Get Ready for the School Year Dinner Rush – Chili-Cheese Mac

The school year is just around the corner in our house. Judging by my Facebook timeline, it has already begun for some of you (my sympathies). Although I have the same 24 hours in the days of the school year that I have during the summer, they seem shorter and more frantic at times.

Since the weeone has homework and swim team practice and guitar lessons and Girl Scouts and, well, just getting be a kid and play a bit, the time from the last bell until lights out is packed full of action. It’s this time of year that I struggle to put something on the dinner table that isn’t pizza or a burger from Five Guys.

This quick, two pot recipe from Cooking Light Magazine fits the bill for the rush of back to school. It took me about 20 minutes to make this, it’s absolutely yummy, kid-approved and an outstanding filler for the next day’s lunch box….because we all LOVE packing lunch boxes, right?

Add to all of that, the recipe has a decent dose of protein (which you could amp up with the addition of some beans) and is flexible enough to add just about any veggie your family adores…and we’ve got a winner.

Add this one to your school nights repertoire!

Chili – Cheese Mac

Yield: Serves 6 (serving size: 1 cup)
Total: 20 Minutes


  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 3/4 pound ground round
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (if you’ve got a spice chicken in the house, you can hold back a bit on this)
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (10-ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni ( we like the whole grain versions!)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 4 1/2 ounces finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese


  1. 1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add beef and next 4 ingredients; cook 3 minutes. Add broth, water, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni; cover and cook 10 minutes or until macaroni is done.
  2. 2. Heat milk and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar. Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture; toss well to coat.

Phoebe Wu, Cooking Light
APRIL 2012

Nutritional Information: ( serving size = 1 cup)
Calories: 342, Fat: 12.3g (sat 6g, mono 3.7g, poly 1.1g), Protein: 25.7g, Carbohydrates: 32.7g, Fiber 1.8g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Iron: 2.3mg, Sodium: 652mg, Calcium: 363mg

  1. Latchkey Wife (@LatchkeyWife)
    August 13, 2012

    Why is it that I have just finished dinner yet your recipe makes me hungry all over again? If I win the lottery, will you move to Maine and be my personal chef?

    • AGirlintheSouth
      August 13, 2012

      …it’s because I’m outstanding…that’s why! LOL. It’s that order envy thing, where you like what your ordered, but your really like what someone else ordered.

  2. Christine Coleman
    August 13, 2012

    I need to save this recipe — looks so good, and I can obviously use gluten-free pasta!

    • AGirlintheSouth
      August 13, 2012

      It’s so tasty and easy, I highly recommend it.

      Are there good GF pastas that you’ve found?

  3. Robyn
    August 13, 2012

    You should add the ability to Pin to Pintrest to your blog. You know, since I’m suddenly obsessed with it. 😀

    • AGirlintheSouth
      August 13, 2012

      If I had any clue as to how to do that….I would! ;D Seriously, though…I’ll see if I can figure that out –

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