Recipe: Taco Pasta Bake

Are you looking for a quick and easy “go to” dinner for the holiday season that doesn’t involve turkey?  Are you stumped when it comes to making something for your family that everyone will eat without complaint?  If you’re like me and have a household of big eaters, I want to share one of my favorite dinners with you… a Taco Pasta Bake.

You may remember that I’ve mentioned my niece a few times – she writes a fitness and lifestyle blog called “Peanut Butter Fingers” or PBFingers?  She posted a recipe that my husband raved about… but he wanted me to make it “exactly like the recipe says”, which meant “no wine involved”… but what was the fun in that for me?  After mulling over the recipe for a few days, I came up with a version that could make everyone in my household happy… my guys (because they would get a dinner that tasted yummy) and me (because I could experiment and play with wine in my cooking).   I hope you find it as tasty as we do!

I started by browning a package of ground turkey.   If you can get away with it, this is where I would add diced onion and some diced green pepper if my family liked that Taco Pasta Bakesort of thing.  Once the turkey is nicely browned, I sprinkle the meat heavily with taco seasoning and a nice dry red wine (like James River Cellars’ Rad Red) and let everything cook until it’s nice and dark.  Next, I add some salsa and some more red wine so your food is a bit soupy.  At this point, I add in some dry pasta.  My hubby likes bowtie-shaped pasta, so I try and do things that he likes.  I’ve also made this recipe with jumbo elbow macaroni and it’s also tasty.

Now you need to cover the skillet and allow the liquid to be absorbed by the pasta… I know it’s hard not to peek and keep checking on the dinner, but try  and resist so the pasta has ample time to plump up and become al dente and just right.  If all the liquid gets absorbed and the pasta is still underdone, feel free to add more wine (or broth) and then allow time for the pasta to cook until it reaches the right taste for your family.

At this point, you have a few options.  If you’re ready to have dinner, feel free to serve this straight from the skillet.  If you’ve got some time, I would suggest putting your dinner into a casserole dish, spooning in (and on) some shredded cheese and then popping into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes when you’re almost ready for dinner.   It totally depends on what you want to do… hence; this is a great example of using The Force when making your dinner.

I hope you try this recipe sometime and let me know how it turned out for you.  It’s similar to the mazetti recipe that my mother-in-law makes, with a tasty taco twist.  It’s simple… it’s easy… and it’s a recipe that you can adjust to please everyone in your family.  What more could you want?

Seriously…. what more would you want from a recipe?  Enjoy!

Recipe: Mexican taco cheese dip

I had to bring an appetizer to work… and I work at a winery…. so I needed to come up with something yummy. I also needed to come up with a dish that could be made quickly and warmed up later. Jeez…. So many parameters within which to work. Could I do it??

Over the years, I have found that people who love wine seem to also be people who appreciate tasty food, so sharing something with them needed to be great. My darling hubby had pulled a package of ground turkey out of the freezer earlier, so that’s where I started.

I browned the package of ground turkey until it was toasty brown. I could have added onion and garlic, but I was a bit pressed for time this morning. Once the meat was thoroughly cooked, I liberally spread taco seasoning on top and then added the quarter bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that was resting in my fridge. A few more minutes in the pan was all it took to turn plain turkey into a spicy concoction worthy of a finicky foodie, such as myself.

My next step was to add some salsa. I poured from the jug (yes, generic and mild, I admit it) and mixed until well incorporated. The last addition was a package of Velveeta cheese. This stuff melts extremely well and handles reheating beautifully, so it was the perfect “go to” for this treat. I popped my dish into the microwave and heated it up, minute by minute, until all the cheese was melted.

Tasting it was a delight… Unfortunately, it was only 11am and I wasn’t going to serve this until after 6pm. Thankfully, the ingredients I used here are very forgiving. My dish warmed up well in the winery’s microwave, I served it with some scoop able tortilla chips, and had nothing left to bring home.

There’s something so satisfying about bringing home an empty dish. Try this recipe for your next get together and see if you don’t have the same great result!

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