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 | Foodosaurusrex.com

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.

Meatless Monday!

I had been reading about Meatless Mondays for awhile, and recently started following them on Twitter. Though I don’t necessarily do it every Monday, I do go meatless a few times a week. Yesterday I stuck true to the name, though, and had a meatless Monday by making a Tex-Mex summer squash casserole. It sounds kind of weird, but it was really good.

I actually found the recipe on CalorieCount.About.com, which I had joined right after graduation to ensure I didn’t blow up, post-college 15 style. The site is actually pretty decent to track calorie intake and what you burn, but it’s a lot of upkeep so I abandoned it. Before I did, though, I grabbed some user-posted recipes including what I made last night.

I’ve been leaning more and more towards vegetarian dishes, for a bunch of reasons. They’re healthy, flavorful, and really versatile. Plus, since I’m almost always just cooking for two, they last longer. It’s much easier to ensure that the veggies haven’t gone bad instead of meat. And I feel better about myself and my choices when I eat an all veggie meal. However, I still can’t pass up the occasional burger, salmon, and things like that. But like my fiancé says, when given the choice, I’ll choose veggies and tofu over meat. So I’ll stick to my claim of being a halfetarian!

The recipe is for 10 servings, but I cut everything in half, which required some serious math. Since it was our main dish, we each had two servings and had enough left over for lunch the next day. The jalapeño added really nice spice, and the chunky salsa added some more veggies which are always welcome. I would definitely make this again, as a main dish or even a side dish. After cutting all the veggies I just had to put it in the oven and wait… Nice and easy!

Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole
– Makes 10 Servings –

10 cups of summer squash, sliced
4 1/2 oz. green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
4 scallions, sliced
2/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
4 1/2 oz jalapeños, chopped (about 2)
2 1/4 cups shredded Mexican/taco blend cheese
3/4 cup chunky salsa
1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Coat 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray
3. Combine squash, yellow onion, chilies, jalapenos, salt and 3/4 cup of cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour, and toss to coat. Spread mixture into dish and cover with foil.
4.. Bake the casserole until bubbling and squash is tender, 35-45 minutes. Spoon salsa onto the casserole and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese.
5. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through about 20-30 minutes.
6. When ready to serve, sprinkle with scallions and red

Happy veggie nomzing!