Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with taco casserole
By Kathy Manweiler
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
By Kathy Manweiler
In this struggling economy, many of us are finding ways to stretch our food budgets farther.
When I lost my job about six weeks ago, I had to take a hard look at how much I was spending on groceries and make some cutbacks. But I was determined to keep eating healthy meals, so I needed to create some new recipes that were nutritious, filling and inexpensive.
Today I'm sharing one of my favorite new creations — taco casserole. I still use extra-lean ground beef, which is more costly than other choices, but I make it stretch by using just half a pound of beef in this recipe and adding some beans to pump up the protein. I bought store brands of rice, tomatoes and salsa for this casserole to pinch pennies, and they work very nicely here.
Sprinkling a little reduced-fat cheese over the top really adds to this casserole's flavor. If you want to save even more money, you can soak and cook your own beans at home instead of using the canned variety and you can shred the cheese yourself.
A 1 1/2-cup serving of my taco casserole contains just 279 calories, 3.3 fat grams and 23 grams of protein.
KATHY'S TACO CASSEROLE
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large saucepan, brown the ground beef over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbly. Add the taco seasoning, beans, tomatoes and onion to the saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes to combine flavors. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine the meat and bean mixture with the rice and salsa. Mix well and transfer mixture to the baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until casserole is heated through. Remove from oven and sprinkle the cheese over the casserole. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Makes eight 1 1/2-cup servings.