I really don't make mexican cuisine that often, even though I love it. The truth is Ben usually isn't much of a fan. Every once in a while I say Screw Ben, I am making something I want for once! I made these last week and they were amazing . I usually just buy the taco seasonings you find at the grocery store cause they are cheap and always on sale, but going through my spice cabinet I realized I had all the spices I need to just season the beef mixture and sauce myself. I will not be buying those taco seasoning packets anymore, the homemade blend tastes so much better! Anyways this dinner is one to impress and would be great for Cinco de Mayo which is coming up!
(Sorry about the awful picture!)
Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells from Elly Says Opa
1 box (12 oz.) large pasta shells
1 batch ground beef filling (recipe follows)
1 batch tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1.5 cups (6 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese mix (or cheddar, monterey jack, chihuahua etc.)
1 large (29 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup broth or water
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 bay leaf
Ground Beef Filling
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, small dice
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water (or beef broth)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1.25 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 oz. cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 350. Boil the pasta shells until al dente.
Meanwhile, make the ground beef filling and tomato sauce. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan, along with salt and pepper to taste (if you use broth, you won’t need much salt). Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the sauce slowly bubble and simmer, stirring occasionally, as you make your ground beef mixture.
To make the ground beef mixture: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil and once shimmery, add the onions and green pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until the vegetables begin to get tender. Add the beef and garlic. Cook the ground beef until browned, and then, if necessary, drain the fat off the beef. Add the water/beef broth, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat until most of the water/broth has been absorbed. Re-season to taste if necessary. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before stirring in the cream cheese.
To assemble: Pour about 2/3 cup of the tomato sauce over a large baking dish (or two). Stuff each shell with a tablespoon or so of the ground beef mixture, and place on top of the sauce in the pan. Continue until all the shells are stuffed. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the shells, and then sprinkle with the cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 until the cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.