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3 Simple recipes you can make with ground beef

Shortcut pastitisio with penne, lean ground beef and

Shortcut pastitisio with penne, lean ground beef and vegetables in a creamy sauce. It's also topped with feta cheese. Credit: Marge Perry

SHORTCUT PASTITSIO

12 ounces penne

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 medium carrots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1⁄2 teaspoon oregano

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups (1 percent) milk

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1⁄2 cup crumbled feta

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the beef, onion, carrots, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cook, breaking the meat into crumbles, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 to 6 minutes.

4. Sprinkle about one-fourth of the flour over the meat and stir until it is fully incorporated. Repeat until all the flour is added. In a slow, steady stream, stir in the milk. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and bubbles around the edges, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 1 minute.

5. Combine the meat mixture with the pasta and transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle with the feta and bake 6 minutes, until the cheese is slightly melted. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 434 calories, 24 g protein, 58 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 579 mg sodium

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PATTY MELTS

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups thinly sliced onion (about 2 medium onions)

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound lean ground beef

1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

8 slices thin-sliced rye bread

4 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat provolone

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onions and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and vinegar and cook until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid is evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Meanwhile, make the patties: Combine the beef and pepper. Divide in 4, and form each into a slightly oval patty. Press your thumb in the center of each to make a slight indentation.

3. Place the patties in the hot pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or to desired degree of doneness.

4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan. Place 4 slices of bread in the pan, top each with the one-fourth the mushroom mixture, one-fourth the cheese and a patty; close with the final slice of bread and press lightly. Cook until the undersides are lightly golden, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 428 calories, 30 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 20 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 744 mg sodium

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CLASSIC SLOPPY JOES

1 pound lean ground beef

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup chopped onion

1⁄2 cup chopped green pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

3⁄4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

4 split sandwich or hamburger buns

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high; add the beef, salt, onion, green pepper and chili powder and stir to break up the beef into crumbles. Cook until it is no longer pink and the vegetables have softened. Add the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard; reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes, until somewhat thickened.

2. Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper; spoon into buns. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 316 calories, 21 g protein, 43 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 851 mg sodium

TIP: Look for 7 percent fat (93 percent lean) ground beef, which has about half the calories and saturated fat of the more standard 20 percent fat ground beef.

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