Mommy, Madre, Mére, Mutter, Okaasan, Ima--no matter what culture you look at, there's a word for mother and you know what that means? That every day, all over the world, busy women with crying toddlers hanging off their legs, are racking their brains, trying to figure out what to feed their finicky kids!! It's a universal we just can't escape and a great leveler on the most basic terms. Makes us remember we're not all that different, right? Enter Katie Workman, mother of two, prolific food writer, blogger, activist for hunger issues and author of two terrific family-friendly cookbooks designed to make cooking for families more fun and better tasting. So today for this edition of Famous Friday's we honor not only Katie, but all the moms (and grandmas and caregivers) out there who nurture the next generation every day and yes, this post would probably make more sense if this coming Sunday were Mother's Day but hey, I'm a tired carpooling mom, so give me a break and instead revel in Katie's easy and totally perfect recipe for cheesy beef and macaroni. It's just the kind of food that'll make a mom famous!
Katie's style is down-to-earth and realistic. I have one of her books The Mom 100 Cookbook and it's not only filled with great everyday recipes that kids (and parents) actually want to eat, it's also infused with a great sense of humor and little stories and tips to make cooking for kids who may refuse to eat anything green or who suddenly decide that they're vegetarian just as you're serving the roast beef, less stressful. For a dish like Chicken Piccata say, she gives you kid-friendly variations for eliminating the sauce and capers while still being able to serve the more adult version for the same meal. I wish I had had this cookbook when my oldest was a little guy and would basically only eat white food!!
This One-Pot Cheesy Beef and Macaroni is not something my mom made when I was growing up, deprived child that I was (no actually, my mom was a great cook--this kind of spicy casserole just wasn't in her repertoire--Hamburger Helper was not a helper in our house--even back in the old days, she was pretty nutrition conscious--sorry HH!) so consequently I never knew the delightful wonders of a one-pot meal of tender macaroni smothered in a beefy, tomatoe-y, cheese-y sauce. But I do now. And this is a dish that's so easy and so comfortingly perfect, that it's going into my permanent winter repertoire (kind of like the Nutcracker in a baller company's season!).
The whole process is so easy and would make a great game-watching, relatively inexpensive, crowd-pleasing meal, but it's also a great dish for a small family 'cause then you know you'll have lots of leftovers! A win-win either way!
Every bite is filled with tender pasta, slightly spicy, meaty tomato sauce and gobs of melted cheese--in other words, mother love! So whether you're a mom or not, make this soon for someone you love. And check out Katie's cookbooks or her terrific website here. And have a great weekend. And clean up your room. Sorry, sometimes the bossy mom in me just gets carried away! See you next week as we head into March!
"Mom" KatieWorkman's One-Pot Cheesy Beef and Macaroni-Famous Fridays
Serves 10 to 12--half the recipe if you're not making it for a big crowd and don't want a lot of leftovers, although this is fantastic reheated!
Prep Time: 45 minutes
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped (you could also use green, yellow or orange)
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with the juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-3 teaspoons chili powder (all depends on how much you want this to have that chili flavor)
Generous 2 cups water
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound dried macaroni
8 ounces shredded or grated cheddar cheese
1. Heat a large pot or very large deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the beef and cook until it's fully browned, stirring often to break up clumps, about 5-7 minutes. Drain the fat and transfer the beef to a bowl. Set aside.
2. Wipe out the pot with a paper towel, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add in the peppers, carrots, onion and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes, until veggies are tender but not mushy.
3. Add the beef back into the pot and add the basil, tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and 2 cups of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up high and bring to a simmer. Add the macaroni, stir well and cover the pot. Lower the heat to medium and let cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until macaroni is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
4. Sprinkle the cheddar on top and cover the pot. Cook for another minute or so until the cheese is all melty. Then remove from the heat. You can serve this directly from the skillet or pot if you like. Just scoop out servings making sure that everyone gets some of the melted cheese on top.
5. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for several days in the fridge. Reheat over a low light and sprinkle on some extra cheese if you like.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman. I left out the oregano because I hate it and decreased the amount of chili powder--the original calls for 2-3 teaspoons. Also I increased the amount of pasta just because I didn't want to have a little bit left in a box and added a bit more water to compensate.