Sunday, April 5, 2009

Taco Stuffed Shells

This meal is a great way to get one pound of ground beef (or turkey, or chicken) to stretch to feed about five people. In our house, that's a stretch, anyway!
This recipe is from this website, although there are a ton of different versions out there. Kraft foods has a version where you soak crushed Ritz in some milk, and then eventually add them to the meat mixture to add some more bulk. Sounds a little too meatloaf-y to me, so I'll stick to this one! We will definitely make this meal again.
As far as the pictures go, they weren't happening last night. I got one while I was prepping, and then one later when Norris got out the leftovers to have some more. If you want to see a good picture, click the original recipe link for step by step instructions!

Taco Stuffed Shells
adapted from blogchef for my non-salsa eating husband; check out the original version if you like salsa!

1 lb ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning
16 jumbo pasta shells (couldn't find in whole wheat version...tell me if you know where to find those!!)
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
1 cup mexican shredded cheese
2/3 cup taco sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t onion powder
1 t ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups tortilla chips, crushed (optional)
other topping as you like: green onions, sour cream, more salsa..

Brown ground beef, drain fat, and prepare according to taco seasoning directions.
Put a pot of water on to boil for pasta shells. Prepare according to package directions (mine boiled 10 minutes).
After taco meat is prepared, add cream cheese, cover, and simmer for about five minutes, until cream cheese is melted in. Stir it all together.
After pasta shells are done, lay them out so they aren't touching so they won't stick, or toss them in a bit of olive oil to do the same thing.
After meat is done, let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together tomato sauce, garlic, onion powder, and ground red pepper and pour in bottom of 9x13 baking dish.
Stuff each shell with meat mixture and place in dish. Pour taco sauce on top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, uncover, sprinkle cheese and crushed chips on top, and bake for another 15 minutes. (great chance to clean the kitchen up:)

Pre-baking. I thought we could probably have gotten away with stuffing a couple more shells with the meat mixture, but I just overstuffed these instead!