This has been a go-to comfort food for me forever! It used to involve a certain box of shells and a silver packet full of yellow goo that could out live a hamster called "cheese". I promise you this will not be that much more time consuming, and you will feel SO much better knowing what's in it. Don't get me wrong- short cuts and shelf-life have a time & place, and I am aware that cream cheese counts as a processed food- but it's also a cheese product that requires refrigeration, so I feel better about it. Period.
Here's what you'll need (FYI this makes a GIANT skillet of food- we had this over about 3-4 nights for dinner and 2 lunches)
1 lb ground beef
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
1 bag elbow macaroni (16oz, Trader Joe's, 99cents!)
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, no sodium added, drained
4 big handfuls shredded cheddar cheese (get a big block and shred it, melts better, less preservatives you'll be glad you did)
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 carrots finely shredded w the cheese grater (sometimes I use carrots, I used to do finely chopped red bell pepper, but Logan is not down with that. You can also do sweet potato or add mushrooms- or ALL of that, get those veggies in there so you don't have to make a side dish!)
In a giant skillet cook the ground beef (about 7-10 minutes add onions when beef is nearly cooked, then sautee another 5 minutes or so. Add a bit of salt & pepper to taste. Drain on a plate covered in paper towels.
In a large sauce pot, cook the noodles according to package- & drain. Put the skillet back on the stove on low heat, pour the noodles in, add the beef and onions and slowly stir in remaining ingredients- carefully- this will be one FULL skillet.
Once all ingredients are stirred in, heat on low and stir for another 5-10 minutes to get the cheese all melty and delicious. Add salt & pepper to taste.
We topped this with fresh heirloom tomatoes & chives from the garden for some next-level yumminess.
A fun upgrade to a childhood comfort-food classic. You're welcome.