Quick Pastitsio

  • tignor Posted: 09/29/11
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    This is not pastitsio. Pastitsio is a Greek lasagna with spiced meat and a custard on top. I can forgive the custard as this is supposed to be a light and fast recipe and the cream cheese was an interesting substitute, but no cinnamon? Horrors! We added some, and yes it does take longer to set up--it tastes pretty good, like a Hamburger Helper but way healthier--just disappointed that I thought it would be more like pastitsio. If they had named it something else, Cheesy Beef Pasta Bake or something, it would have been better. It's almost like all those recipes in the 60s labeled "Hawaiian" or "Oriental" that were anything but...Pastitsio is a treat and even a quick version should have the meat spiced.

  • RoccoMama Posted: 09/26/11
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    I followed the recipe exactly as written (except for the addition of 1 tsp of cinnamon) and it was perfect. The milk seemed like a lot at first, but once I brought everything to a nice simmer (maybe a few more than just 2 min) and added the pasta, it wasn't too much at all. The addition of cinnamon really was necessary to make it taste like a real greek pastitsio. Overall, a really easy and delicious recipe!

  • manders77 Posted: 10/01/11
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    I just finished making (and enjoying!) this dish, however I didn't make it exactly as in the recipe. Based on other reviewers, I added a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to the meat and cheese mixture. I think this was a much-needed addition, I thought the spices really added a great flavor. I also used rigatoni instead of penne - it was what I had on hand. In the future, I would make this with a lot less milk, as the other reviewers commented there was too much liquid. I'll make it again with those changes.

  • crosscourt Posted: 10/02/11
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    This was very good. I didn't think it was too liquidity at all. The only change I made to the recipe was I used 8 oz. of 1/3 fat free cream cheese and no fat free.

  • CindyVH Posted: 09/17/11
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    I think there may be a misprint in the ingredients. There is just way too much liquid in this dish. 2 cups of milk is too much. The dish turned out soupy - which I don't think is the intent. The flavor was ok. I added garlic salt which helped. I probably won't try again.

  • clhassell Posted: 09/20/11
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    I think this recipe is a good starting point. I would season the beef with something while it's cooking, black pepper, oregano, or other Italian spice. Unlike the first reviewer it was not that liquidity... the flour thickened it up. Maybe a little less milk? I also used some very big garlic cloves, which added some flavour. Since this is a relatively cheap & easy recipe, we will experiment in improving it.

  • SGriffy Posted: 10/12/11
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    Easy to fix and tastes delicious. Will be making this again and again

  • EarthaK Posted: 10/12/11
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    This is a very good week night, kid friendly dinner. It does need to be tinkered with just a bit - I treated this like a quick, stream lined Bolognese sauce. I added a Italian seasoning to the beef and browned the onions instead of just softening them. I also used extra garlic - 8 cloves or so, some red pepper flakes and a bit more salt. I also used all 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and then an Italian Four Cheese blend on top. I agree that the sauce needs to be cooked way down or else it is too watery. It took me more like 15 to cook it down. Even with these changes, it was still done in about 50 minutes.

  • doggerham Posted: 09/21/11
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    I, too, felt that there was a lot of liquid. However, I just popped it in the oven and baked it for 15 minutes, and the pasta absorbed it all very nicely. I added a can of drained mushrooms. It definitely needs more seasoning -- isn't cinnamon and nutmeg what you usually use in this dish? That might not make it kid-friendly, but would make it more interesting. With some changes, I would possibly make this again.

  • JillADavis Posted: 10/18/11
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    Very easy! Very yummy! The whole family loved it. I will try some cinnamon next time, but overall it was a great, easy recipe!

  • jessiowe Posted: 10/10/11
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    Based on the reviews, I added a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon and dried oregano. I also used just low-fat cream cheese and no fat-free. Everything else, I followed exactly. It was not too liquidy at all! The flavor was perfect! Will definitely be making this again!!

