Make Ahead Monday – Taco Bake

Happy 2012!  There’s a new addition to the ED&BK line-up this year – Make Ahead Mondays!

Remember that song “Manic Monday” by The Bangles?  (If you don’t, it’s cool, you are probably way younger than me…  or you are my mom, and I don’t expect you to know that song, Maude.  But I digress.)  Anyway, that song SO could have been written about me.  Mondays are just hectic, from start to finish. Monday mornings always seem crazed, no matter how much I prepare on Sunday, work is always super busy with all of the emails and ideas from the boss that have been piling up all weekend, and by the time I get home I always find myself praying there are chicken nuggets in the freezer or a takeout menu in the immediate future.

WELL NO MORE!!!

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of prep cooking to make things easier during the busy work week.  I like to grill up large batches of chicken breast and freeze them so they are ready to heat and serve.  Same goes for ground beef or turkey,  many veggies, oven fries, and even mashed potatoes.  I also try to double recipes when assembling casseroles, and put one in the freezer for another day (see the Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole post for a good example of how I do this.)

So to beat my Monday dinner blues, I figured that during prep time on Saturday or Sunday, I am just going to make sure that I assemble at least one complete dinner that can then be EASILY cooked (my test for “easily” is if I could instruct The Hub how to do it over the phone and actually have it turn out right,) leaving just an itty-bitty bit less Manic in my Mondays.

Up first is an easy and healthy Taco Bake.

What You Need:

1/2-3/4 lb ground turkey (or beef, or whatever)

3/4 cup Egg Noodles (I like the No Yolks brand, but whatever floats your boat is fine,) measured dry.

1 can black beans

1/2 can corn

1/2 can enchilada sauce (use more if you would like it saucier, I just like to stretch my sauce to two meals)

1/2 can spinach, drained well

3/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 wedge laughing cow original cheese (or sub cottage cheese – 1-2 tablespoons)

What You Do:

Brown the ground turkey (or ground _____ of your choice):

I am a bean rinser.  This is a personal choice – some say it reduces the issues involved in the latter part of the childhood rhyme about “the musical fruit,” and it can reduce sodium content a bit, but mostly I am just not fan of the goopy liquid in most recipes, so I drain and rinse.  If you are not a rinser, then just drain.

Into a sprayed baking dish goes the meat, beans, corn, spinach, noodles, enchilada sauce, cumin, garlic salt, and a broken up wedge of laughing cow cheese or a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese (I tend to do this to dishes when I think they might need a little creamy texture in there.) Stir it all together really well:

And top with the shredded cheddar:

All ready for a lid or foil and into the fridge!  Monday evening right when I get home I will set it on the counter and turn the oven to 350.  In 45 minutes or so when the chill is off of the dish I will pop it in for 30 minutes covered and dinner will be served – having cooked itself while I get into comfy pants and pour a glass of wine.  :)

(If I didn’t want to wait the 45 minutes, I would probably pop it in the microwave on defrost for a couple of minutes to take the chill of the dish.  Pyrex can take a lot, but extreme temperature changes can do wonky things to it, and people I have SEEN what a pyrex explosion can do to a kitchen.  Flying glass ain’t pretty.  Just sayin’)

I am ready to dig in – is it dinner time yet?

 

2 responses to “Make Ahead Monday – Taco Bake

  1. Jennifer

    Hey, couldn’t wait to try this and tonight was finally the night! For whatever reason, I have never made a Mexican casserole type dish using pasta nor have I ever used laughing cow cheese. I loved this dish! I just want to thank you for opening up my cooking world to new ideas!

    • So glad you liked it! This is a favorite for me on super busy weeks when I try extra hard to get things all ready on Sundays for the week ahead. (And Laughing Cow is awesome to make things creamy without being fatty- love the stuff!)
      Thanks for trying it, and for letting me know what you thought! :)

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