We’re headed to Sonoma for a mini vacation, so I thought I’d share this recipe for easy Cheesy Chili Mac from the archives of my other blog, The Hazel Bloom. I posted this one long before I decided to start a blog all about this kind of recipe and our mixed-diet lives – aka, our Kitchen Treaty. :)
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Some dinners lack a little, shall I say, class… but more than make up for it in tasty, dig-innable, comforting pure deliciousness.
I think we can all be pretty clear on which side we’ll find Crock Pot Easy Cheesy Chili Mac. Elegant it’s not. Yummy? Oooooh yes. It’s comfort food at its best, perfect for a blustery rainy night after a long, long day. If you’re feeding others, I can almost guarantee there will be happy mid-bite groans and proclamations of your amazing kitchen talent; and then lots of happy full-bellied cuddling on the couch after dinner. Actually, this will also happen when you’re by yourself. It’s practically involuntary.
Hearty, spicy, and cheesy, this Cheesy Chili Mac is equally delicious with meat or without (my guy gives both versions One Grunt Up). It’s an adaptetarian recipe that can go either way – or both. And, of course, the bulk of the work is done by your Crock Pot when you’re off going about your day. Gotta love it.
I made The Pioneer Woman’s wonderful skillet cornbread to go along with it, and highly recommend it.
- 1 pound (2 – 3 cups) fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 16-ounce can diced tomatoes)
- 3 16-ounce cans black, kidney, or chili beans, drained (I like to use a couple different varieties)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use ½ teaspoon for a milder version)
- 1 teaspoon oregano OR instead of the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and oregano simply substitute 1½ tablespoons chili powder
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound) macaroni noodles
- 1 pound cheddar cheese, grated (I love love love Tillamook medium cheddar) (Oh, and you can use less if you want. I just like to go for it with this recipe.)
- 1 pound lean ground hamburger
- ½ pound lean ground hamburger
- Combine the tomatoes, beans, onion, garlic, and spices in your Crock Pot. If you’re going for the full-on meat version, go ahead and brown your pound of hamburger in a separate frying pan, drain, and add that now, too. You’ll add meat later if you’re going half veggie/half carnie.
- Cook on low for about 7 – 9 hours. But it’s pretty forgiving if you need to cook it for longer.
- Boil the macaroni according to package directions, but cut the time short by a minute or so to make sure it’s just nice and al dente, or else the noodles might swell up to epic and less appetizing proportions in the finished product.
- Stir the macaroni, along with half the cheese, into the Crock Pot with the chili.
- For the half veggie/half carnie adaptetarian version, here’s where you split it. If you’re going all vegetarian or all meat, ignore this step and move on to Step 6. Move half of the cheesy chili maccy goodness into a medium casserole dish. Brown your half pound of hamburger in a separate frying pan, drain it, and stir the hamburger into the mixture in the casserole dish. Sprinkle over the top with half the remaining cheese, and bake the meaty version at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle all the remaining cheese over the Crock Pot mixture, cover with the Crock Pot lid, and cook for another 20 – 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- Now get cozy, and enjoy!