Friday, April 2, 2010

Jen vs. Rachael...Taco Pasta Toss

So for my first recipe post, I decided to take on the queen of the quick and easy meal, Rachael Ray. Her Taco Pasta Toss recipe looked easy, and kid friendly with a little picking around. I was right on both. The kids loved the pasta/meat combo after they picked off the toppings (lettuce, tomato, and onion). They rated this a 3 star recipe. Not something they'd ask for every day, but a big improvement over the frozen tv dinners at my dad's house. Rachel says this serves 4. Well, we ate our fill and there was still about half of it left. I don't think I want to know how huge her serving size is. Granted, most of it was lettuce. Jason compared it to the Taco Bell taco salad, only this tasted better. The only thing missing was the edible bowl (so I passed the tortilla chips).

This recipe was also very affordable. If we would have had to buy everything for it, including spices and beer, it would have cost $23.12 at HEB in College Station. Obviously prices may vary by store and where you live. I also splurged $1.95 for a jar of Joe T. Garcia's salsa (medium). This stuff is seriously good and will clean out your sinuses (a nice added bonus for allergy season).

So, now for what you've been waiting for...the recipe!

Taco Pasta Toss

1 lb. penne regate (can be whole grain, which is what I used)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground beef sirloin (I used 96/4)
1 large onion, chopped, divided
4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 6 really big ones since one cannot overdo garlic)
1 large jalapeno, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced (I threw it into the food processor with the garlic to pulverize to sneak it past children)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 c. tomato paste
12 oz. bottle beer (I used Shiner Bock) or chicken stock
2 c. shredded cheddar, Monterrey Jack, or other semisoft Mexican cheese
1/4 head iceberg lettuce or 1/2 small heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 small plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used Roma since plum could not be found)

Prepare pasta per package instructions. While pasta is cooking, brown meat in extra virgin olive oil. Add in 3/4 of onion, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Stir until onion is soft. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in beer. Add sauce to pasta (after draining pasta). Toss and spoon into a casserole dish (I used a big rectangular pyrex). Cover with cheese and tent with foil to melt cheese. (I nuked it since I discovered that I was out of foil.) Cover with lettuce, tomato, and remainder of onion.

I just ate some of the leftovers for dinner since we are having a "clean out the fridge" night. It's even better today since the spices have had time to get happy!

Happy eating!

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