Cooking

Taco Pasta…and no comments on the thing that didn’t happen today.

I’m not going to talk about that…thing…that happened today. Maybe tomorrow. But talking about it now would make it real. And it would mean that summer is…over. Sniffle.

So instead I’m gonna share what I made for dinner last night. It was delicious! I will totally make this again. What is taco pasta? Think hamburger helper on steroids…mmm steroids.

Ha. ha. Just kidding.

You will need some Ro-tel for this pasta! I used one can of tomatoes with habaneros and one with green chilies. I like food to be spicy! But it really wasn’t very spicy. Next time I think I’ll use two cans of the habaneros.

Sometimes I think I freak out about things that don’t need freaking out about. For example, physician I bought shell pasta. But the box said “salad shells” and I’m going “oh my gosh…I’m not making salad…is this still going to be ok?????” turns out, it’s just normal pasta.

Also, in all the movies and stuff people are always crying when they chop up onions. Like it’s the classic thing for character Anna to have tears in her eyes and Anna’s friend, Suzy, will be like “Why are you sad? I knew you loved Fernando!” And Anna’s like “No! I’m just chopping onion!” But really they are crying because Fernando, her Spanish love, just returned to Spain to be with Isabella, the beautiful flamenco dancer. All that to say, I was flipping out while chopping the onion because I thought I was gonna start crying. But I didn’t. Anticlimactic much?

Put the onions and a pound of beef in a large skillet and cook until the meat is browned. Then drain the extra fat. Add the Ro-tel and taco seasoning and let simmer for like 5 minutes. While you’re doing this, the salad shells should be cooking. You don’t have to use salad shells. You can use any small pasta. But I liked the shells because the meat and all that stuff goes in the shells and it’s all yummy.

Then you add the cream cheese, sour cream, and pasta. Mix it until it’s all mixed! Then put some shredded cheese on top and wait until it melts. Then eat. It’s so delicious!

This is really filling! It makes a TON which is great because there were lots of leftovers. And it’s really easy to make. I would definitely recommend this!

Taco Pasta

Ingredients:

16oz (dry) small pasta

1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 ten-ounce cans of Ro-tel, slightly drained

2 packets taco seasoning

8oz cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

Shredded cheese (however much you want)

Directions:

  1. Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set it aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the ground meat and onion over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Once the meat is cooked through, drain off the excess fat.
  3. Mix in the ro-tel and taco seasoning and let it simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and sour cream and stir until mostly blended. Now add the pasta and mix it all up.
  4. Add the pasta water if you think the sauce is too thick…I didn’t need it. Keep stirring until it’s all blended, adding salt and pepper if you feel like it! Top this with some shredded cheese and cover with lid just until the cheese is melted.

Makes enough for 5 people + leftovers

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Pioneer Woman Lasagna

I have not enjoyed the weather lately. It’s all gross and overcast and stormy. Don’t get me wrong, approved I love storms. But if it’s going to be all icky outside, sildenafil it might as well really storm. I don’t like this sprinkling nonsense. This sort of weather makes me all tired and lethargic. I just want to curl up in my flannel pajamas and eat soup and drink hot chocolate and watch movies. I realized today that I haven’t done something I really wanted to do this summer- try to bake chocolate chip cookies in the car! And now I’ve missed my chance because it’s going to be all rainy and cold (hem high 80s) until school starts! Hopefully the end of August or September has some more sunny 100+ days so I can make those cookies. Anyways…

The other night I decided I was going to make dinner and I was looking through recipes, trying to decide on what to make. I finally decided to try Pioneer Woman “Best Ever” Lasagna. I’ve always loved lasagna- I used to make it with my grandpa. Pioneer Woman recipes rarely disappoint (her best ever chocolate sheet cake is my absolute favorite!) but I wasn’t crazy about this lasagna. I really think it comes down to personal preference, though. My family likes lasagna with more noodles and not quite as much sauce and stuff. This lasagna had only 2 layers of noodles and a ton of meat and cheese. If I made this again, I would definitely do 3 layers of noodles with the same amount of filling. I still love Pioneer Woman even though we have different tastes in lasagna :)

I would definitely make some changes if I made this again. Like I said, I would do 3 layers of noodles instead of 2. I would also use fresh grated Parmesan instead of the canned kind which she called for. I would also use crushed canned tomatoes instead of whole- I’m not a fan of huge pieces of tomato so when I was making this I just crushed them up myself while they were cooking in the pan.

Brown the meat:

Add some tomatoes and stuff:

Let simmer for 45 minutes:

Make the cottage cheese mixture (looks and sounds gross but it really isn’t, promise):

Noodles! I was so hungry when making this that I ended up eating half a banana and peanut butter. And then I was still hungry so I started eating one of the extra noodles. But it was gross.

Start layering!

I thought it was neat that pioneer woman uses sliced cheese instead of shredded. I don’t think there’s much difference in taste but it was neat.

Sprinkle it with cheese:

And enjoy!

