Monday, March 25, 2013

spanish spaghetti bake

Can I just tell you how much I love it when things come together just right?  Especially when you're flying by the seat of your pants?

Saturday, I went on what felt like a marathon grocery shopping run.  We had been gone a week to visit family for Spring Break, so there was a lot of catching up to do in the fridge.  I promise there was a plan for supper when I returned from the store, but how many of you have experienced the following?  
  • You're gone shopping for what seems like forever.  
  • You unload like 15 bags of groceries.  
  • The 15 bags suddenly are staring back at you from the kitchen floor looking as though they've multiplied by three and still have to be put away.  
  • Oh, and it's nearing 6:00 PM. 
  • Did I mention everyone's starving? 
Ugh.  Are you with me here?

I just couldn't wrap my head around whipping up anything too involved.

And so I brainstormed this concoction.  Seriously, folks.  In a matter of 45 minutes, we had supper.  And I think a pretty good one.  John had three helpings.  Daniel gave great feedback, licking the bottom of the dish.  And what about Luke, you ask?  Well... in perfect Luke fashion, he was very happy with the PBJ he whipped up for himself.  

Hey, listen.  If I have approval from two of the three, the rest is gravy.

When you look at the ingredient list, you will find this is really a healthy and hearty dish.  I do need to say, though, I rarely, rarely use cheese "food."  

And what is that anyway?  Actually, never mind.  It's probably best we don't know.  

At any rate, this whole recipe came about as I was in a bit of a panic of what to do fast and remembered I had some left in the fridge that needed to be used.  I'm sure you could use the real deal when making this, if you'd like to feel better about the ingredients.  That's unless your grocery store is as fickle as ours about consistently carrying the real queso.  I couldn't get it for the life of me a couple of weeks ago when the boys were begging for the "Mexican restaurant cheese" to go with their nacho chips, so Velveeta was it.

I'm looking forward to doing this one again soon.  There was a ton of flavor and couldn't have been easier.  What a fantastic dish to prepare for company too!  I'm so glad my Saturday went the way it did.  No joke.  I have this flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants thing down pat!

Spanish Spaghetti Bake - makes one 9x13 dish
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or shredded chicken), cooked
  • 3 cups of your favorite prepared salsa
  • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning (my preferred recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles, cooked (we mixed whole wheat and plain)
  • 12 ounces queso cheese
  • pickled jalapeño slices, optional
~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~ Spray one 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
~ Mix together cooked meat, salsa, taco seasoning, and cilantro.
~ Spread about 3/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
~ Layer noodles, sauce, and cheese.  Repeat.  I save a little more than half of the cheese for 
    the top layer, so there's plenty to cover.
~ Cover the dish with foil, being careful to tent the foil to keep it from sticking to the 
    cheese as it heats.  Cook for 25-30 minutes.
~ Remove foil and turn oven to broil.  Watch closely for cheese to fully melt.  When it 
    begins to blister, remove and let cool for five minutes before serving. 
~ Garnish with snipped cilantro and jalapeño slices, if preferred.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
~ Mix all ingredients.

Spaghetti recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen.  Taco seasoning recipe from All Recipes.