February 15, 2012

3-Layer Mexican Casserole

Last night continued my efforts to use up what was in our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry before we leave on our trip.  I almost always have beans and rice on hand, but I wanted to whip up a little more exciting than the boring old staple.  After a brief scavenging around the kitchen, I discovered:

  • salsa;
  • green chile;
  • frozen corn;
  • a red bell pepper; and
  • Daiya cheese.

Visions of the party-favorite 7-layer dip immediately came to mind.  By my count, I had no where near enough ingredients for seven layers...but an idea had been born, so I rolled with it!  

This is a Mexican-style casserole with a little kick!  If you like heat, go ahead and use "hot" salsa and "hot" green chile.  The final result is creamy, hearty, and as Bo says, "fills you up right!"

3-Layer Mexican Casserole
Serves 4-6

For the Rice Layer:
1 C brown rice
1 3/4 C water
1/2 C salsa (preferably HOT!)

For the Vegetable Layer:
1 C corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the Bean Layer:
1 can refried beans
1 4 oz. can of hot green chile
1/2-3/4 C Daiya cheese (or other cheese)


  1. Place the rice and water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Boil, reduce to simmer, and allow to cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the refried beans and green chile in a small saucepan over low heat.
  4. In a separate pan, saute the corn, bell pepper, salt, pepper, and cumin over medium heat.  Continue cooking until the corn and bell pepper begin to soften and brown slightly.
  5. Once the rice is cooked, mix in the salsa.
  6. Now you are ready to layer your casserole in a medium/large oiled dish:
    1. Place all of the salsa rice in the bottom of the dish.
    2. Cover with the vegetable mixture.
    3. Spread the bean mixture on top.
    4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-12 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Recently, I've been trying to learn more about my camera.  I have been taking it off of "automatic" mode in an effort to take more professional pictures for the blog.  However, a lot of the recipes I end up putting on the blog are cooked in the evening.  Therefore, by the time I need to take pictures, the sun has gone down and I am left without any natural light (which, I have read, is best for quality photography).  Last night I took several with the flash, and several without...but I can't decide which one looks better.  What do you think? (just leave a comment in the "Comments" section below).

With the flash...

Without the flash...

Bo ate his casserole with roasted chicken.  Believe it or not, every bit of this plate was devoured, and later on in the evening he went back for seconds of the casserole.  Today, he asked me if there was any left for lunch...if you ask me, I think he kinda likes this one! :)

FYI - This picture is without the flash.

Next time - I promise you that oatmeal recipe that will keep you full for hours!  And this time, I mean it!

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite throw-together meal?  Or, like most people, do you just get take-out on nights when the refrigerator/pantry are low?!

Ally and Bo


  1. My favorite throw-together is usually some sort of Mexican dish, since that's the food I eat most of... usually rice, lettuce, avocado, corn and any kind of salsa!

    I like your last picture without flash. Try finding a well-lit part of your kitchen (some stoves have a big overhead light) and set up a little "studio" with a neutral background (such as a pizza stone, or a pan with a pretty towel on it.) Then, you can keep the same settings on your camera for each picture!

  2. Thanks, Paige! I was hoping you would post a comment with photography suggestions. For today's pictures, I tried putting a towel over our cutting board and placing it under the stove light. I think they look pretty decent. I'm not expected professional quality here (since I don't have a professional-grade camera), but clear and colorful would be nice.

    Thanks again for the suggestions, my sweet friend :)

    Smiles to you!

  3. Go with the flash! Detail is much better and one can see the consistency of the ingredients and in the case of youe casserole, even get some detailed look of how ingredients were distributed in the layers. Call it my science background if you like but I like the details the flash picture allows me. The enhanced colors also give me a better "feel" for presentation, and you know what I always say about food presentation!



  4. Thanks, Dad! I will never forget what it is like to watch you prepare a sandwich: spreading the sauce all the way to the edges, making sure every bite will have the perfect balance of ingredients, etc. You approach food like an art...and I love it!

    Also, just in case you were wondering, the camera I use for ALL of my pictures is the one you and Deb bought me several years back for Christmas. It has certainly served me well!

    Love you!

  5. This recipe sounds yummy! I hope to make it this weekend - got most of the ingredients already! I agree with your Dad about the flash! Glad the camera is still working for you - we love to give gifts that you can use.

    Have fun on your honeymoon cruise!

    Love you!