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BRIAN IN THE KITCHEN  brought to you by Stittsworth Meats

August 17 2012

Gourmet on a Budget - Baked Spicy Macaroni and Cheese with Beef and Bacon

1 to 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound lean Ground Beef, Chicken or Turkey
6 slices Bacon, (Pork or Turkey)
1 16-ounce box Corkscrew Pasta (or Elbow Macaroni, Penne or Bowtie)
1 or 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed and diced
2 medium cloves Garlic, minced
1 16-ounce jar Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon dried Basil
Salt and pepper, as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place bacon strips in large skillet and cook over medium heat approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side. Bacon should be crisp on both sides for ease in breaking into smaller pieces.

Transfer cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up grease.

Crumble ground beef into skillet, allowing it to cook in the remaining bacon grease. Stir frequently and break up any large pieces using a spatula.

Using a 3-quart pot, add 2 quarts of water, pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Bring to a boil, add pasta and cook as per package instructions.

While ground beef and pasta are cooking, wash jalapeno peppers, remove seeds and dice. If you prefer super spicy, chop entire pepper including the seeds.

Remove skin from garlic cloves and mince.

Break bacon into bite-size pieces and add along with jalapeno peppers and garlic cloves to ground beef during the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking.

Lightly grease a 9x12 baking dish with olive oil.

Drain pasta using a colander and transfer to baking dish.

Drain hamburger mixture in colander and rinse with water to remove excess grease.

Add hamburger mixture and Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce to pasta. Gently stir to incorporate ingredients.

Top casserole with shredded Cheddar Cheese. Evenly sprinkle with dried Oregano and Basil.
Spicy hamburger bacon mac and cheese

Place Mac' and Cheese in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese melts and begins to turn brown on top.
Baked spicy hamburger bacon mac and cheese

Allow to sit for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to dinner plates and serve immediately.