Three Things. One, I really do a pretty terrible job at sticking to any sort of direction in recipes. Two, I most definitely created something last night that combined two of my favorite things: Italian and Mexican. Three, not sticking to directions… way better. The problem with sticking to directions…you have to make it twice to know how much more delicious it could have been. Why not just got for it round one? I think that may be just one of the things that actually drives my mother crazy about cooking with me. And this is one of my difficulties with Pinterest. I always think of ways I can make it better than whoever originally created it, normally I am not wrong (Ha!)
Besides that…let’s talk about Italian + Mexican = OMG deliciousness.
So what did I make? Mexican Pasta Bake. It ended up tasting like a Mexican Mac n Cheese.
Mexican Pasta Bake
1 to 1 ¼ lb of ground LEAN turkey
¼ yellow onion, chopped
1 package of taco seasoning (any type you like)
1 cup water
½ package of light cream cheese
1 box of rigatoni or medium shell pasta
2 ½ cups of shredded cheese (I used a mix of Colby Jack and Pepper Jack)
1 bundle of green onions
To create this wonderful concoction, begin by cooking up the pasta. While the pasta is cooking brown the ground turkey (you can also use ground beef, I was going for increasing the healthy factor) with the chopped yellow onion. Cook through, about 10 minutes. On the side, combine the package of taco seasoning with 1 cup of water in a bowl. When the meat is cooked, pour the taco seasoning and water mixture over the beef and allow the water to steam out (should take about 5 minutes). Once the water is steamed out…add ½ of the package of cream cheese into the meat mixture. Allow this to melt and stir in for even distribution.
In a 9×11 pan, first spray with Pam or coat with vegetable oil. Add a layer of pasta to the bottom of the pan, depending on how much pasta you want, you may have extra pasta. On top of the pasta add 1 and ½ cups of cheese (I mixed my cheese together and maybe added a little extra.. I LOVE cheese). On top of the cheese, add all of the meat in an even layer. Then… add the remaining cheese to the top of this.
Bake at 350* for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, pull out the dish and sprinkle chopped green onions on top. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes. EAT!
So what did I add that was not on the original recipe? Yellow onion, turkey instead of beef, LIGHT cream cheese and the green onion. I think that these few little changes really helped to tie it all together perfectly.
I did feel bad though when I invited my Paleo friend for dinner… she proceeded to say, “You are pretty much the Devil.” And I responded, “I am really not that sorry.” The dish got some great reviews and I literally could have eaten the entire dish.
Shopping list: Package of ground beef or turkey (a pound to a pound and a quarter), yellow onion, package of taco seasoning, package of cream cheese, a box of pasta (rigatoni or medium shells), shredded cheese, and a bundle of green onions.