Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ground Beef Mac and Cheese Casserole

A yummy ground beef casserole that starts with a box of good ole mac and cheese. Perfect for kids, but we adults love it too!

Ground Beef Mac and Cheese Casserole

This ground beef casserole, made with a simple box of macaroni and cheese, is a weeknight favorite around our house. It comes together easy and bakes in no time. It's also a potluck favorite (double it) because while it's basic, it's well seasoned, flavorful and just good old fashioned comfort food. Nobody will know you started with a box of mac and cheese!

The inspiration came from Kraft, and the recipe doubles beautifully, filling an oblong baking dish to the hilt. An inexpensive dish to pull together, and though I prefer this with Kraft macaroni and cheese, look for the store brand mac and cheese in the double sized box for even better value if you are doubling. Use regular diced tomatoes or use Rotel tomatoes to kick it up a notch! I use a can of mild or original Rotel along with a small (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce and top it with pepper jack cheese for us, but it's good even done in the milder version. Serve it with a salad and veggie on the side and some garlic bread.

Here's how to make it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil for the macaroni noodles, adding a large pinch of kosher salt. Boil for the lowest time according to package directions, drain and set aside. Reserve the powdered cheese sauce package. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and bell pepper and sauté until tender. Toss in garlic and sauté one minute longer, but to avoid bitterness, do not scorch.


Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up as you go. Drain off any excess fat from meat mixture if necessary and then return it to the pan. Stir in chili powder and seasoned salt, reserved cheese packet and diced tomatoes. I wrote this to keep it a bit on the milder side for the kids, but I substitute one (10 ounce) can of Rotel tomatoes, undrained, plus 1 small can (8 ounce) tomato sauce for the can of diced tomatoes.


Stir until mixed thoroughly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed; add the pasta.


Butter or spray a 9 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour meat and pasta mixture in.


Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until heated through. Remove, uncover, sprinkle cheese on top and return to the oven for about 10 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted. Serving suggestion: Add a side salad, green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans and garlic bread.


Dig in!


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Recipe: Ground Beef Mac and Cheese Casserole

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 20 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 regular boxed macaroni and cheese (like Kraft original), reserve cheese packet
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green or red bell pepper, or use a combination of both
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder, or to taste (can omit if using Rotel)
  • 1 teaspoon of seasoning salt (like Lawry's)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can regular diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of shredded pepper jack, cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese, optional
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil for the macaroni noodles, adding a large pinch of kosher salt. Boil for the lowest time according to package directions, drain and set aside. Reserve the powdered cheese sauce package.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, green and red pepper and sauté until tender. Toss in garlic and sauté one minute longer, but to avoid bitterness, do not scorch. Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up as you go. Drain off any excess fat from meat mixture if necessary and then return it to the pan. Stir in chili powder and seasoned salt.

Add the cheese packet and diced tomatoes to the meat mixture, stir until mixed thoroughly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed; add the pasta. Butter or spray a 9 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour meat and pasta mixture in. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until heated through. Remove, uncover, sprinkle cheese on top and return to the oven for about 10 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted. Serving suggestion: Add a side salad, green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans and garlic bread.

Cook's Notes: I substitute one (10 ounce) can of Rotel tomatoes, undrained, plus 1 small can (8 ounce) tomato sauce for the can of diced tomatoes.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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41 comments:

  1. have been trying to eat a little healthier and then i saw this this morning, all i can say is yum, and right now i could eat it for breakfast

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  2. Sounds great! I'm definitely going to try this. One question: when you say the cheese packet, do you mean the dry powder that comes with regular mac 'n' cheese mixes, or do you mean the stuff that comes in the shells 'n' cheese mixes?
    Thanks! : )

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  3. Is this Mac and cheese with the powder cheese or the creamy cheese package? It sounds really yummy

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  4. This sounds yummy. But one question do you use the Mac and cheese with the powder or gooey package of cheese?

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  5. This uses the old fashioned original macaroni and cheese with the powdered cheese packet.

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  6. The second time I made this, I bought one of the "deluxe" boxes of Mac and Cheese and it was better with just the good old powdered cheese. We really have enjoyed this recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It is a great little casserole isn't it?

