Fiesta Beef And Cornbread Casserole

Have y’all met my neighbor Margaret? She is a hoot. She grew up in Oklahoma during the depression and has told me some fascinating stories about her childhood. In fact the next time you find yourself complaining about the slow download speed on your phone, or the fact that the store was out of your favorite brand of organic soymilk, come visit Margaret and she will give you some perspective 🙂

Here she is posing with me at her 90th birthday party.

Anne n Margaret 2014

She still keeps up her own home, works in her yard, drives herself to the store and loves to cook and give away food (lucky me!).

She feeds me. A lot. Recently in addition to tomatoes from her garden she brought me this fiesta casserole and it was delish. I told her how much I liked it and she wrote out the recipe by hand (see photo below). Oh to have this penmanship!


I made her recipe, with a few changes. I used fresh peppers and tomatoes rather than jarred salsa, and organic beef from Trader Joe’s. I also doubled the peppers and added zucchini so this ended up making two batches of chili. I doubled the cornbread as well (I wanted to make sure there was plenty on cornbread on top). If you are not feeding an army you could easily cut this recipe in half.



Check it out and let me know what you think.


Fiesta Casserole

Chili Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 2.25 oz can sliced black olives
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 3-4 cups fresh)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste




Cornbread Ingredients:

  • Two boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix
  • two eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish if you like)
  • 4 oz can of green chilies
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese



  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large, deep, ovenproof skillet, sauté onions, celery, peppers, zucchini, garlic, and beef til meat is no longer pink, and veggies are soft (6-8 min).
  3. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, olives, tomatoes, corn, broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes.


Prepare cornbread:

  1. Mix cornbread per package directions (mix + eggs + milk).
  2. Add chopped cilantro and green chilies to cornbread mixture. Stir until just combined (there may be lumps). Spoon cornbread mixture over chili.
  3. Bake 30-35 minutes until cornbread is golden and cooked through.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese, and put under the boiler. Broil on high until the cheese is bubbling (watch it closely so it does not burn).
  5. Let stand for five minutes before serving.



Anne McCranie is a Portland (Sellwood), Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. She offers this recipe to tickle your taste buds. Please see your medical professional for specific dietary advice.