Southwest Breakfast Casserole

I don’t know why eggs are always banished to “breakfast” because I would certainly eat them anytime of the day. The same is true for this casserole but for the sake of familiarity I will call it a “breakfast casserole”. This casserole took a little while to bake but the end product was so rich and spicy and had a wonderfully crunchy cheese crust that it was so worth it. I can’t imagine making this for breakfast on a week day but it would definitely fit the bill for a lazy Sunday morning brunch.

Southwest Breakfast Casserole

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Total Recipe cost: $3.06
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Cost per serving: $0.77
Prep time: 5 min. Cook time: 45 min. Total: 50 min.

1 cup cooked rice $0.13
1 can black beans $0.79
1/2 cup salsa $0.43
1 cup shredded cheese $0.83
4 large eggs $0.88
TOTAL $3.06

To cook the rice:

STEP 1: Place one part rice to two parts water in a heavy bottomed pot (for the casserole recipe I used 1/2 cup rice and one cup water. I have been told not to cook less than one cup of rice at a time but I find that it works just fine as long as you use a very small pot).

STEP 2: Bring the rice and water to a boil with a lid. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to warm/low. Let the pot simmer slightly (lid on) until you do not see anymore water bubbling up between the rice. This took about 20 minutes for this small portion of rice.

STEP 3: Turn the heat off and keep the lid on the pot until you are ready to use the rice. It will continue to absorb any left over liquid as it sits.

For the casserole:

STEP 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix one cup of rice with 1/2 cup of salsa. Place the mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish.

rice and salsa

STEP 2: Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of cheese over the rice mixture. Drain the can of beans and pour over the rice and cheese. Sprinkle again with 1/4 of cheese.

rice beans salsa cheese

STEP 3: Using a spoon, make four indentations in the casserole to hold the eggs. Crack the eggs into the indentations. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, avoiding covering the yolks (for appearance sake).
this picture is before the final cheese.
uncooked egg casserole

STEP 4: Place the casserole in the oven and bake until the egg whites have solidified and the cheese on top is crusty and slightly golden brown. You will be able to tell if the egg whites have solidified by slightly shaking the casserole dish. My casserole took approximately 45 minutes.

cooked southwest breakfast casserole

NOTE: As I was typing this post, I realized that this dish could be made for much less money, if needed. The major price cuts would come from the salsa and eggs. For this recipe I really wanted a chipotle salsa because I really love the smokey flavor and I knew that it would change the flavor of the whole casserole. The jar of salsa I bought was $2.69 for a 16 oz. jar. I often buy salsa at $1.50 for an even larger jar. Even though I’m a penny pincher, I am really set on buying free range eggs. A dozen free range eggs are about twice the price of the cheapest eggs you can buy.

These two items are a good example of one of my Budget Bytes principles. You can buy more expensive items if they fit your lifestyle or morals. The key is to make wise recipe selections. Expensive ingredients should be used sparingly and combined with less expensive staple items (like rice, beans, pasta etc.). So, if you disagree with one of my ingredients (because it is processed, you prefer organic, fresh or otherwise), feel free to substitute for the ingredient of your choice. Chances are, you will still be saving money by cooking for yourself and making good recipe choices.

This casserole probably could have used a garnish of green onions to add color :)