Hi Inspiration Made Siple readers, it’s Shauna again bringing you another tasty recipe from The Best Blog Recipes!  Last month I shared our Healthier Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with you and this month we’re sharing a Southwest Skillet Ragu that is sure to please the whole family!

So, you’d think that a simple macaroni skillet would be easy to make, right?  That’s what I thought a couple of months ago when I set out to try my first recipe from a cookbook that I love.  Let’s just say that it turned out horrible and the recipe called for way more seasonings than you would ever want in one meal.  It was so bad we ended up throwing it away because we couldn’t even choke it down.  That was attempt #1.
I’m naturally a competitive person so I wasn’t going to give up there.  I decided that I’d go on the hunt for another macaroni skillet dinner that my family would ultimately love and I found one that looked good.  I made it for dinner but instead of being overpowering it just kind of tasted like tomato sauce with macaroni & hamburger in it.  Even with the spices it just felt plain, like it was missing something.  But at least we could eat this one for dinner 🙂  That was attempt #2.
So after searching, and searching I decided to combine 2 different recipes (you can find the links at the bottom of this post) and adjust them how I thought my family would like them….  and I’m so relieved and happy to say that this dinner turned out to be fabulous, smelled great while it was cooking and with my super secret ingredients my whole family loved it!

Southwest Skillet Ragu Ingredients: 
1 lb hamburger
1 1/4 cup of elbow macaroni
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped into small pieces (ssshhhhh… don’t tell the kids it has veggies in it)
5 large crimini mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 10-oz can of Ro-tel Tomato’s w/ green chili’s
1 15 oz can of Italian Stewed Tomato’s in Oregano & Basil, chopped into smaller pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 of a block of Velveeta cheese (just enough to add a bit of creaminess = about 2 inches of the small block)

This meal took about 30 minutes from start to finish to prepare and cook
1. Boil your noodles per package directions, drain & set aside.
2. Brown your hamburger in a large skillet over medium heat.  Strain to remove grease and set aside in a bowl. Return empty skillet to burner.
3. Add your chopped mushroom & zucchini to your skillet and cook over medium heat until all of the moisture has cooked off.
4. Push your veggies to the side and add your olive oil. Once hot add your onion and stir well to coat mushrooms, zucchini & onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent.
5. Add your Ro-Tel Tomato’s, Italian Stewed Tomatoes w/ juices, minced garlic, salt, Chipotle Chili Powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir well.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
6. Add your shredded cheddar & Velveeta Cheese and stir until it it all melted!

Serve and enjoy!

Shauna’s Side Notes  
This dish has a little bit of a kick to it because of the Ro-Tel Tomato’s, Chipotle Chili Powder, Cumin & Red Pepper Flakes. For adults, it’s the perfect combination of ingredients but to kids, it might be a bit spicy!  I’d suggest only using 1/2 of the listed ingredients in this side note and then test out the flavor and add more if you think your kids can handle it 🙂
This recipe has been adapted & tweaked from the following two websites: