Growing up, the commercials on TV lead me to believe that the only things Americans ate for dinner were tacos, Sloppy Joes, various forms of mac n’ cheese, and delivery/take out junk food (fried chicken, pizza, burgers, etc). To a kid, especially one being forced to suffer through endless helpings of eggplant at dinner, this all looked amazing. I mean, it still looks amazing to adult Tina, but kid Tina was all WAHHH, I WANT AMERICAN FOOD NOW NOW NOW!!!
Once I went off to school and was left to my own devices, I definitely did my share of indulging in so-called “American food.” College Tina ate a lot of burritos/tacos, fried chicken, pizza, and other delightfully artery-clogging foods. College Tina also gained 15-20 lbs and quickly realized that 1) junk food is bad for you, 2) there were plenty of other, less bad-for-you “American foods” available (see e.g., salads or vegetables, generally), and 3) holy crap, Mom’s cooking was awesome and I missed it like crazy.
These days, when we’re not bumming home-cooked Chinese food off my parents, Dan and I try to eat a little healthier – lots of roasted/sauteed vegetables, salads, lean meats, rice, whole wheat breads, etc. There are still a few pizza and nacho nights here and there, but hey – 5 out of 7 isn’t too bad, right? But when I started looking through my recipe options for Part 2 of the Ragú® NewTraDish challenge and saw a recipe for Chili Mac, I was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia. Ground beef, pasta sauce, and elbow noodles? Sounds like something College Tina would have eaten by the bucketful!
As I mentioned last week, Ragú® has the Authentic Italian taste American family’s love, as well as a variety of great tasting, quick and easy to make family favorite recipes. The Old World Style® Traditional Sauce, which I had to use again for this week’s NewTraDish challenge, is made with 11 juicy tomatoes, is Ragú’s richest, thickest recipe, and is super tasty. For my take on the classic Chili Mac recipe, I decided to make things a little more interesting and a little more nutritious. Basically, I added some chopped vegetables, substituted the ground beef with ground turkey, and threw a little cheese into the mix. The resulting dish was simple, healthy, and delicious. So delicious that Dan and I ate all of it in one day…and now we have no leftovers for lunch next week. Ah well…
For more quick, easy and delicious Ragu®-inspired recipe ideas, visit the Ragu Facebook page.
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- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ yellow bell pepper, diced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 lb ground turkey
- ½ of a 24 oz jar Ragu Old World Style® Traditional Sauce
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni noodles, uncooked
- 1-1/2 cups shredded low fat cheese (your choice - I used a combination of cheddar and mozzarella)
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- Add oil (enough to coat the bottom of your skillet) or cooking spray to a 10 or 12-inch nonstick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot/sizzling.
- Add your onion and bell peppers to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add your ground turkey to the skillet and cook until crumbly and no longer pink.
- Add the water, chili powder, and pasta sauce to the ground beef mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the uncooked pasta and stir to combine.
- Cover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high.
- Cook the pasta for about 12-13 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the skillet.
- Turn the stove off under the skillet and add about half your cheese. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of your noodle mixture and cover the skillet again.
- Let stand for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
- Garnish with green onions, if desired, allow mixture to cool, then dig in!
(Adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen and Ragu®’s recipes)