Beef/ Uncategorized

Zesty Skillet Mac

Ever have one of those days that starts before the alarm clock sounds and ends long after you normally go to bed? Yeah, that was today.  The desire to hit the drive-thru was beyond tempting.  I knew if I did, I would make the worst possible choices ever.  I had already set out meat to thaw for dinner and I’m trying to be good.  I needed to cook, it was the safest choice.

To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what I was going to do with the ground beef waiting at home for me.  I have a bad habit, or a good one, depending on how you look at it, to just make dinner.  Open the fridge and produce something.  But for tonight it needed to be über quick.  And still somewhat nutritious. 

In a past life, quick would have been opening a box of Hamburger Helper, which I still make from time to time for nostalgia purposes.  And then I realized why not just make my own version of Hamburger Helper.  I grabbed a box of organic mac n’ cheese, a can of black beans, a can of tomatoes, some produce and off I went.  If I wasn’t in a hurry, I would have loved to make this dish with homemade mac n cheese, alas, I was in a hurry.  Plus, I have boxes of organic mac n cheese on hand because if you ask my daughter what she wants to eat, breakfast, lunch or dinner, the answer is always mac n cheese. 

Once the dish was made, served, topped with some extra cheese, I was in heaven.  It was tasty, mostly healthy, and most importantly, quick. 30 minutes start to finish…I think Rachael Ray would be proud.  Now, to make this dish more soul-satisfying (read fatty), add some sour cream and extra freshly shredded cheddar cheese.  My daughter added sour cream and some extra cheese to her helping…I took a bite and thought this girl was onto something.  The nice thing about this dish is you can add pretty much anything you want it.  Got a zucchini you have got to use up, toss it in.  Lacking onions and bell peppers, omit them along with tomatoes and use jarred salsa.   If you have that foil packet of cheese sauce with macaroni, well that might just put this dish over the top in satisfying.  Enjoy!

3/14/14 Update: This recipe is featured on for her first Cunning Ladies’ Friday Party.  Click here to check the recipe out and the rest of her delicious site. 


Meat with onions, garlic, and bell peppers


Tomatoes and Mac added


Cheese added and ready to serve

1½ lbs ground beef

1 tbsp chili powder

1green/red bell pepper; diced

½ onion; diced

¼ tsp cumin

½ tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves; minced/grated

½ tsp salt/pepper; to taste

1 can tomatoes

1 box macaroni and cheese

1½ cups water

1 can black beans; drained & rinsed

1 cup corn; frozen

4-6 green onions; diced (reserve a few for topping)

Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

In a large skillet, begin browning the ground beef.  Once it is half way cooked, add the diced onions, garlic, and bell peppers.  Continue cooking.  Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Mix well. Add tomatoes, water, and dry pasta from the boxed mac n cheese. Cover and cook on med-high, stirring twice.  The pasta will take about 13 minutes to cook.   Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, make the cheese sauce from your boxed mac and cheese, unless you are using the foil, prepared type of cheese sauce.  Make the cheese sauce according to the directions, putting milk and butter in the pan, melt the butter, and whisk in the cheese packet.

Once pasta is near done, add the cheese sauce, corn, green onions, and black beans.  Stir gently. Make sure the beans and corn are warmed through and serve, topping with cheese and green onions…or even sour cream!


Dinner served

Thank you for sharing!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    March 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Hi! I am hosting my first ever Cunning Ladies’ Friday Party in my blog. I would love to see you add this beautiful post there. Love your pictures!

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