Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Divisional Round Cheesy Pasta Bake!!


The Wild Card Round is in the rearview mirror and what a wild one it was! Gotta feel bad the way it ended for the Cardinals. Who'd a thunk the Steelers wouldn't advance? The Colts keep chugging along. But how about that insane pass interference call reversal in the Cowboys game? Lots of intrigue and drama came out of those games and up next is the Divisional Round this Saturday and Sunday. Well buckle your seatbelt kiddies, because here comes another great weekend of football featuring Manning vs Luck, the Pats vs the Ravens (again), the Pack vs the Boys on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field and the Panthers vs the Seahawks and the 12th Man in Seattle. Who's going to move on? We shall see...

So with 2 days worth of feeding to do, I need to keep things easy on myself. I want to make something satisfying, comforting and fun. Say hello to: Divisional Round Cheesy Pasta Bake!

This pasta dish is a riff on mac & cheese meets pasta bolognese. Don't worry, it's easy to make and cook. You can double and triple the recipe to accomodate your crowd. It's all in the sauce, which calls for sauteed ground beef, tomato sauce, evaporated milk, tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, hot pepper flakes (optional) and shredded cheddar cheese. Toss over your par-cooked pasta, bake for 40 minutes and you have a winner. You can use any kind of pasta shape that you like. I used fusili pasta, but you can go with anything that has a shape that will grab onto the meat sauce.

DR Cheesy Pasta Bake
(serves 6)
1 lb ground beef                            
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
20 oz tomato sauce
2 tbs tomato paste
10 oz evaporated milk (skim is okay)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb spiral pasta (par-cooked)
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray


1.  In a sauce pan on medium heat, heat the oil and brown the ground beef. Break the meat up into very small pieces. Add the salt, garlic and onion powders and mix thoroughly. Then add the tomato paste and incorporate throughly.

2. Add the evaporated milk, bring to a boil and imediately reduce to a simmer.

3. Cook the pasta until just before it's al dente. Drain.

4. While the pasta is cooking, add the shredded cheese to the sauce and heat until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is creamy.

5. Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and mix until the sauce is thoroughly incorporated throughout the pasta.

6. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and add the pasta to the pan.

7. Bake at 375-degrees for 40 minutes.

This can be made ahead and then put back in the oven to reheat.

Watch the gang go crazy. Any leftovers (if there are any) can be frozen (like the Tundra at Lambeau).

So there you have it! Hope you feel inspired to try this!

Have a fun Divisional Round weekend! Good luck to your teams or to the teams playing against your arch rival teams!

See you next Wednesday!

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