January 23, 2011

Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake

I love a good casserole, and this one was the best, family-friendly casserole that I have come across, thus far. Seriously, we all gobbled it up! Everyone had seconds, including the boy child. My little girls loved it, as well. It reminded me of a really fantastic version of the Hamburger Helper that I was tortured with as a child. (As you probably guessed, I am not a fan of boxed and over-processed Hamburger Helper.)

I substituted naturally-lean ground bison for ground beef, and ended up using a can of fat-free evaporated milk instead of regular skim milk. I was about halfway finished with the recipe and about to make the sauce before I realized that we ran out of milk. Oops! Thankfully, I stocked some of the canned stuff in my pantry, and it ended up making the sauce deliciously creamy. Creamy, cheesy sauce--without a ton of calories--is a total score in my book. Best of all, this is a Cooking Light recipe...the last one I am making from the Cooking Light's Annual Recipes 2007 cookbook. I swear you really can't go wrong with anything from Cooking Light. I am so glad that I tried this recipe!

Beef, Cheese, Noodle Bake
Adapted From: Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2007 cookbook (Joy Zacharia, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2006 )

1 (8-ounce) package small whole wheat elbow macaroni
Cooking spray
1 cup diced onion
1 cup shredded carrot
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground sirloin, lean ground beef or lean ground bison
1 cup tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fat-free milk OR 1 (8 ounce) can of fat-free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) 2% reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Lightly coat pasta with cooking spray.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot, and sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add ground beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates.

Add pasta to beef mixture in pan, stirring to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place milk, flour, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; stir with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour cheese mixture over pasta mixture; stir. Top evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information:
Serving size: 1 cup, yields: 8 servings
Calories:283 (24% from fat)
Fat:7.7g (sat 4.2g,mono 2.4g,poly 0.7g)

The Result:
Delicious! My family loved it; and hopefully yours will, too. A side of sauteed zucchini and yellow squash made this one satisfying meal. I almost forgot to mention that this dish was very economical to put together. Woo-hoo...double score!

No comments: