Friday, February 10, 2012

Conflicted Chef- Healthy Chili Mac


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There is a meal in a box out there that sometimes busy moms turn to when they need to quickly feed their family. A large white hand with a smiling face promises all you have to add is meat and you’ll have dinner on the table lickity split. If at this point you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s good. But if you’ve been tempted to let this “helper” aid you in the kitchen I have a recipe that is simple, healthy, and fast.

My sister, who has NEVER made any meal out of a box, passed this recipe on to me. She’s a new ,busy mommy, and she now understands the challenges of getting a nutritious meal on the table easily. Best of all she sometimes looks frazzled. This makes me happy because I’ve been looking frazzled for the last 12 years. Welcome to Mommyhood!

Here’s the ingredient list:

2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta noodles (elbow macaroni, or whatever shape you fancy)

2 pounds buffalo meat or lean ground beef (90/10)

1 medium onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (16oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (6oz) can tomato paste

1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese

First cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. In another skillet brown the meat, onion, and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. (If you are using lean meat you should not have to drain it, but if you do see some fat in the skillet drain it off). Add the tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, chilies, and seasonings. If your skillet is big enough you can add the noodles to the meat mixture. If you don’t have room that’s okay you can layer the noodles and meat mixture when you put it in the pan.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch pan with cooking spray. I was able to divide this mixture into two pans. One 13 x 9 and a smaller 7 x 11, I felt that I could stretch this meal into two. Anyway, place the noodles and the meat in the pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes with a foil covering. When it starts to bubble around the edges it should be ready.Remove the foil sprinkle cheese on top and bake until cheese is melted.


This is great served with a side of coleslaw or a big green salad!

It’s difficult to see, but this casserole dish I inherited from WB’s grandmother. It’s been around for many years and I can’t help but wonder how many casseroles have been made in it!

Tell me have you ever used the “helper” in the kitchen? It’s okay to be honest, we’re all friends hereSmile


Pat's Place said...

I recognize that dish! She often made cakes in that dish and iced them with penuche frosting--my Dad's all-time favorite!! I can see it now, sitting on her round table with the appropriate number of candles. Whew! That was a flash from the past!!

Coleen Patrick said...

I used the helper a few times in college, but after I got married I used to make a dish that tasted a lot like it. Noodles, ground beef, spaghetti sauce and then (I might lose you here) mayonnaise. I haven't made it in ages, but I remember it was pretty tasty.
The photo of your dish looks yum--I also love using whole wheat pasta!

Ginger Calem said...

We've used the 'helper' back when we were first married and didn't have two dimes to rub together. Then, years later and with kids in the mix, I learned how to cook and found out I'm not too shabby at it. So here's the funny thing, maybe about a year ago, I was making dinner for just the kids and grabbed a 'helper' box, some turkey meat and thought … easy-peasy for just this once.

The kids didn't like it because it tasted 'funny'. As in, not real food like I normally cook. Ah well, guess I'll have to continue to 'help' myself. hahaha

Recipe looks yummy!!

Julie Hedlund said...

Perfect! Going to make this over the weekend while we're up skiing! :-)

August said...

Ooh... Looks scrumptious! Love that you use whole wheat pasta—my favorite. :)

Kara said...

Coleen, I am intrigued my the mayo. I made a chocolate cake once as a kid with mayo and it was so nice and moist!
Pat, I feel like Grandmommy is in the kitchen with us when we use it:)
Ginger, that is too funny. See, you are spoiling them with good food. That's the best kind.
Julie, I hope your crew likes it!
August, I love whole wheat pasta. I was surprised when I first tried it that I liked it. We've even made some from scratch and it is even better:)

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

That sounds AWESOME ;) I'm going to try this ;)

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Nancy said...

I've never used the "helper," but I have used many boxed dinners of other types. Your recipe looks luscious. It's always nice to do tings the right way.