Beef and Hashbrown Mexican Casserole

I’ve got another casserole recipe coming your way today. A Mexican casserole, to be exact!

A popular mis-conception about casseroles is that they aren’t healthy. This may, in fact, be true depending on the kinds of ingredients you plan to use. But here on Simply Writeous, I really strive to share good and healthy dishes you can serve your family without guilt. Doesn’t mean I always hit the mark – but this one surely does!

This particular recipe was adopted from a recipe posted by The Midnight Baker on her blog. In true Simply Writeous fashion, I changed it up a bit by adding and omitting ingredients from the original.

One of my favorite things is the cheesy, bell-peppery, hashbrown topping. My picture doesn’t reveal this bit of detail but it’s got just a bit of wonderful crunch. A texture I’m never mad at when it comes to casseroles.

Let’s gather some ingredients and get the ball rolling!

Beef & Hashbrown Mexican Casserole: Ingredients

1.5-2 lbs ground beef or turkey
Small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
Small can red enchilada sauce (or home-make your own, following this recipe by Skinny Taste, to avoid preservatives)
Small can diced tomatoes, drained (straight out of the pantry, home-canned from the garden)
1 can corn
1 can black beans
2 cups cheese, shredded (any variety cheddar, or Mexican blend will do)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 bag frozen, shredded hashbrowns, thawed

Beef & Hashbrown Mexican Casserole: Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 and spray casserole dish with cooking spray
Brown hamburger (or turkey) with chopped onion and half of the chopped bell peppers (1/4 cup each, green & red)
In large bowl stir together hashbrowns, melted butter, remaining bell peppers, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and 1 cup cheese.
Add enchilada sauce, tomatoes, corn, black beans, and 1 cup shredded cheese to browned meat. Stir until it’s all mixed together
Pour meat, etc. mixture into casserole dish
Top with hashbrowns
Bake for 20-25’ish minutes at 375 degrees
Switch oven over to broil for 5 additional minutes to really brown and crisp up the top layer of hashbrowns
Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and serve!

Serve alongside some chips and guac…and a nice margarita if you’re feeling especially saucy!

And, you guessed it! This dish can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to warm (you’ll want to tack on 5-10 more min to the warming time). It can also be prepped as a freezer meal.




Spring Cleaning Bathroom Plan & Giveaway Deadline Reminder

Shortly after my post about Spring Cleaning published last week, a dear friend outreached with a request. She wondered if I could give more instruction. If I could talk about what tasks land on my ‘to do’ list and ultimately how I tackle these sorts of projects. She admitted that while her mother would deny to the very end, she never really taught her about deep cleaning. The general vacuuming and dusting and swabbing down the bathroom – check! But, once (or twice) a year really doing it up right – not so much. So today I will kick off a series, walking you through my Spring cleaning checklists. Starting first with my Spring Cleaning Bathroom Plan.

Please note that I fully recognize your home – and bathrooms – aren’t likely the same as mine. This is simply a rundown of how I will tackle my Spring Cleaning Bathroom Plan. You can use this as a guide for your own bathrooms, making modifications based on how your home is built.

If you are curious, I have three bathrooms. One with a tub/shower. One with a shower/shower door. One powder room with only a toilet and vanity.

As I talked about in the post last week, gathering the necessary supplies prior to getting started will help streamline the process. No unnecessary running back and forth to grab the items needed next.

Spring Cleaning Bathroom Supplies Needed

  • Tile/Grout shower and tub cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • All purpose cleaner (a concentrated formula, I like one with bleach personally)
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Scouring pads
  • Mr Clean magic eraser
  • Small brush (an old toothbrush works well, I keep old ones around marked for “cleaning”)
  • Rags (either disposable or those that can be washed and re-used. Old cut-up t-shirts, wash cloths or small towels darner my collection)
  • Small bucket for water/cleaning solution
  • Paper towels
  • Broom
  • Medium bucket for rags (if not disposable)
  • Basket for items not belonging in bathroom
  • Trash bag
  • Step-stool
  • Washing Machine/Detergent/White Vinegar
  • Kitchen Sink/Hot Water/Dish Soap
  • New shower curtain liner
  • New toilet brush
    Tips/Tricks: I like to keep my most commonly used Spring Cleaning items in a tote so they are mostly gathered anytime I start a new room. Also, when I purchase new items (toilet brushes, shower curtain liners, etc.) they have a ‘home’ until they are needed and don’t clutter up another place in the house.