Pioneer Woman Lasagna:

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups Lowfat Cottage Cheese
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Grated (not Shredded) Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
  • 8 Lasagna Noodles for 2 layers or 12 for 3 layers
  • (add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. While that’s simmering, in a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside.
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil with the olive oil and salt. Cook lasagna noodles until al dente.

To assemble:

  1. Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.
  2. Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top with extra Parmesan.
  3. Put it in the oven at 350-degree for 20-30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

Pioneer woman also says you can freeze it or refrigerate (for up to two days) instead of baking it right away.

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Lemon Basil Pasta with Chicken

I made dinner the other night- I wasn’t sure what to make but I was in the mood for pasta! I settled on Pioneer Woman Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta. Except I didn’t grill the chicken. Because grills are big and manly. And I am not. Don’t comment on that.

So I thought this pasta was pretty good! My family (especially my mom) loved it. The recipe calls for Penne pasta but I was really craving angel hair. It worked with angel hair but I think it would have been better with penne because the angel hair was a little fragile to hold the sauce. On the plus size, sildenafil we have a flourishing basil plant so I got to use fresh basil!

I marinated the chicken in lemon juice, some dijon mustard, and honey for a couple hours. Then I pan fried them- making the whole house fill like smoke. I swear I do that every time I cook. But I have yet to set off the smoke detector (at my house…).

After cooking the chicken, which was very nice and lemony, I cooked the pasta and prepared the sauce. The sauce was cream based with lots of parmesan. The texture of the sauce was kinda…grainy. I couldn’t get it to get smooth even with adding water and stuff. I don’t know how I could do it differently in the future…

I added the sauce to the pasta and also added the chopped up basil.

Then ate it with the chicken! This wasn’t my favorite dish I’ve ever made but it was still good!

Recipe slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman:

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole Grilled Chicken Breasts, sliced
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta (or penne), Cooked Until Al Dente
  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 3 whole Lemons, Juiced
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 1-1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 20 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped

Directions:

  1. Marinate the chicken (for at least several hours) in a bunch of lemon juice, some honey, and dijon mustard.
  2. Cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water when you drain. Set pasta aside.
  3. Now melt the butter over medium heat. Add the juice from 3-4 lemons and whisk it all together. Pour in the cream and half-and-half and whisk it until hot. Dump in the cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper. Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed.
  4. Pour pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining basil all over the top, then add sliced chicken breasts. Serve immediately!
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BBQ Sliders and stuff

Tan lines are just infuriating. I like being tan but all this stripe nonsense is obnoxious. There. I just had to get that out of my system.

I leave for Haiti in 10 days. That is just crazy! I feel like there’s so much I need to do and I feel like I won’t be ready…but I know that God will take care of things and provide for me like he has the whole time I’ve been preparing for this trip. I’ve been so blessed by all the support I’ve received from everyone. It’s been very encouraging! I’m a little nervous about going but absolutely can’t wait :) And more good news, here I took my first malaria pill today. Everyone had been telling me how awful they were but I didn’t get sick! So hopefully I have a good experience with taking the rest of the pills. I would really appreciate your prayers for me and the other people I’m going with while I’m in Haiti :)

So, on a completely different note, the other night I made BBQ sliders for dinner. It was the first time I had ever had to…touch beef. Ewwwwwww. Actually it wasn’t that bad. But meat really is pretty gross. I think that raw chicken is more gross than raw beef though. (I probably shouldn’t be talking about how gross I find meat before I post pictures of the hamburgers I made…hem hem.)

So anyways. For these sliders, I put some cajun spices in the beef and formed them into little patties. I then brushed barbecue sauce over them. Then I grilled them. I was going to make them in the oven, which you can totally do if you have a oven that works consistently and you’re not also making cajun sweet potato fries. Jim helped me grill them because I’d never done that before and was rather terrified by the whole thing. After flipping them on the grill I (err Jim) brushed more BBQ sauce on them. We ate these on Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. Those rolls are soooo good! On my slider I had some cheddar cheese and ketchup and grilled pineapple slices. I thought it was really yummy :)

Along with the sliders, I also made sweet potato fries. I think they turned out pretty good but weren’t as crispy as I wanted them to be. Is there a trick to making oven baked fries crispy? I never can see to do it. I put a ton of cajun spices on the fries so they were really spicy! The flavor was yummy I just wish they were crispier.

Let me clear something up, sweet potatoes are not the same thing as yams. Yams are from Africa I believe. What we eat are most definitely sweet potatoes. According to Wikipedia, Yams are part of the Dioscoreaceae family and sweet potatoes are not part of this family. So don’t be calling sweet potatoes yams people. That’s right.

When I was chopping up these definitely-not-yams, I thought I was going to cut off a couple fingers…or my hand. But I managed to cut them up and just lose one finger! Ha. ha. Just kidding.

So after I had them all cut up into fries, I put them in a big ziplock back and put some oil and lots of spices in there and mixed it up. I don’t have pictures of that. Or of the final fries. Because the next little while was very stressful with the oven shutting off and trying to do the sliders and all that. But I put them on a cookie sheet and cooked them at 450 or 500 degrees for like 30 mins (flipping them over after 15 mins).

