Friday, May 22, 2009

Taco Shells and Italian Shells

What is it about stuffed shells that make my kids go nuts. They aren't rocket science to make. They are in fact one of the simple dishes on my list of things to make. I love them as a freezer meal. My recent production of Italian shells ended on a very good note. Face asked if we had leftovers he could take to school for show and tell. What?! Do you know any kids on earth who WANT to take leftovers for show and tell?! Oh he is MY son. there wasn't any left overs, but I did have a picture since I "show and tell" all the time on the blog. This one is for little Face. Now go get Mrs. Shasta and have her come look at the computer. Tee hee.

For everyone else who may want to make these I have to admit this picture doesn't go with this first recipe. These are Italian. I will of course tell you how to make the Italian version as well.

This first recipe is a great way to use up some taco meat for a freezer dinner. Freezer meals rock! If your a vegetarian you may substitute tvp for beef or chopped mushrooms.

Mexican Sea shells
Taco filled Pasta shells (yield 2 casseroles, 6 servings each!)

2 pounds lean ground beef (or vegetarian equivalent)
2 envelopes taco seasoning (or 4T Steph's taco seasoning. I make my own)
1 package 8 oz low fat cream cheese
zest of 2 limes
24 cooked jumbo pasta shells (under cook by 2 minutes for freezer meals so they don't get soggy)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Additional ingredients for each casserole:
1 cup each, salsa and taco sauce (I love greeen salsa!--or homemade from my tomatoes)
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips (can use baked)
3 green onions, chopped

In an deep skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink and drain. Add taco seasoning. Add Cream cheese and lime zest and stir until melted. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge 1 hour.
Cook the pasta according to package directions but lower cooking time by 2 minutes. Gently toss with butter. Fill each shell with about 3 T meat mixture. Place 12 shells in a non-aluminum freezer container You are making 2 casseroles. Repeat and put the remaining 12 in another casserole. Spoon half of salsa over one casserole and half over the other, repeat with the taco sauce. Do the same with the cheeses, tortilla chips (you may keep the tortilla chips separate if you want a crunchy topping and put them on just before you bake it) and onions. Freeze covered with plastic then foil, up to 3 months. To prepare. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Bake 350 degrees 35-40 minutes covered, then 15 minutes uncovered. top with sour cream at service. It is possible to make one casserole now and one for the freezer! Just bake one and put one in the freezer for later!

To bake in a solar oven, uncovered bake 1 1/2 hours full sun if defrosted, 3-4 hours from frozen.
For Italian...
Filling:Use 4T Italian seasoning (or just use lean turkey sausage instead of beef)
omit the lime zest, though I love orange or lemon zest in my Italian shells.
add 2T minced garlic and 1 onion, chopped to the Italian version.
For Italian sauce:
Use 2 cups Homemade Spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
2 cups mozzarella
omit tortilla chips and green onion.
There you go! Two great freezer meal ideas.

1 comment:

mlebagley said...

I've done the mexican shells before, but not these italian ones. My family LOVES the Mexican ones, and I know they will LOVE the Italian ones too. Thanks for sharing!