Last year on a trip to Austin with my girlfriends, I ate the most delicious “shells and cheese” at La Barbecue. It was peppery, creamy and I knew I had to recreate it. Today, I’m sharing a recipe for Queso & Shells with you all and its freakin fantastic. I’m warning you now, that there is Velveeta in the recipe because it honestly just makes for an easy and deliciously velvety sauce. Last year during the Holidays I made like 20 different versions of macaroni and cheese not using any processed cheese but the texture was always the issue!
If you’re in charge of bringing the mac & cheese to Thanksgiving dinner, you cannot go wrong with this recipe. You can leave out the spicier ingredients if you want to make it more mild and kid friendly. I use shells in this recipe because it doesn’t get easily overcooked like macaroni noodles but feel free to switch it up with whatever you prefer.
This recipe can also just be made into a queso! Keep the sauce a little thicker by adding a bit more shredded cheese or extra cubes of Velveeta and add in black beans! Its delicious! You can top it off with some sour cream, pico de gallo and serve it with tortilla chips! You cannot go wrong!
- Chop the onions, peppers and mince the garlic the day before. Using a chopper like my favorite chopper from Amazon will make life a lot easier not only during the holidays, but ANY time you are in the kitchen.
- If you’re traveling with this to another party, take a little bit of milk with you ( or ask the host for some) and when you reheat it, add it in to bring back some of that creaminess.
Queso & Shells
Yield 6 Servings
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp taco seasoning ( I love Trader Joes Taco Seasoning)
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
2-3 serrano peppers finely diced
1 onion finely diced
1 red bell pepper finely diced
1 green bell pepper finely diced
16 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed (Purchase a 32 oz container)
1.5- 2 cups half & half
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 tbsp oil
1-1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp sriracha
- In a large pot heat oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the serrano peppers. Let them splutter for about 30 seconds and then add in the diced onions and peppers with a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until they are softened.
- Add garlic, saute for about a minute until garlic is fragrant and then add in the taco seasoning, corn, chili powder and cumin powder while stirring continuously- reduce heat to low if things begin to stick.
- With the heat set to medium low, Add the can of hotel tomatoes to the pan, give it a quick stir and then dd in half of the cubed cheese along with 1 cup of the half & half and stir until everything is well incorporated. Slowly add in the remaining cheese and half and half, stirring over low heat to make sure the cheese melts.
- Add in the sriracha, chopped cilantro stir and making sure the stove is set to low heat, add in one handful at a time of the shredded cheddar cheese letting it melt slowly. Add more or less cheese as you want.
***If you want a thicker cheesier consistency, add more shredded cheese. If you want the sauce to be a little more loose and "saucy" add in some more half and half or milk to thin out the sauce or add in more cubed Velveeta.**