A quotation I saw online, attributed to Rob Fee, is one of the best explanations of the conversation Joey and I have every day: “Relationships are just two people constantly asking each other where they want to go eat, until one of them dies.”
In our case, it’s not really asking where we want to go eat so much as what we want to make to eat.
Both of us like cooking, so it’s rarely a battle to see who is going to be tasked with dinner preparations, but we tend to fall into ruts. For me, my common fallback is just to make tacos.
I nearly succumbed to my same rut again this week, but while my hamburger was defrosting, I stumbled across another, just as easy, recipe, and I decided to give it a try.
This comes from the blog “Baking with Mom.” The original recipe only calls for four main ingredients: hamburger, tomato soup, pasta and cheese, but as you can see, I added quite a few more flavors to my version. You can find the original post at https://bakingwithmom.com/hamburger-casserole/.
- 16 ounces small pasta I used macaroni
- 1 small yellow onion
- 6-8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground hamburger or turkey
- 2, 10.75- ounce cans tomato soup
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded cheese I used a combination of monterrey jack and mild cheddar
- Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish by spraying it with non-stick spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Brown the hamburger and onion in a large skillet over medium heat.
- While the hamburger is browning, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.
- Once the hamburger is cooked through and the onions are soft, drain as much grease from the pan as you can and then add the garlic. Saute for a couple minutes until the garlic starts to brown slightly, and add in the tomato soup, spices, and fill one of the soup cans halfway with water and add that into the pan as well. Stir to combine.
- Let the mixture cook for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Dump the cooked noodles into the prepared baking dish and top with the hamburger mixture. Just spread the hamburger mixture over the top of the noodles; there’s no need to mix it together.
- Top the casserole with cheese and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes. Then turn the broiler on high to brown the cheese just a bit—probably about two minutes, but keep an eye on it.
- Let the casserole cool for about 10 minutes and then serve.
This was really simple to put together and was yummy, too. Plus, I managed to put away quite a bit of leftovers in the fridge.
If I’m being honest, I doubt neither Joey nor I will ever get sick of tacos, but it was a nice change of pace to try a new casserole, and with such simple ingredients, it was easy for me to make on the fly, which I appreciated.
Now, with plenty of leftover casserole in the fridge, tonight’s dinner should be easy to figure out. Unless, of course, one of us starts craving Mexican food instead.
This piece first appeared in print on March 12, 2020.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.