Categories
Main Dish

Beef up your dinner menu with casserole

Hamburger Casserole
Hamburger casserole dresses up tomato soup into a hearty, Italian-inspired dish.

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/.

Hamburger Casserole
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Hamburger Casserole

Hamburger casserole dresses up tomato soup to make a hearty dinner.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword casserole, kid-friendly, pasta, tomato

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Snack

Pizza sticks will make you say, ‘Yes, cheese!’

Cheesy pizza sticks are great for a quick snack an especially good recipe for beginning cooks to try their hand in the kitchen.

While my sister was still pregnant with my now almost 1-1/2-year-old niece, I noticed my shopping habits change.

I was constantly picking up this cute outfit or that cool toy even before our beautiful Emi graced us with her presence.

My only problem has been patience, as I always seem to find toys or outfits that she’s not quite ready for yet.

The other day, it was a child’s apron and baker’s hat. It was adorable, and I nearly shoved it into my cart before I thought through the fact that (1) this outfit was clearly made for someone more the size of a five-year-old and (2) my niece, while smart and sassy, is just now completely conquering solid foods and probably isn’t quite ready to help prepare them with me yet.

That being said, I have, on occasion, gotten to cook with kids over the years, and it’s always fun to watch them learn a life skill and enjoy their creations afterwards.

The recipe I found this week on the blog “I Wash, You Dry” is one I’ll be setting aside for Emi and I to try out when she’s a little older. It’s so simple there isn’t much to adjust, but I decided to change up the spices a bit. You can find the original post at https://iwashyoudry.com/cheesy-pepperoni-pizza-sticks/.

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Cheesy Pizza Sticks

Cheesy pizza sticks are great for a quick snack an especially good recipe for beginning cooks to try their hand in the kitchen.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Keyword cheese, kid-friendly, pepperoni, pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
  • 40 slices pepperoni I used turkey pepperoni
  • 10 mozzarella cheese sticks
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with tinfoil and spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Unroll the pizza dough onto the baking sheet (don’t worry about trying to roll it out thinner at this point, just get it flat).
  • Cut the dough into 10 equal rectangles.
  • Place four pepperoni slices and one cheese stick on each rectangle, and then pinch the dough to seal it around the cheese and meat.
  • Lay the pizza sticks, seam side down, about an inch apart on the baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and the oregano, basil, parsley and garlic powder.
  • Brush it onto each pizza stick. (I used a spoon to get the remaining goodies out of the bottom of the bowl and spread them out, too.)
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the dough is golden brown on top.
  • Let the pizza sticks rest for at least 10 minutes before digging in.

I didn’t have a kiddo to share these with, but the adults who sampled them deemed them a success. They’d be great with some marinara dipping sauce, too.

They did have quite a bit of cheese spill out of them, which was OK in my book, since I love some slightly browned, melted cheese, but that also made me very glad I used aluminum foil to make clean up a breeze.

As summer is approaching and some of you are looking for good recipes to try out with the kids in your lives, I’d recommend this one.

And if you need a good lead on a kid-sized apron, let me know. I’ve got you covered.

This piece first appeared in print on April 11, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.