  • TheCurvyGirl Posted: 10/09/11
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    I wish I would have read these reviews before I made this...it was bland bland bland! I am not sure if everyone ate it because they were hungry or they did not want to hurt my feelings. I added A LOT of onion powder and garlic salt but it was still a miss. I did have to add a little more flour to the milk mixture since it was a bit soggy. Now I know I should have added some cinnamon and allspice to it. I will try it again though...:)

  • srwfromorange Posted: 10/24/11
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    I was soooooo disappointed in this recipe. The only thing good, according to my husband, was that it contained beef. I tried to spice it up with a pinch of red pepper flakes, but folks, this dish was beyond help

  • eweezy Posted: 10/26/11
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    Easy but soooo bland. I even tried adding oregano, red pepper flakes, extra garlic, and "italian seasonings" but it was apparently beyond help. My husband wouldn't eat it. Even when I smothered his portion with extra cheese. Sadly disappointed that something of this low caliber, completely lacking in quality would come from Cooking Light. SO NOT WORTH THE EFFORT.

  • KristinBaby Posted: 10/17/11
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    This was very good, kid friendly...with quite a rich taste for a fairly lo-fat list of ingredients. Super simple to put together. For the other reviewers - if it was too liquidy, it was probably because you didn't drain you canned tomatoes sufficiently. Mine wasn't the least bit liquidy.

  • GeeLisa Posted: 09/25/11
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    I agree with the line of thinking that there is something misprinted with the recipe. It is very liquid-y. I don't think 1T flour to 2C milk is adequate, nor is the 2 minutes to make it less so. I wonder if this is supposed to bake for x amount of time, as the intro to the recipe in the mag says 17 Hands-on minutes, 40 minutes total, and there's no way that would be right without maybe some bake time or some other step included. Therefore, I'm also baking for 15 minutes, like the previous reviewer noted, and I also added about 1t cinnamon, 1/2t nutmeg, and 1/2t dried oregano. I make regular pastitsio a couple times a year and my family (including the kids) enjoys it with those "missing" ingredients. Now that we've tasted it with the modifications, I would say it's outstanding. Bake it for about 15 minutes at 350 before broiling it. It is wonderful, creamy, aromatic goodness, and the flavor is very much like real pastitsio without the heavy bechamel.

  • adagoddess Posted: 10/03/11
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    I used an 8oz. package of Neufchatel cheese, as I didn't want to use fat free cream cheese, and my store didn't have any 4oz sized packages. I also added 1t. cinnamon as suggested by other reviewers. It seemed awfully liquidy at first (which is why I checked the reviews before finishing the recipe), but I simmered it for a bit (longer than the 2 minutes suggested). It did thicken up, and the pasta did absorb the extra. Baked it at 350 for about 15 minutes before broiling. Will probably add some italian seasoning next time to kick it up a bit. As written, the recipe is kind of plain in the spice department.

  • becky8637 Posted: 10/19/11
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    Despite some of the reviews, I decided to make this without adding extra seasoning. I thought it was good and my husband loved it. I just had left-overs for lunch and they were delicious. I used all neufchatel cheese and added more cheese to the top. We made it into 8 servings rather than 6.

  • jmeleeS Posted: 10/24/11
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    I was incredibly dissapointed in this recipe from start to finish. I made it exactly as stated, but when I tasted the sauce all I could think was "wow, this is incredibly bland" so I started adding herbs to try and make up for it. I put in roasted tomatoes, more salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, ground red pepper, and a mix of three different kinds of fresh herbs (rosemary, basil and parsley). Still it was boring and liquidy, so I added some of the shredded moz and parmesean to the base to make it thicker. That worked out well and the broil made the top oh so yummy looking. For good measure, I sprinkled some oregano on top. The result? I force fed the meal to myself and my husband filled up on garlic bread and the salad (he ate maybe two bites). It was boring and bland still with all that. I might be biased b/c it reminded me of a recipe I hated growing up with a cream of mushroom soup as a base. This recipe went promptly in the trash - I will not be making again.

  • BettishaCrocker Posted: 11/04/11
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    I made this last night for 5 of my friends. They all thought it was fantastic. While I agree that it was bland, you could probably remedy that by different flavors of cream cheese (chive or some other variation). Mine came out a great consistency as well. To each his own.

  • tnotestine680 Posted: 11/04/11
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    Love this recipe! I cook it at least once a week. The family love it!

