Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Arizona Beef 'n' Cheese

Ground beef, sweet onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes, combined with southwest seasonings, and topped with shredded co-jack cheese. In a word, delicious!

If my house was a restaurant, this would be the most requested item on the menu.

This recipe was born shortly after Daphne was born. When we left the hospital, my hemoglobin was so low that my midwife sent me home with a prescription for high-potency iron supplements. I hated those pills, so I was determined to do everything I could to increase my hemoglobin as fast as possible so I could stop taking the supplements (and get my energy back).

The thought process for this recipe literally went: Beef has lots of iron. Peppers and onions have lots of Vitamin C which helps with iron absorption. How can I put them together?

For several years, I made a dish very similar to this with onions, peppers, tomatoes and beans (black, kidney and pinto). I took that recipe, substituted ground beef for the beans, changed up the seasonings and, just like that, Arizona Beef was born. (And I haven't made the beans version since.)

After the first bite, I decided the recipe needed cheese. Cheese makes everything taste better. And, at the time, I also needed all the protein and calcium I could get. It was a good decision; the addition of shredded cheese took this recipe from great to grand.

I named it Arizona Beef after the Arizona Dreaming (a Penzeys Spices seasoning blend) in the recipe. (It was a lot easier than naming our baby!) We had ordered the Arizona Dreaming with one of our last Penzeys orders, but hadn't used much of it. When I was looking through the cupboard for seasonings to add that first time I made it, I saw the Arizona Dreaming and tossed some in. It turned out to be the perfect addition.

Glen loved the recipe right away, as indicated by his customary, "You can make this again!" I did make it again. And again. And again. I ate a bowl of Arizona Beef 'n' Cheese for lunch nearly every day until my 6-week checkup showed that my hemoglobin level had returned to normal. (It reheats very well.)

I make Arizona Beef 'n' Cheese at least once a month now. I've made double batches and quadruple batches, for small family gatherings and large family gatherings. I've cooked it up in just about every cooking vessel I own – from a large skillet to a Dutch oven to a stock pot (for the quadruple batch). I like the Dutch oven best.

I still eat Arizona Beef 'n' Cheese just as it is. Glen prefers to eat it with tortilla chips and sour cream. My sister likes it over romaine lettuce. It would probably be good with rice, too.

Arizona Beef 'n' Cheese


2 tbsp butter
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 sweet yellow onion
1 heaping tsp minced garlic

1 pound ground beef

2 tsp Penzeys Arizona Dreaming OR
          other southwest style seasoning blend (McCormick makes one)
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Penzeys Black & Red Pepper OR
          1/8 tsp ground black pepper and 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chile pepper

1 - 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes (undrained)

shredded co-jack cheese


Dice vegetables. Melt butter in large pot or pan. Sauté peppers and onions in butter until soft. Add garlic at end. Transfer sauteéd veggies to large bowl.

In same pot, brown ground beef. Mix spices into browned beef. Add tomatoes and sauteéd veggies (with the juice that accumulates) to pot.

Mix well and simmer to blend flavors (10 minutes is good, 20 minutes is better).

Serve topped with lots of shredded co-jack cheese. Also good with sour cream and tortilla chips.

(I was not compensated by Penzeys Spices or any other company for mentioning their products.)


  1. Great recipe! How do your kids like it? Is it too spicy? I usually have to tone down the spices in my cooking so my boys will eat it. Thanks for sharing! - Andrea

  2. Thanks, Andrea! This is a fairly spicy recipe. Unfortunately, my kids don't like this dish – yet. (We have a try-one-bite rule, so I'm hoping that one day they will enjoy it.) I usually make this as a lunch for me and Glen. If you want to try serving it to your boys, I would leave out the cayenne pepper and maybe the black pepper. The chili powder and southwest blend are not overly spicy. Chipotle pepper is not very spicy – more smoky – but it does have a little heat; you can try leaving it out as well. Let me know if you try the recipe!

  3. This looks delicious--I just may add this to our menu this week!

  4. Thanks, Stacey! I hope you like it!


Thanks for commenting! I appreciate feedback of all types.