Southwest Veggie + Taco Rice Casserole

This simple, healthy casserole is filled with lots of vegetables, black beans, and a delicious taco rice. It’s perfect for dinner and makes enough for lunch leftovers too. Mmm!

Southwest Veggie + Taco Rice Casserole | thepajamachef.com

Once upon a time, when we were first married, our go-to dinner was tacos, spaghetti, or some sort of seasoned chicken dish. There’s nothing wrong with any of those dinners, but unless you are using assorted boxed or packaged ingredients they aren’t that easy. Well, if you don’t buy that stuff on a regular basis, that is. [For the record, I do buy that stuff sometimes. I just don’t keep it at home regularly. My pantry is too full of seventeen kinds of grains, pastas, mustards, and sauces. Seventeen EACH that is. :)]

Southwest Veggie + Taco Rice Casserole | thepajamachef.com

 

Now, my go-to dinner is much simpler. Black beans and rice. Directions: Open freezer, remove black beans that I make by the pound in the oven. Defrost in the sink while making some rice on the stove. Heat black beans up on the stove with some homemade taco seasoning. Serve together, with assorted toppings like avocado, cilantro, green onions, hot sauce, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, etc. It’s rare that I have all those toppings on hand at once, but when I do… it’s parrrtytime! [Yes, I realize that if black beans and rice with toppings is my definition of partytime, I’m probably not very exciting. Ha.]

Southwest Veggie + Taco Rice Casserole | thepajamachef.com

This casserole is the kicked up version of black beans and rice, except everything is all mixed up together and baked til it’s ooey gooey. MMM! If you like regular black beans and rice, you’ll LOVE this version. It’s from the Budget Bytes cookbook so you know it has to be good. Probably what makes it so freakin’ awesome is that the rice isn’t just normal… it’s taco rice! If your family isn’t comfortable with meatless meals yet, I think this would be a great way to introduce the concept. There’s tons of flavor in one lil casserole dish! We loved this meal and hope you do too! :)

one year ago: Oreo Ice Cream Pie
three years ago: Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls
four years ago: Caramelized Onion Dip

Southwest Veggie + Taco Rice Casserole

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 50 minutes
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from the Budget Bytes cookbook

Ingredients:

for taco rice

  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

for casserole

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced [deseeded if desired]
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered – or 1 cup mushrooms, another bell pepper, or an extra cup of corn
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups prepared taco rice [from above]
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

In a saucepan, whisk together chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, tomato paste, and 3 cups water. Whisk together then stir in rice. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Then fluff with a fork and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 inch dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Then, add rest of the veggies: jalapeno, bell pepper, zucchini, and chili powder. Stir to combine and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until soft and all liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in corn, tomatoes, and black beans. Add the taco rice [you will have extra rice left] and the cheese and stir well. Transfer to prepared pan, then bake for 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Serve with green onions and cilantro.

Note:

Recipe can also be doubled [casserole portion–do not make extra rice] and baked in a 9×13 pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until bubbly.

 

 

Crockpot Minestrone Soup

An easy, flavorful minestrone soup that can be made in the crockpot. We love this soup on cold winter nights.

Crockpot Minestrone Soup #winter #recipes #easy #soup | thepajamachef.comGrowing up, I didn’t like soup at all. Minestrone soup was probably my least favorite of them all, with all its tiny vegetables, white beans, and floaty spinach. The pasta was the only good part!! And there never was enough of it. It’s not like my mom served soup all the time or anything. I just remember it being an option. A gross option. Fortunately, my tastes have matured a bit. Now, I LOVE soup. Love love love it. I frequently make a big batch on the weekend and freeze leftovers in individual containers to make the lunch packing chore easier.

Crockpot Minestrone Soup #winter #recipes #easy #soup | thepajamachef.comIn the winter, this is one of my favorite soups to make. I usually have all the ingredients on hand so making this hearty Italian in the crockpot is super simple. There are some ways to fancy it up though, if that’s your thing–you can saute the veggies, use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs, etc. But the classic crockpot cooking style of “toss it in and forget it” TOTALLY works for this recipe. The one deviation I take from that is cooking the pasta separately, to help it not soak up all the broth right away. That’s not too hard, is it? Hope not, because this is one delicious soup!! Enjoy!

two years ago: Cranberry Orange Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup
four years ago: Eggless Cookie Dough

Crockpot Minestrone Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 6-8 hours
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adapted from Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups/48 ounces chicken or vegetable broth, reduced sodium if possible
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 3 small diced carrots
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese rind, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked small pasta like ditalini or small shells
  • 1 – 10 ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted with liquid squeezed out
  • Parmesan cheese for garnishing

Directions:

Add beans, broth, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, basil, and rosemary to a large crockpot. Stir and add Parmesan cheese rind, if using. Set crockpot to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

An hour before you want to eat, bring a small pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to crock pot along with defrosted spinach. Stir, cover, and let crockpot cook for another 30 minutes or so to heat through.

