Monday, October 21, 2013

TACO AVOCADO MAC & CHEESE

Hello, dear readers! I've got a good 30-minute dinner for you today.

When I first stumbled upon this recipe for avocado mac and cheese, it kind of grossed me out. I don't remember what possessed me to try it, but for some reason I did, and now it's a weekly staple in our apartment. It's delicious. So creamy and cheesy and perfect. Actually, it's my husband's favorite meal now. (That pretty big because normally he complains when we eat meatless.)

As a matter of fact, I want to publicly and officially thank Two Peas and Their Pod for the recipe in the first place. Seriously, awesome. We love it.

I'm surprised I haven't done this sooner, but the other night I added taco meat. Doesn't that sound perfect? I mixed a jar of diced tomatoes in with the meat, and I added lots of extra garlic and cilantro to the avocado sauce. It was really hearty and would make a great meal for a group. Definitely a potluck pleaser. (Keep in mind the avocado sauce is going to get brown after a couple hours, though my husband insists that next-day leftovers taste just as good, despite the yucky color...)

Enjoy! Hope you all have a great week!

TACO AVOCADO MAC AND CHEESE(inspired by this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod)

PEPPER JACK MAC AND CHEESE
10 ounces pasta (I like to use rotini or elbow macaroni for this dish)
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

AVOCADO SAUCE
2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste

TACO MEAT
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
your favorite taco seasoning*

*I use cumin, chile powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and a hint of coriander. If you want to use store-bought, I highly recommend Trader Joe's brand. 

First cook the meat:
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add beef and seasoning and cook until browned. Stir in tomatoes heat 5 more minutes on medium heat. Then reduce heat to low and simmer while you prepare the rest of the dish. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package - on the firm side of al dente. DO NOT overcook the pasta. You don't want it to be mushy for this recipe. 

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauces. 
For the avocado sauce: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. 
For the cheese sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it forms a paste. Add milk, turn heat to high, and stir with a whisk. Continue stirring for a minute or two to be sure the paste is incorporated (and doesn't burn on the bottom). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low, stirring often. When it becomes thick (it doesn't take long at all), stir in the cheese until the sauce becomes creamy.

In a large bowl, stir cheese sauce into pasta, then stir in avocado sauce. Finally, stir in the taco meat. 

Enjoy!

NOTE:
The pepper jack cheese is kind of important. It gives the whole dish that special kick. That said, I have made it with other cheeses plenty of times, and it's still good. If for some reason you don't use pepper jack, ease up a bit on the cilantro and the lime juice. Or maybe season your meat hotter than you normally would. 




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