Mexican Mac & Cheese

These Mexican-inspired flavors into mac & cheese are sooo good. I made it wayyy back in 2011 but I thought since I love it so, it deserved a photo re-do. I use cheddar, corn, salsa, taco meat, and top it with tortilla chips. Sometimes I throw in tomatoes, green chilis, and black beans.



1/2 pound ground beef, chicken, or turkey
4 tbs taco seasoning
1/2 pound elbow pasta
1 cup corn
8 oz shredded cheddar
3 tbs flour
3 tbs butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup salsa
1 cup tortilla chips, crumbled


Bring plenty of salted water to boil for the pasta.
In a large pan, cook the ground meat until cooked through. Drain, and add taco seasoning, a splash of water, and reduce heat to low.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook according to the package. Be careful not to overcook.
In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir as the roux becomes a paste. Cook for about 3 minutes until it changes from yellow to light tan.
Whisk in the milk and until smooth. Add in 3/4 of the cheese, stirring until smooth. Add the last 2 tbs of taco seasoning.
When the pasta is mostly cooked, add in the corn for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the taco meat and tomatoes.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Drain the pasta and the corn. Then add to the cheese sauce mix.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Gently add the pasta in and mix. Then spread into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, dotting with salsa and sprinkling in the last of the shredded cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Top with crumbled tortilla chips.
Cover and bake 15 minutes.
Uncover, and bake another 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese
Serve with salsa and enjoy!

I really love the taco seasoning flavors and some of the taco-inspired-additions. The baking time gives it a chance to really come together, and is perfect timing to get everything else washed and away by the time it comes out. I don’t make it very spicy but you can amp it up a notch if you like!
The Three Bite Rule - Mexican Mac & Cheese

Quick Cinco de Mayo Menu Ideas

It is already Cinco de Mayo. Here are a few ideas you can throw together in a jiffy IF you want to be all themey today and hadn’t already thought about it. My themey-ness is limited because my brain is about maxed out in preparedness for a huge work event on Thursday. Ease and auto-pilot are the names of the game this week. I do love how quick tacos can be though…

Here’s what I wish I were serving 😉

Flautas filled with beef, chicken, pork, veggies, etc: They’re super quick and easy to prep. They’re a great appetizer or main dish. I love the crunch + cheese in one cute little roll-up. Mix up some ranch + taco seasoning for a creamy drizzle with a kick!

The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
Grilled Pineapple Salsa: this is so easy, you could also grill some pineapple and just add that + black beans to your regular ole jar-o’salsa. Serve it with chips or on top of some chicken. Your call.

If you’re celebrating a bit later, you neeeed to mix up this bean dish. They’re sweet & tart and I hesitate to call it bean salad because that isn’t quite what it is, but bean dip isn’t quite right either. It needs to marinate for a few hours, or overnight. I make this often, as a side dish or to add onto tacos, or with chips. It keeps a few days and is great on a salad. Try it, you’ll convert everyone.
Go beyond your average tacos by using pulled pork
The Three Bite Rule - BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
Or if tortillas + cheese + eggs are all you can will yourself to grab for a fiesta then Huevos Rancheros it is!
I love taco pizzas like this or taco pizzas like this
or taco inspired burgers are great


What I Ate: Taco Pizza

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

Add one to the successful pizza-dough alternatives! Making pizza on a tortilla is super easy and is like instant pizza. This is suuuuch a fast pizza and was a great use for a few small leftovers. I had a very small amount of ground chicken in the freezer and a few tortillas hanging around. It had tacos written all over it, but then I figured open faced tacos are taco pizza! This could adapt pretty easily to quesadilla pizza as a stacked tortilla: cheese: tortilla: cheese: toppings. I went lighter (and easier).

The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza

It was a hit and definitely didn’t seem like the burrito ingredients that had been dinner before.


1/4 pound ground chicken/pork/turkey/beef
1 tbs taco seasoning (or a mix of dried garlic, chili powder, cumin & black pepper)
1 cup refried beans
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 8″ tortillas
1 tomato
1-2 sprigs of green onion


Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Heat a flat pan to medium heat.
Brown the ground meat, drain, and add taco seasoning.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
While the meat is cooking, bake the tortillas on a baking sheet for 2 minutes on each side just to get a tiny bit crunchy so the toppings don’t make it soggy.
Then spread on the refried beans and a sprinkle of taco seasoning.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
Add the cheese, ground meat, chopped tomatoes.
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the tortilla gets crunchy.
Sprinkle with green onions and salsa. Slice, and enjoy!
The Three Bite Rule - Taco Pizza
The beans on here absolutely take it from basic quesadilla to the next level. This taco pizza is a super quick dinner and uses such a small amount of ground meat. This is leftover central at it’s finest. The remaining refried beans can easily freeze until the next burrito/taco pizza time. The crispy tortilla is great and it fulfilled my “need” for Mexican.