Before serving, remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan!

 

Notes:

  • If desired, you can saute the onion, carrots, and celery before adding to the crockpot.
  • Fresh herbs can be used in place of dry herbs.
  • A thicker minestrone can be achieved by pureeing half the beans with 2 cups chicken broth.
  • The pasta absorbs the broth as it sits, so when you reheat it, you may have to add additional broth or water.
  • Soup reheats and freezes well!

 

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

A creamy, veggie-filled pasta dish that comes together quickly with lots of pantry ingredients.

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta | thepajamachef.comDoes anyone else watch Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network? Ever since we moved to Nashville and got a DVR [yes, I know these have been around forever but we didn’t get one til a year ago. We are way behind technology-wise.] I have been obsessed with recording episodes of cooking and HGTV shows. Because I can, and because they’re good tv shows to watch while blogging or reading magazines or something. I never watch and only watch tv. I need to be doing something else in the process, so I need somewhat mindless shows that aren’t totally trashy. Does that make sense? This one, if you haven’t seen it, requires chefs to dash around a grocery store in search of ingredients for an assigned meal/category of food, and then COOK their meal… but there’s always a twist or challenge. I never in a million years would want to be on Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, or any of those other cooking shows… but if I had to choose a cooking competition show to be on, this would be it. It’s relatively tame, Guy seems nice, and hello! Grocery stores are my favorite place to browse. Is that weird? Ha. Anyways, on a recent episode of triple G, one of the judges said that pasta dishes aren’t supposed to be light. She thought they needed to be heavy, or at least, hearty to be a true pasta dish. I have to say I disagree with that. There’s a place for heavy, hearty dishes like baked pasta or lasagna [take a look in my archives, I have tons of recipes like that!] but sometimes lighter pasta dishes totally hit the spot. Maybe they aren’t traditional but I love ’em.

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta | thepajamachef.comThis pasta dish is exactly the kind I love–full of flavor and interesting things, but still relatively light. It uses cream cheese and Parmesan cheese but also a lot of tomatoes, onions, and spinach to balance everything out. You can make this pasta in a pretty short amount of time, using mostly pantry ingredients, so it’s great for weeknights. The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks, so it really doesn’t take more time to make than  a box of mac ‘n cheese. So what if it’s not this big, hearty meal? Isn’t that what sides are for? :) To make this more of a one dish meal, I think some sliced grilled chicken, shrimp, or even some canned white beans would be great additions. I’ll have to try that next time! Enjoy!

one year ago: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Sauce
two years ago: Pumpkin Cornbread
three years ago: Honey Whole Wheat English Muffins
four years ago: Pumpkin Pasta Sauce, aka “Pumpfredo”

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Budget Bytes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound small pasta like penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4-5 ounces fresh spinach [frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained should also work too]

Directions:

Prepare pasta [al dente] according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened about 7 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Add tomatoes [undrained], oregano, basil, red pepper, and black pepper and stir to combine. Add tomato paste and 1/2 cup water to skillet, stirring until tomato paste has dissolved. Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese cubes one by one, stirring until incorporated. Then add the Parmesan cheese gradually, stirring until it is creamy.

When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. Top with spinach, cover, and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes until spinach wilts. Stir in and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately.

#10DaysofTailgate: Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili

A chunky vegetarian chili loaded up with beans, veggies, and pumpkin for some velvety smooth sauce. This soup makes a ton and tastes better the second day!

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

TEAR! This is my last recipe for #10DaysofTailgate. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway… there are lots of great prizes, including one from Bob’s Red Mill. You’re probably pretty familiar with Bob already, but you can check ’em out on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram too. :) They sent me a bag of their 13 Bean Soup Mix and boy! was it good. Thanks, Bob! It had some of my favorite beans–black beans, lentils, pinto beans–along with some fun additions like black eyed peas and lima beans.

#10DaysofTailgate Sponsors

I have a few things to admit with this recipe, guys. First, I didn’t really make it vegetarian–I used chicken broth. Oops! But you can use vegetable broth if you want… I just wanted to call it a vegetarian chili. Second, it’s not nearly as pumpkiny as I would have liked. But that’s okay–the pumpkin adds a velvety smoothness to the saucy part of the chili… that may not actually be traditional chili because it has wild rice in it. Yum. But I wanted to call it a pumpkin chili so I did. Third, it’s addictive and may cause even non-bean lovers to swoon with delight because it’s chunky, tomato-y, pumpkin-y, and delicious!

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

Is that okay with you? Good! Go grab half the contents of your pantry, fridge, and spice cabinet and make this chili NOW. You’ll be so glad you did! It’s extra delicious with lots of melty cheese on top. Thanks, Camilla, for hosting #10DaysofTailgate! Hope y’all have enjoyed it as much as I have!

