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Valerie Brunmeier’s Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet

Valerie Brunmeier’s Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet

When I came across this cookbook The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker by Valerie Brunmeier of Valerie’s Kitchen, I thought, yes! We can all use more slow cooker recipes, right? They’re time-savers!

But the book is more than that—it’s slow cooker recipes and OTHER one-pot solutions, such as those you can make in a skillet. They, too, are dinnertime heroes.

Brunmeier knows a few things about getting good food on the table fast, as she’s got experience as a working mom of now mostly grown men. (I’ve only got two boys and they’re not grown yet, so, props to you, Valerie, cause dang, they can eat!)


I’ve got my eye on the Chicken Parmesan Meatball Subs, which can simmer away while you’re working. The slow-cooked Short Rib Ragu looks ideal for a cold night, and the Sausage and Sweet Potato Breakfast Burrito Bowls (say that three times fast!) will make an appearance at the table, too.

The book includes 75 recipes altogether, with sides, dinner rolls (yes!), desserts, chilis, soups, pasta, rice, and more.


This Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet combines the flavors of tacos with the delivery system of pasta, in just one dish. It uses ground beef, a special seasoning mix with cumin, chili powder, paprika, and others—it’s Brunmeier’s own recipe that she makes up ahead of time.

And because pasta takes well to many flavors, we get a marriage of two foods that just works—along with two cheeses, cheddar and Monterey jack, that play well together, too.


A well-stocked pantry makes this meal a snap, too—it requires a lot of staples such as canned beans, tomatoes, stock, and pasta. The recipe includes her own Flavor Fiesta Taco Seasoning mix, which you can put together in a jiffy if you’ve got a well-stocked spice rack. You can substitute this for another taco seasoning of your choice, but if you put hers together it will yield more than you need, so you’ll have some for future meals. Score!


Tell me why you wrote this book—how’s your book different from other slow cooker and one-pot cookbooks?

Slow cooker and one-pot meals were my solution to having a home cooked meal on nights when we got home very late after water polo games and other after-school activities. They are the most requested recipes I get from my readers on Valerie’s Kitchen and I wanted to write a cookbook that would be a resource for busy home cooks. I think this book contains recipes that will appeal to all tastes and ages, from the kiddos all the way up to Grandma and Grandpa.

Tacos and pasta are both great dinner templates—it’s a wonder you don’t see more Tex-Mex flavors in pasta! Tell me about how this one came about?

Mexican-inspired dishes are BIG in our house. I can always fall back on tacos or burrito bowls any night of the week and make everyone very happy. So I’ve experimented over time incorporating these ingredients into all kinds of dishes and this one-pot, easy-peasy pasta dish is a great one when you have zero time for prep in the morning. It’s hearty, satisfying, and a fun twist on pasta.

What recipe challenged you the most to get it to work, and you’re so proud that you did?

Most of the recipes in this cookbook are based on decades of experience, and I felt confident of the result even before the recipe testing began. But, I really challenged myself with desserts. I adapted an old, beloved recipe for Lemon-Blueberry Bread for the slow cooker and after a long bout of recipe testing, I was so happy with the result that I ended up including three quick bread recipes in the book.

The Sweet Spiced Cocktail Nuts were also a revelation. These are the kind of recipes that really showcase the versatility of a slow cooker.

Do you have any tips on how to prepare staples such as beans, rice, and so forth in the slow cooker?

I could talk about beans all day! (I’m weird that way.) Timing is crucial. Canned beans are already cooked and have no business being in a slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours. They should be added during the last 30 to 60 minutes of the cook time so that they will retain their flavor and texture. This is the same for other items like softer veggies and fresh herbs.

I feel like every cookbook author has that one recipe in their cookbook that they know isn’t going to be super popular, but they loved it so much that they just couldn’t bear to cut it. What is that recipe for you?

Oh, good question! That’s going to be the Chicken Tikka Masala with Cauliflower and Red Bell Pepper. My boys love curries so I’ve developed a bunch of different curry-based recipes over the years and we absolutely love them. Although this recipe may seem unfamiliar or exotic to some, it’s actually such a down-home, comforting family meal.

What do you think would surprise people the most about these recipes?

I think a lot of people have the misconception that slow cooker meals are flavorless. I am on a mission to prove that with the proper ingredients and a variety of spices you can create incredibly flavorful dishes with your slow cooker! I’ve included the recipes for four of my favorite spice mixes that are incorporated throughout the book in some of the slow cooker and one-pot recipes.

What became the most-washed kitchen tool or utensil while testing the recipes for this cookbook?

Can I say my slow cooker? Actually, any of my six slow cookers. Yes, I own six slow cookers and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

What recipes do you still have on regular rotation in your kitchen, even now that the book is done?

So many! Just two months ago we moved from California to Oregon and almost immediately upon arrival in our new house I started cooking from the cookbook. I did the Big Batch Bolognese, used half for a big pasta meal that night, and froze the other half for a super quick and easy future meal. Many of the recipes in the book are great freezer meals.

For Super Bowl last year I did the Meaty Queso Dip and the Asian Sesame Party Meatballs – both are huge family favorites. Other recipes on regular rotation are the Veggie Packed Meatloaf with BBQ Glaze, 20-Minute Egg Roll Lettuce Wraps, Game Day Beer Chili, Chicken Parmesan Meatballs Subs, and the Loaded Chicken and Veggie Fajitas.

