Cowboy Casserole

Do you find that you sometimes get stuck in a food rut or, 

as I would rather call it, 

a food cycle? 

I seem to get one type of food in my head, and my taste buds, and keep craving it, or variations of it, for what seems like forever. Right now I have been a on a beef kick, which is very rare for me. I am more of a fish and chicken girl, much to Kevin's dismay. But on this night I craved the Sloppy Joes from my childhood (yes, the kind in a can). But you know I try so hard to stay away from prepackaged and canned foods, so I came up with  Homemade Sloppy Joes

Unfortunately that didn't seem to satisfy my beef tooth, so I had to crank my brain into high gear and figure out something else to do with beef, other than just a pasta dish with tomato sauce. I knew I had some zucchini and summer squash, so I figured I would run with those.

Well not literally run. 

That would look funny. 

OK now I have that image in my head and it is cracking me up. 

Back to business here. We have ground beef, we have squash, check the cupboards. Bingo, fire roasted diced tomatoes (never be without them). So now everything is coming together in my head. 

At this moment I suddenly get the image of a cowboy in my head, you know, the real deal wild west cowboy. So, either this is me completely losing my mind, or it is my creativity flowing and spurring me on. 

I will chose the latter, 

as I sincerely hope you do. 

But if you don't, please don't direct the men in the white suits my way. I am harmless, I swear!

So between the flavors I was working with, 

and my cosmic trip to Tombstone, 

my little mind came up with the Cowboy Casserole. 

Cowboy Casserole

1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound ground beef 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
1 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
2 (15-oz.) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 2-qt. saucepan bring 3 cups water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in cornmeal then reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in garlic powder, pepper, and 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Spread cornmeal mixture into a greased 
11 x 7 inch baking dish.

Brown ground chuck in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, and continue to cook until is no longer pink. Drain the meat and transfer to a bowl.
Heat the olive oil, over medium heat, in the same skillet you cooked the beef in. Add the onion, zucchini, and yellow squash, stirring occasionally until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Stir tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the fire roasted tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and beef. Heat to a simmer, stirring often, cook for 10 minutes. Pour beef mixture over cornmeal. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. 

Serves 4 to 6



  1. Bobbi, that looks delicious! Wish I had planted zucchini; will have to pick some up for this!

    1. Thanks Jean, I had a rough time with my zucchini this year. I am hoping I will do better next year. Hope you enjoy the casserole :)

  2. Hi Bobby! We are currently hosting a recipe contest in search of the best weeknight dinners. This recipe would be a great contender! The contest ends 11/14/2013. If you are interested in competing, visit our site. First prize is a $100 Willliams Sonoma gift card!