• 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


Part one

  • 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.

Part two

  • 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.

Part three

  • Spray a 13×9 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Part four

  • 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.
  • Stir.
  • 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.
  • Stir.
  • 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!

Frito Pie


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1.25 ounce packet taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 16 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 9.25 ounce bag Fritos Corn Chips
  • 2-3 cups Mexican-style shredded cheese


  • Heat oven to 350°F and spray a 7×11-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Heat a large skillet, over medium heat, and add the olive oil and butter. Add the chopped onion and cook 3-4 minutes or until translucent and tender. Add the minced garlic, stir and cook 30 seconds until the garlic has blossomed and is fragrant. Transfer the onion and garlic to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
  • Place the ground chuck in the skillet and cook until browned. Drain the fat from the beef in a mesh colander and return the beef to the skillet. Add the onion/garlic mixture, salt, pepper taco seasoning, Worcestershire Sauce, cider vinegar, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.
  • Mix well and bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the beans, mix well. Simmer, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste, with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. *Keep in mind, Fritos are very salty and so is cheese, so use salt lightly.
  • To prepare the casserole:
  • Place 2 cups corn chips in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese, taco meat, 1 cup cheese, and another 2 cups corn chips.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until the casserole is heated throughout.
  • Serve with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, black olives, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro and/or your other favorite taco toppings.

Tex Mex Meatballs


  • 2lb ground beef
  • ½ cup crushed tortilla chips (about 2 oz)
  • 6 tablespoons water or beef broth
  • 4 oz canned green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 15 oz red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese


  1. Preheat an oven to 350f.
  2. In a cup or small bowl, combine the finely crushed tortilla chips (they should be the size of large breadcrumbs) with the water or beef broth. Stir to make a thick paste. If the chips soak up all the liquid and seem dry, add another 1/4 cup of water.
  3. In a large bowl, combine beef, green chiles, salt, garlic, cumin, chipotle, onion and the crushed tortilla mix. Use your hands to blend everything together, mixing the ingredients as quickly as possible without overworking the meat.
  4. Form the ground beef mixture into balls, using about 1/3 cup of the mixture per ball. Do not overwork or form the meatballs too tightly.
  5. Place the meatballs in a large skillet or Pyrex-style baking dish, leaving space between them, then bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Pour the enchilada sauce over/around the meatballs, and return to the oven for a further 7-10 minutes, or until the meatballs read 155f internal temperature.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese all over the meatballs, and return to the oven for one final time until melted, about 3-5 minutes. Serve immediately.