Creamy Taco Mac

If you browse food blogs at all then there is a good chance you’ve seen this (or a version of this) before. Why has it graced so many food blogs? In short, because it’s amazing. Not amazing in a fine dining kind of way, but in a homey, comforting kind of way. It’s the from-scratch cook’s answer to Hamburger Helper. You can easily throw this meal together on a busy weeknight, but more importantly you can feel good about serving this to your family.

Jesse, bless his heart, has actually been known to request Hamburger Helper from time to time. In order to do my best to indulge him, I’ve made several homemade versions. He says they are all good but this one is the clear winner.

 

Looking for more easy, weeknight dinners? Check these out-

Shells and Cheese with Kielbasa and Peas
Mexican Lasagna
Sloppy Joes
Creamy Shrimp Pasta

 

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells

Up until a few weeks into my second trimester I had a major aversion to chicken. Just the thought of it icked me out. The first time I noticed the aversion was when I was having lunch with a friend and I ordered a buffalo chicken wrap. I took one bite, looked at my friend, covered my mouth with a napkin and said, “Sorry”. I wound up picking out all of the chicken (and half of the lettuce). Next time we went for lunch I asked them to replace the chicken with beans (yeah, that’s right, I ordered a buffalo bean wrap, and it was delicious!).

I am finally over that crazy aversion and we’re back to having chicken several nights a week. Of course it’s easy for things to get repetitive when you eat chicken for dinner several times a week, so I’m always trying to think up new ways to use it. What better way to spice up chicken than to add buffalo sauce? To mix it up even more I decided to stuff the chicken in pasta shells. The result was fantastic! We absolutely loved this dinner, hope you do too!

 

Check out these other tasty Buffalo recipes, too!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Buffalo Chicken Bites
Homemade Spicy Garlic Buffalo Sauce
Buffalo Chicken Sliders
 

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

As I recently mentioned, I’m a sucker for sauces. I don’t think I could ever chose just one favorite, but I think honey mustard is towards the top of the list. Honey mustard seems to go especially well with chicken and pretzels, so pretzel crusted chicken and honey mustard dipping sauce seemed like a match made in heaven. And it was!

My friend Nikki recently shared the recipe she uses for honey mustard, so I used that as a jumping off point. Side note, I said “recently” then when I went to copy the URL I realized the post was from January. Wow. Time flies!! I wanted a stronger mustard taste so I cut the mayonnaise in half and added a little dijon mustard. The result was a dipping sauce that I easily could have eaten with a spoon.

For the chicken, I used a classic breading method. We loved how crunchy the crust was, and it really seemed to hold in the moisture of the chicken. It was really the perfect vehicle for the honey mustard dipping sauce.

 

 

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce

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Try not to be too confused by my post today. The story and meal don’t match, but I don’t have a great story about this Mexican Black Bean Sauce. It came together incredibly easily and might have become my new favorite meatless meal. You know I love my black beans and to put it over pasta in the form of a sauce is just pure genius. Now onto my completely unrelated story (that mentions another recipe all together)…

Maybe you heard about a little blackout in Southern California last week. Around 3:30 all the power went out from Tijuana all the way up into Orange County and across to the California Arizona border. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t notice the power had gone out. The girls and I were working on homework and since it was daylight we didn’t have any lights on and there was no air-conditioning to go off. A neighbor actually called and asked if ours was off too and that’s when I looked at the clock and noticed. After that it didn’t take long to realize how wide spread this power outage was. And pretty much everyone left work early.

Not knowing how long the outage would last (and hearing it could be a day or two) I wanted to use up some of the things I knew would go bad. Meat and cheese. Thank goodness we bought that grill, because I managed to use it make the super easy Mac and Cheese (that’s how easy it is, I did it without power, partially in the dark, on a grill). Then we dined by candlelight with a few friends and tried to enjoy the slow pace of the evening. I snapped this picture with my phone and just had to share it with you.


Now for the recipe!

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce
(Adapted from Branny Boils Over)

Ingredients
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chiles
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
Chopped fresh cilantro and cherry tomatoes for garnish
Cheese for garnish (optional)
12 ounces pasta, cooked according to box directions

Directions
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, and oregano. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, and add to the bowl of a food processor* along with the black beans. Process to desired consistency then add back to the skillet and stir into the reserved sauce.

Serve over pasta with cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and cheese garnish.

*If you have an immersion blender, you can use that instead of the food processor and save the dirty bowl.