Ultimate Beefy Mac n’ Cheese…..

Thank you to everyone who participated in my poll.  It seems that we are all looking for great comfort foods at this time.  I couldn’t agree more.  This recipe is the epitome of “comfort.”   You can make it ahead and warm a day or two later.  This dish also freezes very well.  As always, I recommend making a double recipe, one for immediate use and one for later.  Wrap first with cling wrap, then a layer of heavy duty foil.  You can write on the foil with a sharpe pen, label the contents and date.  Use within a couple of months.

Beefy Mac-n-Cheese

1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves fresh garlic, minced, or 2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 cans water (measure in tomato paste cans)
1 batch béchamel sauce, recipe below
1 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 16 oz. package whole wheat elbow macaroni (Barilla Plus is excellent)

1) Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse and set aside. Prepare a large casserole baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350’.
2) In large skillet over medium high heat, cook ground meet until cooked through. Drain. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes to soften onions. Add tomato paste, mix well over heat. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
3) Add water and reduce heat to low, simmer while you’re making white sauce. Stir often.
4) In same you used for pasta, make béchamel sauce. (recipe below)  Once sauce is complete, add ½ shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
5) Add meat sauce and cooked pasta to pot with white sauce. Mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
6) Bake for 20 minutes.

Be ready for a very, very happy family!

*To heat after refrigeration:  Preheat oven to 350′, poke holes in top with a fork, drizzle 1 cup of milk over, bake for 40-45 minutes.
**To heat after freezing:  allow to defrost in refrigerator for 2 days.  Oven to 350′, poke holes in top with a fork, drizzle 1 cup of milk over.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until bubbly.

Meatless Tamale Pie….

This is an excellent vegetarian one dish dinner recipe that will leave your tastebuds happy and your appetite satisfied.  The combination of the butternut squash, roasted poblanos, corn tortillas and white corn is absolutely delicious!  There are a few more steps to it than many of my other recipes, but it will totally be worth it.  You could roast the squash and prepare the poblano peppers a day or two ahead if you wish.  Why not double the recipe, freeze to enjoy at another time!

Meatless Tamale Pie

1 medium sized butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
1 cup water
2 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper
3 poblano peppers
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 16 oz. bag frozen white corn
Salt and pepper
1 can black refried beans
1/3 cup non fat plain yogurt
16 oz. medium salsa verde
12-14 small corn tortillas
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

You will need a large casserole dish, spray generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
1) Preheat oven to 350’. Carefully cut squash in half, remove seeds. Place cut face down on cookie sheet and add water to pan. Bake until squash is soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool enough to handle.
2) Scoop squash out and put into medium size bowl. Add chili powder, a couple of pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper. Beat with a hand mixer or with a potato masher. Add enough water to resemble the consistency of mashed potatoes. Set aside.
3) Roast the rinsed poblano peppers until they blister over a gas flame on the range, on the grill, or in the broiler. Once blistered and charred, place in a bowl and cover with foil. Allow to steam for about 20 minutes.
4) In a large skillet, heat pan with canola oil over medium high heat. Add onions, cook about 6 minutes, add garlic and cook another minute. Add corn.
5) While corn is warming, remove core and seeds from roasted poblano peppers. Remove the skin and chop peppers coarsely. Add to pan with the corn. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Taste. Remove from heat.
6) In a small mixing bowl, combine the refried beans and plain yogurt, mix well.
7) Cut corn tortillas in half. Layer bottom of casserole dish with halved tortillas.
8) Spread black beans over tortillas and half of the cheese.
9) Pour half of the salsa verde over beans, top with another layer of corn tortillas.
10) Spread squash over tortillas and add corn on top of it. Add remaining salsa verde.
11) Add one last layer of tortillas. Pour tomatoes with juice and spread evenly. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
12) Bake at 350’ for one hour. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

This is excellent baked ahead, cooled and reheated. It will slice like lasagna. It freezes well. Serve with a cool salad with yogurt ranch dressing. Enjoy!