Mini Santa Fe Casseroles

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Cheesy, hearty, flavorful – the Santa Fe Casserole is hands-down my favorite recipe, ever.  And I love the mini version of it even more (because it’s more fun to eat and easier to freeze!).



Here’s the recipe for the original casserole, which I’ve been cooking with my mom since I was about nine years old.  To make the mini version, just pour it into cupcake tins instead of a casserole dish.



  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon EVOO
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 large green pepper, chopped



  • Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a casserole dish with EVOO spray.
  • In a skillet, cook the onion, garlic, and EVOO on Medium High until tender.  Add the salt and chili powder.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pepper, milk, beans, COOKED brown rice, eggs, cheddar cheese, and green pepper.
  • Pour mixture into casserole dish and sprinkle with extra pepper.
  • Bake casserole for 25 minutes or until center is firm.
  • Let cool 5 minutes and serve.
  • Enjoy!


This time around, I left out the onion and added a red pepper.  Oh, and then I burnt them, but you know what – it kind of added to the flavor. 


Served on a bed of arugula!


Snackage earlier today:


Dates = Nature’s Candy.


Back to work I go.


What’s your favorite casserole recipe?  Link away, please!  Shameless plugs to your own blogs are welcomed.  🙂



  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin October 6, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Ohhh those look so good! I love the idea of making mini ones in a muffin tin so it’s already portioned out, plus like you say – easy to freeze!

  • Freya October 6, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I have never, ever made a casserole..judging by what you say, I;m guess yours would be a good place to start!?

  • espie October 6, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I like these casserole-ettes, but I honestly have never been a fan of casseroles…unless you call it a quiche 🙂

  • Trish October 6, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Yum!! Looks so good.

    And I totally have issues with dates. They are, in fact, too much like candy. Every single time I buy them I end up eating the whole package so fast it’s like I haven’t ever seen food before. I get a little crazy.

    • Lindsay Perrone (goodiesgalore) October 6, 2010, 2:38 pm

      I can’t be trusted with them either.

    • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday October 6, 2010, 3:16 pm

      Oh man, me too. I think they’re worse than candy actually. I eat copious amounts every time I buy them. I’m much better with eating small amounts of candy

      • Heather in Seattle October 7, 2010, 3:11 pm

        MAybe try to buy a few out of the bulk section. No min that you have to but- no huge bag to consume? I’m not to be trusted with large quantites of sweet stuff in general.

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous October 6, 2010, 2:34 pm

    Those look so cute! And yummy 🙂 My favorite casseroles are pretty much any kind of breakfast kinds…eggs/sausage/cheese, etc. So good, simple and great for serving large groups!

    • Jess October 6, 2010, 9:43 pm

      YES! I LOVE an egg casserole- soooo easy! i also love “DUMP cake” which is really like a dessert casserole- same concept- dump everything in 😉 4 ingredients! the recipe is on my blog 😉

  • Sarah @ Long Legs Healthy Life October 6, 2010, 2:34 pm

    Those look so great! I’m adding them to my ever-growing recipes to make list. My favourite casserole recipes are my mom’s chicken/sausage/rice dish here:
    and Turkey (or chicken) pot pie!
    I love making individual pot pies for a dinner party, they’re so cute, and the cleanup is a lot easier!!

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete October 6, 2010, 2:35 pm

    One of my favorite casseroles to make is Angela (OSG)’s Mexican Tortilla pie. It is unbelievable!

    Dates are totally nature’s candy. Too bad nature didn’t know that they are supposed to come with a PB filling!

  • Tina October 6, 2010, 2:36 pm

    I seriously love you and your easy recipes!! They are just my style and I am holding onto this one to make soon. Oh…your veggie enchiladas were stellar by the way. 😀

  • Amanda October 6, 2010, 2:36 pm

    I tend to favor mexican casseroles over other ones. I definitely don’t prefer a tuna noodle casserole.

    • Jess October 6, 2010, 4:10 pm

      I, on the other hand, love a good tuna noodle casserole. 😉 I’ve never really tried a mexican casserole, but I’m intrigued.

