Friday, December 7, 2012

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese

lb lean ground beef

* 1 small onion, chopped
* 3 tbsp tomato paste
* 3 tsp chile powder
* 2 tsp ground cumin
* 1 1/4 tsp salt
* 12 oz veggie pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you want to use)
* 3 cups milk (skim worked very well!)
* 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
* 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper-Jack cheese
* 1 cup crushed baked tortilla chips (about 2 ounces) 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prep a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef with the onion. Drain the meat if needed.  
3. Stir in tomato paste, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the chile powder, 1 teaspoon of the cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add 1/4 cup water and cook 1 minute. Set aside.
4. Cook pasta following package directions. Drain and set aside.
5. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a medium-size saucepan, stir together milk, flour, the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons chile powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, until thickened. Off heat, stir in 1 cup of the cheddar and 1 cup of the pepper-Jack cheese until a smooth sauce is formed.
6. Combine the cheese sauce, the pasta, and the beef mixture and pour into the prepared baking dish. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese and crushed chips over the top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

I ripped this recipe out of Family Circle back in 2007!  I found it earlier this week when I was looking in an old writing file for inspiration.  I think it was fate - I rediscovered a character that has quite a bit of potential, and I found a keeper recipe!   Everyone at the table loved this, and it reheated well for leftovers.  My kids love the veggie pasta, but you could use whole wheat pasta in this or any kind of pasta you have on hand. I used Taco flavored Dorito tortilla chips instead of plain tortilla chips, and that was a wonderful alteration!


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