Cheesy South of the Border Skillet

I love cheese. I love “South of the border” aka Mexican food. Put the two together, and I’m ready to devour.

I actually found this recipe on one of the may foodie blogs I subscribe to in my Google Reader, Make Life Delicious. The ingredients themselves were enough to make me immediately forward the post to my fiancé for confirmation of a dinner option. Cheese (both Mexican blend AND cream cheese), pasta, salsa, cumin? What more could a girl want?! Despite having more than enough carbohydrates in the past three days, I was definitely game for more pasta tonight. I mean heck, I burned over 3,000 calories yesterday running my half marathon!

I had actually planned to make a Potato Tortilla from this month’s Food Network Magazine. But I quickly realized I had forgotten white onion at the store on Saturday, and didn’t have enough eggs either. So, I’ll have to make that either tomorrow or Thursday. I somehow managed to not have all of the ingredients for this recipe either, but I was able to improvise successfully.

The recipe itself is straight forward – if you want to use chicken, cook the chicken. Also cook some pasta (any medium size will do – I went with rigatoni). Throw in the other ingredients to the skillet, once the pasta is done throw that in too, cook for a few more minutes, and tada! Ooey gooey Mexican cheesy goodness! The consistency was similar to the Everyday Food Pasta w. bacon and peas recipe I’ve made a few times.

As I mentioned, I LOVE CHEESE. And a lot of it. This recipe definitely has that. So, if you aren’t as serious a cheese fan as myself, I’d stick to maybe half of the cream cheese the recipe calls for. And, of course, if you’re going the veggie route, you can definitely substitute the chicken for tofu or maybe just more south of the border friendly vegetables (onions, peppers, black beans, corn, etc.)

You can also really dictate the spice level based on the salsa you choose, and if you add any other seasoning. I went with a medium-hot chunky style (so corn, black beans, onions) salsa, and added some chili powder when I was cooking the chicken. Also, the recipe called for corn. Whoops. I didn’t have any. I had some left over red onion, though, so I diced that up and added it in. Not an exact trade-off, but good enough.

Both my fiancé and I devoured our bowls, and were really impressed with the cheese and “south of the border” taste levels. I would absolutely make this recipe again. It was super quick and easy, and really filling! In my quest to be a little more vegetarian instead of halfaterian, maybe I’ll try this recipe in the future with a meat substitute.

For now, though, I’m going to go devour some more of the giant cupcake we have sitting on top of our refrigerator. So many goodies in this house! And this weekend’s dessert themed birthday party is only going to make it worse!

So here’s the recipe, and happy nomzing!

South of the Border Chicken & Pasta Skillet

2 cup medium sized pasta (uncooked)
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb.) cut into bite-size pieces
6 oz. salsa
2 cups frozen (thawed) corn
4 oz. (half of a package) of Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup Mexican style cheese

1. Cook pasta as directed on package.
2. Meanwhile, cook and stir chicken in large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat 6 min, or until done.
3. Add salsa, corn, cream cheese and cumin; simmer on medium-low heat 6 min. or until corn is heated through and cream cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.
4. Drain pasta; add to skillet with half the shredded cheese. Simmer 3 min. or until heated through.
5. Top with remaining shredded cheese; cover.
6. Remove from heat; let stand 5 min. or until cheese is melted.