      • Caitlin October 6, 2010, 5:28 pm

        yes..tuna noodle is my favorite. However, it may be because that is the only casserole I grew up eating!

        • Jess October 6, 2010, 9:45 pm

          haha me too! with potato stcks on top! haha

  • Lindsay Perrone (goodiesgalore) October 6, 2010, 2:38 pm

    Dates have always reminded me of beetles.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg October 6, 2010, 2:38 pm

    That makes for such a fun presentation! Yum!

  • Kristina @ spabettie October 6, 2010, 2:39 pm

    this looks AWESOME…

    my favorite recently is similar in flavors :


  • Exercise and Eat October 6, 2010, 2:39 pm

    I love any kind of casserole with spinach and tomatoes!

  • Kelly October 6, 2010, 2:40 pm

    Those look delish, this is my favorite casserole dish ever!

  • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life October 6, 2010, 2:42 pm

    Those look awesome! I like the idea of pouring the mixture into a muffin tin to make them easier to freeze! Yum!

  • sweetersalt October 6, 2010, 2:44 pm

    Mine would be my Baked Pasta with White Bean Sauce ( Tastes creamy and rich, but without all the fat from heavy cream and butter. Yay beans!


  • Amanda October 6, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Everything is better in casserole form!! Except tuna, yuck!!

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite October 6, 2010, 2:46 pm

    Never heard of this casserole before! Sounds and looks delicious!

  • Shenan @ iambs and ales October 6, 2010, 2:47 pm

    For as many pre-prepared food items as it uses, this is one of my favorite casserole recipes not only for the taste, but because it’s one of the few I’ve invented entirely off the top of my own head 🙂

    I’ve been meaning to try my hand at some sort of southwestern or Mexican casserole (beyond enchiladas) for a long time…the ingredients in so much of those cuisines just seem to lend themselves to layering and baking! Maybe I’ll try my hand at making yours next time the opportunity strikes.

  • Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers October 6, 2010, 2:47 pm

    French toast casserole is DEFINITELY up there for me! I just love it! One of my favs:

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) October 6, 2010, 2:50 pm

    That looks so good! My new favorite casserole is this “cheesy squash casserole” I used to not be that in to casseroles , but now I am starting to like them!

  • Karen @ Not Just Celery October 6, 2010, 2:52 pm

    Tie between:

    mac & cheese with cauliflower:


    butternut mac & cheese:

    Can you tell I have a mac & cheese problem!?!

  • Evan Thomas October 6, 2010, 2:53 pm

    I just randomly came across this casserole recipe. Never tried it, but looks good.

  • hippierunner October 6, 2010, 3:00 pm

    Never had casserole. I thought it sounded so dated- why hasn’t anyone told me what I’ve been missing out on?! I am going to make this soon!

  • Kimberly October 6, 2010, 3:01 pm

    Tuna Noodle Casserole, which I haven’t posted on my blog My mom always used to make it, and I think I made at least twice a week my junior year of college. So good! I’ve made a couple tweaks to the recipe but can’t bare to go gourmet with it. (It calls for canned cream of mushroom soup.)

  • Amisha October 6, 2010, 3:03 pm

    I love this one from Food Network:

    It tastes like a veggie-filled tamale! I add more veggies than it states and cook it for a bit longer after adding the tomatoes because it tends to be very watery. Other than that, I use about a cup of instant polenta to make the topping instead of using pre-made. It has a lot more flavor and can sit in your pantry forever.

  • Michelle @ IronDivas October 6, 2010, 3:07 pm

    I never get my casseroles right : ( Guess I need to keep trying! : )

  • Emily October 6, 2010, 3:10 pm

    Looks awesome, must try it for myself but dairy free. Just finished a post of a good crockpot recipe annnd a good cookie one, too.

  • Sana October 6, 2010, 3:10 pm

    During Ramadan we break our fasts with a date! I love love love them 🙂

  • Sarah October 6, 2010, 3:11 pm

    One of my favorites is this cheddar chowder …

    For those of you vegetarians, feel free to eliminate the ham or substitute it with tofu!

