Meatless Monday: Southwestern Pierogi Bake

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

I’m aware that the title of this blog post may seem a bit confusing; pierogies are typically Polish… so how could I use them in a Southwestern dish?! Well, I’m completely obsessed with Southwestern and Mexican food, so I’ll make it any chance I can. When I was selected to participate in this Mrs. T’s Pierogies campaign, I knew I wanted to do more with them than just serve them as-is with dipping sauce, or with sautéed cabbage. And with 11 different varieties, there’s something for (almost) everyone. Being that I love bakes (who doesn’t like to throw everything into a dish and put it in the oven?) and Southwestern flavors are my favorite, I decided to run with it.

I had visions of this meal the entire time I was running my 15 miler on Saturday, and couldn’t wait to put it all together. It was easy to prepare, and really hit the spot for dinner. Of course I was pretty wiped out after my long run, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on the couch; though I may have even taken a pancake induced nap in the early afternoon. Conveniently, Mean Girls was on (can you believe the 10 year anniversary is coming up?!), so I enjoyed my pierogi bake while watching one of the greatest movies of all time (yes, I said it).

This Southwestern Pierogi Bake is perfect for any night of the week, and can easily be transported for a potluck dinner or party. Plus, it can be made with real chorizo or soy chorizo, so it’s easily adaptable to everyone’s meat preference. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to think outside of the box when it comes to pierogi meals. While I love a good pierogi and cabbage mix, this may be my new favorite way to enjoy Mrs. T’s Pierogies!

Southwestern Pierogi Bake |

Southwestern Pierogi Bake
– Serves 4 – 

1 box Mrs. T’s Pierogies, any variety [I used potato + cheddar]
1 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced [you can use less/de-seed it if you don’t like spice]
6 oz. (soy) chorizo [I used soy chorizo to make it vegetarian, but you can use the real-deal, too]
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup of chunky salsa
1 cup shredded cheese blend
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt + pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and cook the pierogies for 10 minutes
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion and peppers for 10 minutes until they begin to soften. 
4. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until combined and fragrant.
5. Turn the heat down to medium, add the chorizo and beans, and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. In a 9×11 baking dish, pour the salsa and layer the cooked pierogies, followed by the sautéed mixture. Top with shredded cheese.
7. Bake an additional 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Feel free to check out Mrs. T’s WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter for more information and to see all the different kinds of pierogies they offer!

Tell me…
Are you a pierogi fan? What’s your favorite combination? 

Tex-Mex Obsession

I hope that everyone in the Mid-Atlantic enjoyed the gorgeous weather we had all week! I am lucky enough to have the flexibility to work from home a few times a week so I made sure to take advantage of it; especially on Tuesday when it was 80 degrees! Unfortunately the weather isn’t sticking around, but I’m okay with it – I don’t think I’m ready for summer temperatures just yet. So even though I’ve been grilling and enjoying beers outside, I’m still doing a fair amount of indoor cooking… I’ll resort to grill-only foods come July, I’m sure.

The majority of recipes you’ll find on the blog are Tex-Mex, so it never comes as a surprise to someone when I proclaim “I love Tex-Mex food!” More specifically I love Mexican food, and Tex-Mex is a byproduct of living in the USA. Thankfully I don’t live too far from New Brunswick, where 49.93% of the population is Hispanic or Latino (2010 Census results) and as a result has a lot of really delicious and authentic Mexican restaurants (my favorite is Costa Chica on Handy St., for the locals!). So when I was thinking about more ways to incorporate some of my favorite flavors into a dish, I immediately thought of macaroni and cheese.

After my run!

After completing Abby’s Kick Ass 5k, I got to work in the kitchen. But before we get into the recipe, I have to give a little plug for Abby. Even though the 5k is over, you can still head to her Team Challenge page and donate. Long story short, Abby is an incredibly strong woman who has ulcerative colitis and is running a half marathon in June with Team Challenge (in conjunction with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation) to help raise money for the foundation. As a fellow IBD sufferer, of course I had to donate to the cause, and I hope you’ll consider it, too!

