Meal Planning Monday – Taco Pasta Bake

Happy Monday!

We love tacos in our house. Taco meat was one of the first meats D tried. I was pureeing his meat and giving it to him in that form and then the doctor told me to season it (I was boiling it with chicken stock). When we put him on solids and off of purees, I tried some taco turkey meat. He LOVED it. I would cook up a batch for us and then put some aside for him.

When I was working in preschool, our cook made up a great taco bake. I am not sure exactly what she put in it, so I made up my own. The recipe fills up 1 large baking dish, so I make the whole recipe and put half into an 8×8 pan and the other half into a gallon ziploc once it cools a bit and take out the air, date it and pop it in the freezer. (This time I did this but then my deep freezer died so I lost it – BOO). You could also package it for someone who needs a freezer meal – new baby, surgery, new house, whatever! Just write the last few directions on it (those can be found below).

*1 lb cooked pasta (I use Rotini but you can use whatever you have on hand – I would suggest medium sized.)
*1 lb ground beef (you can use turkey or chicken – tastes the same to us)
*1 packet of taco seasoning (we have a big container of it because we eat tacos so much)
*1 can of corn – 15.25 oz, drained
*1 can of black beans – 15 oz, rinsed, drained
*2 cups of Mexican / Taco blend cheese (you can use any cheese you’d like, really)
*16 oz jar of your favorite salsa
*Optional – sour cream

*Preheat your oven to 350.
*Cook pasta according to directions
*While your pasta cooks, start browning the ground meat. Drain and add the taco seasoning. Cook according to directions. I like to break my ground meat up with a potato masher as it cooks to make it nice and small.  I think I learned this from Rachael Ray!
*Drain your pasta and add it to a large bowl.
*Add seasoned meat, drained corn, drained and rinsed beans, and jar of salsa.
*Pour into a 13×9 inch greased baking dish. (If you are doing half and freezing half, put it into an 8×8 greased baking dish and put the other half of the pasta in a dated ziploc bag for the freezer)
*Top with cheese (only 1 cup of cheese if you are halving it)
*Bake, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
*Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
*Top with sour cream, if desired (I always top with the sour cream because our taco seasoning is a little on the spicy side, but I’m a wimp when it comes to spice!)

For the frozen version:
*Remove from freezer and let defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
*Pour pasta into an 8×8 inch greased baking dish and cover with 1 cup of cheese.
*Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
*Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
*Top with sour cream, if desired.

This is a staple in our house – and I love it because you can really make it your own. Spicy taco seasoning, your own salsa, your own cheese, whatever. It’s so delicious.

Happy cooking!

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