  • Janetha G - meals & moves October 6, 2010, 3:21 pm

    thanks for sharing the recipe. i’ve got all the ingredients! i love this garlic parmesan pesto chicken casserole:

  • Amanda @ Eat to Live, Live to Run October 6, 2010, 3:21 pm

    Not sure if its technically a casserole but I made some Spinach Enchiladas last night that were the bomb digity! I was so amazed with how they turned out that I went right back out today and bought ingredients to make more.

  • Lizz (leadingthegoodlife) October 6, 2010, 3:28 pm

    I love broccoli casserole, which is a staple at my family Thanksgiving. I eat it and try to forget that Cheez Whiz is a shelf-stable “food product”. 🙂

    This summer I made a baked quinoa casserole that was really tasty, if I do say so myself! It is part of this post:

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) October 6, 2010, 3:28 pm

    Mine often involve throwing things in a dish and praying. I love the randomness and the way I can change the recipe each time.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 6, 2010, 3:36 pm

    YUM! I love how you made them minis. My favourite at the moment is a tuna and veggie casserole – SO easy to make and oh so good!

  • Jessica October 6, 2010, 3:40 pm

    I don’t have that much experience cooking casseroles, but I made a macaroni and “cheez” caserole from a recipe I found off of vegweb and it was delish!! I love the cheez sauce with nooch. mmmMMmm. The omnivore husband even liked it! He ate more than I did.

    Your lunch looks yummy. I love mexican food and there is a lack of good mexican places where I live. It makes me sad.

  • Gabrielle @ Weightless October 6, 2010, 3:40 pm

    Caitlin, those look delicious! I used to make casseroles all the time, but none of them have been updated to healthy versions yet… I better get to work!

  • jen October 6, 2010, 3:49 pm

    recipe looks yummy! can you make it without the eggs and milk? what purpose do they serve? thanks!

    • Caitlin October 6, 2010, 8:09 pm

      hmmm maybe? try using hummus instead.

  • Angela @ Making Food for Friends October 6, 2010, 3:51 pm

    This is my most recent, make-once-a-week favorite:

    The photo does not do the delicious flavor justice! I just bought a new camera so next time I make it, I’m going to update the picture to something that might actually look appetizing to people. 🙂 But trust me, it’s really good!

    Caitlin, I can’t wait to try your Santa Fe casserole. It’s going on my “must make soon” list!

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story October 6, 2010, 3:53 pm

    I love, love, love polenta casserole, but I love it even more when it’s in muffin tins like this! I have a recipe for it and it’s so easy and you can switch up the vegetables easily depending on what’s in season.

  • Jess October 6, 2010, 4:17 pm

    Two favorites: asparagus casserole, which I so strongly associate with my family’s Thanksgiving festivities that I’ve been referring to that holiday as “Asparagus Casserole Day” for many years; and tuna casserole, which is the premiere comfort food association of my childhood. Casseroles may be dated, but they are tasty enough to redeem themselves, if they’re given a chance. Even tuna casserole, which is so universally maligned that it’s almost the joke food of the casserole world (and I’ll bet there’s a tofu-based tuna casserole alternative, too). Anyway, keep writing, Caitlin, love your blog!

  • Anne @thefitbridesmaid October 6, 2010, 4:19 pm

    Taco Pie – (substitute meatless crumbles if you’d like)

    GAH! I don’t have it on my blog.

    How about some West African Sweet Potato Soup to tide you over until I make the pie again?

  • Amber K October 6, 2010, 4:26 pm
  • Janelle October 6, 2010, 4:32 pm

    I’m not sure that these technically qualify as a casserole – but I bake my “Lentiladas” in a casserole dish, so we’ll go with that:

    Dates are fantastic – even better stuffed with peanut butter. I’d take them over a reeses any day!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman October 6, 2010, 4:34 pm

    I love this, and I love pretty much anything in pint-size form. It always reminds me of this one Full House when Becky wanted to tell Jesse she was pregnant. So she served him an entire meal of baby things–baby corn, and so on. I think it took Jesse a while to get it, but when he did? Have Mercy!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) October 6, 2010, 4:38 pm

    ooooh this is going on my ‘to make’ list – YUM!

