On more occasions than I can count, this recipe has saved me.  Taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, ground turkey or chicken, and elbow macaroni.  Umm, that’s it – all ingredients I always have in my pantry and fridge and at least once a month when I come home from work and I’m not “feeling” what I had originally planned for dinner, this meal is ready to eat in 15 minutes.  It’s basically homemade hamburger helper (but waaaaay healthier) and since Kyle and my opinions differ so vastly on the topic of the store-bought stuff (I’ll save you from the gory details), I’m happy to be able to make this for both of us to really enjoy.  The taco seasoning recipe linked below is has been my favorite for a while now and I make big batches of it and store it in a glass mason jar.  The addition of ancho chile powder might possibly be the most genius idea I’ve seen in ages and since it doesn’t have the spicy heat that regular chile (or chili) powder does, don’t worry about the 1/4 cup of taco seasoning the recipe calls for – the cream cheese and sour cream do a nice job of cooling off the dish anyway.  Guess what’s on my menu again for this week?!   Will it be on yours too?

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Creamy Taco Mac
source: adapted from Delish

 

1 1/4 lbs (20 oz) ground turkey or chicken
8 oz dry pasta + 1 cup reserved pasta water
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
4 Tbsp mild taco seasoning
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus 1/2 cup extra for serving (optional)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Sour cream (for serving, optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta per directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.

Over medium heat, brown ground turkey until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, cream cheese, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Give it a good stir until cheeses are melted and incorporated.  Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Top off with cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired.

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  • March 21, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Love this idea!

  • March 21, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    I linked to your blog from The Novice Chef, and I think I’d like to make this tonight for my husband. He’s in need of some comfort food, and this fits the bill. You said there was a link to the recipe for the taco seasoning below but I’m not seeing it for some reason. Would you mind emailing it to me? I’d like to make my own since the store bought packets of taco seasoning are so sodium-y. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this recipe! Your blog is beautiful.

  • March 21, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    When I was younger I used to LOVE Hamburger Helper. Who am I kidding….I’m sure I’d love it now! This meal looks right up my alley. 🙂

  • March 21, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    This is one of my very favorite things to make on a weeknight. In fact it is on my menu this week! I love the fact that you can lighten it up and making your own taco seasoning allows you to kick up the spice however you like.

  • March 21, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    What a great idea to add taco seasoning to mac and cheese! Sounds delicious and I def have to try. Thanks!

  • March 23, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    I made this tonight. 🙂
    (I planned it for the other night, but we took a detour and went out instead.) Anyway, it was yummy and comforting and totally unlike anything I’ve made in a long time. Thanks for the recipe!

  • April 2, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    i’m not a hamburger helper sorta gal but my husband is, and i think that even this looks good! i think it’ll be on the menu this week 🙂

  • j.batman
    April 5, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Made this last night for dinner. I made a big batch then stirred in taco meat into my husband’s portion and black beans into mine. Very tasty!

  • April 16, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    glad you liked it! 🙂 its one of my faves!

  • Kristen
    October 7, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    Could you make two of these and freeze one with good results? And then maybe bake it? I would like to use the full container of sour cream and the full block of cream cheese because I’d probably end up throwing the un-used portion away.

    • October 8, 2011 at 12:39 AM

      Kristen: I really don’t know as I haven’t tried to freeze it before. Give it a shot and let me know how it works out for you!

  • Jennifer
    January 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Just made this and it’s so yummy! I used plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream and it’s delish!

  • Lori
    January 16, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Making this tonight. Made through the part where macaroni is combined with meat mixture (used just 1/2 lb ground white turkey, 1/2 can black beans) and then will warm up and finish with cream cheese and cheese at dinner time. Was everyone able to find ancho chili powder for the taco seasoning? I tried three stores with no luck so used chipotle chili powder instead, which I think is higher on the heat scale so I dialed back the amount a bit. Where did you find the ancho chili powder? THANKS!

    • January 16, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      Lori: I’m not sure I’ve seen ancho chile powder in my regular grocery store. I buy mine through http://www.penzeys.com where I get all my spices (they have locations around the US too). You can also find it through other online spice retailers. I now use ancho in place of most chile powders in the dishes that I make because I love it so much! Hope this helps!

      • Lori
        January 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        Thanks for the info., ordering now. My husband and I both loved the creamy taco mac – with plenty leftover for another evening. 🙂

  • April 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    After finding your taco seasoning post and spotting the creamy taco mac link, I knew I had to check it out. My wife is a mac n cheese fanatic and loves trying out new things with it. I’m sure it will be right up her alley. Printed out and ready to use at a later date.

  • Kathy Mcvey
    June 11, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    I tried this for dinner tonight. Even used the homemade
    taco seasoning. Flavors were great but 8oz of pasta was
    not enough. I had to cook about 4 oz more b/c it was too
    soupy. Will def make again though.

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