Cooking from the Freezer: Skillet Chili Mac

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It's time for a confession... I have a serious addiction - a cookbook addiction.

There's just something about a shiny new cookbook with enticing images and mouth-watering recipes. I hear about a new one (especially from one of my favorite cooks or shows) and I get the urge to purchase it.

That might not be a problem if I had a bigger house and more space for cookbooks. Or held dinner parties every night. But we live in a small house and my dining area walls are covered with maps, charts, and a white board because it doubles as a school room. So, no, there aren't many fancy dinner parties happening in these parts either.

But that doesn't mean I can't pour over my cookbooks! But in an effort to actually use them more often I thought I'd start featuring some of my favorite books and recipes that I've adapted.  One of my favorite go-to cookbooks is the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It has a really good selection of easy recipes and many have become some of our favorites - we love the vegetable soup, the maple-soy glazed salmon, chicken cacciatore, skillet fajitas, pizza crust, molasses spice cookies and skillet casseroles (just to name a few of our favorites!).

But I can't just share about this cookbook - let's do some cooking!

I love one-dish dinners (another great America's Test Kitchen cookbook focuses solely on The Best Skillet Recipes. And this one is on my wishlist - The Best One-Dish Suppers. This cookbook problem is serious, I tell you!) and one of our favorites is the Skillet Chili Mac. Even better, if I have a few packages of pre-cooked ground beef in the freezer this meal gets to the table even faster! It's one of our favorite easy weeknight recipes.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 8 ounces dry macaroni noodles (2 cups)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound freezer ground beef, thawed
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

Besides the above ingredients all you need is a large 12-inch skillet (don't you love meals that don't make a lot of dirty dishes?) and a 4-cup measuring cup. While the skillet is heating, pour half the can of diced tomatoes into a large measuring cup. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining tomatoes and juice from the can and enough water to equal 30 ounces (3 3/4 cups total).

If you don't have a package of precooked ground beef in your freezer then the first step is to brown some ground beef, drain it, then set it aside. Which, of course, will make cook time a bit longer. So get on that and get some ground beef in the freezer!

Add the oil to your pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until softened. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and stir for about 15 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and liquid, 1 cup water, macaroni, and ground beef.

Cover the skillet and bring up to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Season with salt and pepper before sprinkling the cheese on top. Remove the chili mac from the heat and cover until the cheese melts, about 3 more minutes.

If you have some frozen precooked ground beef in the freezer then this meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes! That’s my kind of quick weeknight meal!

Here's the full recipe:

Skillet Chili Mac Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 8 ounces dry macaroni noodles (2 cups)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound freezer ground beef, thawed
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

Instructions

  1. While the skillet is heating, pour half the can of diced tomatoes into a large measuring cup. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining tomatoes and juice from the can and enough water to equal 30 ounces (3¾ cups total).
  2. If you don't have a package of precooked ground beef in your freezer then the first step is to brown some ground beef, drain it, then set it aside.
  3. Add the oil to your pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until softened.
  4. Add ½ teaspoon salt, the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and stir for about 15 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and liquid, 1 cup water, macaroni, and ground beef.
  5. Cover the skillet and bring up to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper before sprinkling the cheese on top. Remove the chili mac from the heat and cover until the cheese melts, about 3 more minutes.

Tonia L

Hey! I'm the owner of Happy Homeschool Nest - a website devoted to helping homeschool moms balance the needs of homeschooling with managing a healthy and happy home.