Simple & Sweet Chili Mac

Simple and Sweet Chili Mac


In our penny-wise minds, there are few dishes that scream frugal more than macaroni and cheese. Don’t you agree? Some nights there just isn’t enough energy or even time to give to a full-on, oven-baked, gourmet dinner. And some nights you just bust out a box of the mac.

It’s ok. I promise, I do it too.

And if you aren’t one of us closet macaroni makers, then you are way ahead of the game and I need you to teach me your ways!


I’m a big fan of taking simple recipes and throwing in a little of this or a little of that to make them a little bit different. You can call me inventive if you’d like. One of my recent inventive meals was a little twist on Ragu’s Family Favorite Chili Mac. It honestly is already so yummy like it is, but a big favorite with my girls is corn sometimes in our chili so I thought why not add a little sweetness?

This entire recipe has only 5 ingredients and can be whipped up before you can say Bob’s your uncle.

Ragu Old World Sauce

It’s really easy to use Ragu Old World Style Traditional Sauce to create the base for the mac. You simply season it to create whatever flavor you going for and in this case, it’s chili mac!

Each jar of Ragú® Old World Style® Traditional Sauce is made with 11 juicy tomatoes making it its richest,  thickest recipe. Ragú® has the Authentic Italian taste American family’s love and a variety of great tasting, quick and easy to make family favorite recipes.

Chili Mac 1


And of course if you aren’t a huge fan of corn in your chili then you can leave that out. But I really like the sweetness that it adds to the kick of the chili powder!

You can visit Ragu’s facebook for additional quick, easy and delicious recipe ideas too. And be sure to enter the Ragú Better and Better Sweepstakes for a chance to win great Authentic Italian themed prizes and a grand prize trip to Venice for a family of four!

Simple & Sweet Chili Mac
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Author: Adapted from Ragu’s Recipe
As easy as macaroni and cheese, this chili mac takes the cake!
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey or beef
  • 1 jar (1 lb 8 oz) Ragu Old World Style Pasta Sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  1. Cook ground meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned.
  2. Stir in pasta sauce and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in macaroni and can of corn and heat through.
  4. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream, if desired!

Abbreviated Sweepstakes Rules: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years and older.  Ends 5/6/14.  To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, alternate method of entry, and prize descriptions, visit  Void where prohibited.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ragu brought to you by Yummly. All of the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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Simple Sausage Mac

Are you ready for Halloween yet? Well you better get that way because it’s on Wednesday! Can you really believe that we have already reached the end of October? I’d really love for someone to explain to me where the rest of this month has slipped away to. Maybe I’m just getting old or maybe time is speeding up. Either way, I’m going to hold on tight.

The weather is finally starting to cool off around here. I absolutely love the fall. Well, let me just say I love being cozy. I hate being cold, but I love being cozy. I’ve got a bunch of warm and comforting recipes coming up that I can’t wait to share with you. The fall is really when I have the most fun cooking. You can make up a big pot of something that sticks to your bones.

One of the first “comfort foods” that comes to mind practically anytime I hear that phrase is macaroni and cheese. It doesn’t get much more comforting than that. I’ve seen mac & cheese turn a frown completely upside down! Especially when it’s homemade. The boxes are good, but homemade is better.

And you know that here in the south, macaroni and cheese is considered a vegetable at most meat and threes….

The only issue that I’ve ever had with macaroni and cheese is that it’s so good that I eat too much. Well that and the fact that it needs a little bulking up so that it can be worthy of being called a meal. After all, we wouldn’t want to make mac & cheese only a side dish. It’s worthy of being the main attraction with a little adjustment.

One of my favorite things about this macaroni and cheese is the secret topping. No longer a secret because I’m about to share it with you! We’re heading for Thanksgiving and there will be deals out the wazoo on stuffing mix. THAT my friend is a little something extra that can give macaroni and cheese a little spice. Breadcrumbs are great, but stuffing mix adds a little more crunch and even some nice flavor. I used Stove Top’s version for this. You can use whatever you’d like of course.

I bulked this up with sausage to give it a little flavor and to make it meaty. So yummy and extra comforting. I’d almost make this for a brunch!

Recipe adapted from Butter Busters Cookbook.