  • Kerry October 6, 2010, 4:41 pm

    Minis! great idea! 🙂

  • Julie (Etsy Stalkers) October 6, 2010, 4:46 pm

    wow – that looks amazing! and it’s like fun-sized candy, the calories don’t count because they are smaller 😉

    • Caitlin October 6, 2010, 4:50 pm

      Hahah they definitely count and they are some very delicious and healthy calories at that!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers October 6, 2010, 4:58 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a casserole I didn’t like 🙂 Two of my faves are super easy: Squash n’role and Polenta Pizza Casserole

    My mom also makes an awesome potato casserole that I can never seem to replicate quite right 😉

  • Lisa October 6, 2010, 5:11 pm

    My favorite casserole to make is a baked mac n’cheese. It’s so delicious!

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) October 6, 2010, 5:18 pm

    Eggplant Pizza Casserole! I actually made it for Christmas and New Year’s Even dinner last year.

  • Caitlin October 6, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Oh I love dates. My grandma makes this amazing date pudding and it is just so yummy!

  • Brandy @ Simply Fit Mama October 6, 2010, 5:28 pm

    Those look great! My favorite casserole would be a toss up between Creamy Risotto chicken casserole and shepherds pie.

  • Charlie October 6, 2010, 5:39 pm

    I totally agree with the fact that mini casserole is more fun to eat… My grandmother used to make mini meat pies for me and I loved them much more than the regular pie ;).

  • Johanna B October 6, 2010, 5:42 pm

    My favorite casserole (and it’s not healthy) is Frito-Chili Pie. Actually there are a lot of changes which can be made to healthify it but I make it so seldom I don’t usually bother and Fritoes are gluten-free. YAY !

  • Camille October 6, 2010, 5:43 pm

    I’m adding these to my “To-Make” list!

  • Kelly October 6, 2010, 5:52 pm


    •1 lb. lean ground beef
    •1 medium onion, diced
    •2 garlic cloves, minced
    •1 (8oz) package of mushrooms, sliced
    •1 (4oz) can sliced black olives, drained
    •1 (15oz) jar pizza sauce
    •5 oz. turkey pepperoni slices, cut in half
    •3-4 oz. low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
    •2 cups cooked pasta (I used gluten-free macaroni noodles)
    Preheat oven 400 degrees F.

    Brown beef, onion, garlic over medium high heat. Drain off excess grease. Add mushrooms, olives, pepperoni and pizza sauce. Cook until heated through. Mix in pasta.

    Pour into a baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with cheese.

    Bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

    Serves: 6

    357 Calories; 13.3g Fat (4.3g saturated fat); 72.9mg Cholesterol; 658mg Sodium; 29.4g Carbohydrates; 6.0g Fiber; 0.2g Sugar; 27.8g Protein

  • Coco October 6, 2010, 6:06 pm

    I love Casseroles, they are cheesy, hearty and flavorful. I never cooked any kind of Casseroles, but right now I am intrigued.
    I like dates so much, they are totally nature’s candy.

  • Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels October 6, 2010, 6:42 pm

    Mmmmm those mini sante fe casseroles look so good. I don’t have a favorite casserole recipe because I seen to never eat casseroles. I would love to shamlessly plug my blog (haha!) with a link to a casserole recipe but I’m a baker. 🙂

  • maria @ Chasing the Now October 6, 2010, 7:02 pm

    I REALLY loved a chicken, bacon, ranch casserole I recently threw together. Obviously not for vegetarians, but it was super flavorful and delicious.

  • Melissa October 6, 2010, 7:06 pm

    The sante Fe Casserole sounds delicious. I always look forward to eggplant and shrimp casserole around the holidays. Here is a version I made not long ago:

    Thanks for the plug! Hehehe

  • Brittany (Bee) October 6, 2010, 8:05 pm

    I’ve never seen a bag of pitted dates like that-where are those from?

    Love the idea for mini casseroles! Seems like it would make the perfect lunch to pack up for work! I’m going to challenge myself to make these boys vegan!

