Chili Mac

So... I am getting ready for Thanksgiving. In fact, on Saturday we are having Thanksgiving with my husbands family and then on Thanksgiving day we are going over to my grandparents house. I absolutely love this time of year. The traditions, the food, the family and the opportunity to really think about things to be grateful for. I have been cooking and preparing foods for our get together for the last two days already and tonight, well I am not cooking. Therefore, I am having a really hard time thinking of a recipe to post for today (because honestly we are going to see Harry Potter and then going out for Mexican food (: ) So I have decided to post a family favorite.

This recipe is a family recipe. I can remember my mom making it when I was a kid, probably because it is cheap and it can make a ton (there were 7 kids!). Everyone in my family LOVES it and my kids really like it when they get to have it. People who know me will know that I don't like the flavor of chili powder, therefore this recipe and I are not best of friends - but it IS easy and it IS cheap and kids DO like it.

2 C. Elbow Macaroni
1 lb. Ground Beef (of leftover taco meat)
1/2 Onion - diced
small can Tomato Paste
8-12 oz Tomato Sauce
1-2 T. Chili powder
1 tsp. Cumin
salt & Pepper
1-2 C. Cheddar Cheese - grated.

Cook the macaroni noodles according to package instructions (keeping it on the al dente side). Reserve some of the water.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in a pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, until translucent. Add in the ground beef. Cook until it is browned throughout. Drain off any excess fat (I read in magazine once, that a great way to cut calories on ground beef is to actually drain it in a colander and then rinse it with hot water after it has been cooked, then return it to the pan and add seasonings - I do it and it works!) 

Add half the can of tomato paste (or more if you are using the full amount of sauce, but start with half), chili powder, and cumin to the browned meat. Add enough of the pasta water to make a sauce-like texture. Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding pasta water as needed. 

When the macaroni is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the beef mixture, tomato sauce and salt & pepper and more chili powder and cumin if you feel that it is needed). Stir to thoroughly mix. 

Add the cheese or you can have people add their own cheese to their own bowls.