Chili Mac

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This is a nice, mild version of chili, with the surprising addition of elbow macaroni.  It got the thumbs up at dinner.  (I’m anticipating the leftovers to taste even better!).  You could certainly ramp up the heat with the addition of more chili paste/powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, etc, but we don’t mind if our foreheads don’t break out into a sweat while we’re eating 🙂  I used 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and 1/2 pound of sausage meat, just because that’s what I had on hand.  It was a good ratio and I would stick with it when I make the recipe again.  You can check out the original recipe here.

Chili Mac(aroni)

500g (1 lb) ground beef

500g (1 lb) spicy sausage meat (Italian, andouille, or similar)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ribs of celery, diced

1 540ml (19 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 398ml (14 oz) can tomato sauce

1 398ml can kidney beans

1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked

Seasonings:  1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste, 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp red chili paste

grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream

In a large saute pan, saute chopped onion and celery until tender-crisp, add minced garlic and red chili paste, saute for another minute or so.  Remove to a bowl.  In the hot pan, brown ground beef and sausage meat until pink is all gone, seasoning as it is browning with 1/2 tsp salt,  freshly ground pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons of chili powder.  Drain if necessary and place meat back in pan.  Stir in sauteed onions, celery, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and kidney beans.  Over medium heat, bring mixture to a high simmer, and continue to simmer over low heat about 20-30 minutes, stirring often.  Taste for seasoning, adding more chili powder as desired.  While chili is simmering, cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  When chili is ready to serve, stir in macaroni.  If pasta has cooled, let the chili come back to a simmer before serving.  Top individual servings with grated cheese and a dollop of (no-fat) sour cream.

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Three-Cheese Pasta

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Thank you, Aunty Janet for this great recipe;  it has definitely been on our favorites list for a long time!  It’s a good make-ahead  or make-and-take dish and can easily be doubled to feed a larger crowd.  We add a bit of red chili paste or hot sauce for a hit of heat.   Also, the leftovers improve with a night in the fridge to really let the flavors develop.  What more could you ask for in a pasta dish?

Three Cheese Pasta

3 cups penne  (or fusilli or rotini)

700g (1 1/2 lb)  extra-lean ground beef

½ large onion,  chopped

1 tbsp minced garlic (more or less to taste)

2 1/2 cups  marinara sauce

1/2 tin (generous cup) petite-cut stewed tomatoes, garlic & olive oil or similar flavor

2-3 cups grated cheese (use some of each of colby, cheddar, monterey jack)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (more or less to taste)

1/2 tsp dried, crushed oregano

Crumble ground beef into hot frying pan.  Sprinkle with  salt, pepper and oregano.  Add chopped onion and stir and and fry beef until no or very little pink remains.  Add garlic and cook for a minute more.   If necessary, drain meat.  In a large pot, stir together cooked meat,  marinara sauce and canned tomatoes.  Simmer sauce about 15 minutes.  While the meat sauce is cooking,  make pasta according to package directions.  Drain and keep pasta warm. Taste the meat sauce and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Remove from heat.   Stir in drained pasta and  1 ½ -2 cups of the mixed, grated cheese.  Pour into a 9″x13″ greased baking dish or casserole.  Top with remaining cheese, cover lightly with foil and bake for about ½ hour at 375 degrees F, till mixture is hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.  Remove foil for the last 5 minutes or so if necessary to melt the cheese sufficiently.  Allow pasta to stand  5-10 minutes before serving.

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