Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Taco Pasta Bake


About a year and a half ago, I signed myself up for a Pinterest account!  I was so excited to have discovered this site - a site where I could keep track of all the recipes that I found online!  No more printing out recipes and then storing the papers in a binder...nope all of the things I wanted to make would be nice and organized on this neat online pin-board!  The very first recipe I ever pinned and tried to make was for Taco Pasta Bake (it is a pretty popular pin).  I was super excited to make it, and I was even more excited to taste that very first bite!  But I was disappointed, and John didn't love it either.  However, I knew that the idea was good...so like usual I changed around a few things and came up with an AMAZING recipe that was much closer to what I had imagined that first bite to be!

Here's What You Need to Make the TACO PASTA BAKE:

  • about 3/4 box penne pasta (I always use 100% whole grain)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (you can also use ground turkey)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (I use Old El Paso Low Sodium)
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes 
  • 3 cups shredded mexican cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil (for cooking the meat and greasing the pan)
Now Let's Make the Taco Pasta Bake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9x13 casserole dish lightly with oil
  2. Cook penne pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water - cook pasta until about 3 minutes shy of al dente (it will cook more in the oven)
  3. Meanwhile in a separate pan, cook your ground beef in a bit of olive oil, crumbling and browning the meat until cooked through
  4. Add your packet of taco seasoning, water, and cubed cream cheese
  5. Stir the mixture until the cream cheese is melted
  6. Add pasta to the meat mixture
  7. Pour everything into your greased casserole dish
  8. Sprinkle one cup of mexican cheese over the top and stir lightly to distribute cheese throughout the casserole (the casserole will look soupy- see picture below - but the liquid gets absorbed during the cooking, creating a delicious and creamy casserole)
  9. Sprinkle remaining two cups of cheese on top 
  10. Bake in oven for 30 - 40 minutes until casserole is done to your liking
  11. Allow to sit and cool for about 5 minutes before serving
When you first pour your pasta/meat/cream cheese mixture into the pan it will look soupy like this but do not panic!  That extra liquid will help the pasta to finish cooking and make your casserole delightfully rich and creamy! 

Your casserole will look like this when done!  Do you see all of that delicious cheese on top?!?

John and I enjoyed our casserole on the couch while watching that days episode of General Hospital (don't judge)!  

I love love love my version of Taco Pasta Bake, and I know that you will too! It is perfect for the cool fall and winter weather!  Plus this makes a lot!  It will feed a large family or a small family with leftovers! 




4 comments:

  1. John watches GH?! And doesn't complain?!?! What an awesome hubby!!

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    Replies
    1. Erin - yes, John is an amazing hubby! He watches GH with me every single night (he is totally addicted to it)! He also watches The Bachelor/Bachelorette and Real Housewives! But I also watch a lot of football with him!!!

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  2. I would have asked earlier but Joshua decided to be a crazy little person (as almost-two-year-olds tend to be lol)...what brand of pasta do you use? We've tried several brands of whole wheat pasta but Chris doesn't like them -- he says they taste like cardboard. Maybe I can give your brand a shot. (We're typically regular Barilla consumers, but I'd like to eat something healthier. It just stinks that all the really "fun" shapes are only available as white semolina pasta.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually used Wegman's Brand Organic Whole Wheat Penne (which is my favorite whole wheat pasta and it's a bonus that it is organic). It only has two ingredients - whole wheat flour and water lol. I have also used the Barilla Whole Grain pasta with good results, I just like this better. I used to buy the Barilla Plus until I learned that it wasn't really good for you...it's hard! I try everyday to find the balance between healthy and fun when it comes to food...but I really needed to overhaul my diet after having 2 babies in less than 2 years! I started with one thing at a time and switched to the healthier option. John is usually pretty agreeable because I do all the cooking and Lacie doesn't know the difference which is great! If I buy pasta in a box it's always whole wheat but if I buy fresh pasta (like tortellini) then I get white :)

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