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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Creamy taco mac

Raise your hand if you actually like Hamburger Helper!

Okay, I don't love Hamburger Helper but there's something to be said for a meal that is so easy to get on the table.  It's loaded with all kinds of preservatives and tons of sodium and all that other stuff you don't really want to put in your body, but it's quick, it's hot, and most varieties are pretty tasty.  (I particularly like the Cheesy Chicken Enchilada flavor and I add some black beans to it then bake it in the oven with cheese on top and serve it as a dip with tortilla chips!)

I have not weaned myself from processed foods entirely, yet.  I have made an effort, cutting out things (things I love) like frozen dinners, frozen pizzas, those powdered mashed potatoes that are so darn easy, canned soups, and a ton of other things.  There are some items I just can't cut.  The best example I have is boxed macaroni and cheese.  Aaron devours the stuff and doesn't really care for my homemade macaroni and cheese (even though I can eat my weight in it) so when I make macaroni and cheese it is with the neon orange cheese sauce that comes out of a box.  I also still prefer to use pancake mix rather than mixing up my own.  Every pancake recipe I've tried has tasted sub-par when compared with the boxed mix.

I did manage to stop myself from buying Hamburger Helper when I realized that I could make similar meals without the packet of powdered seasoning mix that comes in that box.  Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet is one of those meals.  So is Paula Deen's Lasagna Soup.  It actually tastes very similar to the Hamburger Helper lasagna and even has bite sized pieces of lasagna noodle in it like the Hamburger Helper does.

Tonight's dinner is another one of those meals that is similar to Hamburger Helper, but with the advantage of being homemade and free of all of those additives that are included in the box.  I found the recipe on Annie's Eats' blog.  It's actually one of the first recipes I ever tried from the blog.  The original Creamy Taco Mac calls for several of those ingredients that we just don't use in our house (though I have made it directly following the original recipe) so I did adapt it for Aaron, but I think it still tastes delicious.

Creamy Taco Mac

8 oz. dry pasta shapes (cooked according to package directions and drained)
1 lb ground beef (or ground chicken or turkey works well too)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomato sauce
4 Tbsp taco seasoning
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese for garnish

Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, add the garlic.  Allow to cook about 30 seconds.  Add the tomato sauce and the taco seasoning and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta, sour cream, cream cheese and chicken broth and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir until the cream cheese and sour cream have been incorporated smoothly.  Simmer 3-5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.  Serve warm, topped with shredded cheese.

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