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Inexpensive meals do not have to taste cheap! My mother made this all of the time when we were growing up. It’s easy to make, budget-friendly, and so flavorful! It feeds a crowd for just a few dollars.
Fill a pot with some water for the pasta; cover, and set over high heat. Start heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; cook until fully browned. Drain.
While still over medium heat, add the bell pepper, chili powder, paprika, and tomato paste to the ground beef and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, then stir to combine. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer.
When the meat mixture has come to a full simmer, add a good amount of salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta, then stir to combine. Cook the pasta for two minutes less than the shortest cooking time listed on the box. You want it undercooked. While the pasta is cooking, stir the meat mixture periodically.
Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the meat mixture, then stir to combine. Allow the pasta and meat mixture to simmer together for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the pasta is as done as you like it. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add the parsley and stir to combine. If desired, serve with some cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese.
I bought the ground beef, bell pepper, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes on sale. I used some farfalle that I had in my pantry, but you can use whatever pasta you like. I had some parsley left over from another dish so I threw it in to freshen the flavors. This entire dish cost less than US$6 to make, and it feeds a lot of people. If money is really tight, use less ground beef (or none at all) and throw in some drained black beans or some undrained chili beans. Don’t buy parsley just for this dish. The tomato paste adds great depth so buy it if you can afford it. Otherwise, you can leave it out.
For an accompanying story, check out http://cookingventures.blogspot.com
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Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!