t try your patience listing them, too. See the recipe for a multi-spiced main dish that pairs perfectly with almond and golden raisin rice¬†and will make you say¬†ŔąōßŔą (ōĻŔźō®ōßōĪō© ŔĄŔĄō™ōĻŔéō¨ŔŹŔĎō®)! (Arabic for “Wow!” Or I may have copied that wrong from the online Cambridge English-Arabic dictionary. That may actually say “Wow! Look at that car!” But, you know, you get the gist.)

Beef Kofta

Beef Kofta
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. grated or finely diced onion
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced (or 1 Tbsp. ground coriander)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
scant 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients, using your hands if necessary to evenly distribute spices.
  3. Shape meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and space evenly on a large baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve any way you like: with rice, pita, tzatziki/garlic sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.

Serves 4.

Mediterranean-Style Meatloaf

Meatloaf Florentine

I have a long personal history with meatloaf. (Or “meatload,” as my fingers always seem to want to type. Same thing, basically.) When I was a kid, my mom’s¬†meatloaf served as a catch-all cloaking device for whatever bits and scraps remained in the refrigerator or pantry at the end of a given week (month? year?). It’s understandable when you realize that she was a single mom trying to make the best of a narrow budget, but as a child, I had no appreciation for this aspect of meatloaf-making. I just¬†remember watching with mounting distaste as carrots, spinach, rhubarb–was that oatmeal?–disappeared into the¬†mixing bowl, and wondering why a raw egg needed to be part of this process. Just observing the assembly of meatloaf had me convinced before my first bite that this was quite likely the most disgusting food ever invented. And then it came out of the oven–a craggy, rectangular meteorite from the part of space where they stare you down with unflinching meat-and-spinach eyes. I may have only been five years old, but I knew I was

NOT. GOING. TO. EAT. THAT.

Eventually, after a classic parent-child battle of the wills involving sitting at the dinner table until almost bedtime, I grudgingly accepted defeat and picked up a piece of (now cold) brown meteorite and willed myself to eat it. And it was indeed wretched. (Sorry, Mom! You make lots of other delicious things!) Meatloaf quickly rocketed to the top of my Least Favorite Foods list.
And stayed there until I tried this recipe.

SONY DSC

This Mediterranean-Style Meatloaf comes from one of my favorite cookbooks,¬†The Cleaner Plate Club, which focuses on helping kids eat healthier. (A little ironic, considering my meatloaf backstory. Also,¬†I now want to start a band called¬†“Meatloaf Backstory.”) Having made¬†several other recipes from this cookbook that were all excellent, a few years ago I decided to loosen¬†my meatloaf boycott and try this out. After all, how could you go wrong with ingredients like fresh herbs, garlic, roasted tomatoes, and parmesan cheese mixed into what amounts to a giant meatball? You can’t! This recipe¬†turned out to be a true delight.¬†It has become a signature dish at our house.¬†Isn’t it amazing how much our opinions can change when we decide to re-think long-held beliefs? It almost seems like meatload–er, meatloaf–has taught me a life lesson.

Meatloaf Florentine

Mediterranean-Style Meatloaf
(Adapted from The Cleaner Plate Club)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. mixed fresh herbs–mostly basil, with rosemary and/or thyme
1/4 c. roasted tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, bison, or a mix

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until soft and light golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, add all remaining ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Spread meat mixture evenly in the pan. Bake uncovered for 60 minutes.

Serves 4-6.