After eating out all weekend in Vegas, it's nice to come home this weekend and eat a bunch of home-cooked meals. We will be eating dinner on our friends' dime Saturday because they are getting married, but on Sunday I think we are going to try smoking some sort of meat in our new smoker on our new patio. I'm sure you will see a blog about it in the near future.
For this Friday Feast I made Southwestern Pasta Bake (courtesy of Rachael Ray, can you tell I like her recipes?). We have never had this before, and I haven't actually tried it yet, so I hope Brian likes it when he comes home tonight for dinner.
Southwestern Pasta Bake
* coarse salt
* 1 lb penne rigate or cavatappi pasta
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces (6 oz. each)
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon ground coriander
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* coarse black pepper
* 1 large yellow onion, chopped
* 3 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 cups milk
* 3/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
* 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
* 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
* 14 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes
1. Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil; salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked—a little chewy at the center.
3. While the water is coming to a boil, preheat a large skillet over med-high heat with the vegetable oil.
4. Season the chicken with cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, and pepper; add the seasoned chicken to the hot skillet and cook 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned.
5. Add in the onions, garlic, and jalapeno peppers; continue to cook 5 minutes.
6. While the chicken is cooking with the onions, make the cheddar sauce.
7. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour to it.
8. Cook 1-2 minutes over medium heat, then whisk in the milk.
9. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, parsley and fire-roasted tomtatoes with a wooden spoon.
10. Season with a little salt and pepper; remove cheese sauce from heat.
11. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add back into the large pot.
12. Add in the contents of the chicken skillet and all the cheddar sauce; stir to combine.
13. Transfer mixture to a baking dish and place under the broiler to lightly brown.