Cowboys and Horses part 2

This was going to be a post about me taking the morning off to watch the trail riders come down the street in our neighborhood like I did with Zach in 2010 and 2011. But turns out I was presenting at a work meeting that morning. I tried to figure out how to present then come back and get them from school to track down the trail riders, stare at them for 5 minutes, take them back to school and head back to work. Absurd right? So I did what a normal person would do; let myself be a little sad about it then went and rocked my presentation. People might have said it was the best part of the meeting. Not just one but two people. Now to be fair I did follow a buuuunnnnch of financial numbers so it was not hard to be more lively than that.

But this is not about me (I know, who am I kidding, this is all about me) this is about how I made up for that slight that neither of my children knew about. I made cowboy pasta of course.

My father in law was headed in to watch the boys that night and I thought he might appreciate something other than chicken for dinner. Liv had given me a cookbook called The Mom 101 Cookbook: 100 recipes every mom needs in her back pocket for Christmas and I spotted a recipe called One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni. The author, Katie raves about it for boys says “It is reminiscent of something that rhymes with Flamberger Felper, but it is better and it’s yours.” Technically, I don’t like Flamberger Felper, but I knew Vince and the boys would, plus I love the way she said that so I was in.

The recipe makes a huge batch, so I halved it and still froze half of that. It also calls for elbow pasta, but those are not cowboy at all so I used wagon wheel pasta that I had in the pantry. With some broccoli it was a very well rounded (no pun intended) meal! And it was really good, much better than Flamberger Felper.

(Pre-cheese photo)
One-skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tbsp olive or veggie oil
1/2 cup chopped red, yellow or green bell pepper
1 chopped shallot
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can petite diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-1 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional but recommended and did not make it too hot for the little ones)
3 pinches of salt and 2 good shakes of black pepper
1/2 lb wagon wheel pasta
2 cups grated cheese
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Strain off fat and wipe down the skillet.
2. Add oil to skillet and heat it over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, carrots, shallot, one pinch of salt and garlic and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Return the beef to the skillet and add the basil, oregano, tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, chili power and 2 cups of water. Season with 2 pinches of salt and 2 shakes of pepper to taste. 
4. Increase the heat to high and let come to a simmer.
5. Add the macaroni, stir and cover the skillet.
6. Reduce the head to medium and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8-10 minutes. (I added a bit more water as it looked dry)
7. Sprinkle the cheddar on top then cover the skillet and cook until the cheese is melty, about 1 minute. Serve right out of the skillet.
Don’t add the cheese until you are about to serve or it will dissolve right into the dish. I ignored that and it happened to me. But it was still delicious.
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