How to make shredded chicken taco pasta casserole

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I love tacos, from the traditional kind you find on the streets of Mexico to the crunchy ground-beef-filled tacos topped with sour cream you find in American homes. I just love tacos, period. In the recipe below, we make an awesome taco pasta casserole. It's loaded with chicken and taco spices all smothered together with gooey cheese!
We start the recipe by cooking chicken on both sides in a hot pan, then adding onions and garlic and cooking until tender. Taco seasoning goes into the pan next, and all the spices bloom for another minute or two. Taco sauce and water then deglaze the pan, and everything simmers together. We shred the chicken right in the sauce, and mix it with pasta and cheese. Into the oven it goes, and in no time we have an awesome meal the whole family will love!
Cooktop Cove 
Shredded Chicken Taco Pasta Casserole
15 minutes
1 hour
1 hour, 15 minutes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ onion, small diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 1-ounce packets taco seasoning
1½ cups taco sauce
½ cup water
1 8-ounce pack Mexican cheese blend
1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package
To serve (optional):
Chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream
Sliced jalapenos
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a hot pan, add oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then gently place in the pan.
Cook chicken for 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Add onions and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add taco seasoning and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are nice and tender.
Add taco sauce and water. Mix and simmer on low for 10 to15 minutes, until chicken is tender enough to shred right in the sauce.
While chicken is simmering, cook pasta al dente according to package.
When chicken is ready, shred in the pan, then mix with the sauce.
Pour chicken into a casserole dish with the pasta and half of the cheese. Mix well, then top with the remaining cheese.
Bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbly.
Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream and sliced jalapenos if desired.
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