Here’s my plate! Doesn’t that look yummy! Oh look, there you can see a picture of the fries. Don’t they look good? And the slider was all cute and yummy. And there’s my ketchup and pineapple slices and oh what’s that? Corn on the cob in the background?! Yeah it was a pretty fancy meal! And we had Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp for dessert!

BBQ Slider Recipe:

Inspired by Pioneer Woman’s sliders

Ingredients:

Beef (I used 3lbs and it made 16 sliders…we put the extras in the fridge for leftovers)

4 tsp spices (I used cajun spices…the recipe for that is here)

1/4 cup BBQ sauce (or as much as you want really…)

Mini Rolls

Directions:

Put the spices into the meat and mix around with your hand (I actually did that…kinda proud of myself). Form beef into little patties and brush BBQ sauce over them. Oh and apparently you’re supposed to put a dent on the top of the patties. Now put them in the fridge for like 30 minutes. You can skip this step but Pioneer Woman recommended it. And I had time. So I did it. Now either put them in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees or grill them for like 5 or 6 minutes. If you grill them, you can put more BBQ sauce on them after you flip them. Once the patties are done, put them on rolls and serve with ketchup or bbq sauce. I would totally recommend grilling some pineapple slices and putting them on there. It’s not weird, it’s delicious.

 

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries:

Recipe from Simply Recipes 

Ingredients:

3 Sweet Potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1-2 Tbs brown sugar

2 Tbs Cajun Spices

Directions:

Chop up the sweet potatoes into similar size pieces. Put them in a big ziplock bag with olive oil and cajun spices. Arrange on 2 baking sheets and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes (flipping them over halfway through). Eat.

And there you have it!

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Cajun Chicken Pasta

I have been in the mood for pasta. Pasta and chicken. Yummy yummy pasta. I love pasta when it’s mixed with a lot of things, sale either peppers or chicken or yummy sauce. This dish had all 3! It’s fettuccine pasta with chicken and bell peppers cooked with flavorful Cajun spices. This isn’t hard to make but err definitely turn on the stove fan because I didn’t and the whole house was filled with smoke.

The first thing you do is chop up your peppers and chicken! Actually the first thing I did was look up what Cajun spices are and mix those together. Then I chopped up the chicken and peppers.

I started the pasta by boiling the water and while that was getting ready I cooked the chicken. You coat the chicken with the Cajun spices and then put them in a skillet. You let one side sit there and cook for like a minute and then flip them over. Watch out for the  oil. It jumped out and attacked my finger. Owwy.

By this time I think I added the pasta to the water….Yep. So you take the chicken out and then you cook up the peppers. And you add more Cajun spices. Yum!

Then you make your sauce. I don’t have step by step pictures of this because I was too busy making the pasta and getting the sauce done and all that stuff. I don’t get how people take these perfect step by step pictures of their cooking. Oh well!

But for the sauce, healthful you cook chicken broth and scrape up all the black stuff from the bottom of the pan so those flavors are in the sauce (that’s the picture above). Then you add the cream and it’s supposed to thicken but mine didn’t really…I was kinda freaking out about it but it turned out ok! So then you add your chicken and peppers to the sauce and add more spices and cook for a bit and then you add the pasta and mix it all together in the pan! I thought that was pretty fun.

Doesn’t this look soooo good?? The answer is yes of course! You kinda let it all blend together in the pan and then you serve it up!

This is one of my favorite dishes EVER! I would get this in a restaurant. I would eat this every day. And then I would cry at my 400 pound body. And feed my sadness with Cajun Chicken Pasta.

I got this recipe from the wonderful Pioneer Woman! I changed several things, sales though. I’ll post how I made it and if you want to see what she did (which I’m sure is yummy too) click this link –> Cajun Chicken Pasta Original Recipe.

Cajun Spices:

2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Mix it all together! I thought this was really good. Adapted from All Recipes.
.

Cajun Chicken Pasta:

Ingredients:

3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 Red onion, chopped
2 ½ cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!
  2. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp Cajun spices onto the chicken pieces and toss the chicken around to coat. Put 1 tbs oil and 1tbs butter in a skillet over high heat. Add half of the chicken in a single layer to the pan. Leave the chicken alone for about a minute (don’t wander off or anything now!) until it’s brown on one side. Flip it to the other side and cook it for another minute or so. Take the chicken out of the pan and put it on a plate. Repeat with the other half of the chicken.
  3. Now add the remaining olive oil and butter to the same pan. When heated, add the peppers. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 2 minutes, stirring and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible.  Remove from pan.
  4. With the pan over high heat, pour in the chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. (This is what was not happening for me. I’m not sure why. But I cooked it for a while and even tried adding some flour…I ended up just adding the chicken and peppers.) Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. I usually just throw in more cajun spices! I like my sauce spicy, but of course it’s up to you :)
  5. Lastly, add the chicken and vegetables to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. (The fact that my sauce didn’t thicken much didn’t matter after I added the pasta).

You should totally try making this at home! And remember the fan and oil bit.

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