Monday, April 28, 2014

Taco Stuffed Shells


I've been making these little puppies for years, but never like this..... The other night, my friend Brianna, mentioned making taco stuffed shells, and I mentioned that I was the only one in my house that liked them and how ridiculous that was because they were so yummy. So I told her how i made mine and she told me how she made hers and so I tried it her way but, I added beans because...i really love black beans. I know someone reading this is going "it's just taco meat in a shell!" to that person i say,
"Nay!, it is creamy taco-y goodness with beans in a shell, so sit down and follow along".
So lets get started shall we?  First things first...you need some ingredients.

Ingredients:

-1lb ground beef (I prefer 85/15...but you can use whatever you like)
-taco seasoning of your choice
-pasta shells (the big shells not the tiny ones)
-1 & 1/2 cups shredded cheese
-taco sauce (i used an al pastor sauce, but any taco sauce is fine)
-1 cup of your favorite Salsa
-4oz (or a half a brick) of cream cheese
-1 can of black beans (you can also throw corn in there)

Once you've done a little shopping in your pantry / refrigerator for the above listed items we can move along. Ready? okay, lets go.

Directions:
I'll tell you right now, this is the easiest thing in the world. I made this, and took pictures while juggling 2 crying kids under 2 while riding a uni-cycle and balancing a ball on my nose. Only some of that previous sentence is true.....mainly the first 3. ANYWAY....onto our cooking lesson.

So, first your gonna get the water boiling for those pasta shells, they take a little longer than regular pasta, and ALWAYS ALWAYS make more shells than you think you're gonna need. Im not even kidding here guys, they fall apart and rip and it sucks, because you'll think "i need 10, so ill make 10!" and then you end up with only 6 shells that are acceptable. So, if you need 10, make 20.
Ok, great, once thats going, you can put your ground beef in your favorite nonstick skillet, and just brown it nicely. Once it's cooked you can add in your taco seasoning, I normally use McCormick taco seasoning, but this time I used old el paso (NEW YORK CITYYY!! (if you understand why i just said that then, you are awesome)), and it was FANTASTIC, i liked the flavor way better. Anyway...taco meat...
So you brown the ground beef, add the taco seasoning, mix it up add a little water to distribute it evenly and let it cook until the liquid is gone (make sure you strain out the grease in the pan). Once the liquid is gone, your gonna add the cream cheese. I used 4 ounces of whipped cream cheese just because it's easier to melt into the meat, but you don't have to do that, obviously...im just lazy.

Once you mix in that creamy goodness, your gonna open up your can of black beans and toss those little bad boys into the pan as well. Once you've mixed them in you can turn off the heat and move that pan to a back burner. Your pasta shells likely will not be cooked yet, so, you can move onto prepping your baking dish/pan. I used a regular baking pan but you can use a glass dish like a casserole dish or pyrex or whatever. So your gonna take your pan/dish of choice and coat the bottom of your pan/dish with your favorite salsa (I had a picture of this step, but it was ugly, so I'm not putting it in here).  You can go ahead and preheat your oven now...400 degrees. By now, your pasta shells should be just about done, go ahead and check them....i'll wait.

Once they are finished, strain them and let them cool (i cheated and ran them under cold water, which is a big no no in the fancy culinary world, but I'm a rebel and i was hungry and in a hurry to get dinner on the table, so i broke that culinary world rule....sue me).
Anywhoo. So, once your shells are cool enough to handle, your gonna grab them and fill them. Your gonna get one or two (or 5) that are all curled up and wanna fight you about staying open, but if you hold them slightly sideways (like this...) gravity will lend you a helping hand.
Now, you can go ahead and fill all the shells you can fill and place them one by one in the pan you pre coated with salsa. Once all the shells are filled and your pan/dish is full, you're going to take your taco sauce and drizzle it over the tops of the shells. Take your cheese and sprinkle it over the tops of the shells, cover with foil, and let them bake for around 10 - 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and then pop them under the broiler for a min so the cheese gets bubbly and brown. Then take them out and serve them however you like.
You can top them with regular taco fixins or eat them just the way they are, either way is sure to be delicious.
Please let me know if you try this & how you liked it!
:)