Spring Cleaning Bathroom Plan of Attack

  1. Start by taking down the shower curtain and liner and gather the bathroom rugs. Also remove globes from light fixture and vent fan cover. Clear off shower caddy if you have one. Empty trash into trash bag. Load up trashcan with aforementioned items to haul to kitchen.
    Tips/Tricks: toss that shower curtain liner right in the trash – NOW is a good time to hang a fresh one.
  2. Fire up the washing machine with the above items. You may need to do two loads pending the size and colors of the items involved.
    Tips/Tricks: using white vinegar in place of fabric softener will not only soften these items but will help bust through any sour smells that tend to linger on bathroom items. I promise the smell of vinegar rinses right out!
  3. Fill kitchen sink with hot, soapy water and allow globes from light fixture, vent fan cover, and shower caddy to soak.
  4. Wet down shower and spray with tile/tub/grout cleaner – let sit. Do the same with shower doors if you have those instead of a curtain. Douse inside of toilet with toilet cleaner.
  5. Run broom across all 90 degree angles in room (i.e. where walls meet ceiling, corners of walls) to knock down any cobwebs
  6. Fill small bucket with warm water and all purpose cleaner.
  7. Using a rag, wipe down walls working top to bottom. Hit the light fixture and any décor that can be wiped down while you’re at it. Don’t forget the tops of door jams and window trim. When done, toss rag (either into trash or bucket for later laundering), and pour out water/cleaning solution. Rinse bucket.
    Tips/Tricks: I only wipe down walls in the bathrooms that have a shower. The constant humidity in those rooms from baths and showers causes dirt/dust to stick to the walls. This is not so much the case in powder rooms with only a toilet and sink. I may add this task for our powder room another round of deep cleaning — but Spring Cleaning has enough to address!
  8. Return to shower/tub. Re-wet the first wall you intend to tackle and spray a new dose of cleaner. Then, using scouring pad, brush and lots of elbow grease, begin scrubbing tile paying special attention to the tile grout. Work top to bottom. Once clean, rinse with fresh water. Repeat until all walls (and shower door, including track) are done.
  9. Rinse tub (or shower floor), re-apply cleaner and give this area a good scrub. Rinse with fresh water.
  10. Re-fill small bucket with warm water and all purpose cleaner.
  11. Scrub inside of toilet with old toilet brush. Flush. Toss toilet brush into trash (when all bathrooms are complete).
  12. Using a new <disposable> rag, wipe down entire outside of toilet. Toss rag into trash. Pour out water/cleaning solution. Rinse bucket.
  13. Re-fill bucket with warm water and all purpose cleaner.
  14. Wet down sink and spray with Tile/Grout/Tub Cleaner
  15. Wipe down counter
  16. Scour sink and around faucet (the small brush comes in handy here too!).
  17. Return to laundry room and hang shower curtain and rugs outside or dry, or toss in dryer.
  18. Stop by kitchen sink and wash light fixture globes, vent fan cover and shower caddy. Wash inside and outside of trashcan. Set them aside to dry.
  19. Return to bathroom and empty vanity. Wipe down inside drawers and cabinets. With a critical eye, go through all products, trashing those that are outdated or are unlikely to ever be used again. Consider if some of your towels and washcloths have paid their dues and are ready to become part of your rag collection. Put items that belong in another room in the basket.
    Tips/Tricks: If you haven’t used it in the last year, you are unlikely to ever do so again. Toss it!
  20. With items now purged, return what’s left to the vanity in an organized fashion.
  21. Wipe down outside of vanity. Pour out water/cleaning solution. Rinse bucket. Toss rag (into trash if disposable, into bucket if laundering for later use).
  22. Shine up any glass with glass cleaner and paper towels (i.e. windows, mirrors, glass shelves, etc.)
    Tips/Tricks: a clean rag can also be used here. I prefer paper towels for this particular task – because that’s how my mama taught me!
  23. Re-fill bucket with water/cleaning solution.
  24. Sweep bathroom floor.
  25. Using a new rag and lots of arm power, wipe down bathroom floor (remember baseboards). If you have tile, again, lots of attention paid to grout lines.
    Tips/Tricks: a Mr Clean Magic Eraser makes quick(er) work of those grout lines.
  26. Pour out water/cleaning solution. Rinse bucket. Toss rag (into trash if disposable, into bucket if laundering for later use).
  27. While floor is drying, gather items that were earlier laundered and washed in the kitchen.
  28. Return light fixture globes to light fixture. Hang vent van cover. Return shower caddy to shower with essential showering items only. Hang freshly laundered shower curtain with new shower curtain liner and re-position rugs. Add a fresh trash can liner and return it to its normal spot.
  29. Gather cleaning supplies and put away in their storage spot. Run trash outside.
    Tips/Tricks: rags that I will be laundering gather in a basket once they have dried in the laundry room and once I complete all Spring cleaning I wash one load – with bleach. Yes, that’s a LOT of rags. 
  30. Address items in “other room” basket.
    Tips/Tricks: I put away items that belong somewhere else IF that ‘somewhere else’ is where the item actually lives. If it doesn’t yet have a permanent home I leave it in the basket until a permanent home can be created — otherwise clutter is created elsewhere in the house and the item(s) are likely to end up back in that basket as I’m Spring Cleaning through the house

