Yes the kids are shuffled off to school, and M is typically headed to the train, but the routine and structure feels… nice.
See, Friday night through Sunday night can be chaotic. With one kid, with five kids, with no kids. Weekends seem to fly by in a flurry of birthday parties, sport games and practices, family events, and fitting in friends. Anyone else with me on this? There are often times that Monday approaches and I let out a big sigh of relief. It’s not that I want the fun to stop by any means; I suppose I just crave the structure.
And a quiet house. For those oh two precious hours. Yes, the routine of laundry and stocking the fridge is my idea of a killer time.
Throughout the day on Monday, things begin to feel a bit more settled and the home is a bit less in shambles. Organization: gotta love it. L arrives home, barreling through the door around 4:02 and guess what happens next?
Nothing. Glorious nothing.
Well, something… I mean it’s never nothing with two boys, but we actually sit. And have a snack. And chat. And do homework in a calm, careful, less rushed manner. That’s because on Monday we have no football. And on football days, it’s shove yourself with food, maybe finish your homework, cram yourself into tackle equipment that mom may or may not have gotten around to washing, and head to town only to arrive home way past dark.
Yes, there are days for that but not Mondays On Monday we hang. The boys play. And I spend a while slow cooking this awesome baked mac and cheese chili. The home smells insane and my kitchen is a mess with pots and pans, but come dinner time we all sit down at the same table at the same exact time and you know what?
Mom couldn’t be happier.
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 (14.5) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14.5) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 12 oz Colby Jack cheese, shredded (I used a bit more, because, why not)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and add pasta; cook roughly 7-8 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta water and drain pasta. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Using the same large pot, wipe dry and heat over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat up. Add ground beef and break it up in pieces to brown. Once browned, remove from pot and discard drippings. Set beef aside.
- Add remaining oil to the same large pot and return to medium heat until warm. Add onions, zucchini, green pepper, chili powder, and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and begin to brown. Add in your garlic for another minute or so.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beans, brown sugar, reserved 3/4 cup pasta water and beef to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until flavors have blended.
- Stir in the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I used about 1 cup) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a 9x13 baking dish and smooth over with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling. YUM.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle the top of the dish with the remaining shredded cheese. Return the dish once again in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes until the cheese begins to melt and brown. Let set 10 minutes before serving.