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  7. Can this be saved as a leftover in the fridge or no? I doubt me & my husband will finish it all so im just wondering. I am going to make this tonight for him. Love your recipes. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. You sure can Mercedes! Just be sure to cover it tightly so it doesn't dry out.

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  8. I am going to make this tonight but had a quick question...can you refridgerate any leftovers? By the way great recipe ideas. I think tomorrow i am going to make the pizza casserole one too. I was intrigued by both. They look so yummy. Thanks for the tips...Mercedes

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I hope that you enjoy that one too - it's a favorite for us. Be sure to check out my chicken and dumpling bake casserole too!!

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  9. Sorry for the double response my phone had some issues & i didnt know if it had sent. Macaroni casserole was a success very tastey. I loved it. Thank you also for the quick response. Appreciate it. Oooh i will definitely check out that recipe too. Keep up the excellent cooking.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, no need to apologize - happens all the time!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the casserole - it's a nice quick meal for a busy week. Thanks so much for stopping back by to let me know!

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  10. Can you suggest a sub for the diced tomatoes? I can't have seeds and fresh tomatoes aren't in season now to do it by hand. Thx!

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    1. There are actually some pretty decent tomatoes available year round now - I like the romas the most out of season, but I've even had some nice slicers, though I'm sure they traveled from South America! Still hard for me to get used to produce out of season! If you can do a tomato sauce, that should work as a substitute. Use a smaller can though and reserve some of the pasta water to add to the casserole, if needed for moisture. Condensed tomato soup would work too. Hope that helps!

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  11. This was a success and I am not a cook. I used Velveeta shells and we put sour cream on top. Jiffy corn muffins would have been so good with this. Thank you for this recipe.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome Tonya! It's a great little casserole that we love. Glad you enjoyed it too!!

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  12. You are amazing! I've been looking for an easy ground beef dish and this totally blew my mind! Everyone loved it! I doubled the dish to accommodate for my family and I actually have a lot of leftovers! Thank you so much for publishing this and I will definitely make it again!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome Kristin! We love this simple dish & it's great for those busy nights too. Glad y'all enjoyed it!!

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  13. You are amazing! I've been looking for an easy ground beef dish and this totally blew my mind! Everyone loved it! I doubled the dish to accommodate for my family and I actually have a lot of leftovers! Thank you so much for publishing this and I will definitely make it again!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome Kristin! I just love this casserole - so glad y'all did too!

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  14. Thank you... I hardly put in any hot stuff... and the green pepper we skip. Awesome... kids just asked for it today!

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    Replies
    1. So glad they are enjoying it! I guess I'm a kid at heart because I love this casserole too.

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  15. I will love to make Mc and cheese casserole.
    For my family and grandkids , my grand babies love mc and cheese this is a good way to put meat in there diet. Thank you Mary I love your recipes.

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  16. I tried this recipe tonight, using Rotel & tomato sauce, and omitting the chili powder & canned tomatoes. I also left out the seasoned salt, as it tasted plenty salty to me. It was delicious!
    The Rotel gives it quite a kick (which we like around here). I think you could add a cup or so of (thawed) frozen corn to make it a one-pot meal, but it's great just the way it is. Thanks for sharing the recipe! :-)

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    Replies
    1. Isn't it a great little recipe to have on hand? We are empty nesters but I still love this one, blue box and all!!

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  17. This recipe was so good! I made it with a can of rotel & a can of tomato sauce. I'm glad I used cheddar cheese on top instead of pepper jack because it was pretty spicey with the rotel tomatoes.....I used (original rotel), not sure which is milder the (Original or Mild)? I served cornbread with it and it was wonderful! I will try it the next time with regular diced tomatoes. Thanks for your great recipes!

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    1. You're very wecome! I just love this casserole too!! The original Rotel is spicier than the mild, and in fact, I swear it's even more spicy than it used to be! I usually pick up the mild these days. It's also very good with regular diced tomatoes and then you can add a bit of chili powder to spice it up just a bit. When I use those I usually add in a little bit of Cajun seasoning too.

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  18. Oh my goodness! This is my third time making this and it is soooo good! We don't have Rotel in Canada (although I usually stock up when I'm down home) which is ok since I'm feeding toddlers. I just add hot red peppers to my dish when I serve it up. So yummy.

