Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Source: Cooking Light, JANUARY 2006
CL Comments: This family-friendly casserole is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into children's food. For creamiest results, do not overbake. With more than 200 milligrams of calcium, this dish is a good source of the bone-building mineral.
Amy's Comments: If you truly use all the pre-prepped foods (get the veggies from the salad bar!) this is a snap. Its basically a glorified Hamburger Helper, but it doesnt have all the preservatives and sodium. It was SOSOSOOOOO good (Im almost embarassed to admit this!!). Nothing Id serve to company. But really good and comforting!! Oh and I have no idea why they have you stir in the cheese sauce in the pan. Next time I'll just do it in the pot and then put it all in the dish.

INGREDIENTS:

1 (8-ounce) package small elbow macaroni
Cooking spray
1 cup prechopped onion
1 cup preshredded carrot
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) 2% reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese (such as Cracker Barrel), divided

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Lightly coat pasta with cooking spray.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 INFO:

Healthy Units: 6 per serving
CALORIES 283 (24% from fat); FAT 7.7g (sat 4.2g,mono 2.4g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 22.3g; CHOLESTEROL 46mg; CALCIUM 209mg; SODIUM 622mg; FIBER 2.1g; IRON 3.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.1g

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