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Taco Stuffed Shells

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Taco Stuffed Shells combine the flavors of classic tacos with the comforting texture of pasta, making for a delicious and unique meal. This recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner and is sure to be a hit with the whole family. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of making Taco Stuffed Shells, provide helpful cooking notes, and offer variations to suit different tastes.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells

Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Pasta Shells

  1. Boil the Pasta:
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the jumbo pasta shells and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Taco Filling

  1. Cook the Ground Beef:
    • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef until browned and cooked through, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add Taco Seasoning and Salsa:
    • Add the taco seasoning packet and salsa to the cooked ground beef. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is well coated and heated through.
  3. Add Cream Cheese:
    • Reduce the heat to low and add the cream cheese to the skillet. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated into the beef mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 3: Assemble the Stuffed Shells

  1. Preheat Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Stuff the Shells:
    • Fill each cooked pasta shell with the taco beef mixture. Place the stuffed shells in a single layer in a baking dish.
  3. Add Enchilada Sauce:
    • Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the stuffed shells.
  4. Top with Cheese:
    • Sprinkle the shredded Mexican cheese blend over the top of the stuffed shells.

Step 4: Bake the Stuffed Shells

  1. Bake:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Garnish and Serve:
    • Remove the baking dish from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with your favorite toppings such as chopped fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, sour cream, or sliced jalapeños.
  2. Enjoy:
    • Serve the Taco Stuffed Shells hot and enjoy this delicious fusion dish!

Cook Notes and Variations

Cook Notes:

  • Ground Beef: You can substitute ground beef with ground turkey, chicken, or a plant-based meat alternative.
  • Cheese: Use a combination of cheeses such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso fresco for added flavor.

Variations:

  • Spicy Taco Stuffed Shells:
    • Add diced jalapeños or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the beef mixture for extra heat.
  • Vegetarian Taco Stuffed Shells:
    • Substitute the ground beef with black beans, corn, and diced bell peppers for a vegetarian version.
  • Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells:
    • Add a layer of cheese sauce on top of the enchilada sauce for an extra cheesy version.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the stuffed shells ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

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2. How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftover stuffed shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.

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3. Can I freeze stuffed shells?

Yes, you can freeze the assembled stuffed shells before baking. Wrap the baking dish tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

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4. What can I serve with Taco Stuffed Shells?

These stuffed shells pair well with a fresh green salad, Mexican rice, or refried beans.

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5. Can I use homemade enchilada sauce?

Yes, you can use homemade enchilada sauce if you prefer. It will add an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

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Taco Stuffed Shells are a delicious and unique fusion dish that combines the best of tacos and pasta. With their flavorful taco beef filling and cheesy topping, these stuffed shells are sure to be a hit at your next family dinner. Whether you’re making them for a quick weeknight meal or preparing ahead for a busy day, this recipe is easy to follow and full of delicious flavors. Give these Taco Stuffed Shells a try and enjoy a comforting and delightful meal. Happy cooking!