Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker Taco Pasta

I have made this recipe about 5 times since I tested it a few months ago and as I was making it last for last night's dinner, it hit me that I haven't shared it with you!  You can already guess it's a family favorite being that we've made it so many times already, so hopefully it'll be a success with your family as well!

This pin comes from a site called Inspired Dreamer, which is a blog where you can get ideas for things like food, home decor, wedding, and travel.  I'm not quite sure how you can get an account as there is no link to create an account, only if you lost your password.

This is what I call a 3-step slow cooker process.  You cook something before you start the slow cooker, let everything cook in the slow cooker, and you have to cook something after everything is done.  It's really simple though, so don't think that it'll take extra time to prep!  If you have time the night before, you can prep the cooked stuff before you go to bed and then put stuff in the slow cooker the next day!

Here are the ingredients and directions from the site:
Ingredients-Taco Pasta
  • 1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 cup Progresso® beef-flavored broth (from 32-oz carton)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package (1 oz) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) organic diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 package (8 oz) chile and roasted garlic Mexican cooking sauce
  • 4 oz (half of 8-oz package) cream cheese, soften, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups cooked medium pasta shells
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
  1. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.
  2. In 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, place cooked beef and remaining Taco Pasta ingredients except pasta shells and Cheddar cheese; stir until well combined.
  3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 5 hours.
  4. About 15 minutes before serving, cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Uncover slow cooker; stir in pasta and shredded Cheddar cheese until well combined.
  5. Cook uncovered on High heat setting 10 to 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
  6. Serve topped with sour cream, salsa and/or shredded cheese.

Since we've made this a few times already, I can share the changes we've made.  We don't use a store bought taco seasoning, we do a homemade version.  The husband likes how we can alter it to make it spicier if we want or if he wants to taste more a particular spice.  I'll update this post once I blog about the homemade taco seasoning we use.  You can also add the taco seasoning to the beef after you drain it, or just toss it in the pot with the rest of the ingredients; it doesn't change anything. :)  I don't cube up the cream cheese.  The first time I made this, I was pressed for time in between appointments, so I just threw everything in with the beef and it still came out great.  Another note about this dish is we have found that we like more of a "soup" vibe with this dish, so we find that we add more broth when we warm up left overs or sometimes we don't add the shells in the end because it soaks up so much of the broth.  We'll add the shells when we're about to eat it.  Up to you how you'd like to enjoy it!

Beef, tomatoes, onions, broth, water, cream cheese ready to cook!

The finished product right before plating.  The kids love being able to add sour cream and as many tortilla chips as their little hearts desire.  I add more broth here after it's done.  We went ahead and put in the shells like the directions say so you can see what it looks like finished.

Verdict: Of course it's a hit with our family!  It's gone usually by the second day, so leftovers never last long for this dish.  You could also add some peppers if you'd like some kick! :)


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