I have a confession to make...I love Hamburger Helper. I don't make it because I prefer to stay away from the icky stuff that usually comes in boxes, but I still have a secret love for it. So I can't even tell you how excited I was when I came across this homemade version of Hamburger Helper. It's creamy, cheesy, and slightly spicy...everything a taco mac should be.
And the best part is that you don't have to feel guilty about eating it. I made it with lean ground turkey, whole-wheat pasta, reduced-fat cream cheese, and reduced-fat sour cream. I used spicy taco seasoning and pepper jack cheese, but I recommend using a mild taco seasoning and cheddar if you have little kiddos at home. Ours turned out surprisingly spicy, but luckily my kiddo doesn't mind. I think this is going to become our new weeknight staple.
Creamy Taco Mac
1.25 lb. lean ground turkey or beef
8 oz. dry pasta, such as shells or macaroni (regular or gluten-free)
1 - 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
4 tbsp. taco seasoning (homemade or store-bought)
4 oz. cream cheese*, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream*, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated pepper jack or cheddar cheese
Scallions, thinly sliced, for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Add the tomatoes with their juice and taco seasoning; stir to combine. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheese to the skillet; stir to combine. Stir in the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with thinly sliced scallions.
*Use regular or reduced-fat.
Source: slightly adapted from Delish