Mexican Baked Ziti

Hello, Monday.  It is kind of sad how Monday has such a bad reputation.  But I don’t really have the time or energy to go off into a separate topic today so I’ll stick with cooking for today.
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A few weeks ago I made what I call Mexican baked ziti from Healthy Snack Recipes blog (the ingredients and instructions for this specific recipe are listed partway down the page where it says “Must Try!”  It’s basically baked beef ziti with a slight Mexican flair.
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Bottom line: It was easy.  It was inexpensive.  It was tasty.  It provided leftovers.  Is there really more to say on the subject? 😉
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Mexican Baked Ziti

serves about 6

Ingredients:
-3/4 or 1 package of ziti noodles (I used penne)
-1lb lean ground beef (easy to substitute turkey)
-1 pkg taco seasoning (or make your own)
-1cu water
-1/2 pkg cream cheese (I used about 1/4 cuz it’s what I had leftover from a previous recipe)
-1.5cu shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-Cook pasta according to package instructions.
-Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain, then mix taco seasoning & 1 cup water in it for about 5 minutes
-Add cream cheese to beef mixture, stir until melted, and remove from heat.
-Put pasta in casserole dish, sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over, add beef mixture, then top with the rest of the cheese.
-Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes (or until cheese is nicely melted).

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Chicken Enchilada Pizza

Since my mother-in-law is in town, my husband and I took her to Northwest Folklife last weekend, along with my mom, and we met up with my dear friend Spencer there!  Folklife is always a good time…it is a festival in Seattle that occurs every Memorial Day Weekend that features FOOD, vendors, street musicians, and free concerts.  It is very…well…folky.  And diverse.  And I love it.  In case you’re wondering, I ate Thai food (vegetarian phad thai, peanut sauce chicken satay skewer, and fried chicken wonton).  All of us split a huge order of curly fries, and my mom and I split an elephant ear.
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Speaking of food, I made this chicken enchilada pizza by Gimme Some Oven a few weeks ago.  Oh man.  Let me repeat.  OH MAN.  I made this for Cinco de Mayo, because I wanted to have some fun with that, plus I wanted to use my new Pampered Chef pizza stone for the first time.  This recipe was soooooooo delicious.  Gimme Some Oven is one of my favourite food blogs, and for good reason.  The recipes are always a hit and usually fairly simple.
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I used a poblano pepper only on my half of the pizza (no, I didn’t eat half in one sitting, though I wanted to, but I had leftovers as well) and I omitted the green chilies altogether.  You can do what is preferred for your own family or friends.
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My mom had a slice too, and absolutely loved it!  I was pretty surprised, because sometimes she turns up her nose at the things I cook.  So if it was mom-approved, then you know it must be good. 😉
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Chicken Enchilada Pizza

serves 4

Ingredients:
-1tbsp. olive oil
-1 small white onion, peeled and diced
-1 poblano pepper, diced
-1 (4oz) can diced green chiles, drained (I omitted this)
-1 large unbaked pizza crust, homemade or storebought (I used whole wheat dough)
-2cu red enchilada sauce, homemade or storebought
-2cu shredded or cubed cooked chicken
-2cu shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese (I had bought a Mexican blend for this, then accidentally grabbed sharp cheddar, but it still was great!)
-handful of fresh cilantro, stems removed

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add onions and poblano, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add diced green chiles (if you’re using them) and cook for 2 more minutes, then remove from heat.
-In a bowl, mix the shredded or cubed chicken with a few spoonfuls of enchilada sauce, to fully cover.
-Prepare the pizza by spreading about 1 cup of enchilada sauce evenly on the crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Layer the onion/poblano/chile mixture evenly on top of the sauce, then the chicken, and then sprinkle cheese all over the top.
-Bake for 10-12 minutes, or according to the crust’s package instructions, or until done.
-Remove and sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Slice and serve immediately.

