- 12 ounces elbow shell pasta
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 ounce taco seasoning
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 1/2 cups queso Restless Chipotle homemade or store bought
- 1 cup Cheddar cheese grated
- green onions
- taco sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Cook shells according to package instructions. Do Not Salt! Do not overcook – they’ll fall apart.
- Drain, rinse, and let cool.
- Brown ground beef in a heavy skillet.
- Sprinkle taco seasoning over the top.
- Stir in water and simmer until the water is absorbed.
- Stir in cilantro.
- Spray a 13×9 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Pour the queso over the shells, mixing well
- Pour into casserole dish.
- Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the casserole is heated through.
- Drizzle with taco sauce, sprinkle with green onions and serve.
To bake after freezing
- Remove the casserole from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
- When ready to fix dinner just bake as directed.
Expert Tip: Don’t add salt! The taco seasoning is salty (I suggest getting a low sodium variety) and the queso is salty. If you salt the meat it will be WAY over salted.
- For easy stuffing use a cake decorating bag without an end in it. Fill it with the meat and squeeze it into the pasta.
- Sometimes I add RoTel tomatoes to the cooked ground beef along with the taco seasoning.
- Use 90/10 lean ground beef or leaner – it keeps the casserole from being greasy and the seasoning adds plenty of flavor.
- You can substitute ground turkey, ground pork, ground chicken, or ground venison for the beef in this recipe.
- Don’t overcook the pasta! It will fall apart when you try to stuff it.
- If you assemble this dish and freeze it be sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
- Don’t use the packaged shredded cheese. Shred it yourself from a block – the packaged shredded cheese has cellulose on it to keep it from clumping and it won’t melt as nicely as block cheese.
- Want to make this even easier? Use the small shells and make it into taco mac & cheese.
Velveeta Queso Dip
- 16 ounces Velveeta cheese
- 10 ounces RoTel tomatoes or favorite canned diced tomatoes and chiles
- Cube the Velveeta and put it in a microwave safe bowl
- Open the can of Rotel and pour it in – no need to drain.
- Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
- Return to the microwave and cook 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Stir. If it’s not all the way melted microwave it for a few seconds more.
- Add to a slow cooker and keep on the warm setting.
- Cube the Velveeta.
- Spray the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the Velveeta to the slow cooker.
- Dump in the ROTEL.
- Cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, or until the cheese is melted.
- Keep on warm setting.
Expert Tip: If you can’t find Velveeta you can use 1 pound of regular or white American cheese instead.
- If you use a slow cooker for this Rotel queso cheese dip you’ll need about a 3 quart crock-pot.
- This recipe is easy to double.
- Depending on the type of Rotel you use this is a spicy dip. If you don’t like any chiles at all you can use plain, diced canned tomatoes.
- Yes, this Velveeta queso recipe is delicious with tortilla chips… but try dipping pretzels, warm flour tortillas, warm corn tortillas, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and other fresh vegetables!