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A pot of cheese and pasta

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When the weather is as cold as it's been in most parts of the country this winter, Italian food seems to be especially good. Though it never fails to please regardless of the season, for some reason it tastes particularly good in the winter. There's just something cozy and inviting about good Italian food!

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Macaroni is a pasta that has many uses and is enjoyed by virtually everyone. Let's make something with macaroni that's actually much like lasagna, the classic Italian favorite, and combine it with some Italian ingredients to make "Cheese and Pasta in a Pot". This is a main dish made with ground beef, onions, garlic, spaghetti sauce and mushrooms (if you like them!) These ingredients make up the sauce for the dish. This is layered with macaroni, sour cream and two types of cheese. Then, this is baked into a fabulous hot pasta dish that will hit the spot on these cold days on winter!

The original recipe didn't call for the garlic salt or pepper that I've listed in the ingredients below. When I made this recipe recently, after tasting the sauce, I felt it needed the garlic salt and pepper, so I added them. Of course, these are optional and may omit them, if you choose. But I would suggest tasting the sauce after it's made to see if you feel it's necessary to add them.

Make sure to use a deep dish when preparing this. The dish I used in the slideshow for this dish was just big enough to support the layers of ingredients. It's best to have a dish that's too big than too small and risk it boiling over, which you certainly don't want to happen.

You bake this for 35-40 minutes, covered. You then remove the cover and bake until the cheese on top melts and browns. This full recipe will serve about 12, but half of the recipe will make an average size casserole, which is what I did for this slideshow. If you're serving about six, you may find this to be so good that you'll wish you would've made the full recipe. However, that will give you a good excuse for making it again!

A similar recipe I passed along sometime back used noodles in a casserole with ground beef. To get this recipe, follow this link:

http://www.examiner.com/article/a-hearty-beef-casserole-to-feed-a-crowd

Come in out of the cold and warm up with this comforting pasta dish with an Italian accent!

CHEESE & PASTA IN A POT

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jar (14 oz.) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes
  • 1 small jar mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
  • 8 oz. macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 8 oz. sliced Provolone cheese
  • 8 oz. sliced Mozzarella cheese

Brown the ground beef and drain the fat. Add the onions, garlic, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and the salt and pepper, if using them. Simmer until onions are soft.

In a deep 3 qt. casserole, layer half of the macaroni, half of the sour cream, half of the meat sauce and all of the Provolone cheese. Repeat, ending with the Mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until cheese on top melts and browns. Yield: about 12 servings.

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