Happy Winter everyone! These cold, snowy days have me craving all the comfort foods (or maybe it’s the pregnancy!). That in combination with not wanting to stand over the stove for more than 30 minutes has really made me hone in on quick and simple recipes like this one. Only one pan to wash (win!), no meat to cook (win!), and it is loaded with cheese (major win!). Plus my 18 month old ate about half of it (sort of win!).
My due date is in 6 weeks which is very very surreal to me. I feel like in some ways I have been pregnant for 125 years, and other times I feel like there’s no way it is already winding down. I knew that my second pregnancy would be different than my first, but I wasn’t expecting all of the new emotions you feel with round two. I go from super excited to grow to a family of 4 to a little bit sad thinking that I won’t be able to give all my attention to Rory anymore. I know he will adjust, as all first children do, but is it weird that I feel guilty for making him share everything including his parents?! I’m sure once the baby is here all will be right with the world, and my funny thoughts about having this second child will subside but for now, I’m over here feeling like I’m a string of happy-sad-happy-sad-happy-crying-laughing emojis. Ugh, hormones man.
Anyway, please enjoy this hearty, lazy meal and don’t feel guilty for making your significant other wash the dishes! (one dish! – and maybe a cutting board)
One Pot 30 Minute Taco Mac & Cheese
Everything gets thrown into one pot and is ready to serve 30 minutes later! Weeknight winner for sure.
Mince onion and place in a large stock pot or dutch oven with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in 2 Tbsp of the taco seasoning and the green pepper. Saute for additional 2-3 minutes.
Add in tomatoes, beans, broth, pasta, and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once pasta is done, add in the final 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning, 1 Tbsp chili powder, and the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and serve.
You can add chicken or ground beef to the first step if you would like additional protein.
Omit the chili powder if you are feeding sensitive palates (I dished some up for my son before I added the chili powder).
We like to top it with sour cream, but feel free to add any additional taco toppings you would like!
It was one of my New Year’s resolutions to eat less red meat, and to try to eat healthier not only for myself but for my husband. We eat out wayyy too much but we also know that for now there is just the two of us, so those care free, spur of the moment nights out are probably limited. We have a tradition of going out on Thursday nights – I don’t remember how it started. I think we decided to go out for Mexican and margaritas one Thursday in West Des Moines, and after that we decided that the $11 pitchers (best. deal. ever.) were definitely right up our alley.
Sorry about that little side note. Anyway, the other nights of the week I try to make something home cooked. Last night’s specialty was my version of a tortellini casserole. We have tried many many many different kinds of tortellini, and the next statement is my own personal opinion: please buy refrigerated. We have tried frozen and dry but in my experience the refrigerated kind just cooks better. We prefer Costco’s Five Cheese Tortellini. I should also disclose to you that I am the master of choosing a casserole dish that is too small for the amount of food I am cooking and not realizing it until it is too late. This means that I usually end up doing more dishes that I desire to because I have to put a cookie sheet under the casserole dish so my oven doesn’t become a hot mess (literally).
This is a great recipe to ad lib and add your own flare. This time around, I had to make my own spaghetti sauce because I didn’t have any on hand. I mixed a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onion and a small can of tomato paste in a medium sauce pan and brought it to a simmer; then add water until it becomes the consistency that you want. When you are making the casserole, alternate layers of sauce, tortellini, and mozzarella. The secret to the creamy, richness of this dish is a layer of 1/4 cup cream mixed with 3/4 cup parmesan in the middle of the casserole. When cooked and dished up, the secret layer adds richness and tones down the tomato-y flavor a tad. You can totally omit this if you want!
I know, I know, this isn’t the healthiest of meals but a small portion is very filling and it makes for great leftovers. It would freeze great for meals in the upcoming weeks also!
Look at all that creamy, cheesy pasta. Yes ma’am. Mmmhmmm
Creamy Tortellini Bake
Cheesy, creamy, rich pasta goodness make for a fantastic meat-free meal!
Bring tomatoes and tomato paste to a simmer. Add water to take it to the consistency you desire (I like mine on the thick side)
Cook tortellini according to package instructions. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Just a little hint - you really don't need to stir while they are cooking, and most usually take 2-3 minutes tops.
In the bottom of a casserole dish (I recommend a rectangular one), spread 1/4 cup of your tomato sauce then layer 1/2 of the tortellini followed by more tomato sauce and a layer of mozzarella cubes.
Before adding the second layer of tortellini, mix the cream and parmesan in a bowl and pour over the first layer.
Repeat layers, using the rest of your ingredients and finishing off the top with the cubed mozzarella.
Cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until mozzarella begins to brown.
Serve with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. Enjoy!