Simple Sausage Mac
Recipe Type: Side Dish, Main Dish
Author: Adapted from Butter Busters Cookbook
Bulk up your everyday mac & cheese and make it meaty. Perfect for dinner any night of the week!
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage, Browned and Drained
  • 3 tbsp Melted Butter (light)
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups Skim Milk
  • 1 tbsp Melted Butter (light)
  • 2 cups Elbow Macaroni, Cooked
  • 1 tbsp Onion, Grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups Reduced fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 c. Crushed Cubed Style Stuffing Mix
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine 3 tbsp melted butter, flour, salt, and pepper in a small sauce pan. Slowly add skim milk and whisk well. Bring to boil, then lower temp until thickens. Set aside.
  3. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place half of the macaroni in the dish. Spread half of the cooked sausage over the noodles. Sprinkle half of the grated onion, salt, pepper, sauce, and cheese. Repeat layer. Drizzle 1 tbsp melted butter over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Sprinkle crushed stuffing over the top. Cover and baked for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

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Macaroni Crust Pizza

One of the cheapest meals that I know how to make is pasta. You can always find a deal on dry pasta just about anywhere you go. Have a coupon? That’s even better! My favorite is when Publix puts pasta BOGO and you can get it next to nothing. I usually stock up and when I need something quick or easy during the week, it’s a no-brainer.

My favorite part of pasta is that it is SO versatile. You can basically make it into anything or put anything in it. This is what makes it so great for budget meals and for those who have picky eaters in the fam.

I can’t take credit for today’s recipe. I adapted this recipe from The Dieter’s Cookbook from 1982. I can’t believe that I’ve never thought of this. I’ve made pizza pasta many times before, but never thought of making macaroni the “crust” of a pizza. I cannot stress to you how much my family liked this. Easy, cheap, and incredibly tasty you really do have to try this one y’all!

I take that back. Remember how I said that I couldn’t describe to you how much my family liked this? Well instead, here’s an illustration! This is all that was left from one sitting of this Macaroni Crust Pizza. It is that good.

And it’s actually a decent recipe for those watching their calories. Well, as long as you don’t eat as much as we did. 🙂

Just make it. Then come back here and leave a comment about your family’s reaction!

Macaroni Crust Pizza
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Pasta
Author: Pennywise Cook adapted from The Dieter’s Cookbook 1982
This cheap and easy meal is a tasty twist on regular pizza!
  • 2 c. Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 Eggs, Beaten
  • 1/2 c. Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • 2 oz Pepperoni
  • 1/4 c. Skim Milk
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/8 Tsp Pepper
  • For Topping
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • 1/2 c. Reduced-Fat Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Jar (8 oz) Pizza Sauce
  • 1 c. Mozzarella Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, cook macaroni according to package. Drain well.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 eggs, 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, Parmesan Cheese, milk, basil, milk, and pepper. Add macaroni to this mixture and combine well.
  3. In a greased springform pan, place the macaroni mixture into a “crust” form. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the 1 egg and ricotta cheese. Once “crust” is out of the oven, pour this mixture over the top and evenly spread. Pour the pizza sauce over the top and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with pepperoni.
  5. Return to oven for 10- 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

This could easily be made without any meat for vegetarians!

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Basil Ricotta Mac and Cheese

Isn’t it funny how there is never enough time in the day? I can have a completely clear day planned with maybe one thing on my to-do list and half the time I don’t even get that one thing accomplished. Of course, I do have a tendency to go off on tangents. My husband makes fun of me beceause I can barely get a sentence out. In fact, the other day I was telling him something and in the middle of my sentence remembered something else and began to tell him about that instead. He looked at me with the funniest face and said, “Did you just interupt yourself?”. I stopped and thought about it for a moment and then decided yes, I did in fact interupt myself! Leave it to me!

Much like my thoughts getting side-tracked, I easily get distracted when I’m cleaning the house. I’ll be cleaning one thing and come across something that just bothers me and I have to clean that. All the while forgetting about my original intention. It may take me the whole day (and sometimes week) to get the original mission accomplished.

A near future goal of mine is to create a cleaning list for the week. I’ll let you know how that works out. 🙂

Needless to say, time gets away from me sometimes. And on those days, we either have a fend for yourself night for dinner or I whip something up that doesn’t need a lot of work. Mac and cheese is always a great go-to option. Always a pleaser for the kiddos and the picky husband as well.

It’s not exactly the best grown up meal. So when I was having a “day” the other night I decided to liven it up a bit and use up some ricotta cheese that I had in the refrigerator and add a little bit of basil. And to make it more of a meal I added some ground turkey. It was fantastic and even pleased my 5 year old!

Hey, maybe she’ll eat her peas now. Nah….

Basil Ricotta Mac and Cheese
Recipe Type: Pasta, Main Dish
Author: Pennywise Cook
This grown up version of everyday mac and cheese is sure to please everyone!
  • 2/3 Box Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1/4 c. Flour
  • 2 c. Milk
  • 2 c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese + additional for topping
  • 1/4 c. Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 c. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Basil, Chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  1. {reheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare macaroni a couple minutes less than directed on the box. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, brown ground turkey and stir in ricotta cheese. Add in seasonings and basil.
  4. In a saucepan, stir together flour and milk and cook to a boil until thickened. Then stir in shredded cheese. Mix well.
  5. Mix together pasta, ground turkey mixture, and cheese mixture. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with additional shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs begin to crisp.


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