Other pizza recipes previously seen on Never The Same Dish:

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Basil Goat Cheese Pizza

Pepperoni Pizza

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Three Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza

Skillet Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos

 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  In honour of the holiday in which many Americans (and Canadians) make an abundance of Mexican food and consume an abundance of Mexican-inspired cocktails, I decided to share with you a fish taco recipe I made several weeks ago – good timing!
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The pictures do not make this dish look desirable at all, for which I apologize.  If you’d like to see TASTY pictures of this recipe, I recommend checking out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, the original blogger’s website for these skillet cilantro and lime fish tacos.  I took several other pictures, trying to make them look good, but I failed.  In any case, these were indeed delicious!  My husband said they were better than the tilapia fish tacos I made last year.

Whether you make these tonight, or another tasty dish, I hope everyone has a happy and safe Cinco de Mayo!
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Skillet Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos

serves 4

Ingredients:
-1tsp olive oil
-1 small white onion, finely chopped
-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, membranes removed and finely diced (I omitted this because my husband cannot do heat)
-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (I omitted these because I can’t stand tomatoes!)
-3tbsp fresh lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
-1lb tilapia (or any other white fish), rinsed and patted dry
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1/4cu chopped fresh cilantro
-8 5-inch white corn tortillas (my husband and I aren’t the biggest corn tortilla fans, so I used whole wheat)
-1 ripe avocado, sliced
-Lime wedges and cilantro for garnish

Directions:
-In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Saute, stirring often, until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add jalapenos, tomatoes and lime juice. Cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes. A
-Then add the fish and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, gently breaking up the fish into bite-sized clumps, until the fish is cooked through and the liquid in the skillet is somewhat reduced (it should be fairly wet but not really soupy). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro.
-If using corn, heat the tortillas in a dry skillet for a few minutes on each side to warm or sandwich 3-4 tortillas in between damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds until pliable.
-Scoop the fish mixture into the corn tortillas and top with the avocado and more cilantro!

Oven Baked Beef Tacos

Last weekend was so busy and this week is so busy and this weekend will be so busy!  I need a vacation.  But then I am sure I would get behind.  So then I’d need another vacation. 😉  Speaking of vacations, I have some “dream places” that I would love to go to.  I have always wanted to go to the Greek Isles – I have been obsessed since I saw the movie Mamma Mia!, I must admit.  Don’t judge me.  And every December, I look forward to seeing the Greek Isles calendars at the mall.  I also want to go to Italy.  And to Norway (I am very, very Norwegian).  And to Costa Rica and Colombia (I have family there).  And I need to go back to upstate New York to visit my in-laws and my dear friends there!  So, basically I want to go a lot of places.

Instead of traveling, I work…and I cook.  Like these Oven Baked Beef Tacos by Six Sisters’ Stuff.  Who would have thought to bake a taco in the oven?  But it works really well to get everything crispy, cheese melted…and just yummy!  I’m a fan of yummy.

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I made just a few alterations, due to ingredients on hand.  Well, only one.  The recipe calls for black beans, but I had leftover white beans from the toasted sesame and white bean hummus I made (I had soooooo many white beans left over), that I threw them into this instead.  Also, thanks to the advice of my dear friend Alysha, I blended my salsa!  It’s not a secret that I don’t like tomato chunks.  Normally when recipes call for salsa, I use taco sauce instead, but blending worked great, also!

The original blogger said that her tacos did not fall apart, but mine did.  Kind of.  At first we were exclaiming how great they were, they weren’t breaking open, and then some of them, in the middle only, were a wee bit soggy and fell apart.  But that might have been because I kept them in the pan for a bit after they were done, as I was waiting for my husband to get home, so they might have had extra time to simmer in their juices.  Despite that, this was very much approved by my mother, husband, and myself!

