Ground Beef Skillet: It’s Chili / Mac & Cheese!

This post originally appeared May 3, 2012. Since then it has gotten more hits than any other cooking post I have put up.

The beauty of this recipe/non-recipe is that when you make it you realize you can change it any way you like. Cook with me and you will learn how to rely less on the written recipe and more on your taste and the taste of the folks who share your food.


Please let me know if you make this and how it came out. Feel free to post pictures on my Facebook page.

May 3, 2012

Unnamed but good. Silly name, but that’s what it’s called in our house. The original recipe was on a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. By the way, its macaroni and cheese not pasta and cheese, right? So why do we call it pasta? I dunno!


I cannot find the original recipe cut from the box but if I recall, you brown ground beef, add onion and canned tomatoes. Meanwhile you cook the macaroni. Add the cheese packet and cooked macaroni, canned corn and voila, dinner! My husband “named” it and the “unnamed” stuck.

Well, I haven’t purchased macaroni and cheese boxes since my son was in 9th grade and decided to dedicate himself to swimming and fitness. It paid off for him but denied me some good quick junk food. Ah…the perils of parenthood!

I avoid as much food with ingredients not in their natural state as possible (dried cheese powder?) so I decided to make my own version of this ground beef skillet.

Sauté a chopped onion with a little olive oil in a large skillet and add a few cloves of garlic (I use more than a few but that’s just me) coarsely chopped and stir.

Add 1-2 pounds of ground anything. I like beef but you can use any ground meat. If you do not want to use meat, sauté mixed mushrooms and add more beans. Yum!

While this is browning, put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook 8 ounces of any kind of macaroni being sure to add the longest cooking first. I like to use leftover macaroni and really like the look of the different sizes in the pot.

Once the meat is cooked through add a jar of salsa (we like medium heat), a can of corn, a can of beans (any kind you like) and a small can of tomato paste. Cook through until it has a smooth almost creamy texture. If it is too thick ladle a scoop of the water from the macaroni to get the consistency you like.

Add a bag of cheese to the mixture. I like the cheddar three cheese blend with cream cheese.

Drain macaroni and stir into the meat mixture. Enjoy!

Have a yummy week!

** Ingredient List

1 – Onion, chopped

2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced

1-2 Lbs Ground Anything (Beef, Turkey, Lamb etc) or a mixed variety of mushrooms.

8 oz (1/2 Lb) macaroni

1 – Jar Salsa, small

1 – Canned Corn

1 – Can beans

1 – Tomato Paste, small

2 – Cups Shredded Cheese Blend (preferably with Cream Cheese)


Chicken Caprese Sandwich


Sorry friends, but I haven’t a second to write a column. It’s way too nice outside and I have tons to do at work.

Instead I had my son do the cooking and will share with you a yummy sandwich recipe he learned from me some years ago.

It uses a rotisserie chicken (any seasoning would do but we like the garlic one best), fresh mozzarella and a good crunchy bread.

Chicken Caprese Sandwich

1 Rotisserie Chicken
1 Fresh Ciabatta Bread (or other flat loaf)
D’Avolio’s Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves (spinach is a good substitute)
1 8 oz ball Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thinly 1 Ripe Tomato, sliced thinly Lettuce
Italian Seasoning

Remove chicken from bone and shred. Slice bread in half length wise. Toast under broiler until slightly brown. Remove immediately, brush with olive oil then rub with peeled garlic clove. Season with Italian seasoning. Put basil then a layer of chicken on bottom half of bread. Cover with half the tomato and mozzarella slices. Layer top half of bread with remaining tomato and mozzarella. Put under broiler until the cheese starts to bubble but not burn. Remove from oven, sprinkle with more Italian seasoning and layer one half with crispy lettuce. With a hand on each half, close the sandwich quickly and press down on a flat surface to marry both sides. Slice and serve. Feeds two hungry college boys or 3-4 adults.

Chicken and tomatoes’ saute can be ready in 45 minutes


The Foodie:

Who feels like cooking when it’s so hot? Me, of course! I know this may sound nuts but I was really in the mood for some comfort food tonight.

Maybe because it was finally under 80 degrees or that I had a few minutes to cook but I was in the mood for a “go to” meal affectionately called chicken and tomatoes in our house.

The basic (and I mean basic – all of these things should be in your house) recipe includes chicken (I had some boneless skinless thighs in the freezer which I took out in the morning and put in the refrigerator on a few paper towels), a medium onion, garlic, good olive oil and a can of tomatoes. I had some fresh herbs from my patio herb garden (rosemary and garlic chives were perfect). Figure one small breast or two thighs per person.

Here goes:

Make some brown rice (I like the nutty flavor) or boil some water for macaroni.


Chop the onion and sauté it in a heavy skillet (my cast iron skillet is a part of my family) in some olive oil for a few minutes. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste (I am a big fan of Old Bay – not just for seafood anymore). Add the chicken to the pan and let brown on one side before flipping. If the chicken sticks it is not ready to flip. If you flip it before it is ready it will shred and break apart.

Once the chicken has browned on both sides, open the can of diced tomatoes and add on top of the chicken. Add about a half a cup of white wine, cover and simmer. The chicken should be done when the rice is done (about 20 minutes).

Remove the chicken and tent with foil to keep warm. In the pan, add another ½-3/4 cups of white wine and raise the temperature to high. Stir frequently, scrapping the brown bits and reduce for a few minutes. The secret of a velvety sauce is adding butter (about a tablespoon) at the end.

20120613-065942.jpgLet the butter melt and add body to the sauce. Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for a few minutes.

Plate chicken and add sauce on top. I made some fresh corn on the cob to complete the meal.

There is just something magical about food bubbling on the stove. I just want to go out and buy a sweater!