I will never forget the first time I went to Las Vegas. I was reluctant about going, as I really never had any ambition of visiting the place. At that time, my late wife was the director of the newly formed Miami Senior Citizens Center, and had booked a Las Vegas trip for members of the center. So I went with her as we loaded a chartered bus and headed to Tulsa International Airport, then flew on out to Vegas.

When we arrived in Vegas, my first memory, other than seeing the slot machines in the airport, was arriving at the Imperial Palace, where we were staying, walking through the casino, and hearing the noise being made by the slot machines. It may just be me, but I remember the Slots being much noisier in those days and of course at that time, the machines would still drop coins in the tray if you were lucky enough to win. The slot players would walk around carrying large cups and buckets full of quarters that they would use to feed the machines with. Nowadays, when you go into a casino, almost everything is paper related, including your winnings, if you happen to be lucky enough to gain any.

At the time of my first visit to the casinos in Vegas, we had no casinos in our area. The only thing we had here was the bingo hall, sitting where Quapaw Casino now stands, so going to a Las Vegas casino was an experience entirely new to me. It was quite an experience at the time.

Another thing I remembered about my first Vegas trip was experiencing the food and drink they had available for their patrons. I don’t believe I have ever been in a casino that didn’t have good food and plenty of it. One of my favorites from that time frame was the prime rib sandwich they would serve to the late night patrons back in those days, and of course, the buffets that each casino would have. But, I have to be honest, there were times that I would become tired of the eats on the Strip, and we would venture off and dine in places that the locals would frequent. One such place was a restaurant called Chevys. It was a Mexican restaurant that from what I understood was part of a Mexican restaurant chain out of California. It was very good food, and somewhat different than the Mexican food I was accustomed to in our area.

Even today, I still enjoy dining periodically in our local casinos. Generally when I’m dining alone I will usually just eat at the bar or snack bar, rather than in the restaurant. I also enjoy doing this as well, as I will sit and watch people as they move around from one slot machine to the other in the casino. I sometimes reflect back on those early days of going to Las Vegas as I watch the people, and occasionally I’ll remember something as minor as a particular dining experience from the “City of Lights.” Recently, I was at one of our local casinos enjoying a cold beverage and an appetizer, when some memories of my dining experiences at Chevys came to mind, and how much I had enjoyed those meals there. I enjoy eating Mexican food, and always looking to prepare something new or different than what we get in our local restaurants. The recipe I’m sharing today, was new to me when I first prepared it, and is basically just another Mexican casserole version, but well worth giving a try…..

Easy Taco Casserole

1 lb ground beef

1/2 onion chopped

1 cup corn

1 can black beans

1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (aka Rotel)

1 package taco seasoning

2 cups cooked rice

handfuls of shredded cheese

9×13 pan

Directions: First brown your ground beef. Add in chopped and cook until soft. Stir in Taco seasoning .Add corn, tomatoes and beans.

Spray 9×13 pans with non stick spray. Spoon rice into the bottom of pan, spreading it out evenly. Spoon the meat mixture over the rice.

Top with the shredded cheese and bake covered at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until cooked through.