Simple One Pan Meal: Free Itali-Mac and Mexi-Mac Recipes

Christmas is coming and I know you are busy!  Unless you are like me and you have not done your shopping and you have not decorated.  Yet!  I'm always busy, that's my excuse!

Try this easy recipe for a mouthwatering one dish meal on a "busy" night.  It takes a good 30 minutes to prep it, but you save on clean up time, and I don't know about you, but I’d rather cook than clean any time.

Itali-Mac is my own ground beef casserole invention.  The kids love it.  Of course it helps that Carmin, at the ripe old age of 14, has finally decided that tomato based sauces are indeed edible. 

This is a one dish meal.  It wasn’t always. 

I discovered, quite by accident, that the noodles could be cooked right in the pan with everything else.  I was talking to one of the kids when I poured the uncooked noodles into the pot with the simmering meat and tomato sauce instead of the pot of water boiling and ready for pasta.

Horrified at my mistake, but not wanting to start over (or worse, pick the pasta out of the sauce), I added some water to the pot of simmering meat and sauce and let the noodles cook right there! 

Presto!  One pan meal!  Even the left-overs are extra ordinary.

The best part is, you can change it up and have Mexi-Mac.  Just make the following substitutions to the recipe which follows:

- Chorizo sausage for the Italian sausage, available in our farm store, - this is still good with ground beef

- your favorite salsa for the tomato sauce

- cheddar cheese for the Italian cheese

Ingredients for Itali-Mac:

1 lb of ground beef, or loose Italian sausage, available in our farm store

1 quart of spaghetti sauce - what ever your favorite is!  

2 cups of water

2 cups of elbow macaroni (I use Tinkyada brand gluten-free)

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup of your favorite Italian cheese, shredded.  I admit to using a pre-shredded bag of 5 or 6 cheese Italian blend

Instructions:

I prepare this in the largest cast iron skillet I’ve got.  Use an oven proof pot or pan so that you can put it in the oven to brown it with cheese on top.  Alternatively, prepare it on the stove in the pot of your choice and then pour it into an oven safe baking dish before putting the cheese on top.

Brown the ground beef or loose Italian sausage in the skillet.  Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.

Add the 2 cups of water and bring back to a simmer. 

Add the noodles and bring to a boil and then turn the temperature back down so it just simmers.  Simmer until the noodles are mostly, but not completely done.  They will continue to cook when you place it in the oven.

Top the casserole with the  shredded Italian cheese and brown it in the oven at 400º for 20-30 minutes.  

Remove from oven and ENJOY!

I'd love to hear what your favorite recipes are!  Please share them:  amie@franchescasdawnfarm.com