Cheesy Beef & Macaroni

Posted on 06/16/2010. Filed under: Baking, Beef, Dinner, Pasta |

I am apparently terrible at sitting down and writing about food I’ve made.  I’m sorry.  The week of June 4 was Matt’s turn.  He’d just spent the weekend with his family in Chesapeake and one of his brothers made chicken fajitas, which Matt then made for us.  I was his sous chef, cutting and grilling stoplight bell peppers & onions while he cut and cooked the chicken.  We laid all the accourements on the table and we all dug in.  He cooked the chicken with Old El Paso fajita seasoning and it was damn tasty.  I was teased for allowing Matt to be cooking in my kitchen with me, side-by-side.  I’m usually pretty territorial in my kitchen when I’m cooking because I move around a bit and don’t like bumping into people.  But there was no running around, Matt and I worked together pretty seamlessly. 

Then on Wednesday, June 9, it was Matt’s birthday.  I made pepperoni rolls with Bittman’s pizza dough recipe, cutting the dough in quarters for Matt, Mom, Dan & myself.  I rolled each portion out and tried my best to shape it to the right shape, drizzled olive oil down on the dough, filled the center with shredded mozzarella and slices of pepperoni, and rolled up the dough into some sort of stromboli shape I learned at Whole Foods.  I placed the pepperoni rolls/strombolis on baking sheets (2 on each sheet), brushed olive oil all over the top and seasoned each one with S&P and dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil), and baked them off at 425* for twenty minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through cooking.  I topped each roll (stromboli, whatever) with homemade pizza sauce I’d frozen from Grilled Pizza night.  After dinner, the boys and I rocked out to Dropkick Murphys at The National.  And then our ears rang for two days afterward.

Myself (revealed), Dan, Matt

This past Friday night, I decided to make a dish I’d seen on Michael Ruhlman’s blog that just got me.  He’s right, it’s ultimate comfort food.  I’ve had this dish before, but only in processed form, so I was excited to make it from scratch.  I began by dicing a large onion and sweating it in a little olive oil and salt (I don’t keep canola on hand, and olive oil’s healthier).  When the onion had released its liquid, I browned the beef, breaking it up with my bamboo spoon.  The beef I used wasn’t terribly fatty, and I knew I’d need the liquid later on, so I didn’t drain it.  Ruhlman says one can add any dried seasoning in mind at this point, so of course I went the Italian route and added oregano, basil and thyme, as well as garlic powder, stirring the seasonings in after adding.  Then I added a can of whole tomatoes, crushing them and tearing them apart with my hands, rather than pureeing them like Ruhlman suggests.  I knew the tomatoes would break down further in the simmering/baking process and I just wanted chunkier tomatoes.  I did not drain the can as I knew I would need the liquid.

I put a salted pot of water on to boil, and cooked a box of Barilla macaroni for half the suggested cooking time, about three and a half minutes.  The Barilla pasta had ridges, which is awesome as it helped absorb the sauce well.  I drained the pasta and added it to the now-HUGE pot of meaty sauce.  I stirred the pasta in well, making sure it would have a chance to asborb the liquid from the pot.  I’m always afraid of under- or un-cooked pasta in dishes like this.  If pasta is crunchy, I think it should be because it was baked with cheese on it and the oven made it crispy, not because I didn’t cook it well enough. 

Pasta is my comfort food.  When I can’t think of something to make, I’ll make pasta.  Usually it’s a plate of angel hair with butter and parmesan, sometimes a sauce of olive oil, minced garlic, whatever dried spices/herbs I want.  Simple, comforting.  This is one of the many, many reasons I could never do Atkins, and pray I never develop Celiac disease.  My uncle has Celiac, and I know how sensitive the allergy is.  If a piece of bread touches his steak, he can’t have the steak anymore, otherwise it’s an unpleasant night in the bathroom and bed.

Anyway, I let the pot of pasta and meat sit covered for about half an hour while the oven heated up to 400*.  I got out my biggest glass Pyrex baking dish and loaded half the meaty pasta in.  I sprinkled a layer of shredded mozzarella in the middle, then added the rest of the meaty pasta.  I covered this with foil and baked it for about 30 minutes as it was still warm from sitting in a covered pot for the last thirty minutes.  I pulled out the dish after 30 minutes and turned the broiler on, topped the dish with the remaining cup of mozzarella and then added about a cup and a half of shredded mild cheddar.  I love cheese.  I especially love cheese when it’s added to pasta.  I put the pan under the boiler, on the bottom rack, until the cheese had bubbled and turned brown.  YUM.

Cheesy, Beefy Pasta goodness

Matt missed this because he was back in The ‘Peake with his family, and Dan was working.  A friend of Mom’s and mine, Missy, came over for dinner.  She brought a baguette of French Bread, which I immediately took, cut into quarters, spread butter on each quarter, sprinkled with salt-free garlic herb seasoning, and toasted under the broiler on the bottom rack of the oven for a few minutes until the edges were brown.  We dug into to the pasta.  Mmmm, meaty, cheesy, comforting.  And it was HUGE.  This pan of Cheesy Beef & Mac fed the three of us, I sent Missy home with a gladware thingy of leftovers, Mom and I had leftovers, plus there’s a gladware thingy of leftovers in my freezer.  A LOT of food.  I was happy because this one dish is kid-friendly and could feed the family I plan on having someday, along with all my kid’s friends. 

The ladies loved the dish, and a co-worker that had some of mine the next day enjoyed it as well.  I’m curious to see how it stands up after being frozen, but hell I’ve made pans of lasagne, frozen and cooked leftovers before without a hitch, I would imagine the Cheesy Beef & Mac would work just as well too.

This week, I’m re-creating the Shepherd’s Pie for Matt and our friend Amanda, as they missed out on the first Irish Feast.  However, we’re still celebrating Matt’s birthday (yes, a week and a half later), and instead of the bread pudding, he’s requesting a Red Bull cake.  I’m nervous about this cake, particularly making icing with Red Bull.  Any tips on icing made with a soft drink are much appreciated!!

Bon Appetit, Y’all!


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3 Responses to “Cheesy Beef & Macaroni”

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Shanny, I found this recipe for the frosting. Hope it helps. I don’t know about the blue coloring. !!??!! I have put the link as well.

For the frosting

* 12 tablespoons butter, softened
* 2-3 cups sifted powdered sugar
* 2 ounces Red Bull energy drink

For the frosting:.

Cream butter, add half the red bull, then add powdered sugar 1/2-1 cup at a time, mixing as you go.

Add the rest of the Red Bull for flavor/consistency as desired.

Add icing coloring as desired to achieve a bright blue.


Moonbeams, thank you so much! This doesn’t involve cooking, just mixing! YAY!

The coca-cola cake and coca-cola frosting recipe involves heating the icing on the stove….I can look the recipe up if you need it, the main thing with this type is to stir constantly! Love the mac dish, very comforting! Shan, you write beautifully and I look forward to reading it, so keep on blogging!

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