Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creamy taco pasta

I can't believe that today marks the midpoint of August.  I've now officially entered the "oh crap, I haven't done that awesome thing I wanted to do this summer yet!" panic.  Fairs, water parks, outdoor movies, hiking, you name it.  Time is running out!  At least we have a trip to Kennywood planned for next week.  Panic reduced... slightly.  Who are we kidding?  I'm still a bit spazzy.

Everywhere you look it's "back to school" this and that.  As a working adult, one who has been out of school since the summer of 2006, I've got this to say -- I'm totally green with envy.  I looooove back to school shopping!  Raise your hand if you agree.

New notebooks (do kids even need those anymore?) and pencils in a rainbow of colors, the hippest backpack, and a first day of school outfit that's sure to impress the fellas.  Out of 13 first day of school outfits, it's likely that half involved some sort of jumper or skort.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure one appeared late in junior high if not early high school.  "Cool" is such a subjective term, don't you think?

While you kindly figure out how to justify a back to school shopping trip for me (any and all reasons are welcome!), I'm going to try to turn a blind eye to all of the crazy sales at the grocery store.

Yes, the grocery store.

Have you seen the kind of stuff they're peddling at sample stations?  All of the glorious pre-packaged treats that almost every kid hoped to find in his brown bag lunch.  Handi-snacks.  Chewy granola bars.  Lunchables, espeeeeeecially the pizza ones.  Love love love me some cold miniature cardboard-like pizzas!  Come on, you know you love 'em, too :)

But, those stores are smarter than you think.  It's not just the kids and their potentially explosive temper tantrums that the managers are thinking of, it's their never-resting moms, too.  Mothers who will, much like my mom once did for us, turn into taxi drivers on weeknights, shuttling kids to tennis practices and choir rehearsals from one end of town to the other.

The same moms who are also expected to have dinner on the table uh, 5 minutes ago, for a very ravenous family.  I bet this is the time of year when Hamburger Helper and pizza delivery sales increase drastically.

Whether you're in the market for a lightning fast dinner after you've run here there and everywhere, or really, really love Hamburger Helper and occasionally beg your wife to make it (ahem), I've got the perfect dinner recipe to share: creamy taco pasta!

The creamy part comes from smooth cream cheese and tangy sour cream melted together with the secret ingredient -- pasta water -- for a velvety delicious sauce that takes just under a minute to make AND it's done in the same pan.  Bonus!

The taco part is a multi-dimensional flavor rollercoaster that will totally blow your shoes, socks, and obviously flip-flops off.  For serious!  Diced tomatoes with green chilies, ground beef cooked with onions and garlic, and taco seasoning for an out of the tortilla Mexican food experience.  And the cilantro?  I once was a cilantro hater, but I think this dish has made me a lover.

I'm a lover not a fighter!  I'm also one who understands that sharing is caring.  Not that I had a choice because I'm pretty sure Matt would've locked me in a closet to get his hands on this stuff.  He proclaimed it his new last meal on earth front-runner.  That's huge, folks!

And it's waaaaay better than HH, in case you were wondering.  Dinner in 15 minutes was never this easy or this good!  And leftovers for lunch are sure to please even the pickiest kid... or husband.

P.S. I wasn't kidding about the case for a shopping trip.  Pretty please.

One year ago: Chocolate vanilla marble cake; Ham and asparagus frittata
Two years ago: Mom's banana muffins

Creamy Taco Pasta
(adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
-makes 6 servings

A few notes: Feel free to substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, or even crumbled tofu for the beef; the taco seasoning provides bold flavors that will work with any kind of protein.  Also, simple diced tomatoes can be used if the green chilies mixture isn't available or your kind of flavor.  Finally, I imagine the light versions of both cream cheese and sour cream would work just as well as their full fat cousins.

1 pound ground beef
8 ounces small pasta shapes (I used farfalle)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
20 ounces diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1.25 ounce taco seasoning packet
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into a few smaller pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Bring a pot of water to boil and add pasta.  Cook, according to directions, until al dente.  (You don't want the pasta to be super soft because it'll continue to cook in the tomato beef mixture later.)  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain remaining pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over, break up and cook beef until evenly browned.  Add onion and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until onion has softened slightly.  Add tomatoes and taco seasoning and stir until combined.  Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

To tomato beef mixture, add pasta, pasta water, cream cheese, and sour cream.  Stir until cheese has melted and ingredients are well distributed.  Remove from heat and fold in cilantro.  Serve immediately.


  1. Pretty post-its for reminders
    New pens in coordinating ink colors for above
    A mini spiral for note taking on the run
    A SPECIAL pen for above
    A Baggu bag ( to keep in your purse (always check out the sale ones)
    Cardstock and paper cutter
    I'll stop there.

  2. Have you ever seen Slinky Post-Its? Oh Suze, you must have them.

    As far as that Baggu bag, I am smitten. I love the blue stripe one. How have I never known about these before now?! Thank you!