Hooray for the Red, White & Blue

Hooray for the Red, White & Blue

Friday, May 8, 2015

Beef Enchilada Mac & Cheese

 
May is Beef Month. Of course, pretty much every month is beef month around here. With a freezer full of beef and a farmer who much prefers beef over chicken, beef is on our table 9 times out of 10.

I've enjoyed searching the Beef: It's What's for Dinner website, especially recipes from The Healthy Beef Cookbook. Dieters may not think about beef as part of a plan for smart eating. However, the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study, conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, found consuming lean beef daily as part of a heart-healthy diet lowered LDL “bad” cholesterol by 10 percent, which was just as effective as the DASH diet. That's good news for Kansas cattle producers like us.

This research provides support that nutrient-rich lean beef can be an everyday part of a heart-healthy diet:
  • On average, a 3-oz. serving of lean beef is about 150 calories.
  • Beef is an excellent source of nutrients, including protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and niacin.
  • Many of the most popular beef cuts sold at retail are lean, including T-Bone, Tenderloin, Top Sirloin and more. 
We enjoy the steaks and roasts that we get when we harvest one of our farm-raised animals. But hamburger fills a good portion of the freezer, so I'm always looking for new ways to use it.

The original recipe for this dressed-up mac and cheese used chicken, but I substituted hamburger instead. I made it for our church's potluck to honor our graduating seniors. It makes a lot, so it's probably a recipe you'll want to prepare when you have more than two people at the dinner table (though we're not opposed to leftovers)!

I used mild enchilada sauce, but you could definitely bump up the heat by using a zestier sauce. The sauce used four different cheeses - pepper jack, Cheddar, Parmesan and cream cheese - for a creamy and tasty combination that spices up traditional mac and cheese. Enjoy!
Beef Enchilada Mac and Cheese
 Recipe adapted from A Dash of Sanity blog
16 oz. bag pasta (rotini, bowtie, shell or other favorite or combo)
1 lb. hamburger, browned
2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
10 oz. can enchilada sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, if desired

Brown hamburger and drain. Set aside. (The original recipe called for 2 cups of grilled or rotisserie chicken.)

Cook pasta in large pan of boiling water until al dente. (I used a combination of rotini and bowtie.) Drain and set aside in a strainer.

Using the same pan, add cream cheese, sour cream, milk, enchilada sauce and all the cheeses. Stir over medium heat, until melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add in pasta and hamburger. Stir until well combined and heated through. Serve immediately. Top with chopped cilantro, if desired.

I was serving this for a potluck at church, so I knew it was going to sit in the refrigerator before I warmed it up later in the day in the oven. Pasta absorbs liquid, so I added additional enchilada sauce before putting it in the pan. I put it in an oven-proof pan and topped with additional cheese, warming it up until it was heated through.

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