Taco pasta bake

This is an interpretation of a dish I saw at Carrie in the Kitchen (originally at About a Bit of Everything). It’s SO tasty, but rather unphotogenic — as I suppose a lot of casseroles are.

Regardless, you should try this. Just, you know, don’t sign it up for a food modeling contest.

Taco pasta bake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 8 ounces dried pasta
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can Ro*tel

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cook pasta in salted water for two minutes less than lowest time recommendation on box (e.g. if “cook 7 minutes for al dente” then cook yours for 5 minutes); drain
  3. Brown ground beef and drain any grease; add water and taco seasoning, stir, and let simmer uncovered 5-10 minutes; stir in cream cheese, cooked pasta and RO*TEL
  4. Spoon into greased casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese; bake for 20 minutes or so until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown around the edges

Bonus: this freezes like a dream! Make two and freeze one covered in a layer of plastic wrap then a layer of foil — just remember to remove the plastic wrap before baking!

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Savory pasta

This started as a desperation side dish (i.e. “OMGit’s7:30whatcanImakeintenminutes?!”) and turned out to be so tasty! It’s definitely going in the rotation.

Savory pasta

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces pasta
  • Salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil and sprinkle in some salt
  2. Add in pasta and stir; reduce heat to medium-low (you want it just barely simmering) and put a lid on the pot; let it simmer according to cooking time on the pasta box
  3. When time is up pour into a bowl (there will be just barely any chicken broth left; pour it in too) and add a splash of olive oil. Toss to evenly coat pasta, then sprinkle with cheese.

Quick and easy, folks!

Pimento macaroni and cheese

I love the simplicity of this one-pot macaroni and cheese; however, after 20 hours in the car with Kiddo (who, by the way, was a car-traveling champ) in the last four days I wasn’t really feeling the urge to watch the pot as closely as I would need to in order to avoid a boiled-over-milk scene on the stove.

I also had some pimentos that had ripened in the garden while Kiddo and I were gone.

So I crossed my fingers and totally made up tried this — and it worked!

Pimento macaroni and cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard (optional)
  • 1.5 cups dry pasta
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 3 fresh pimentos, peeled (like this, only tiny), seeded and minced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a heavy, oven-safe sauce pot melt butter till foam subsides, then add flour and whisk until fully combined; add milk while whisking and turn off stovetop heat
  3. Stir in salt, mustard, dry pasta, cheese, and pimentos; cover pot and place in oven
  4. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through; top with additional cheese and uncover for the last few minutes if you so desire

That’s it!

Crack-a-roni: pioneer macaroni and cheese

Crack-a-roni. This is how The Yankee refers to this dish. My sister, too. And her husband. The Kiddo? He refers to it as he does to any foods that are not yogurt, bread, or Cheerios: “No tank you, mama.” Sigh.

Anyway! The dish! This is from my 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. Best $20 I’ve ever spent. I stray very little from this, so here goes:

You will need:

  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. uncooked macaroni
  • 1/2 pound Velveeta* or 2 cups cheese(s) of your choice

*Even with my general aversion to foods whose ingredients I cannot pronounce, I use Velveeta here. It just totally works in this dish.

Now, just like for the chicken pot pie, we’ll make a white sauce:

  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy saucepan
  2. Quickly whisk in flour, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper, whisking until mixture is smooth & bubbly
  3. Remove from heat; whisk in milk — for a minute it may look like it’s turning into a giant lump, but keep whisking and pouring the milk
  4. Bring to a slow boil and boil for one minute, whisking constantly
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened — at least ten minutes for best flavor

Easy assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. While the white sauce is cooking, boil pasta for two minutes less than the shortest time on the box; e.g. if your pasta says to cook for 10-12 minutes, then cook for eight minutes
  3. In a greased baking dish, layer half the pasta, half the white sauce and half the cheese; repeat so you have two layers of each component
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until bubbly. At this point it’s super yummy to stop and stir it together. You can then either serve as-is for super creamy mac and cheese, or put it back in to brown up a bit. Serve hot from baking dish
  5. Join a gym