A delicious pasta bake filled with wonderful Southwestern flavors, chicken, cheese, black beans, and corn.
Hello everyone! I feel like I haven’t talked to you all in a while. We left town on Friday for my daughter’s first cheer competition, and I’ve been playing catch up since. It didn’t help that I had about 1400 emails in my inbox when I left on Friday!! No lie! So what could 1400 emails possibly be about? I wonder that myself quite often. It was basically a back log of store ads that I quickly deleted. The rest were certain newsletters to which I subscribe, and a few were social media notifications. I stayed up LATE Sunday night deleting, so I could start my week fresh. It totally stresses me out to have all that sitting there.
So back to the cheer competition. My daughter will be 8 next month. Since she was 3, I’ve had her in something…gymnastics, ballet for a few years, jazz, and now tumbling and cheer. I can honestly say that cheer is the first thing that doesn’t become a fight to make her finish out the year. In all the other stuff I put her in, she would decide mid-year that she didn’t want to continue. Well, once you’ve paid for costumes and you know she’s part of a routine, you can’t just let her quit…in my opinion. Now if she would have been REALLY miserable, I wouldn’t have made her go, but it never got that bad.
But with cheer and tumbling, we’ve never had a single issue. She LOVES going. LOVES IT! So now she’s on a mini competitive team and practices about 3 days a week. 3 days! So we’ve gone from other activities, where I basically have to force her to finish out the year (one day a week) to 3 days a week without one single complaint. She reminds me when it is a practice day and is dressed and ready before I say anything half the time. I really LOVE that she LOVES it especially when it was a true risk starting this knowing her history of not wanting to finish other activities.
So we finally got to see the end result of all of these practice days. We traveled to New Orleans, which is about 4 hours from us. We woke up EARLY the next morning to do hair and makeup (glitter eyes, high teased ponytail, and an annoyingly big bow). Let me just tell you…putting eyeliner on a 7 year old=NO FUN! I think my husband was proud of me for not losing my mind…just saying.
And another great memory is this Southwestern Pasta Bake. It was delicious. The kids ATE IT UP! Basically if it has a noodle and not too many green things, they will eat it. Now I will tell you that most of my recipes do not involve a lot of cooking dishes, but this one does (one to boil pasta, one to cook cheese sauce, and one to cook chicken, plus a final casserole dish). With that being said, as long as I don’t do this all the time, you can forgive me, right? I mean it’s so good, so it’s so worth the extra effort! And even though it does dirty a few more dishes, it doesn’t take very long to make at all! So that cancels out the fact that you’ll have to wash a little more, right?
Southwestern Chicken Pasta Bake
- 16 oz. penne pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp creole seasoning
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5-6 jalapenos from a jar, chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 can corn, drained
- Boil pasta according to package directions.
- Mix cumin, chili powder, and creole seasoning in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle chicken breast pieces liberally with this seasoning. Toss to coat.
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked. While chicken is finishing cooking, make cheese sauce. Turn off heat once cooked.
- For the cheese sauce: In a separate pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir and cook for about a minute. Slowly whisk in milk working to dissolve any lumps. (If you do have trouble dissolving lumps, strain them out to a small bowl and whisk them to dissolve. Add the mixture back and stir). Keep stirring until the mixture reaches a slow boil.
- Add cheese and cilantro and stir until cheese is melted.
- Add the cheese sauce to the chicken and stir.
- Add the cooked pasta and stir.
- Stir in black beans and corn.
- Pour mixture into a casserole dish and top with a little more shredded cheese.
- Place under broiler for to lightly brown.
- Serve while warm.
*Adapted from Rachael Ray-365: No Repeats
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Sara @ Bitz & Giggles says
Your daughter is adorable and it’s awesome she loves cheer. It looks like you all had lots of fun in New Orleans! This Chicken Pasta Bake looks so good! I think I’d cheat and use a rotisserie chicken so I could fit this into my weeknight meal plan!
I love rotisserie chicken too! That really would be great in this dish! Thanks Sara!
Ginny McMeans says
First of all – what a doll! I have to commend you on her fantastic make-up job. As for your pasta recipe? It looks wonderful. The spicy ingredients make me smile.
Thank you Jaren for the nice recipe.
Your welcome Liz! Thanks for visiting!
Amy @ A Healthy Life For Me says
She is so darn cute. Great recipe!
Sarah @ The Gold Lining Girl says
Awww, what a cute family! So glad you had a nice trip! This pasta bake looks delicious! I love good casserole recipes – they make life so easy!!
Sherri @ The Well Floured Kitchen says
I am terrible about deleting emails- I try but they overtake me. I don’t think I’ve ever had an empty box! My daughter does gymnastics – so I understand the driving all over to competitions 🙂 This looks delicious- my family would absolutely love it!
Thanks Sherri! We had fun and are excited to go to the next one!
Annie @Maebells says
That is great that she found something she loves! I also think it is really good that you made her finish out the other things without just giving up mid season. My parents were the same way with me and now as an adult when I get frustrated or loose interest in something I don’t give up so easily, I know it is important to complete whatever commitment I made.
And this pasta?! Yum!! So many of my favorite ingredients!
Amy (Savory Moments) says
This pasta dish looks like a definite winner! So many delicious flavors.
Jenn @ Deliciously Sprinkled says
Awww, your daughter is so pretty! And this chicken pasta bake looks delicious, I need to add your recipe to my weeknight dinner list!
To make your life easier buy your favorite chicken parts ~family size on sale~ throw it in a stock pot and cover with water. Throw in onions*, garlic, celery and other seasonings you like.and let it cook til done. When cool strain the chicken and put it in a large bowl, remove skin and bones then shred the chicken into 3 cup portions~the amount from most chickens. Put into zippy bags or your favorite container, date, label and toss it in the freezer. Depending on what I’m making I have tossed the block in the pot then separate it as it thaws, or I nuke it just long enough so I can separate pieces. You could easily prepare a months worth of chicken in an afternoon.
You can strain the stock and put it in containers to freeze for later, I like to use it to cook rice, noodles or soup.
* no need to chop, just cut bigger things in chunks and smash garlic cloves.