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1. In a large skillet, cook meat, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat.
2. Meanwhile, in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine undrained tomatoes, mushrooms (if desired), tomato paste, bay leaf, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Stir in meat mixture.
3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Discard bay leaf. Turn off cooker. Add sweet pepper; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling, lightly salted water according to package directions; drain. Spoon meat mixture over pasta. If desired, sprinkle with cheese.