Are you exhausted just reading this? I know! It looks like a LOT of steps = a LOT of work.

Truth is, it IS a lot of work. That’s sort of the spirit behind a once (or twice) a year cleaning.

Here’s what I can promise you though: preparation/planning on the front end will help the project go much faster than you anticipate. Remember the concept of time & motion. Make every move count! Unnecessary tips down the stairs or hallway to grab forgotten items only drags the project out and serves to zap some of your energy. Spring Cleaning Bathroom plan of attack actually goes faster than you might initially think (provided you can stay focused). You will feel SOOOO accomplished and love your fabulously clean space when you finish!

Who is ready to tackle their bathrooms Spring cleaning style this week?

Also…just a reminder of the giveaway that you must have your name in for by Thursday of this week! Already have your name in the hat? Great! Refer a friend to sign up to follow the blog and I’ll give ya an extra entry slot (comment on a post with the name of the friend you referred – or share my blog post on your FB account being sure to tag me so I see it).



Bathroom Photo Credit: Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

Garden 2018: Kicking Things Off

Spring brings with it not only a host of inside spring cleaning projects, as I talked about in this post. It also brings a lengthy list of outside projects as well. It can be a delicate balance ensuring that the inside, as well as the outside tasks are completed. Colorado weather lends itself to this balance with weather shifts that force one inside, sometimes right after beckoning them outside. This week was no exception. The nice weather through part of the week made being outside irresistible. And so, we are kicking things off with Garden 2018!

Generally I wiggle with excitement at the start of my annual seedlings project.

This year I wasn’t quite as excited. Hence the reason you didn’t read one post about seedlings 2018 (spoiler alert: there aren’t any!).

I needed a new spot for growing. One of the two babes in my life has taken over the bedroom where the project has been executed <with much success> in the past.

I struggled to come up with anything, but eventually did. I wasn’t thrilled with the concept but decided I’d make it work for just one year. Then, I’d get my thinking cap on and come up with something better for 2019.

So…I got the first of the planting done and the area set up. Lights. Moisture. Heat.

My enthusiasm began to build.

And then…

The project ended in catastrophe even more quickly than it had started. And, I mean CAT-astrophe!

That’s right! Just a day after I finally got moving with the seedlings, the cat LITERALLY destroyed the whole thing. One BIG awful mess. It came on the heels of a particularly difficult day with the kiddos.

Defeat set in.

I scrapped the whole project.

I am not thrilled about having to purchase plants this year. It is rewarding beyond measure for me to start my own seeds but more than that – it’s so much more cost effective to go the seedlings route.

Sometimes push comes to shove. In this instance, feeling backed into a corner (and on my very last nerve – between the kids and the cat), I made the decision to forego seedlings for 2018. I’ve got a couple gift cards from the wellness program at work that will be designated for garden 2018 ‘stuff’ (including plants) and will be cutting some corners I don’t normally cut for the sake of cost-savings.

I’ll also probably be looking for some new and creative ways to make a dollar stretch that isn’t all about cutting corners. More to come on that!

So, back to Garden 2018.

We broke ground last Sunday!!

The soil has been tilled. Compost has been purchased. The first of my store-bought plants are acclimating in the greenhouse!

Technically, I probably could have the greenhouse planted by now. The weather ought to hold up from this point going forward without much in the way of really hard frost.


Busy schedules. Competing priorities. Illness and injuries.

The plants will go into the ground very soon. As will the seeds.

Right now I’m working on my plant mapping for garden 2018. The reason this is important is because it helps me keep track of where different plants have taken up residence year to year. Different plants pull different nutrients from the soil. Rotating what is planted, where – in addition to adding compost to the soil annually – helps ensure that plants will have everything they need to grow and produce.

Curious to know what all I have planned for garden 2018?

Check it out:

Don’t forget that Simply Writeous is hosting a giveaway. Click here for details on how to get your name entered, if you haven’t already! You have until midnight on Thursday 4/19/18 to enter – winner announced on Friday!