3 Simple dishes with ground beef

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Cheesy penne and beef casserole. (October 2013) Cheesy penne and beef casserole. (October 2013) Photo Credit: Marge Perry

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Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

CHEESY PENNE AND BEEF CASSEROLE

8 ounces penne pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound 93-percent-lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1/2 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 475. Coat a medium-size (6-cup or 9-inch- square) baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium high in a large, nonstick skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes until they start to soften. Add the beef, oregano, basil and thyme; cook, stirring to break up the crumbles, until the beef is no longer pink, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes.

4. Combine the beef and pasta; stir in the mozzarella and transfer to prepared baking dish. Combine Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly over the casserole.

5. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until top is golden.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 390 calories, 14 g fat, 5.4 g saturated fat, 39 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber, 570 mg sodium

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OVERSTUFFED POTATOES

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4 baking potatoes

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 green pepper, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1 pound 93-percent-lean ground beef

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3/4 cup ketchup

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1. Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or place on a plate in a spoke pattern and microwave, turning once, until fork tender, a total of about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add onion, garlic and green pepper; cook, stirring, until somewhat softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add beef, chili powder and cumin; cook, breaking meat into crumbles, until it is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Stir in sugar, ketchup and Worcestershire, and cook until mixture is somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes.

3. Cut potatoes lengthwise about 2 inches through, then cut across to form a cross. Pull potatoes apart at cuts and place each on a dinner plate. Spoon in beef mixture, allowing it to overflow onto the plates.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 405 calories, 12 g fat, 4.3 g saturated fat, 25 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates, 3.3 g fiber, 676 mg sodium

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CRUMBLED BEEF IN LETTUCE CUPS

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 pound 93-percent-lean ground beef

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped

8 small leaves butter lettuce

1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped

Lime wedges

1. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the garlic, ginger and onion and cook, stirring, 3 minutes, or until somewhat softened. Add the beef and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring and breaking the meat into crumbles, until it is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.

2. Whisk the brown sugar, lime juice and fish sauce until the sugar is dissolved; add to the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mint.

3. Spoon the beef into the lettuce cups to serve; top with peanuts and garnish with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 269 calories, 16 g fat, 5.2g saturated fat, 24 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 415 mg sodium

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