I’m not sure what made me think of this old-fashioned recipe…I’d call it comfort food. I don’t think my Mom made it but it was always around at someone’s house. I made it way back when I was a young Mom. I always called it Ground Beef Noodle Bake. I suspect it has roots in the German Kugel but became “casseroled up” in the U.S., much the way our “American Goulash” did.
A descriptive name, huh? Ground Beef Noodle Bake. When I got it in my head I had to make Ground Beef Noodle Bake again, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to post it here. I took some pics but it was waylaid by Thanksgiving posts and other items (like lots of bars and desserts) that I felt had to go out before Christmas. I mean, ya gotta have priorities, amirite?! Oh, yeah, and then I had that hand and shoulder thing, which is getting better, the hand at least. I’m typing pretty well now but putting on a jacket is enough to make me scream.
About Ground Beef Noodle Bake:
I’m still not cooking much, though. And when I do I am cooking light stuff; not light in calories, light in weight. No heavy cast iron pans, for instance! Not much cutting, either. And all that actually made Ground Beef Noodle Bake just about the perfect casserole to make. Plus this week, we’re smack dab in that weird little time warp between Christmas and New Year. You’re probably just about DONE with Christmas leftovers for a while (and if you’re not, there’s my 12 Days of Ham and 12 Days of Turkey posts or did you have Roast Beef?) and maybe you’re thinking ahead to what you’re doing for New Year’s. And maybe the kids are home from school which makes it seem like there would be more time but strangely, the days just become filled with minutia. Before you know it, it’s “What’s for Dinner Time.”
That’s when it’s nice to be able to have a fun little casserole that pretty much everyone likes from the littles to the olds. And I don’t know about you but I pretty much have most of this stuff in my pantry or my fridge/freezer. And lately I’ve been on a cottage cheese kick (high protein, low carb, easy to grab) so I have that on hand. It seems I kinda forgot about cottage cheese for a couple of years…but I digress.
The thing about this casserole is that there’s just nothing to making it. The very few simple items just meld together in the oven into a cohesive dish that has absolutely nothing offensive about it to anyone (no one will even know that there’s cottage cheese in it) unless maybe your kids are going to freak about the green onions (let them pick them off) and somehow this Ground Beef Noodle Bake becomes, magically “more” than it should be. It’s like a loaves and fishes kind of thing. Oh, and if you’re from Iowa, serve this with corn and bring a loaf of white bread and some butter to the table, lol!
Making Ground Beef Noodle Bake:
There’s nothing at all to making this dish. I tend to brown the beef and simmer in a Dutch oven, just to avoid splatters. Make sure your noodles are al dente or you’ll end up with a not so appealing dish that just melds together in one solid mass. Ask me how I know this; never mind, don’t!
I will say that it really is old-fashioned “plain” cooking which I welcome now and then as kind of a respite to so many of the more flavorful food dishes I tend to make. If these simple flavors aren’t so much your thing, feel free to doctor this up with a little garlic and/or onion powder or any of your favorite herbs. Italian seasoning is nice. Just add it to the beef/tomato sauce as it simmers.
You can always go heavier on the cheese and add some into the layers of noodles and ground beef mixture if you want. I use Cheddar but another option is Parmesan – honestly, I’ve only ever seen this made with the Parmesan from a can which gets all golden and nutty and kind of crispy on the top. The sour cream can be substituted with yogurt.
Saving Money on Ground Beef Noodle Bake:
When buying ground beef, look for larger, family-sized packages on sale and divide into portions your family will use. Freeze it for when you need it. The ground beef I used in this recipe was $2.19 a pound, a great sales price in my neck of the woods. I tend to watch for both sour cream and cottage cheese on sale. Both have a long shelf life unopened, but once opened, store upside down and they’ll stay fresher for longer. Don’t leave open to the exposed air. At all. Ever. Cover with the lid, even between servings, when you have it on the counter, even if the lid is only loosely on top.
For simple pantry ingredients like noodles and tomato sauce, look for sales and stock up. If you’re not sure what a great sale price is for any of your normal pantry items, keep a price book. You can keep a price book on the computer or in a notebook or binder. When you purchase an item, jot down when, where, and the price you bought the item at.
There’s no need to keep track of every item you buy, especially if you buy it rarely, but it is worthwhile to keep track of the ingredients you use often. That’s most likely where the majority of your food budget is going – and buying habits show we tend to ignore the prices of the everyday items and focus on saving money on the larger, more expensive items that we buy less often. That’s just the opposite of what we should be doing.
Ground Beef Noodle Bake
- 1 pound ground beef
- One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- lots of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 8 ounces egg noodles, about 2 cups dry
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
- pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 to three green onions, green part only sliced thinly, save a few for garnish
- 1/2 to 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 11″ x 7″ or equivalent casserole with cooking spray.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain the fat, and then add the tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer gently while you prepare the other ingredients.
Cook the egg noodles in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cottage cheese can be salty; if not add a bit more salt. Add the mixture to the noodles along with most of the green onions and gently fold together.
To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with the meat mixture, and then the final layer of noodles. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. When finished, garnish with a few of the green onions.
I’ll be bringing this Ground Beef Noodle Bake to Fiesta Friday # 256, hosted this week by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons and Moi! That’s right, I’ll be stopping by and visiting all the wonderful bloggers who took a few minutes to join in. Maybe they’ll be some party recipes!! Happy Happy New Year’s, everyone!