Thursday, July 5, 2012

Beefy Macaroni

This is a very beefy pasta casserole, which made it a kid and husband pleasing meal. I think the kids loved the smothered in cheese aspect and my husband loved the beefiness. The sauce is slow simmered before you make the casserole, so you need to start this casserole about 2 hours before you want to have dinner. I think this would be a great freezer meal as well (instructions below). The recipe is from What's Cooking Chicago. I served it with broccoli and super cheesy garlic bread (another family favorite).

Beefy Macaroni

1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 oz tomato sauce
28 oz can whole tomatoes (next time I might try diced)
1/2 - 1 cup fresh grape tomatoes, halved (optional, but I like this for texture)
1 lb box elbow macaroni or rotini (any short pasta will work)
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup grated mozzarella

In a large stockpot saute onion in oil until onion softens. Add a big pinch of salt as onions cook. Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking up as it cooks. Add pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and sugar. Add in tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, and halved grape tomatoes. Bring to a  boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Set aside.

Stir pasta into simmered sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Spread pasta mixture into a non-stick sprayed 9.5x13.5 baking dish (the size just larger than 9x13). Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with cheddar and mozzarella. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*Freezer Meal Instructions: After combining pasta with simmered sauce, pour into a non-stick sprayed foil pan. Cover, label with heating instructions, and freeze. When ready to reheat, thaw completely in fridge for about 2 days. Bake covered with foil for 1 hour or until hot and bubbly. Top with cheeses and bake an additional 5 minutes.

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