- 1/2 - 3/4 of a bag of large noodle pasta like ziti
- approx. 1lb of ground beef
- 1 pkg/envelope of taco seasoning
- 1C water
- 1/2 pkg of cream cheese (about 4oz)
- 1 1/2C shredded cheese (I used marble)
1. boil pasta until just cooked, drain, run cold water over it
2. brown ground beef
3. mix together taco season and 1C of water, pour over cooked beef and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced
4. add the 1/2 pkg of cream cheese to the beef mixture, stir until melted and combined, remove from heat
5. put pasta in your casserole dish or pot, mix in 1C of the shredded cheese
6. top pasta and cheese with beef mixture, gently mix until the pasta is coated
7. top with remaining 1/2C of shredded cheese
8. bake at 350 uncovered for approx 30 minutes
(Recipe from http://www.canadianmomscook.com/2012/07/taco-pasta-bake.html.)
I used ground turkey instead of beef and Neufchatel cheese. I almost never use ground beef, the hubs and I have just gotten so used to using turkey that ground beef tastes funky to us and the cheese is slightly lower in fat and calories so it's what I always buy. I also added about half a cup of diced onion at the husband's request but that could easily be omitted or increased depending on your tastes.
Meat has been browned, and the sauce has been reduced
Melting the cream cheese into the sauce (it smells and tastes better than it looks I swear).
Cooked pasta in the casserole dish with shredded cheese on top (I only used about half a cup)
After 30 minutes in the oven, ready to serve
This dish tasted great, much better than any taco Hamburger Helper I have ever made and it can feed way more people. I used a mild taco seasoning but it still had a bit of a bite (for me but I'm a spice wimp). You could use a medium or hot seasoning or add red or cayenne pepper to the mix if you wanted it spicer. This would easily serve 8 people with generous portions and is very filling. MyFitnessPal put the calorie around 356 calories for an 1/8 of the casserole so it's not over the top, especially for a pasta dish. The husband enjoyed it and even kiddo ate it without a "whole" lot of complaint (which is kind of a big deal for my picky eater). I had some for lunch today as well and it reheats well, though it does dry out a bit. Definitely more time consuming that Hamburger Helper but I think its worth the extra time not to eat all those preservatives and to get leftovers out of the deal. This got added to my Recipes I've Made and Would Make Again board. If you are interested in seeing what else is on my Pinterest Boards click on the follow me on Pinterest logo at the top right of my blog. Happy eating everybody!