Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend!

It was absolutely gorgeous ’round these parts, so Ben and I spent some time outdoors and went out to eat at a couple of fun places, including A Dong (actual name) where I tried Pho for the first time. It was PHOnomenol!


Sorry. We spent the majority of our lunch coming up with hilarious Pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup pronounced “fuh”) restaurant names and taglines, and that was pretty much the only thing clean enough to share on the blog. My Grandma reads this, y’all!


Anyways! My in-laws also got into town from the East coast, and are staying with us for the week, so we’ve been having fun catching up. :)


Most people are surprised to learn that entertaining actually turns me into a NERVOUS NELLY. Don’t get me wrong, I adore having relatives and friends stay over – making up the guest bed with fresh sheets, setting out fluffy towels, and stocking the Keurig carousel – but I panic when it comes time to think about what to feed everybody.


What if I make the one thing they hate? What if it tastes terrible? What if they get sick? Eek!


Don’t even get me started on throwing a dinner party. I’d rather have rickets!


So, what’s a desperate entertainer to do when she’s got a crowd to feed? Make a bake, of course!

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Featuring homemade taco seasoning, lean ground beef, plus taco and pantry staples like tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes, pasta, cheese, and tortilla chips, Taco Pasta Bake is filling, satisfying, and will have your guests feeling right at home.

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While a bake or casserole isn’t ground-breaking or gourmet by any means, they’re total crowd pleasers. When’s the last time you saw someone disappointed by a hot, bubbly casserole being plunked down in front of ’em?


Better yet, Taco Pasta Bake is easy and ready in about 40 minutes with lots of downtime while the dish basically sautes, simmers, and bakes itself.

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Start by sauteing lean ground beef (I used 90/10 and broke it up with a potato masher when it was still raw) with chopped onion, then stir in homemade taco seasoning, canned tomato sauce and petite diced tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, then stir in shredded cheddar cheese and cooked macaroni shells.

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Finally, stir in slightly spicy chopped green chilies, and frozen or fresh corn (no need to thaw, even!) then pour the mixture into a baking dish.

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Bake for 10 minutes, top with crunchy crushed tortilla chips and a bit more cheddar cheese, then bake until the cheese is hot and bubbly, about another 10 minutes.


Top with fresh salsa, tomatoes, green onions, or sour cream. Now THIS is entertaining made easy!


Taco Pasta Bake


Taco Pasta Bake is a comforting casserole perfect for any night of the week.


serves 4

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 recipe homemade taco seasoning (recipe link in notes below) + 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14.5oz can tomato sauce
  • 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • few dashes gluten-free hot sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen, fresh, or canned)
  • 4oz can chopped green chiles
  • 8oz gluten-free or regular macaroni shells, cooked and drained (dish will not be GF if using regular pasta)
  • 2 cups crushed gluten-free tortilla chips
  • Toppings: chopped tomatoes, salsa, sliced olives, green onions, sour cream


  1. Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain, then return to the skillet. Add water, homemade taco seasoning, salt, tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes, and hot sauce then stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook macaroni shells in salted, boiling water until just under al dente, then drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Turn stove off then add 1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese to the tomato mixture and stir until smooth. Add corn, chilies, and cooked shells, then stir to combine. Pour mixture into a non-stick sprayed 8x8 baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Top with crushed tortilla chips and remaining cheese then bake for 10 more minutes. Serve with toppings, if desired.


Adapted from AllRecipes.com

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Zesty, cheesy, hearty – my inlaws and I each devoured a big bowl of bake for lunch.


The crushed tortilla chips on top were our favorite part. I used Tostitos Multigrain Scoops which are thicker and have a more satisfying crunch than regular tortilla chips. Highly recommend!


Believe it or not, another low-stress idea for entertaining is making homemade pizza! My pizza crust recipe is so fool-proof and easy that I know I can count on it to turn out every time. Then everyone can pick and choose what they want on their pie which means they’re (pretty much) guaranteed to love it.

I guess we’ll find out tonight though. I’ve got a few dough balls rising for supper as we speak! :D


Do you like entertaining and hosting?