Beefy Macaroni and Cheese

I know, more man food. But whenever we have all-fruit + spinach smoothies for breakfast, and a couple new salad recipes planned for the week for dinner, I have to bribe Ryan to be okay with it. Dishes like this seal the deal in our house.

At first when I saw this recipe, I thought it would be some kind of nasty Hamburger Helper relative. And that made me very, very nervous. That stuff is kind of gross (to us), and I still have nightmares thinking about it. I promise I'm not a box-meal snob. On a day impossible to throw anything together for dinner, we sometimes sneak in Mac & Cheese or a Homestyle Bake, and I'm okay with that. But we stay far, far away from the white glove smiling on the box.

I was happily proven wrong. This dish isn't related to that nasty box of filth by any means. It's a decadently creamy bed of beautifully cheesy shell noodles, with a hidden layer of beef with just the right amount of spice. From the first bite Ryan loved it. We shared half of it for lunch, and the other half for dinner. I love lazy days. We didn't have anything planned on Saturday. We stayed in, away from the once-again-negative temperatures, and cozied on up with the Manchild. The only time we left the house was for Ryan to go to a meeting, and me to get my run in on the treadmill down the street. We stayed in our comfy clothes, drank hot chocolate, watched a couple basketball games, and played with the Manchild. 

It was a much-needed day of relaxation before the big plunge:

Ryan's VERY last semester of law school started Monday. 

Beefy Macaroni and Cheese
Makes about 4 servings 

kosher salt
8 oz medium pasta shells
3 T unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 T chili powder
8 oz ground beef
2 T all-purpose flour
1 C low-fat milk (1%) - I used skim, worked fine
2 1/2 C shredded Mexican cheese blend (8 oz)
2 T panko breadcrumbs
2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste and chili powder and stir until brick red, about 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread mixture in a 3-quart baking dish. Preheat the broiler.
4. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the milk and reserved cooking water, bring to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thick, 2 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups cheese, the cooked pasta, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir until the cheese melts. Spread over the beef mixture.
 6. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and panko. Sprinkle over the pasta mixture and broil until golden. Top with scallions. 

Recipe Source: Food Network Magazine


  1. im cooking this up right now!! my belly is getting excited!!!

    1. You will LOVE it, Rebecca! Thanks for telling me, totally made my night!

  2. I'm making this tonight as well - I think I'll be adding some diced tomatoes and green chiles to kick it up a notch! Great recipe!


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