Mom 100 Cookbook: Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Author Katie Workman with "The Mom 100 Cookbook" demonstrates how to make a delicious cheesy beef macaroni!

She will be at the Plaza Branch Library in Kansas City, Mo., beginning at 6:30. The public is invited to the free event. For more information, click here.

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Serves 8 with a lot of leftovers, which you will be grateful for
(so I guess it really serves 10 to 12)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped red, yellow, orange, or green bell pepper (about 1⁄4-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup peeled chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes in juice (see You Say Tomato . . . , page 155)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder (optional but recommended)
  • Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3⁄4 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.    Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat (for this full recipe, it should be a deep 12-inch skillet). Add the beef and cook it until browned, stirring until no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Place the browned beef in a strainer and let the fat drain off, then set the beef aside.

2.    Wipe out the skillet, add the oil, and heat it over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, carrots, onion, and garlic and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

3.    Return the beef to the skillet and add the basil, oregano, tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, if using, and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Increase the heat to high and let come to a simmer. Add the elbow macaroni, stir, and cover the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or black pepper as necessary.

4.    Sprinkle the cheddar on top, then cover the skillet and cook until the cheese is melty, about 1 minute. Serve this right out of the skillet.

Cooking Tip: Leftovers can be reheated on the stovetop over medium-low heat, or in a preheated 350°F oven, for 10 to 15 minutes (you may want to add a bit of water if it seems like the macaroni is drying out). If possible, don't add the cheese until the very end, otherwise it has a way of dissolving right into the casserole and not staying on top in that appealing melty way. If you are serving half of the dish on one day and saving the other half for another, sprinkle one cup of the cheese over half of the skillet, leaving the other half naked for later.

What the Kids Can Do: Kids can add ingredients to the skillet, with supervision, and letting them sprinkle on the cheese during the final step often locks in their appetite for the dish, because it smells great.

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