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    Replies
    1. Isn't it a great little casserole? We sure love it!

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  19. I made this tonight. It was DELICIOUS! Everything I've made from your site has been fantastic. Cheers to Southern cooking!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Jill! This is such a simple casserole but we sure love it - I'm so glad you enjoyed it too!

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  20. I did not care for this recipe. The recipe "as is" is very bland. I added a little extra cheese (Cheddar and Monterrey Jack) into the beef mixture as well as extra garlic and chili powder to improve the flavor. The noodles were soggy even though I cooked them for the minimum cooking time.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, so sorry to hear that your experience was so different from most of my readers. They, and we, LOVE this recipe. I make it often and it's delicious! Let's see what could have gone wrong for you,

      To say that something is "bland" means that it lacked flavor and flavor often means seasoning. I truly don't know how you could get bland from Rotel tomatoes (as I suggest - unless you don't like the heat of course), chili powder, seasoning salt, the Trinity of onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic, and pepper jack (NOT monterey jack) cheese! Seems very unlikely to me that you would get a "bland" result out of all of that!

      The recipe also calls for "ground beef" not "lean" ground beef. If you used a very lean ground beef, that does not have much fat in it. Fat equals flavor and when subbing in lean meat anytime, you have to make up for that with seasonings, or your dish will be bland from the lack of fat.

      Did you taste the casserole before baking it and adjust for seasonings? Bland flavor means lack of seasonings and seasonings are always only a suggestion in a recipe and always a personal preference - what I like to season with you may not like so you should always adjust for that with any recipe as you like, to suit your own taste!

      Did you use Kraft brand mac & cheese as suggested, or a generic brand? Did you possibly overcook the noodles? When using any pasta in a casserole you want to cook it the minimum amount of time - in other words, slightly undercooked. Soggy noodles sounds like you may have overcooked them when you boiled them and possibly did not allow them to drain well. It also could be from generic mac and cheese - never had that experience with Kraft brand - plus Kraft, well, it simply tastes better than most generics that I have tried personally.

      Did you make any other adjustments to the recipe as written? Or did you follow it exactly for the first time you made it? It's hard to truly judge a recipe when you make even minor adjustments to it the first time you make it. You should always follow the recipe exactly without any variations the first time. Then you will know what to adjust to make it your own the next time.

      I hope some of these suggestions will help the next time you make something similar. While I do understand not everybody will like every single recipe that I post, I am a bit of a perfectionist and very picky about the work I share here. I still stand by this recipe, when followed as written, as have many of my readers!

      Thanks for stopping by to comment and next time, please leave your name! :)

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  21. God I love this casserole. Ultimate comfort food. Was making it for a friend who just lost their grandmother, and last minute decided to double the recipe so there would be one for me. So easy and mouth-wateringly delicious...just like most of the recipes on this site. I always use the Rotel option and Monterrey Jack cheese on top. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenna - I love this casserole too & we always do the Rotel, although I've had to use the milder version these days - either that original has gotten more hot or my taste buds have gotten more sensitive!

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  22. Made this tonight, was amazing! I subbed cumin for chili powder just a very small amount, and used garlic roasted tomatoes was so yummy. I just can't believe it was this good from a box of kraft mac n cheese...but it is! Can't wait to make it again!

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    Replies
    1. I know, right?! Okay, I'm gonna be honest here - I keep a couple boxes around because the grandkids love the stuff (of course) but there are times where I'll open the pantry and just make up a box for me & hubby to share. :) I guess it's nostalgia. Kraft really is the best! I really love the casserole though - it really transforms the box into something super delicious!

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  23. Mary D. North, califAugust 22, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I will try this recipe tonight It looks so yummy! ( or as I say nummy) I like southern food and so tired of the basic , Taco's, spaghetti, meatloaf, burritos, etc. I will let you know how it turned out.

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  24. I stumbled upon your site today in search of ground beef recipes. I settled on this recipe as I already had everything on hand. I'll be honest, despite the comments from the people who enjoyed it, I was hesitant that I would "love" a dish that seemed too simple and I was expecting something mediocre.

    I'd eat my words if I thought I could fit them in my stomach. I thought it was great. Delicious, inexpensive, and easy. Yes, I DO love it! I'll have to check out more of your recipes! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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