Best part: One serving of hard taco shells is THREE shells, for less than 150 calories, which is equivalent to just one soft taco!  I love the idea of eating 3 tacos! =D

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Oven Baked Beef Tacos

serves 4

Ingredients:
-1lb leanest ground beef
-1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 medium onion, diced
-1 (1oz) packet taco seasoning (or 2-3 tablespoons of Homemade Taco Seasoning)
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1cu chunky salsa
-9+ hard taco shells
-1.5cu shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-In a large skillet, heat oil and add onion and garlic – saute for about 5 minutes until soft. Add beef and taco seasoning, cooking until meat is browned. Add beans and salsa. Mix well and let cook for a couple of minutes so that the flavors can mesh together and the sauce can thicken up.
-In a large baking pan, line up all the taco shells. Fill each one with a couple of scoops of the beef mixture and pack down into the shell. Repeat until all the shells are filled. Top each taco with shredded cheese.
-Bake for 8-10 minutes (or until all the cheese is melted).
-Serve with your favorite taco toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, olives, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, hot sauce, etc.).

Salsa Verde Burgers

As you may recall, I made salsa verde the other week for Snack Food Friday at work.  Despite the fact that it was quickly gobbled up, I still had tons of leftovers, and did not want it to go to waste!  Then I got an email from Skinnytaste with her recipe for Salsa Verde Burgers.  PERFECT!  This is a super easy recipe because basically you make burgers.  The end. 😉
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Her burgers don’t even have anything special in them (that’s just weird to me – I’m the queen of adding tons of spices, herbs, and veggies to ground meat!), so you can buy the pre-made patties if you so desire (which I know several people that do).  I made my own patties and just seasoned with some garlic powder to add some extra flavour, as I typically use super lean meat (this time I used 93% lean ground sirloin).  I also bought the avocados this recipe called for because they were on sale and, well, who doesn’t love fresh avocado?  Ok, I can name several, but that just means more for the rest of us!

The original recipe called for shredded cabbage or lettuce, which I omitted, cuz it already had tons of green stuff, and also called for a specific brand of pepper jack cheese – I just used reduced fat sharp cheddar.  Finally, I didn’t have hamburger buns, so I used English muffins!  If you are counting calories or on Weight Watchers, this is a great way to reduce calories or points – and my husband didn’t even complain! 😉
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Salsa Verde Burgers

serves 2

Ingredients:
-cooking spray
-pinch kosher salt and pepper, to taste
-2 lean ground beef patties (about 4-5oz/ea)
-1/2cu salsa verde, homemade or store bought
-2 slices of reduced fat or part-skim cheese
-2 whole wheat hamburger buns or English muffins
-1/4cu shredded red cabbage or lettuce
-sliced avocado

Directions:
-Heat a skillet or grill over high heat. When hot, spray with oil and add the patties. Season with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes on each side, to your desired liking.
-Add the cheese and cover; cook to melt, about 30 seconds.
-Serve on buns, topped with avocado and salsa verde!

Turkey Chipotle Sloppy Joes with Feta

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS!!  WOO!!  I am so excited for and proud of my hometown team for winning their first ever Lombardi Trophy. =D
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Ok, now that’s said and done, you’ll probably never hear me talk aboutsports again (unless this is the year that the Seattle Mariners go to the World Series!…but I doubt it).

I could go on and on about how I have this secret that I am in love with sloppy joes, etc. etc., but I have already said that several times, so it is kind of old news by now.  But really, I love sloppy joes.  And I have no idea why.  I just do.  But really, I’ll just get into the meat of this post (get it? meat?)…these turkey chipotle sloppy joes with feta come from Damn Delicious (who originally posted the recipe on Nature Box’s blog). 

These are also known as “hidden veggie” sloppy joes, as the original recipe calls for carrot, zucchini, and corn.  I omitted the zucchini and corn, but not for any particular reason.  I left out the zucchini cuz I’m not a huge fan and didn’t want to spend extra money on something that I only kind of like (didn’t want to aka couldn’t afford to) and I just totally forgot about the corn. 😉  But I did remember, and have, the carrots, which were a great addition!
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This is also somehow my first time cooking with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  Well, second time.  Years ago I made a yummy spicy cheese fondue recipe that called for it, but my friend supplied the peppers.  I have seen hordes of recipes that call for them, but I have not gotten around to making them, because I always hate buying a jar or bottle of something and then not having a single additional thing to use it up with.  This time I decided to just go for it, and now I have a partial can of chipotle peppers in my fridge…anyone know how long it takes for them to go bad?

