Saturday, November 16, 2013

Amped Up California Rancho Casserole

Tired of Beef Nachos

Nachos have been on the Bonham menu alot. We are tired of them. So, I pulled out my 1969 Beta Sigma Phi Casserole cookbook to look for a recipe in the "Ground Beef - Rice Casseroles" section. (I collect cookbooks.) The "Ground Beef-Rice Casseroles" section has almost twenty recipes, but the one that caught my eye was the California Rancho Casserole recipe.

 Amp it Up!

I scanned the ingredients list: ground beef, onions, garlic, uncooked rice, ripe olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, grated cheese. Happily, the recipe contains most of the ingredients I keep on hand for nachos. However, I decided to amp up the recipe with mild green chili sauce, baby Portobello mushrooms (criminis), Colby Jack cheese, fresh ground rainbow peppercorns, and shrimp.

Taste Response

Slowly savoring the meaty,olive - tomato - cheesy richness and mushroomyness with just a hint of heat from the mild green chili sauce was an intensely sensuous moment. Then, I ate one of the perfectly cooked, juicy and tender shrimp. I seriously wanted to just grasp that precious pan in my hands, shield it from anyone else's eyes, and find a secret place to adoringly eat the whole thing. I was amazed at the rich, unctuous flavor meld that had transformed the simple casserole ingredients while they baked in the oven. Bill's response? "Oh baby, please make this again." It doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Amped Up California Rancho Casserole


Large skillet or Dutch oven                   2-quart casserole dish                     spatula
fork                                                        dry measuring cup set                     liquid 1-cup measuring cup
measuring spoon set                               sharp knife


  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered garlic, or 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 c. uncooked rice (when measuring the rice, completely level the rice in the cup)
  • 1 c. sliced ripe olives
  • 4 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms, diced (about half of an 8 ounce container)
  • 1/2 cup mild green chile sauce (I used Old El Paso brand)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground, rainbow peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 20 frozen, cooked and  cleaned, medium shrimp


  • Heat oil in large skillet or Dutch oven; saute beef, chopped onion, and chopped garlic or sprinkle    garlic powder over the beef and mix it in with a spatula.
  • Saute until beef is no longer red, stirring with a fork or spatula.
  • Place beef mixture in a colander and drain the oil and fat off of it.
  • Return the beef mixture to the skillet or Dutch oven.
  • Mix in water, rice, olives, mushrooms, green chili sauce, undrained can of diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour into a 2-quart casserole; cover tightly with aluminum foil
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and carefully remove foil.
  • Sprinkle cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese onto casserole and gently stir it into the casserole.
  • Place the 20 frozen shrimp on top of the casserole. Replace the foil. Bake for 15 minutes longer.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing the aluminum foil.
Yield: 6 generous servings