This casserole is based on a recipe I saw online somewhere (don't remember where, sorry!) but modified a bit to suit our preferences.This casserole freezes very well, and if you double the recipe, you can actually get 3-4 casseroles out of it! Here's my version.
Cheesearoni Beef Casserole
1 lb lean ground beef
1 28 oz can tomatoes (use whole, diced, or stewed - I use whatever I have on hand)
3/4 tsp garlic
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp basil
1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups macaroni, uncooked
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream or cottage cheese
4-6 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
In a saucepan, brown beef and onion until beef is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, paste, garlic, salt, oregano, basil, chili powder, and brown sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until sauce is thick. Cook macaroni, drain, and set aside. Toss macaroni with sour cream or cottage cheese, spread in bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozza cheese, top with sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. At this point, you can let it cool, cover with foil, and freeze. Or if not frozen, Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes.
If frozen, let thaw and cook at 325 for about 30 minutes or until heated through, or cook from frozen at 325 for about an hour or until heated through.
Note: This recipe makes 1 large casserole (serve 6-8 people). I doubled this recipe and was able to get 2 large casserole (serves 5-6 each) and 1 medium casserole (serve 3-4) plus some leftover meat sauce to freeze.