  • nursenene Posted: 10/30/11
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    Okay, I have to say that I get annoyed when someone rates a recipe based on their variations. That said, I have to say we loved this recipe, but I did make some modifications! Because I don't eat beef, I used ground chicken. I was a little hesitant to add 5 cloves of garlic, but it was fine and not overwhelming at all. The sauce was a little bland, so I added about a half of a cup of roasted red bell peppers. I didn't really see the reasoning of dirtying up another pan so I did not broil the dish. We loved it, and couldn't wait to have left overs for lunch.

  • holliemm Posted: 12/21/11
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    Was dissapointed in this. Came out pretty bland. Needed salt and a little something extra. I would recommend more spices and salt and maybe more tomatoes. It wasnt terrible just flat on flavor. My fiance said he wanted both more cheese and tomatoes- although more cheese would make it lots more fatty. Will probably not make again unless I think of some ingredients to add that will take it up a notch.

  • CherylR1954 Posted: 11/08/11
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    I agree it was fairly easy, but I wanted the cheesiness and the tomatoes in the photo. It was a real disappointment, though had I read the reviews I might have added some cinnamon or other spices. It will probably freeze well, and I'll finish off the other 5 servings for dinners or lunches, but it was very bland and visually unappetizing, especially since I used whole wheat pasta.

  • randomgibberish Posted: 12/16/11
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    This was like really bad school cafeteria food. I first got concerned when I added the milk and the contents of the pan turned pink. The flavors did not meld. I tasted each individual ingredient as I ate. Here are some onions, that's the tomato, etc. Many people have complained that it was bland and I thoroughly agree. Even with the extra garlic I automatically add when I cook, this recipe was pretty flavorless. Time for the ritual burning of the recipe.

  • lisacarty Posted: 12/18/11
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    This was so beautiful that i posted my pictures on facebook. To add more flavor, all you have to do is add some spicy italian ground sausage to the beef mixture. That is all you need to do. I cannot say how absolutely delicious this was.

  • LindaH52 Posted: 01/17/12
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    I was really disappointed with this recipe. Mine also turned out too liquidy, and I also wonder if there shouldn't have been some baking time included. I didn't feel the flavor was that great, although adding some of the spices mentioned by others might have helped. Just don't feel it's worth trying this recipe again.

  • cinner2010 Posted: 02/16/12
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    I liked this dish although I did add a lot of crushed red pepper, whole wheat pasta and I only used nufatchel. It reminded me of a fresh, healthy version of the Hamburger Helper my mother used to always cook. While I never enjoyed the box stuff this was a good hearty winter meal that was very easy. I fresh ground a sirloin which added some time but it was quick and simple for a weeknight meal.

  • ChicCooks2 Posted: 05/17/12
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    Kid friendly, quick, a bit on the bland side. Like others, I used an 8 oz block of 1/3 less-fat cream cheese.

  • AletaU1 Posted: 02/18/13
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    I have this recipe from the magazine's annual for that year. I get lazy so I typically don't broil it at the end. Usually, since it's still so hot when you make it, the cheese on top melts on its own if you spread it out evenly. It's good. Definitely recommend using a better ground beef though. I once made it using a cheaper quality ground beef...Not so good...

  • saraelzbenson Posted: 09/30/12
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    I made the recipe vegetarian by replacing the ground sirloin with soy crumbles. Mine also came out soupier than I expected. Next time I would cut the milk down to 1 3/4. I will probably make it again, but with a few tweaks.

  • Janet1961 Posted: 03/05/13
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    This was a disappointing waste of ingredients. It was a soupy mess that did not taste remotely like Pastitsio and absolutely did not look like the picture.

  • kodibug84 Posted: 01/08/13
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    My husband and I both liked how this turned out... especially for how quick and easy it was. I will definitely make this again. I also agree that the recipe could use a some more seasoning.

  • Kobrien07 Posted: 04/17/12
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    Not my favorite. I felt it came out too soupy and not enough flavor. Next time I would use italian flavored diced tomatoes instead. It looked nothing like the picture either. Too bad, I was hoping this would be more flavorful and delicious.

