The hour time change is kicking my butt. But, the good thing is that the raising temperatures and sunshine the last two days have definitely brightened my outlook on life. I truly believe I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every year. No, it is not a serious depression for me but I definitely don’t feel myself for at least 2-3 months every year. I feel great when we are in Florida during that time but we come home and within a week I am right back to where I was.
It is 40 degrees today and the sun is glorious! I have been down to the beach and the ice banks are slowly melting. Spring will be here soon. I can feel it.
I made this Cheesy Chili Beef Mac because I needed a dish that could easily be heated up as we were having a night where most of us were going to be eating at different times. Weekends are starting to book up with Science Olympiad practices, dancing for St. Patrick’s Day and school work in general.
I love that you can make this dish to your tastes. You really have to trust your instincts with this. Taste and adjust the spices to what you think your family will like. My family LOVES lots of flavor and spice so I add extra chili powder and garlic. Remember start with a little bit of spice and add as you need. It is easier to add than it is to subtract when you don’t want something spicy.
Both kids liked this dish and were picking at the cheesy parts until I put the dishes away.
I served this dish with a side of green beans and a green salad.
For my mostly gluten-free son I made him a casserole dish with his gluten-free pasta and the same sauce and block cheese. I don’t use bagged pre-shredded cheese for him because of the coating used to prevent clumping causes a reaction in him sometimes. I also try to not use it too much for us but it was on sale this week so I went with it even though I know the freshly grated blocks I do myself taste 100% better.
- 1 (16 oz) box of pasta cooked half-way, I used ruffles you can use macaroni or your choice of shape
- 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, lean
- 4 (15 oz) cans of petite diced tomatoes
- 1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 red peppers, diced
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 cup of water
- chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to your taste
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Brown ground beef in a large skillet breaking it up into small pieces with the side of your spoon as it cooks. Drain off fat from pan and remove ground beef to a bowl.
- In the same pan you cooked the beef add the olive oil, onions and peppers. Cook to softened about 5 minutes.
- Return beef to skillet with the onions and peppers. Add into the pan diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water and spices. Taste and add spices as you choose.
- Begin cooking the pasta at this point. Allow it to cook about 1/2 of the recommended time on the package. Drain pasta when it is done cooking and rinse with cold water.
- Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring often, until it cooks down until it is thickened – almost like a thick soup.
- Mix the beef mixture and the pasta together. Stir until completely combined.
- Layer 1/2 of the pasta mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese.
- Layer the remaining half of the pasta mixture over the cheese and cover the top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.