Casserole fits a family’s go-to list

One area that I am constantly trying to improve upon is my cooking. With three young kids, I had fallen into a cooking routine that would be better referred to as a “rut.”

I made the quick and easy dishes that I knew they liked, rarely trying to introduce them to new types of foods.

Our kids aren’t picky. However, I don’t want to train them to be.

The main reason for this cooking rut had been that having a youngsters can take up quite a bit of time, and we also have some new routines working into our normal schedule.

It’s a season of adjusting. But now that we are mostly settled into our new routine, I’m realizing that I can’t get out of cooking any longer.

So I have been trying to come up with new recipes, and to incorporate veggies and protein in as many ways as possible.

Trying to eat healthier starts with healthier preparation and cooking, and I realize that when there is a dinner plan in the works, we are far less likely to grab whatever is fast.

Fast usually isn’t the healthier option.

In this new conquest, I have stumbled upon some recipes that will likely be added to our go-to list.

What are the requirements for the go-to list? Well, it has to be liked by everyone.

Also required for our list is that it’s relatively simple. Yes I know the whole point is to cook more, but let’s face it, I still have three kids ages 8 and under and I am not a chef.

All of this to say… Here is a new recipe that we tried out and loved! Hope that you enjoy it too!

Keep in mind that all these ingredients can be substituted to better fit your diet. For example, you can switch out the ground beef for ground turkey and white rice for brown rice.

I used 90 percent lean ground beef because that’s what we had and it worked great.

1 lb. ground beef, cooked

1/2 C. onion, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

3 C. cooked rice

1 14 oz can diced tomato

2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

1 T oregano

1 t garlic salt

1/4 t red pepper flakes, optional

Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare meat, and start preparing rice.

I like to add extra pepper and some garlic in with the beef while it is browning.

In medium pan, saute onion in olive oil, until translucent

Add meat and peppers, cook until peppers begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add spices to the pan, cooking an additional 3-5 minutes to cook in the flavors.

In a large bowl, combine the meat mixture, rice and 1 1/2 cups cheese. Stir well.

Transfer into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish, cover with foil.

Cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil carefully and add remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Place back into oven to broil 2-3 minutes to gently crisp cheese.

Makes about 6 portions. Or two toddler portions and lots of leftovers in our house!

If you like hot sauce, this is a terrific dish to add it to.

As always, thanks for reading! And happy cooking!

Katy Wise is a Fredonia resident.

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