  • sneely23 Posted: 02/08/13
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    This is a great basic recipe. I used corn starch mixed with the milk instead of flour, added a little parmesan, and seasoned the meat with cinnamon, thyme and a pinch of cayenne. Next time I will add more tomatoes; they were the best part next to the cheesy goodness. My husband loved it and I will be adding it to my rotation.

  • lindsaygage Posted: 03/02/13
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    I was really bummed out by the lack of flavor in this recipe. I added some allspice and cinnamon to liven things up, but the end result was still bland!

  • hrascona Posted: 02/18/13
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    My husband and I thought this recipe was delicious. It is the perfect warm, hearty comfort food that you'd want on a cold day, and we were so happy to have leftovers to take to work! We did make a few changes/see a few problems with the recipe, which I will note here: Problems: 1. We needed more flour. Closer to 2 1/2 tbsp. 2. We used almost 12 ounces of pasta, not 8. I think, had we only used 8, there would have been a lot of additional sauce. Changes: 1. We used 95% lean ground beef 2. We added 3/4 tsp. of nutmeg, at the same time we added the milk, tomatoes, etc. 3. We added 4 c of spinach and 1 c. diced green bell peppers, which we added at the same time as the milk, tomatoes, etc., just to get some extra veggies in there 4. We added 1/3 c. parmesan cheese after the milk/tomato/spinach/pepper mixture had cooked for a few minutes and the spinach was cooked down

  • Shaneorem Posted: 03/07/12
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    Weight Watchers has a great reduced fat version of this recipe and it tastes just like Pastitsio. I have been making it for many years and my family loves it! This recipe doesn't even come close!

  • KariB2011 Posted: 02/21/13
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    I wasn't a big fan. Very bland.

  • lfholland Posted: 01/24/13
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    I really liked this recipe, but I think you have to tweak the recipe a good bit. As others are suggesting, I added: 1 Tbs Oregano 2 tsp Cinnamon 1/2 tsp Fresh Nutmeg 2 tsp Black Pepper Also, when I put the tomatoes, milk, cream cheese back in the pan, I reduced the mixture till it thickened (about 10 min) as opposed to two. I added the pasta about halfway through. Then I sprinkled the mozzerella on top and baked it the skillet for 15 minutes.

  • BrendaLRGale Posted: 03/06/12
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    I like this a lot, however, I agree that maybe some herbs would be in order. I sub'd ground turkey breast for the sirloin. Mine didn't turn out saucy, at all, and the servings were huge! Hubby scarfed it down, too. :)

  • EvilxBunneh Posted: 12/09/13
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    I followed the recipe exactly when I made it and was a little disappointed with the results. It doesn't come out looking like the photo (but what recipe ever does, I guess) and was terribly bland. I might make this recipe again, but with some tweaks. It could have definitely used more Italian-flavored spices. I wouldn't recommend that anyone follow the recipe to a T.

  • deannapage Posted: 08/28/14
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    We loved it, but then I rarely make a recipe exactly as written. I used tomatoes with chilies and didn't drain. I had half and half on hand so used that but only about a cup or less. I only had a 3 oz package of cream cheese on hand so used that and omitted the mozzarella.

  • lmaddi Posted: 09/26/13
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    My family loved it but I did make some changes b/c I prefer eating chicken over beef . I only followed the recipe for the measurements but with these changes: - Brown chicken breast in a pan with oil, S&P & parsley, cut them into bite size pieces - Add onion, garlic – stirred until onions are brown - Added flour (tossed until it covered everything), milk, cream cheese, tomatoes - Stirred and let simmer while I made the pasta -Once I drained the pasta I added the chicken mixture and pasta in a pot and added the mozzarella My 6 yr old loved it and my picky husband had 2 servings.

  • 671mama Posted: 01/14/14
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    I made this tonight and made a little more noodles than it called for and used 6 large clovesof garlic as my family loves garlic. I used 2% milk and sliced parmesean cheese on top (purely by mistake!) However, everyone liked it and I will definitely make it again! And may try it with chicken!

  • Jsakas Posted: 12/15/13
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    I will def. use maybe 1 cup of milk next time. The overabundance of liquid made it a murky gray color... Def. use the nutmeg/cinnamon mixture as previously noted. It is edible right now but I will change it up next time.

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