Speaking of cooking – or not, the winner of the Chili’s giveaway is here.

For the first year and a half of Annalyn’s life, my parents came over every Thursday night. And brought dinner with them.

It was a pretty sweet deal.

But last fall, I decided I should probably be able to pull together a meal at least once a week, so I told them not to bring dinner anymore.

For the most part, it’s been just fine. Sure, cooking dinner with Annalyn hanging onto my leg has taken some getting used to. And we’ve had our share of meltdowns and stress and sweat. (Meltdown = her, stress and sweat = me)

Dinner goes much more smoothly, of course, when I have a plan, when I decide what to fix before 5:30 that night.

A couple weeks ago, I planned to make baked mostaciolli. I don’t remember what else was wrong that night, but the evening was not going smoothly. And then I dumped my box of pasta into my boiling water.

It was a bad box. Half the noodles were burnt and almost immediately began falling apart. I briefly thought I could just pick out the bad noodles. But that did not work.

And of course, that was the moment my parents arrived. Annalyn was throwing a fit about something, I was picking burned noodles out of boiling water, and I needed to leave for choir practice in about 45 minutes.

So I improvised. I made do with what I had on hand. And I made a taco casserole. So, in case this ever happens to you – cranky toddler, busy night, burned noodles – here’s the recipe for the casserole:

Taco Pasta Casserole
3 cups macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large can tomato sauce
Cheddar, shredded

Boil the pasta, rinse and drain. Brown the hamburger, drain and add taco seasoning. Mix pasta, hamburger, corn, beans and tomato sauce. Pour into casserole dish, cover with shredded cheese. Bake until cheese is melted.

The good news is that this makes a LOT of food. So not only are you covered for dinner on the first night, but then you have leftovers for lunches or another dinner.

You could probably freeze half before baking, but in that case, I’d recommend not boiling the pasta quite as long. I’m not a fan of “al dente,” but freezing already-soft pasta has never worked out for me.

Have you ever had a box of burned noodles? Or some other last-minute cooking disaster that forced you to improvise? What did you do?

This post will be linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Friday Food, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays and Presto Pasta Nights (which is here and here).


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