Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese 

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I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Southern California it’s cold, rainy, and gross.  Can you tell I’m not really a winter fan? I’ve also been under the weather for the past week or so, and those two things combined can only mean one thing: time for some comfort food! I love nothing better than a comforting bowl of pasta, and this spicy Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese definitely fits the bill.

Truthfully, the creation of this recipe went something like this:

     Me: *pokes head in the refrigerator*

     *sees cream cheese*

     Want. NOW. With pasta.

I had bought a few extra packages of cream cheese around the holidays and had some leftovers.  I never buy bagels, so really I had nothing to use it in–until I had the bright idea of stirring it into a tomato-based sauce with extra cheese to make a super creamy mac and cheese sauce.  I thought it was pretty brilliant.

I love pink sauce–a mix between marinara and alfredo sauce–and this is a perfect way to cheat your way to it! I also added some freshly chopped jalapeno, onion, and garlic, plus ground turkey with taco seasoning to give it a Mexican-inspired twist.  I mean, what could be better than my two loves meeting, Mexican food AND pasta? Yum!

This makes a delicious and easy weeknight meal.  It kind of reminds me of one of those pre-made just-add-hamburger boxed meals, only without all those added chemicals and preservatives.  The great part about it is, I could use my own gluten-free pasta too, which kept it gluten free (which I am trying to do almost exclusively these days, thanks to nasty old autoimmune disease).  I was starting to miss my hamburger & pasta meals, and this makes it super easy to enjoy again!

I hope you’ll give this Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese a try–it’s a great alternative to plain mac and cheese.

Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese

I love nothing better than a comforting bowl of pasta, and this spicy Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese definitely fits the bill.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta gluten free (if desired–of course regular pasta works too, or even whole grain pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium jalapeno seeded, ribbed and minced
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey or beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened (1 block)
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • hot sauce such as Louisiana Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • In a large pot, boil pasta according to the package directions. Drain and add a tiny bit of olive oil to keep from sticking. Set pasta aside.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the jalapeno, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about five minutes.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon (or a spatula–it works great to chop with!).
  • Once the meat is cooked through, sprinkle all the spices on top of the browned meat and stir to combine thoroughly.
  • Stir in the canned tomatoes.
  • Cut your brick of cream cheese into small squares, then stir into the tomato and meat mixture along with the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until thickened.
  • Add in the cheese over low heat, and stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Add hot sauce to taste, then stir in the cilantro. Add the cooked pasta back into the skillet with the sauce and stir to combine.

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2 Comments

  1. Rae

    Why is it that every time I open your site to access the recipe you show, it’s a totally different recipe you give??? ex: looking for the seafood Mac and cheese and the Taco Turkey Mac & cheese comes up up. This is not the only time t hi s has happened…it happens all the time. I’m no longer going to fall for this.

  2. Bryce Thompson

    These cream cheese squares are an absolute delight! I made a batch over the weekend, and they were gone in minutes. The texture and flavor are spot-on!

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