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

four years ago: Chunky Crock Pot Applesauce

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 3 hours + overnight soak
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups 13 bean soup mix
  • 1 – 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 – 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes in tomato juice, undrained
  • 1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 5 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch cinnamon
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup wild rice, uncooked
  • cheese, for topping

Directions:

The night before you wish to cook, wash and sort beans to remove any small pebbles. Soak in a large bowl full of cold water. When ready to cook, drain and rinse beans.

Add all ingredients except rice and cheese to pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, then cook uncovered for 90 minutes. After that time, add wild rice to the pot and let simmer until beans and rice are soft.

Serve with cheese on top!

Here’s what the rest of the crew brought to the table…

Starters
BBQ Sausage & Cheese Plate by The Spiffy Cookie
Vegified Hot “Wings” by Curious Cuisiniere
Fried Polenta Cakes with Grilled Tomato and Mozzarella Salad by Love and Confections
Smoky Karma Stovetop Beans by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Dips
Chile con Queso by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Mains
Kicking Karma Veggie Fajita Pizza by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Not Ketchup Cherry Chipotle Steak Tacos by Making Miracles
BBQ Chickpea Sliders with Apple Slaw by Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili by The Pajama Chef
Beef Kabobs by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Disclosure: I received a complementary bag of 13 Bean Soup Mix from Bob’s Red Mill as part of my participation in #10DaysofTailgate. I was not compensated in any way–for my time, to create a recipe, or to publish positive comments. I was not required to use these products as part of my recipe. My opinions are my own.

#10DaysofTailgate: Cincinnati Turkey Chili

This delicious, smoky chili is so easy and full of flavor! Serve it alone, or Cincinnati-style over spaghetti for a fun twist!

Cincinnati Turkey Chili | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

This week I’m sharing tailgate-style recipes as part of #10DaysofTailgate, the special blogging event I am participating in through the rest of the month. This event has been graciously organized by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. While you’re thinking about it, be sure to pop over here to read all about the event and enter the giveaway. You won’t regret it! :)

#10DaysofTailgate Sponsors

I went to college in Ohio [yeahh Wittenberg!] and I remember the first time I was in the dining hall on chili night. Looking all around I saw people ladling chili on… what’s that… spaghetti! How bizarre, I thought, until I remembered that Cincinnatians [is that a thing? It is now!] eat their chili over spaghetti noodles. I thought it was really strange and didn’t try it for a few years until I was in a situation where it would have been super rude to not, plus I would have ended up starrrving. And we all know that’s not a good thing, righto? Truth be told, I before making this recipe I had only eaten Cincinnati chili a handful of times. But now that I have this easy recipe in my repertoire, I think it’ll end up on our dinner table more often in the future!

Cincinnati Turkey Chili | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

This recipe is from an Ellie Krieger cookbook which means two things: 1) it’s healthy, and 2) it’s super flavorful. The seasonings in this recipe are SPOT ON, folks. I didn’t change a thing! Just the right amount of heat and warm spices to make a smoky, alluring chili. Yup, I just called chili alluring. You gotta make it now! Be sure to top it with whatever you please… cheese, onion, sour cream/greek yogurt… the more the merrier! That’s part of the fun of Cincinnati chili! :)

three years ago: Honey Fig Scones
four years ago: Radiatore Lasagna

Cincinnati Turkey Chili

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2 hours
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from Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce – look for salt-free
  • 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes in tomato juice – look for salt-free
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, cooked
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 teaspoons minced red onion

Directions:

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often until soft–about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in turkey, breaking up with a wooden spoon, and cook through. Add peppers and cook for a couple minutes until they are just beginning to soften. Add spices–chili powder, cocoa powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, pepper, and cloves. Stir in and cook for about a minute until they start to smell delicious. Finally, add in tomato sauce and tomatoes, water, molasses, and the bay leaf.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook down for about 2 hours. Chili should still be soupy.

Remove the bay leaf, then stir in the kidney beans. Serve over spaghetti and top with cheese and onion.

Here’s what the rest of the team brought to the table…

Starters
Sticky Mango Mustard Glazed Duck Meatballs
 by girlichef
Pretzel Sticks with Two Sauces by Eliot’s Eats
Cherry Chipotle BBQ Pork Nachos by The Spiffy Cookie
Duck Poppers by CafeTerra
Duck Bacon Pumpkin Soup by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Dips
Corn and Cheddar Dip
 by Sew You Think You Can Cook
Steakhouse Deviled Egg Dip by From Gate to Plate

Mains
Ultimate Bacon Burger
 by Cheese Curd In Paradise
Cincinnati Turkey Chili by The Pajama Chef
Smoky Date Pulled Pork by Curious Cuisiniere
Grilled Avocado with Melted Cheese & Karma Hot Sauce by Making Miracles

Sides
Just Ducky Baked Beans
 by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Sweets
Linebacker-Sized Chocolate Chip Cookies
 by Things I Make (for Dinner)
Rocky Ledge Bars by Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Pear Poppy Snails {Birnen Mohn Schnecken} by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen