Tasty Taco Stuffed Shells

Oh My! I have a kitchen again!

After a long two months of renovations I was sooooo happy to have a kitchen back this weekend. It was awesome. I’m in love. I told my husband I feel like a princess and I just wanna hang out in there all day it’s so pretty! Yep – it was a great weekend.

My husbands family decided to come up for an impromptu visit so it gave me a great excuse to hang out in the kitchen and cook and entertain..my mother in law was really sold by the end of the weekend that I deserved this grand kitchen and would put it to good use (always good to impress the in-laws).

I didn’t take the time to record or click pics of the weekends meals, but now that our company has ventured home I decided to share what we made tonight.

You may have seen this pasta dish before. I’ve been making it for years. I actually made this dish for my husband the first time he met me! I’m not sure of the original recipe book it originated out of – and I kinda just ‘wing it’ now each time I make it. It’s a great family comfort food meal – and just what I was craving tonight! You may be thinking…baked pasta? summertime? Well, after two straight months of BBQ meals only (and a wee bit of takeout..OK too much takeout) – I’ve been craving some of these comforting pasta dishes for awhile now – and we have air conditioning – so why not I say! This is how I made it tonight.

– 1 package of jumbo pasta shells
– 1 pound of lean ground beef
– 1 diced onion
– 1 clove garlic
– 2-3tsp mild chili powder
– 1 small container of herb and garlic cream cheese
– 1 cup salsa (approx)
– 1 small jar of taco sauce
– a small glug of chicken stock
– lots of grated cheese (i use a mix of leftover cheeses in the fridge – smoked applewood cheddar, parmesan, cheddar and an herbed havarti I think)
– Butter

Garnish with:
– cilantro
– sour cream

Bring a large pot of Salted water to a boil. While you are waiting for your water to boil, fry up your ground beef with your onion and garlic. Drain a bit of fat off if need be once browned. Turn off the heat and stir in your tub of cream cheese and your chill powder to taste. Once your water is boiling – throw in your pasta shells. Under cook them a little as they will still continue to cook in the oven later. Drain and toss with butter. Once the shells are cool enough to handle stuff them with your ground beef mixture. In a large casserole pan, dot a little of the salsa on the bottom first and layer in your shells. Cover the shells with Salsa, Taco sauce and a bit of chicken stock (only if you want – I just had some to use up). Cover in foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil and cover in cheese. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve the hot cheesy shells with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with a bit of cilantro if you like. Great served with a simple salad on the side.

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