Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday Dinner - Mexican Pasta

Another new recipe!  And it's cheap & easy (and yummy!)

Mexican Pasta

I'm super excited to share this one with you, I've had the recipe for a long time, but have never made it and right now I'm seriously wondering why!

Here's the scoop:

Ingredients (not pictured: chicken)

1 box of pasta (I used leftover rigatoni noodles this time, but next time I think I'll use spaghetti noodles...anything works!)
1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese (I added cheddar because I didn't have quite 1 cup of the Mexican kind!)
1 cup Salsa
1 Tbsp half & half
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Chicken breasts - cooked and chopped (I used 1 chicken breast and 3 tenders this time)
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

First, prepare your chicken.  Since I was using chicken tenders, I cut up the whole chicken breast to be similar size pieces as the tenders...this helped it cook all at the same rate. 

I decided to bake mine in the oven with some fajita seasoning I found in the cabinet.  It worked great! 

I prepared this like the lemon pepper chicken I made about a week a little "butter happy"  you don't need as much butter as I used!  Let this cook in the oven at 375 till the juice runs clear and the chicken is completely cooked (about 30 minutes for me!)

Next, start cooking your noodles

And to make the sauce:

Start with a little olive oil in a pan (keep in mind you'll be assembling the whole dish in this pan, so you'll want something deep.  Once the oil is warmed up, add in the half & half and the cheese.  You'll want to have the stove on a medium heat.

Keep stirring till the cheese starts to melt.  Mine was just a big clump for a while (and I thought I'd totally ruined the meal!) so I added a couple more dashes of half and half - I think that helped!  Here's what mine looked like about 2 minutes in.

Then it started getting creamy and yummy...

Once the cheese is all melted, add in the salsa - cheese+salsa = yummy goodness!  (Queso anyone?!

Once this is all warmed up and bubbly, add in the cut-up chicken and crushed red pepper.

I was conservative with the red pepper flakes, but wish I had added more once it was all said and done.  You can also turn the heat down to low now...really you're just stirring together the already cooked ingredients at this point.
P.S. I have the weirdest double jointed thumb....annoyed that it's showing in this picture =)

Lastly, slowly fold in your noodles.  I made WAY too many noodles, so I'd probably say you should have about 3 cups of cooked noodles.  Once the noodles are all covered in the cheesy yummy-ness, let it sit on low heat for about 5-10 minutes.  This made about 4 servings total!

Our meal!  I'm pretty proud of how colorful I got the dinner tonight!

Check out this salad!  Leftover lettuce from the tacos last week, strawberries from my birthday party (a little bit of cheating here, because I didn't include the birthday breakfast in our groceries for the was a special treat), mango's from sprouts that were on sale, cranberries from sprouts...same story,  and mandarin oranges that I found tucked away in our cabinet!

Definitely a new staple at our house!  Hope you like it too =)