Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake

Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake | windykitchen

I am really, really, really proud of this dinner for a very special reason — my husband made it all by himself! He did all the mixing and simmering and broiling and everything while I barked out orders from the couch like a mustachioed dictator.

Let me explain.

While I’m not much of a runner, one of my good friends is a great runner and does races and half marathons and all that impressive stuff. One Saturday when the weather was just nice enough to consider being outside for more than five minutes, she convinced me to go running with her. How did she convince me, you might ask? Well, she mapped out a route wherein we ran to a Mexican restaurant a couple miles away and then rewarded ourselves with queso and margaritas.

Excellent plan.

Unfortunately, because I am significantly better at drinking margaritas than I am at slowly jogging, I pulled something in my foot that left me unable to walk the entire next day. So, while I laid on the couch icing my foot and generally whining like a baby, my husband made this whole dinner himself.

I think the lesson here is don’t run…

Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake | windykitchen

SOUTHWESTERN CHILI CON QUESO PASTA BAKE (recipe from Living Light)

1 pound penne pasta
1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups (12 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded (it’ll melt better if you shred your own rather than buying pre-shredded)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 14-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1. Preheat broiler to high. Bring large, salted pot of water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente.
2. While pasta cooks, preheat large skillet over medium-high heat and brown beef/turkey. When meat is almost finished (but still a little pink), throw in garlic, jalepeño, and onions and finish cooking until meat is browned and onion is translucent. Drain grease from skillet and mix in cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Add salt to taste and take off the heat.
3. Melt butter in medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. When melted, add flour. Cook 1-2 minutes then slowly whisk in milk. When milk comes to low simmer, stir in cheese (reserving about 1/2 a cup), cilantro and parsley with a wooden spoon. When cheese has melted, stir in tomatoes.
4. Once pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot. Add meat and cheese sauce, and stir to combine. Transfer to baking dish, top with remaining cheese, and place under the broiler to lightly brown (2-3 minutes).

This was good! We healthied it up a little by using lean ground turkey and a little less cheese, but I would go ahead and use the full amount of cheese. Because life is short.

…and arguably shorter when you can’t run and love cheese.

Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake | windykitchen

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