For those of you who have known me for a long time, seeing the title “recipe” may seem a bit alarming.
I have always been a huge fan of food. All kinds. This may seem like a weird thing to say. Isn’t everyone a fan of food? I’m not sure if everyone is, or isn’t, but what I do know is that I am a huge, huge fan. The word picky would never be used to describe me. I love food so much that when I was a kid, I would sit down at the table and ask if there was enough for seconds before I had even taken a bite of the meal. That may not have been the healthiest relationship to have with food, but you get my drift.
Loving food has never been the problem. Cooking has been. Cooking was something that I did out of necessity, not because it brought me joy. I liked the end result of cooking, but not the act of cooking itself.
When I was in college, I would open a can of creamed corn, chop some veggies, add it to the creamed corn and call it corn chowder. Gross.
But slowly. Very. Very. Slowly. Something in me has started to change.
This mundane task that was merely a means to get food on the table has now become something that I actually enjoy.
A catalyst for this new found enjoyment of cooking was a book that I read titled, “Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes” by Shauna Niequist. This book has wonderful stories and amazing recipes that compliment the stories. It is all around fabulous. The recipes are healthy and delicious and have become some of my family’s very favorites. It is a book that I highly recommend.
I have always been a very strict recipe follower. I would not stray an inch from the instructions and I would never dream of trying to come up with something of my own. Other than those tragic culinary years of college.
But as I said, something in me has started to change.
It started with me having the courage to tweak recipes, which Shauna does recommend. Thank you Shauna. She advises trying the recipe just as it is written the first time and then taking liberties with it from that point on. She suggests making it your own. I love spice and I am learning that making a recipe my own usually involves a lot of onion, garlic and heat.
This recipe that I am about to share is my first real attempt at creating my own dish.
I was just starting to get comfortable with the idea of tweaking recipes and had no aspirations of creating my own dish. But as stated by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This recipe was created out of necessity. I had to get dinner on the table and I hadn’t been to the grocery. We had already gone out to eat that week and I knew that the budget-friendly thing to do was to work with what we had in the house. I was stuck with the food that we had. After looking through the freezer and refrigerator, I came up with a plan. Mexican Pasta was made. And enjoyed. By all. It was a happy mama moment. I did it! I came up with a meal on my own, and thankfully it was much better than corn chowder.
So here is my recipe making it’s culinary debut. Mexican Pasta. Maybe not the healthiest meal, but good nonetheless. Healthier recipes will come later. I can only tackle one giant at a time.
1 box of penne pasta (or a gluten-free pasta alternative)
1 small can of green chiles
1 can of red enchilada sauce (I used Muir Glen Organic Mild Red Chile)
1 box of cream cheese
1/2 of an onion
1-2 cloves of garlic (I love garlic, so I used two)
1/2 of a jar of Trader Joes Cowboy Caviar (or another chunky black bean and corn salsa) – optional
1 lb of ground beef
*When I originally made this recipe I had a half a pound of ground taco meat that was frozen in the freezer. When I made it again, I cooked a pound of hamburger but only used half of the taco meat and froze the other half. You could use all of the taco meat in the pasta, but I recommend using the meat for two meals. Use half in the pasta and freeze the other half for later.
Cook ground beef. Add your favorite taco seasoning according to package instructions.
Cook penne pasta according to directions.
In a separate skillet, sauté onion. I prefer to sauté my vegetables with coconut oil, but feel free to use whatever oil you typically use. After the onions have sautéed for a bit and are translucent and their sweet smell has filled the house, add garlic and sauté for a couple minutes more. Next, add the can of diced green chiles. Sauté for a few more minutes.
Add the enchilada sauce to the green chile and onion mixture. If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joes nearby, I recommend using some of the Cowboy Caviar. This is delicious and adds a little extra something to the dish. If you do not have a Trader Joes, you could substitute another chunky black bean and corn salsa. The Cowboy Caviar is very chunky and a little sweet. It is awesome! I only use about a half of the jar of salsa when I make this dish. Let this simmer for a few minutes on the stove.
Once this has simmered, add the cream cheese. I recommend cutting the cream cheese into cubes and placing them into the sauce. Once the cream cheese is melted, add the taco meat.
Next, add the cooked penne to the sauce.
Now you are ready to enjoy your Mexican Pasta! I serve this with bowls of cheddar cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, olives, green onions, fresh cilantro, on the table and let everyone choose their own toppings.
I hope you enjoy this tasty meal!