You could top this with any cheese you had around (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, mozzarella, a mixture) , any veggies you have around (like corn, green peppers, green chili, etc), and top with any taco fillers you choose (like sour cream, black beans, avocado, guacamole, etc). The possibilities are endless and are an easy build-your-own.

This is dinner in 30 minutes, without running around like Rachael Ray.

I have made taco pizza as a regular pizza which was awesome, but this was a bit easier.

Other dough-less pizzas I’ve made:
Bacon & Pear Flatbreads on Pita Bread
French Bread Pizza
Bubble Up BBQ Pizza
Bruschetta Pizza on Naan

What I Ate: Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I took a twist on one of Mr. J’s signature dishes, huevos rancheros. It was good, but I think I might like the regular method better. I whipped out the big griddle to do the quesadilla and egg at the same time.

The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros


2 taco-sized tortillas
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, monetary jack, or pepper jack cheese
1 egg
salsa & guacamole


Spray a large skillet with non-stick spray. Bring heat to medium heat and lay one tortilla down and top with cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros Then lay the other tortilla on top.
Cook for about 3 minutes.
Spray top tortilla, and carefully flip the whole quesadilla.
In a separate pan, heat to medium and fry the egg.
Top quesadilla with a sprinkle of cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros
Serve with salsa, guacamole, and the egg.
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros
I love the yolk with the tortilla and cheese. Seriously, the yolk is like nature’s sauce. I also could eat guac or avocado for breakfast daily. Have I told you lately how much I love savory breakfasts?
The Three Bite Rule - Quesadilla Huevos Rancheros
I probably will stick to the single layer/traditional way. I think the super crisp tortilla that is almost blistered into crispness is better.

Do you ever do that? Take a regular dish you love and amp it up, only to decide it was better as-is?

What I Ate: BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos

What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.

I found roasted pork at Trader Joe’s and grabbed it tossing it into the freezer. I hadn’t made a plan for it, but figured it’d come in handy.
The Three Bite Rule - BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
It is fully cooked, which saves you about 6 hours of slow cooking pork shoulder.

I heated it with a smokey BBQ sauce.
The Three Bite Rule - BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos

I served it in flour tortillas with sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, black beans, corn, and BBQ ranch drizzle.
The Three Bite Rule - BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
Seriously so good. Keep these goodies on hand, or use leftovers in a new way. I’ve made pulled pork tacos before that had a slaw topping. This time the BBQ ranch and avocado made the tacos seem summery and super flavorful.


Mexican Stuffed Peppers

My idea for these stuffed peppers was an adapting one, get ready. You’ve been warned…

I got peppers on sale at the grocery store. I always check out the discount produce. There’s so much good stuff for a fraction of the price. I got 3 peppers (red, green, yellow) for a buck-something. Crazy. Thus, here’s the foundation of this meal.

Then, I wanted to get out of making rice. I think it is just annoying how long it takes. It gets sticky and the pot is obnoxious afterwards. I know, first world problems. I also didn’t have any rice around anyway, so it was a moot point. I had used up the couscous making a Shrimp and Couscous Salad (with the yellow pepper from this trio of peppers) so that wasn’t an option either. I wasn’t feeling the red quinoa I had around. That pretty much rounds out the options except then I spotted orzo and thought that would be fun. #winner

I added beans because a) they’re good for you and b) the beans would make it filling and I’d add less orzo which does nothing for you. The beans get the credit for started the Mexican twist.

I skipped the ground meat because turkey kielbasa is smokey and almost like chorizo, just not spicy. I thought it would make dinner feel a bit different too. This would be a really great use for the many scant packs of ground meat I freeze. I don’t usually want that meat to become a burger anyway so Mexican often wins out for their fate.

Hmmm. That’s it. I guess that’s where dinner came from. I made wayyy too much filling for just 2 peppers (4 halves). It became a sort of weird lunch the next day.


½ package of turkey kielbasa, chopped
1 onion, chopped (I used ½ of a red onion)
½ cup dried orzo
1 can red beans, rinsed
1 cup corn (I used frozen)
¼ cup tomato sauce (optional)
¼ cup salsa
2 tbs taco seasoning (or your own combo of chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes)
2 peppers, halved
⅓ cup monterey jack cheese


In a large pan over medium heat, fry kielbasa and onion in a tablespoon of oil until the onion starts to get cooked through and more transparent. (about 5 minutes)
Boil water for orzo. Add orzo and cook until totally cooked.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Add corn, beans, tomato sauce, salsa, taco seasoning to the kielbasa and onion pan.
Drain orzo and add to the pan with everything else.
Stir well.
sprinkle half the cheese into the the peppers.
Spoon the filling into the peppers.
Bake for 15 minutes, then top with remaining cheese and bake for another 5 minutes.
These were good, but not exactly life changing. I liked all the flavors and they brought a nice freshness and to the weekly meal schedule. The stuffed peppers were filling and not too heavy since there was just a tiny sprinkle of cheese. I liked the colors and textures. I don’t hate 1 pot meals either.


