Tex-Mex Casserole

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So this past weekend we went to Chicago for 24 hours, yes I said 24 hours! And let me tell you, we packed so many great things into that time.  We went to the Cross town Classic and our Cubbies WON, then we went to ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier since the hubby had never been.  We decided that night we would do what we love best, trying 3 or 4 restaurants and getting an appetizer and cocktail at each. We went to Dick’s Last Resort, Bin 36, House of Blues, and Smith and Wollensky.  It was such a great night! Then we returned home to pick our little doggies up and go out to the in-laws.  It was a wonderful BBQ with family, and also I have to admit I loved seeing my little Killian on a pool raft.

So after a simply AMAZING holiday weekend, I needed something comforting yet light.  This seemed to fit the bill in my mind, but I was unsure how it would come together.  I mixed a couple of our favorite dishes, and then added some extras hoping to give it more flavor.  Let me tell you, it turned out great!  The dish had the comforting macaroni taste, yet it was so light.  It also had the wonderful spice level I was hoping to achieve.  My hubby added a little hot sauce and taco sauce to the top of his, and the flavors truly began to pop. It is a quick and easy meal too, beacause I made it before tennis and popped it in the oven with no hassle when we came home.

Tex-Mex Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup sweet onion, grated
1/2 cup diced orange bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon 25 % Less Sodium Montreal Steak seasoning
16 oz. crushed tomatoes
1- 10 oz can of Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups frozen corn
2 ounces shredded Mexican 4 Cheese blend
1 1/2 cups dried macaroni style pasta
1 cup shredded Mexican 4 Cheese blend

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray.  In large skillet brown ground beef with onions, bell pepper and red pepper flakes. Season with Magic Dust or steak seasoning.  Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano and chili powder. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the frozen corn and simmer for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 ounces of cheese until melted. Gently stir in the cooked pasta. Pour all into prepared casserole dish and top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

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