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BAKED MACARONI AND MEAT CASSEROLE 
1 lb ziti or elbow macaroni

Meat Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. olive oil plus 1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 lbs lean ground beef and/or sausage meat
3 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup water, broth or red wine (Marsala)
salt and pepper, to taste

Cream Sauce:

8 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
4 cups milk
8-10 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Boil ziti or macaroni in salted water according to package directions but until still firm. Drain and return to same pot while still hot; add 4 tbsp. butter and stir until butter has melted. Toss pasta gently in butter to prevent sticking.

Prepare the meat sauce. In 3 tbsp. olive oil + 1 tbsp. butter, sauté onion, pepper and garlic on medium high heat until softened and lightly golden on edges (add garlic last and do not allow it to brown). Add meat and brown; stir in tomato paste diluted in water, wine or broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Prepare Cream Sauce. Melt eight tbsp. butter in saucepan. Add flour and stir until light brown and smooth. Gradually add milk while stirring constantly, until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Beat eggs until frothy and add to the cooled cream sauce, stirring thoroughly. Simmer over low heat until thickened slightly.

Assemble the casserole.

Add 1/2 cup grated cheese to the pasta and toss to blend. Place 3/4 of the mixture in an 11X14-inch pan. Ladle the meat sauce over the pasta evenlly. Add another layer of pasta mixture. Smooth out each layer.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated cheese over the top of the final layer and pour 1/2 cup of milk over the entire casserole. Pour cream sauce evenly over the whole mixture and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour or until golden and bubbly and cooked through.

12 servings.

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