I think stuffed peppers are just a bit hard to eat. The red one was thinner and ended up being better than the green one.

Soft & Crunchy Taco Together

After seeing a LOT of Taco Bell ads for Dorrito tacos I remembered a taco they used to make with a hard AND soft taco together. I think it was a crunchwrap supreme or google images tells me maybe it was a gordita? I like the crunchwrap supreme name.

I basically glued the soft tortilla to the crunchy shell with cheese. Glued together with cheese. What a wonderful phrase!

I layed the flour tortilla down and topped it with some salsa con queso and shredded cheddar.
I placed the crunchy shell on top
I then put them into the oven for 5 minutes, flipping once.
It melted the cheese and softened the tortilla.
They didn’t stay together perfectly, but gravity helped. These were totally fun and a little bit different. There’s no reason to eat twice the calories but they are automatically better than Taco Bell’s version.

P.S. Happy birthday to my Momma!

Guest Post: Huevos Rancheros

Today Mr. J provides a guest post for you. He’s quite the cook, though he doesn’t get as many chances to make dinner. With dinners like this, he could be cooking a lot more often! 

First and foremost, I do not claim to have a Mexican cooking background nor is this an authentic recipe. This was my interpretation of Huevos Rancheros based on looking at a few recipes online and determining what we had on hand for ingredients. I was looking for a quick weeknight breakfast meal for dinner and came across several Huevos Rancheros recipes online, many of which offered different variations on preparation and ingredients.

I didn’t have all the ingredients to make a fresh salsa, so I chopped some fresh tomato and added it to some existing jar salsa to freshen it up a bit.


I preheated the oven to around 250 degrees, and then heated some olive oil on a griddle pan. I dropped two flour tortillas on the pan for about 2-3 minutes per side, just long enough to get some browning and bubbling, and then transferred them to the oven to stay warm.



The eggs are the key ingredient in my mind, and I noticed some recipes taking a shortcut by using scrambled eggs. I prepared them sunny side up, because the runny yolk ties everything together and is so delicious.

When the eggs were almost done, I pulled the tortillas from the oven and topped with shredded cheese,


Then topped that with the sunny side up eggs,


Followed by the salsa,


Finally finishing with more shredded cheese and a dash of parsley.


I was really pleased with how these turned out. They didn’t take more than 10-15mins to prepare and are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Today I wanted to kick off a new Friday series. I’m calling this one Tonight & Take 2. I get questions about how I have all the ingredients for everything I make or how I come up with what I make.

The reason I have an ingredient on hand is because:
a) I live to avoid grocery shopping so leftovers are planned to a T
b) using-what-I-have is my middle name
c) cooking for 2 of us means a whole package/container/item needs creativity so we aren’t eating the same thing day in and day out.

I just don’t usually share how I plan to use the other half. I might use part of the whole for a recipe but now you’re going to see how that happens. I also might make something and space out the blog posts so you think each posted item was spaced out. Aren’t you excited?!

Here are my meal planning tips here and here. Now, back to using an ingredient to make 2 totally different dishes.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas


½ roasted butternut squash
1 cup black beans
8 oz shredded monterey jack cheese or pepper jack
1 tbs liquid smoke (optional)
1 tbs salsa
8 wheat tortillas


Fill each tortilla with squash, black beans, and cheese.
Roll up and top with enchilada sauce.
Bake covered for 20 minutes at 350-degrees.

These were flavorful and I loooved the smoke flavor with the squash. The beans make it filling and balanced. Does this have you thinking about another leftover that would be good in here? Throw it in! Go crazy!

Now, these enchiladas were take 2 on a roasted butternut squash. Round one was a fall pizza with butternut squash, gouda, and bacon.

What I Ate: Pulled Pork Tacos

Today’s What I Ate post features my use for some leftovers. Like all What I Ate series editions, it isn’t recipe worthy but it made me really happy and was a great way to jazz up the leftovers.

Have you ever cooked a pork butt? It is hefty. I haven’t seen smaller ones than 3-ish pounds. That’s a heck of a lot of servings. The good news? It freezes well, reheats well, and has some alternative possibilities. It is pretty cheap too. It might be my favorite crockpot item. Woah.
I used some pulled pork to make tacos and I loved every bite. I made pulled pork (like this crock pot pulled pork post from way back when) and we ate it a few times as bbq pulled pork, or on rolls. Then I served it with crunchy taco shells, black beans, and some slaw.
Pulled Pork Tacos
Hello taco!

The slaw was red cabbage mixed with some shredded carrots, cider vinegar, veggie oil, and a dash of sugar.  It was perfect, easy, and cheap. I loved that it felt reinvented and wasn’t exactly how we had eaten it before.

Any inspired leftover revamps to share??