This recipe is from the Taste of Home Dinner on a Dime cookbook that I purchased recently. We made it when Mom and Dad were visiting, and I think it was a little spicy for them, but the rest of us really enjoyed it. Recently, I cooked the leftover shells I had frozen, and they turned out just as good as the original shells! (Plan ahead; beef mixture needs to chill for 1 hour before assembling!) Oh, and sorry for the lack of professional food photography. The picture really doesn't do the recipe justice! I should really take a food photography class!
Taco-Filled Pasta Shells
2 lbs. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning (or 2 envelopes if you want it really spicy; we used 1 and it was plenty)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed
24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (I must not have filled my shells as full, because I used 34 shells)
¼ cup butter, melted (I'm not sure this is really necessary)
1 cup salsa (we used Pace Medium Picante Sauce)
1 cup taco sauce (we used mild)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 ½ cups crushed tortilla chips
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
3 green onions, chopped
In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add taco seasoning; prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese; cook and stir for 5-10 minutes or until melted. Transfer to a bowl; chill for 1 hour.
Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain. Gently toss with butter. Fill each shell with about 3 tablespoons of meat mixture.
Spoon salsa into a greased 13x9 pan. Top with stuffed shells and taco sauce (I just squirted the taco sauce out of the bottle and didn't really measure it). Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheeses and chips. Bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve with sour cream and onions.
Stuffed shells may be frozen before baking; simply place the stuffed shells in a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To use frozen shells, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours (shells will still be partially frozen). Spoon the salsa into a greased 13x9 pan; top with shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue as above.