Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I happened to find this recipe while scrolling through Pinterest one afternoon, which unfortunately has become a major hobby of mine this summer.  I say unfortunately because it can sadly be very addicting.  Even when I go to the site to just pull up one recipe that I've previously pinned, and want to make, I somehow seem to stumble upon many more delicious looking recipes.  At the rate I'm going, even if I were to cook something every day over my vacation, I still wouldn't be able to make everything that I've pinned; it's crazy.  There just seems to be no end to this madness........

Mexican Stuffed Shells

1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 package taco seasoning
1-2 tsp. cumin (optional)
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1 ½ cups salsa (use your favorite, I always get Chili’s to go)
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterey jack cheese

Green onions
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Brown the beef in a medium to large skillet, over medium high heat.  Once the beef is cooked through, drain the excess grease and return the beef to the skillet.  Follow the package directions on the taco seasoning and allow to simmer for a few minutes.  (If you want some extra flavor, here is also where you could add in the ground cumin and cayenne pepper)  Add the cream cheese and stir around until the cheese is completely melted and mixed in with the beef.  Keep the temperature at a simmer during this process.  Once ready, remove the pan from the heat and allow time to cool.

While the beef is browning, cook the pasta shells according to package directions.  Once they’re done, drain and lay the shells out on a clean, flat surface to cool.  It’s very important to keep the shells separated, as it will keep them from sticking together.

Once the shells and meat mixture have had time to cool, evenly pour the salsa onto the bottom of the prepared 9x13 baking dish.  Stuff each shell with the meat mixture and then place the prepared shell on top of the salsa.  Make sure the open side of the shell is facing up.  Evenly coat the shells with the taco sauce.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

When time is up, remove the foil from the dish and sprinkle on the cheese.  Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted.  Top with any garnishes of your choice.  (Green onions, black olives, tomatoes, etc.)

Source: adapted from The Way to His Heart



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