Regardless, this is delicious.  DELICIOUS.  Then again, they’re sloppy joes, so how could they not be delicious?  I will say, I doubled, maybe even tripled, the amount of peppers that were supposed to go in this.  The recipe said to puree them, which I did, in my food processor.  I started out by halving the amount of peppers, but it was just not spicy.  In fact, it was anti-spicy.  So I kept adding more…and more…and more.  And then at the very end, after the sauce had cooked up, it finally became…REALLY SPICY.  For some reason, I did not at all account for the spiciness settling in while simmering.  Thankfully, my husband was able to choke down one burger…and lucky me, I got all the leftovers! =D=D
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Turkey Chipotle Sloppy Joes
With Feta

serves 4

Ingredients:
-2tbsp vegetable oil
-1 small onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1lb lean ground turkey
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-1 carrot, minced
-1 zucchini, diced
-1/3cu corn kernels
-4 fancy-ish whole wheat buns, toasted
•crumbled feta, for serving
For the tomato sauce:
-1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
-1-3tbsp pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
-2tbsp brown sugar, packed
-1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-1tbsp red wine vinegar
-1tsp chili powder
-1tsp oregano
-1/2tsp cumin
-inch of cayenne pepper
-1tbsp tomato paste

Directions:
-In a medium bowl, combine tomato sauce, pureed chipotle peppers, brown sugar, Worcestershire, red wine vinegar, chili powder, oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper; stir and set aside.
-Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add carrot, zucchini and corn, and cook until zucchini is tender, about 2-3 minutes.
-Stir in tomato sauce mixture and then the tomato paste until well combined.
-Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and desired consistency is reached, about 10 minutes.
-Serve sloppy joes on hamburger buns with a sprinkle of feta, if desired.

Other sloppy joe recipes seen on Never The Same Dish:

Sloppy Joes

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Sriracha Sloppy Joes

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Yes, you are hearing way too much about the Seattle Seahawks from me.  So sue me. Actually, don’t.  But what you SHOULD do is watch this video.  Even if you are not a Seahawks fan, I guarantee it will crack you up anyway.  I have watched it about 50 times in the past few weeks and am not tired of it at all.

“What Does The Hawk Say?”

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This is one of those recipes that is so easy, it’s hard to call it “cooking.”  But since an oven is involved, I suppose it is!  It is also super cheap.  The ingredients totaled a little less than $5, and it made about 5 cups!

This tomatillo salsa verde from She Wears Many Hats was a total hit at my office’s “Snack Food Friday” last week.  Colleagues were coming up to me all day saying it was the best salsa they ever had, how did I make it, can they get the recipe, etc and so forth.  If you make this for your Super Bowl party (or heck, just make it to gobble it up yourself!), it is guaranteed to be a total hit.  It is GREEN (go Seahawks!!) and is literally all vegetables.  You can’t beat that.

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Why yes, I like to make a mess when I cook.  Doesn’t everyone? 😉

Side note: I was a bit hesitant to add all 6 jalapeños at once, so I added a few at a time.  My husband taste-tested the recipe and said it was fantastic, and only mildly spicy with all six.
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Tomatillo Salsa Verde

serves a lot

Ingredients:
-2lbs tomatillos, husks removed and washed
-6 jalapeños
-4 garlic cloves
-1 medium onion
-2/3cu fresh cilantro leaves (or however much you want, really)
-salt, to taste

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400, then chop the onion in half, crush the garlic, and leave the jalapeños and tomatillos whole (do not peel the onion and garlic). Roast on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through the roasting time.
-Peel the garlic, de-seed the jalapeños, and peel and roughly chop the onion.
-In a large food processor, add all roasted ingredients, plus cilantro, and pulse until all ingredients are chopped and it reaches your desired consistency. Add salt only as needed.
-Serve with chips, crackers, or whatever you want!