What top secrets can you share about using slow cookers?

Using the right ingredients and adding them at the right time is what I stress the most. I give specific brand recommendations in the ingredient lists [in the cookbook] and detailed instructions so that your result will be as close as possible to mine. Dealing properly with condensation in recipes for baked goods and other items like cocktail nuts and snack mixes is also key to the success of a recipe.


  • Skillet Shrimp Fajitas
  • Herbes de Provence Skillet Chicken with Potatoes and Greens
  • Chinese 5-Spice Skillet Chicken with Green Beans and Peppers
  • Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet
  • Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Chili mac and cheese is pure comfort in a bowl and thanks to the protein and fiber, it’s also filling and the perfect family-friendly recipe. If you love chili as much as me, you may also enjoy this Quick Beef Chili Recipe or my most popular Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili.

Този Cheesy Taco Skillet комбинира вкусовете на тако със системата за доставка на тестени изделия, само в едно ястие. Той използва смляно говеждо месо, специална смес за подправки с кимион, чили на прах, червен пипер и други - това е собствената рецепта на Brunmeier, която тя измисля предварително.

И тъй като тестените изделия се отнасят добре за много вкусове, получаваме брак от две храни, които просто работят - заедно с две сирена, чедър и жак Монтерей, които също играят добре заедно.

By now, you will almost certainly have heard about the wildfires (once again) impacting Northern California. There are a few things to keep in mind regarding how these fires impact California wine country:

Not all of CA wine country is ablaze. Yes, the impacts are horrifically devastating to many, and the situation is extremely fluid and, buy the time this publishes, undoubtedly will have changed again (hopefully, for the better).

If you are relatively local, you can open your home to evacuees impacted by the fires. If you’re not local, you can of course donate some cash to any of the various relief funds that are actively dealing with the disaster.

Most importantly (in my view), as a wine lover, you should continue to drink and buy wines from the impacted areas (primarily Sonoma County). Not just now, but long after the smoke from these horrendous fires has cleared (and before you ask… harvest is almost totally completed in the impacted areas, so there’s little chance of smoke taint from the current fires making its way into anything that will be bottled with a 2019 vintage on the label). That might be the best way to ensure a speedy recovery for the wine brands that get hit the hardest by the current blazes.

Grab The Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

Shop Wine Products at

Copyright © 2016. Originally at CA Wildfires: How to Best Help Wine Country from
– for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Slow Cooker Beef Tips from Valerie’s Kitchen

Creamy Lemon Chicken Francese from Cafe Delites

Cheeseburger Burritos from Noshing with the Nolands – perfect for a quick weeknight meal or your next tailgate.

Baked Honey Cilantro Lime Salmon In Foil from Creme de la Crumb

Loaded Mashed Potato Meatloaf Casserole from Dinner Then Dessert

Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breasts from Cafe Delites

Dr. Pepper Roast from Normal Cooking – My favorite thing about this recipe is the gravy it makes!

Philly Cheesesteak Pasta from Small Town Woman

Chili Relleno Casserole from Eazy Peazy Mealz

Skillet Mac and Cheese with Sausage and Bell Peppers from Julia’s Album

Spaghetti Pizza

Pizza or pasta tonight? Why not both? Turn your usual family pizza nights into a spaghetti pizza night with this recipe. To create this noodly 'za, simply bake angel hair noodles with a few binding ingredients such as eggs and parmesan cheese, and top like a normal pizza. It's a fun meal the whole family can enjoy no matter how you slice it.

Pizza or pasta tonight? Why not both? Turn your usual family pizza nights into a spaghetti pizza night with this recipe. To create this noodly 'za, simply bake angel hair noodles with a few binding ingredients such as eggs and parmesan cheese, and top like a normal pizza. It's a fun meal the whole family can enjoy no matter how you slice it.

Chicken and Spinach Skillet Pasta

When you've got a family to feed, hearty one-pot dishes can be your saving grace. This recipe, with juicy chicken, creamy sauce and fresh spinach, is sure to please even the pickiest eaters at the table.

When you've got a family to feed, hearty one-pot dishes can be your saving grace. This recipe, with juicy chicken, creamy sauce and fresh spinach, is sure to please even the pickiest eaters at the table.

Yes! You can make and assemble the Chicken Alfredo Bake a day in advance and refrigerate (without baking) or make the sauce ahead and/or pasta ahead of time. Here’s a breakdown of your options:

1. Assemble and refrigerate:

  • Take care that your noodles are cooked al dente and are rinsed in cold water so they don’t keep cooking.
  • Take care the Alfredo Sauce isn’t too thick as it will thicken more sitting in the refrigerator.
  • Assemble Chicken Alfredo Bake according to directions up until baking.
  • Tightly cover with foil and refrigerate.
  • Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Bake according to directions or until completely warmed through.

2. Make Alfredo sauce in advance:

  • You can make the Alfredo sauce up to 3 days in advance.
  • Refrigerate it in an airtight container.
  • Gently heat in a large skillet before using, adding additional milk as needed to thin to desired consistency.

3. Make pasta in advance:

  • You can cook the pasta al dente up to 5 days ahead of time.
  • Rinse pasta with cool water.
  • Toss with a drizzle of oil to prevent it from sticking together.
  • Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air.
  • Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Valerie Brunmeier’s Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet - Recipes


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