The recipe uses veggie sausage, but you can either leave it out completely or use real sausage, ground beef, or ground turkey. And the recipe can be turned vegan if you use non-dairy cream cheese, shredded cheese, and milk. Since I’m slightly sensitive to dairy, this definitely isn’t a meal I would eat often… but it’s fun to indulge every once in awhile (though suffering the consequences isn’t fun)!

Tex-Mex Pasta Bake |

Tex-Mex Pasta Bake
– Serves 4 –

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. pasta (I used rotini, but small shells, elbow, etc. will work)
4 oz. veggie sausage or ground beef substitute (or ground turkey or beef if you aren’t vegetarian)
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp chipotle taco seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp adobo
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese blend
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil and add the diced onion and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Then set aside.
4. Add your meat of choice to the skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.
5. Add black beans followed by spices, and allow to cook 2-3 minutes. Add in cooked pasta.
6. Once well combined, add in the cream cheese, shredded cheese blend, and milk, stirring to combine until all the cheese is melted. Stir in the Panko bread crumbs.
7. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray and spread the pasta mixture evenly. Feel free to sprinkle a little extra shredded cheese on top for good measure.
8. Bake for 15 minutes until top begins to brown.

Cooking creme and kitchen time

On Monday, I had grand plans of whipping up some huevos rancheros for Meatless Monday, but my plan was foiled when on top of my stressful day, I came home to a note from a professor telling me that my latest homework assignment was incorrect, and in order to get points, I should consider doing it over again. After a serious breakdown (the original assignment took me 4 hours!), I got crackin’ while the fiancé threw together some tortellini for us. I took a break for dinner, and then got back to the homework, finishing in about 2ish hours. So, hopefully I’ll get to try my hand at the recipe I had brewing next week.

I always hate when I miss a day in the kitchen, so I was happy to have time to make something on Tuesday night. After seeing quite a few commercials for the new Philadelphia Crème, and also receiving a $1 off coupon, I decided to pick some up. Of course, I gravitated towards the “Santa Fe” style, and thought it would make a great creamy and cheesey (and quick!) pasta dish. I’m always up for trying new things, and I think this cooking crème is a nice substitute for a healthier version of an alfredo. It comes in four different flavors, so it’s really versatile. The little tub even came with some recipe ideas attached, which was pretty neat!

I’m happy to report that since I started running last week, I’ve tackled 2, 3, and 4 miles! Even though it’s been extremely difficult to breathe (apparently my lungs forgot how to work under pressure), I’ve been able to keep it under 9 minute miles, without pushing myself. It’s nothing spectacular, but considering I really haven’t run since January, and throughout December only ran maybe 3-4 times, I can’t complain! The discomfort in my foot isn’t completely gone, but it goes away within a mile or so of starting the run, and isn’t a pain so much as it just feels “weird.” I’m hoping this means I can finish the race on April 17th (hey, I want that medal!), and then take a little time off before starting again to train for the big guy, the Philadelphia Marathon. Fingers crossed!

But back to the food… I highly recommend checking out the Philadelphia Crème if you’re looking for a quick dish that easily adds a lot of flavor. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty skeptical (and a little weirded out) of the idea at first, but I’m glad I decided to give it a try. It was quick and easy, which has been all I can afford to devote my time to the past few weeks. The semester is thankfully coming to a close in the next few weeks, so hopefully before the next one starts up (it’s never ending!) I’ll get to spend some more time in the kitchen. If only there were more hours in the day…

Baked Southwestern Pasta Skillet
-Serves 4-

2 cups pasta (I used elbow, you can use any kind you’d like)
3/4 cup black beans
3/4 cup corn
1 can diced tomatoes & jalapenos
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a jack and cheddar combo), plus another 1/2 cup
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Philadelphia Crème – Santa Fe style
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Prepare pasta according to package
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet, add onion, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add black beans, tomatoes, and corn, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Set aside.
4. Once pasta is fully cooked, combine in skillet with sauteed mixture, add Philadelphia Crème and 1/2 cup of cheese, making sure to combine evenly.
5. Transfer pasta to a greased baking dish, top with bread crumbs and bake for 10 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.