The night I made this for dinner the original plan had been to make Swedish Meatballs with Egg Noodles. But that morning I just couldn't stand the thought of rolling out all the meatballs, not to mention I wasn't in the mood for those flavors. At all. I asked the ladies on my cooking board for inspiration and Creamy Taco Mac way, which I made back in 2010, was mentioned. While we enjoyed it, I haven't made it since, but I remembered that Elly had turned it into a One-Pot Creamy Taco Mac, cooking the pasta with the rest of the ingredients they way I do for my Skillet Beef Stroganoff. Perfect.
Since I had half a large zucchini in the fridge I decided to sub that for the green pepper. Since I didn't have cream cheese I simply left it out and I didn't miss it. The starch from the pasta acted as a binder and brought the whole dish together, especially since I let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving so it could cool slightly. I added sliced scallions as a garnish for some bright onion flavor and I also left the tomatoes with their juice instead of draining them. For a meal that I decided to make only a few hours before dinnertime, this came together surprisingly well.
Creamy Taco Mac
Slightly adapted from Elly Says Opa!
1 lb. ground beef or sirloin
1 onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
3 to 3 1/4 cups low-sodium beef broth
4 tablespoons taco seasoning (recipe below, or use a low-sodium store-bought mix)
8 oz. small pasta shapes, like elbows or small shells
1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
2-3 scallions, sliced (garnish)
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ground beef. Do not stir. Once browned on the bottom, flip the beef, breaking it up, and stir in the onion and zucchini. Cook until onion is translucent and beef is browned. (Drain fat, if necessary.)
Stir in the undrained diced tomatoes, broth, and taco seasoning. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the pasta. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
Off the heat, add the sour cream and cheddar. Re-season to taste, if necessary. Garnish with sliced scallions.
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
1 tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon paprika
Mix all the spices together. This makes enough seasoning for the 4 tablespoons needed in this recipe.