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Baked Taco Seasoned Beef in Pasta Shells


1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, minced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed
8 oz fresh baby spinach, washed and drained

3 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning mix  (recipe elsewhere on blog)

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

30 jumbo pasta shells

2 cups salsa sauce of your choice

1 cup cheddar cheese (8 oz) (I used fresh cheese curd for tonight's version and it was fantastic)


1 cup mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat cook ground beef until browned, drain off any fat.

Place pan back over medium-high heat and add onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add taco seasoning and 1 cup water, stir well to incorporate then add the baby spinach, turn down heat to medium and simmer until all liquid has evaporated, stirring well.

Once all liquid has been rendered off, remove pan from heat, add cream cheese, mix well until cheese is incorporated into meat and spinach mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.  

Cook the pasta shells according to directions on the package, but do not cook fully!!! Cook them only until they are pliable, no more than that, they will finish cooking in the oven.  Once the shells are pliable drain them in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and also they will not stick together then. Drain well.

Drink some red wine. May I suggest a glass of Character Red by Hester Creek ? An excellent modest priced red wine blend if ever there was one...

Pour 1 cup of salsa on the bottom of 9” × 13” baking dish.   

Stuff each shell with the meat mixture, but do not over stuff, just enough to fill it but allow it to close somewhat.  Place shells in the pan open side up. 

Cover shells with remaining taco sauce and both cheeses.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  At this point if the cheese hasn’t developed a brown crust turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes or until the cheese reaches the state of doneness you like.
 
Serve hot with additional salsa and some hot sauce, or sour cream even and be ready for compliments and adoring stares from those you have delighted…

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