    • Caitlin October 6, 2010, 8:09 pm

      regular grocery store!

  • Carlee October 6, 2010, 8:08 pm

    Tex mex!!! Yes please. I made a super easy tex mex inspired bean salad that I just had for dinner tonight.

    I had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas this year (the boyfriend was running the marathon in Feb) and had some GREAT tex mex dishes. Authentic and tasty. I am going to have to try out this recipie.

  • Laura October 6, 2010, 8:26 pm

    I grew up on casseroles. They were an easy, convenient dinner, and my mom would sneak extra veggies in them! I think tater tot casserole is a major cold weather comfort food:

  • Deva (Voracious Vorilee) October 6, 2010, 8:40 pm

    I love broccoli casserole – it’s an alton brown recipe my mom makes. It is SO GOOD

  • Lacey @ Lake Life October 6, 2010, 9:26 pm

    I like making lasagna-inspired bakes without noodles!

    But Thanksgiving Green Bean casserole will always be my absolute favorite.

  • Wei-Wei October 6, 2010, 10:08 pm

    Mini casserole cupcakes = awesome.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 6, 2010, 10:36 pm

    I feel like I’m missing out or something – my parents never really cooked casseroles for our family (unless you count lasagna as a casserole?) so I’ve never had one before!

  • Jenna October 7, 2010, 12:52 am

    This is a sort-of casserole – I put it in a casserole dish and bake it so I think it counts anyway :). I know your husband is eating less cheese and you mentioned having trouble trying to make casseroles minus the cheese, so you might want to try this pasta bake.

    I make it like once every other week – super easy and super yummy – and my husband didn’t even realize there was tofu in it.

  • Robyn October 7, 2010, 1:14 am

    My cheap-n’-dirty “baked ziti” (I don’t think real ziti is like this.)

    1 package of pasta, cooked
    1 jar of marinara sauce
    1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese

    Cook pasta, mix in sauce (about 1/3 jar reserved) and pour into a greased baking dish. Cover with shredded cheese, drizzle remaining sauce and add a bit more cheese for good measure. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until everything’s all melty and oozy.

    Cheap and dirty. Love it.

  • Stephanie October 7, 2010, 3:17 pm

    I love casseroles! And will definitely be trying this one soon. It looks yummy!! Here’s my current favorite, with a side of shameless blog plug of course 😉

  • Jolene ( October 9, 2010, 1:32 am
  • Shannon October 9, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Caitlin, this recipe totally puzzled me! I’ve an avid, experienced vegetarian cook, yet I ended up having to bake this for twice the stated time and it still wasn’t set in the middle. I put it under the broiler for a little bit and then took it out so I wouldn’t burn it, but it was still very soft in the middle. Also, of course we all knew what you meant, but in the recipe you never wrote the step about adding the cooked onion mixture to the mixing bowl with the other stuff. Just a heads-up about that one; it was no big deal. Anyway, I was just curious if there was a typo anywhere on the recipe that would explain my poor luck???? Less milk maybe?

    • caitlin October 9, 2010, 3:16 pm

      hmmmm. i don’t know what happened – was it good in the end? ive had a few people who made it without issues. i’ll have to investigate!

  • Shannon October 9, 2010, 6:05 pm

    Good news. Once I took it out and let it sit for awhile, it did firm up. Plus, it was delicious! Here’s my theory. Either my oven is off in some way I hadn’t noticed yet, OR it’s b/c I used cherry tomatoes in place of the green pepper. Tomatoes are pretty watery. At any rate, my whole family loved it so THANK YOU.

    • caitlin October 9, 2010, 7:18 pm

      Oh good! I bet it was the tomatoes.

  • Shannon October 9, 2010, 9:38 pm

    Yeah, and also I had made the rice yesterday and it had been in the fridge for 24 hours. I think it made the mixture really cold, which meant it took a lot longer to cook. Aha! We’re casserole detectives. Anyway, my 4- and 6-year-old daughters actually said, “This is the best dinner ever!” 🙂

    • Caitlin October 9, 2010, 9:40 pm

      Oh that explains it! I am so glad they liked it. Lots of veggies in there!!

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