I was going to call this post “New Baby Casserole” but when I took a step back to proofread, I reconsidered. That was just wrong. I do want to introduce our newest family member, little Grady! At 7 lbs 5.5 ounces and 19 ½” he is adorable, says the proud Grandma. The proud parents are our son Justin and his wife Karyn. He joins siblings Hunter, Bella and Casey.
I took care of the other three grandchildren for a couple of days, then delivered a celebratory meal for the baby’s first night home. It was a meal for mom, dad and siblings, of course. Little Grady has awhile before he’ll be ready for pasta and cheesecake! I asked my daughter-in-law, Karyn, what she would like for dinner and she opted for a basic ground beef casserole. One that tastes like spaghetti, she requested. I said that was easily done.
For dessert I suggest pumpkin pie, which she had been craving a few weeks ago. Karyn asked if I would have time to make a plain cheesecake, her favorite. I said that could be done in little jars so they would be cooled and ready to eat faster.
I had all of the ingredients I needed except for egg noodles. We don’t usually eat those, I’m not sure why. A quick trip to the grocery store and I was ready to make two casseroles and dessert.
I thawed 3# of ground beef that day, planning to also make dinner for my P.S. and I that evening. The newly expanded family would be dining at their own home. Although they wanted a simple casserole, I’d add some ingredients to ours to tailor it more to our tastes.
I browned all of the ground beef until it had some caramelization for flavor, then added cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and pureed tomatoes. I added dried onion bits, basil, oregano and garlic powder for seasonings and let the meat sauce come to a bubble.
Taste testing the sauce I decided the canned tomatoes can make things a bit too bitter, and added ¼ cup of sugar. I do this to my tomato sauces occasionally. Otherwise the sauce was great, just the right amount of seasonings to create a “spaghetti” flavor profile.
Karyn had requested egg noodles so I brought a large pot of water to which I’d added about a tablespoon of salt to a boil. When boiling, I added 2 packages of wide egg noodles and let them cook. I usually make any pasta al dente, then toss it with sauce until it absorbs the juices. These casseroles were going into the oven to heat and I didn’t want them to end up dry. I cooked the noodles until done so they wouldn’t absorb as much liquid and be all wiggly soft and mushy.
When the noodles were done I drained them, set about ¼ of them aside for our portion, and returned the rest to the pot. I poured about ¾ of the meat sauce over the noodles, tossed them together, and put them into a sprayed 9×13 pan. Done! I covered the pan with foil and it was set aside.
To our portion of the meat sauce I added a can of sliced black olives and juice, a bag of fresh spinach, roughly chopped, and a cup of parmesan cheese. I also added a can of diced tomatoes. After the spinach was cooked a bit, I tossed the noodles into the skillet and mixed well. I let the mixture simmer for several minutes until the pasta had absorbed some sauce, then poured it into a sprayed baking dish.
I set our casserole aside to wait until I’d delivered the meal to my son’s house. I’d already made and chilled the cheesecake, which will be a separate post. I packed the jars into a picnic hamper along with a bag of chopped lettuce and a bottle of ranch dressing for a salad. My P.S. carried the casserole to the car while I carried the hamper.
Mother and baby were sleeping when we dropped off the food so I left directions on how to reheat and put everything else in the fridge. Catering done, we returned home and put our casserole in the oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes to heat it again. I served it with more parmesan sprinkled on top and a side of sliced cucumbers.
We loved our version and the kids and grandkids loved theirs as well. They added shredded cheese and had it for dinner and lunch the next day as well.
2 28 ounce cans pureed tomatoes
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
3# ground beef
1 tablespoon diced dried onions
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 bag fresh spinach; chopped
1 can diced black olives
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded parmesan
2 bags medium egg noodles
Fry beef in a large skillet until browned and crispy in places. Add cans of tomatoes and seasonings and bring to a bubble over medium high heat. Reduce to medium low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Taste test and add sugar if sauce appears to be a bit bitter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook egg noodles according to package directions and drain. Separate portions out if you’re making two different versions as I did.
Stir together sauce and noodles then pour into greased baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until center is warmed through. Baking time depends on whether you bake immediately or casserole has cooled in the meantime.