Mexican Stuffed Shells

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As I may have mentioned before, I’m a fairly big fan of Mexican food. And if not,Newell, there you go. Not sure why, it’s just so etching that appeals to me. So when I found this recipe floating around in Facebook, I had to save it to try later. This recipe turned out very well, but I think what really made it was the salsa and taco sauce. It gave it an extra kick. Not that the meat was bland, but there could have been more spice, or something, in the meat. But for our family,am little less spice is always good. I did use a mild salsa, and probably a little more than it called for (I used the whole jar) but used a “medium” taco sauce which is that standard sauce in the house.

I found that I needed a slightly smaller pan than a 9×13. They fit perfectly in the pan I used and would have been spread out too much (my opinion) had I used the 9×13. I also thought it was a great idea to transfer the shells to a cutting board or other pan, separated so as to not stick together. But mainly, it cooled them down a bit which made it easier to handle and fill. Since I was in a bit of a time crunch, to get it in the oven so we would eat at a reasonable time, input the whole pan of meat in the fridge to cool faster than letting it sit on the counter to cool. It worked pretty well and while it may not have been completely cool, it was cool enough to easily handle and stuff.

I chose to not add any toppings once it was done but you can certainly through anything on the top of it that would compliment Mexican food.

1 pound ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning, whatever strength you like
4 oz cream cheese
16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (I used a three cheese blend for the whole two cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the beef and add the taco seasoning, cooking as directed on the package. Add the cream cheese. Cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Stir together and mix well. Set aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, cook the shells according to package directions. Drain and set out shells individually so they don’t stick together. Pour salsa on the bottom of the pan. Stuff each shell with about 2 TBSP of the meat. Place shells in the pan, open side up. Cover evenly with taco sauce.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil, sprinkle cheese evenly over the top. Bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve with any other toppings – sour cream, black olives, salsa, etc.

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