So after two weekends of me being out of town this month and little time in between to replenish the freezer or menu plan, we hit a block last week where there was NOTHING in the freezer but some Trader Joe’s mac and cheese and a half pound of ground beef. I mean, there was not even any ice cream in there. And it was like 117 degrees outside and I didn’t want to go shopping but didn’t know what we were going to do for dinner. Then I remembered the Taco Bake.
The Beef Taco Bake was one of the 30-minute recipes in the October/November 2007 Cook’s Country. I refer to this issue often (it was the one that originally ran the Stuffed Shells and has a turkey pot pie w/stuffing top that is always good for Thanksgiving leftovers) but had skipped right over the Taco Bake and only discovered it a few months ago when I was feeling really uninspired- I flipped through some old magazines, saw it, and thought, “What the heck, I’ll make this.” And, you know, it is kind of a weird recipe- you stand the tacos up in a mess of beans, which seems wrong- and kind of a hokey recipe, because it is very Beans! Cheese! Beef!- but it is also an excellent one. It’s quick, filling, and very comforting, and the leftovers can be tossed together and reheated like a big nacho casserole. I have pared down the recipe to serve 2, with leftovers for 1 adult and 2 very small children, which is why I didn’t cut the beans in half. If you don’t want that many leftover beans, use half a can of refried beans. I also omitted the cilantro, but feel free to stir some in, and reduced the amounts of beef and cheese involved slightly. And yet there is still plenty of both.
- 1 can Ro-Tel, drained, 1/4 c juice reserved
- 1 (16 oz) can refried beans
- 1/2 tbsp hot sauce or so (to taste, depending on brand and your tolerance)
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 package of taco seasoning mix
- 6 taco shells
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Heat oven to 475. Combine half the Ro-Tel, the beans, the hot sauce, and cilantro if you are using it in a bowl. Spread in an 8 inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.
- Cook beef until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Pour off fat, then stir in taco seasoning, remaining Ro-Tel, and reserved tomato juice. Simmer until thick and almost dry (about 5 more minutes.)
- Line up all the taco shells in the bean mixture so they are standing up next to each other. (WEIRD, right?) Spoon 1/2 tbsp of cheese into each and top with beef. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake until cheese is melted- check after a few minutes. Sprinkle w/scallions and serve.