Meatless Monday: Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese

As I’ve been trying to incorporate a more veggie friendly diet, I’ve found quite a few delicious and wallet friendly meals along the way. This past Monday, in honor of “Meatless Monday,” I whipped up Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese from Naturally Ella‘s blog. I actually found the recipe from a cart I was following on KartMe, and as soon as I saw the word fajita combined with macaroni and cheese, I knew it had to be good.

Quite a few months ago I made a Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese which was absolutely amazing. The only thing was that it was pretty time consuming, so I haven’t made it since. Since this recipe was meatless and had quite a few less ingredients, I figured it would be an acceptable Monday night dinner, especially since we had the luxury of not running (hello rest day!).

The recipe calls for fresno peppers, but I grabbed two jalapenos instead. It also notes queso fresco, but I used just a regular Mexican blend of cheese, and that worked well. The only other modification I made was adding some spices while sautéing the onions and peppers. It didn’t call for anything, so I added my usual arsenal of spices; chili powder, chipotle flavored taco seasoning, and spicy adobo. I also didn’t sauté the jalapenos with the onions and peppers, to try and keep some of the heat. I’m finally getting the hang of making roux-like sauces, and this cheese sauce had a perfect consistency! Slicing up some fresh avocado added a nice extra creamy touch as well.

As usual there was enough for lunch for both my fiancé and I, and we definitely made our co-workers jealous with our yummy re-heats. I’ll take that over a Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones any day!

Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese
– Serves 4 –

1 medium onion
1 green pepper
2 fresno peppers (or any other hot pepper you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups queso fresco
1 cup cheddar cheese
8 ounces pasta
1 avocado and cilantro for topping

1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
2. Prepare pasta according to box and drain In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook peppers and onions until they begin to soften. Stir in cilantro and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat (be careful not to walk away- you don’t want browned butter.) Whisk in flour and salt/pepper- create what looks like a paste. Finally, whisk in milk and turn the heat up to medium. Continue to whisk, making sure you get the edges of the pan, until the mixture begins to thicken. The sauce should look slightly creamy. Remove from heat and stir in the queso fresco.
4. Mix pasta and veggies together in a 9 x 11 baking dish(or feel free to use whatever baking dish you have around.) Stir in cheese sauce and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and top with avocado/cilantro.

I’ll grill anything – including pizza

I found a recipe for grilled pizza a few weeks ago, and after finally procuring a grill, we had to try it. I’d heard of grilling pizza before (I mean heck – you can grill lettuce) but had never actually done it. I was excited, but a bit nervous for it’s outcome. I had visions of an extremely charred and barely edible crust, or the opposite, a just warmed not crispy crust. My fiance and I somehow managed to grill it pretty perfectly – a nice crunch around the edge of the crust, and keeping it crisp, but not over or under cooked towards the center. Plust, all of the veggies and cheese were just the right temperature.

This “Smoky BBQ Grilled Pizza” comes from Eating Well, which YumSugar had linked to a few weeks ago. I saved it in my Dinner cart on KartMe until the perfect moment, which was this past Thursday. I grabbed a package of pre-made pizza dough from Wegmans’, and it actually had two pizzas in it – enough for a breakfast pizza on Saturday! The recipe calls for tomatoes, but I forgot to grab one at the store (story of my life), so instead I caramelized some onions and tried to salvage what I could of the wilting Jamaican hot peppers. That added a nice sweet kick to the already tangy pizza.

It literally was grilled for 10 minutes, and though a little charred around the edges, overall a decently cooked pizza. My fiancé and I devoured the whole pizza (hey, it was kind of small) with a salad, and we were stuffed! Sure, it’s supposed to serve 6, but after a solid run and a long day of work, the pizza was no match for the two of us! I know BBQ sauce in place of tomato sauce sounds kind of odd, but it works – especially with that smoky grilled flavor! Either way, you can really put whatever you want on your pizza. I made a breakfast pizza Saturday with scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, corn, beans, salsa as the sauce, and cheese. It was equally delicious!

Though we’re out of dough for now, I have every intention of grilling up some other pizza concoctions, so suggestions are welcomed!

Pardon the less than stellar iPhone picture!

Barbecued Smoky Corn & Black Bean Pizza
from Eating Well

1 plum tomato, diced
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella, preferably smoked mozzarella

1. Preheat grill to medium.
2. Combine tomato, beans and corn in a medium bowl. Sprinkle cornmeal onto a large baking sheet. Stretch the dough into about a 12-inch circle and lay it on top of the cornmeal, coating the entire underside of the dough.
3. Transfer the crust from the baking sheet to the grill. Close the lid and cook until the crust is puffed and lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes.
Using a large spatula, flip the crust. Spread barbecue sauce on it and quickly sprinkle with the tomato mixture and cheese. Close the lid; grill until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is browned, 4 to 5 minutes.