Beef Noodle Casserole
Comes from 175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics p. 101
*Notes in bold.
Large (minimum 5 qt) oval slow cooker
Lightly greased slow cooker stoneware
2 TBSP vegetable oil, divided Didn't use this
1 lb lean ground beef I used about a pound and a half
2 onions finely chopped I used much less
4 stalks celery thinly sliced I left this out
4 cloves garlic minced I only used 2
2 tsp dried oregano leaves I used dried oregano but it wasn't the leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns I just used regular black pepper
1 c. beef stock I used chicken stock because it's what I had
1 c. tomato sauce
4 oz cream cheese softened and cubed
8 oz egg noodles cooked and drained Pretty sure I used more than that
Cheddar Crumb topping
1 c dry bread crumbs I used crushed Ritz crackers
2 tbsp melted better I just cubed the butter and put it on top
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1. In a skillet, heat 1 TBSP of the oil over medium high heat for 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, stirring and breaking up with the back of a spoon until no longer pink, about five minutes. Removed with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off liquid in pan.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining oil to pan. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring until softened, about five minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt and peppercorns and cook stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, tomato sauce and cream cheese and cook, stirring until cheese is melted. It takes longer for the cream cheese to melt than I thought it would. Make sure you already have the onions cut up because I just cut them into the pan and I think I ended up cooking them a little too long.
3. To assemble casserole spoon 1/2 c. tomato sauce mixture in bottom of slow cooker stoneware. Cover with half of the meat then half of the noodles. Repeat layers of meat and noodles. Finish with a layer of sauce. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until mixture is hot and bubbly. I did more than 2 layers, hence using a pound and a half of ground beef. I cooked it on high and it was done after an hour so that's when I did the topping. It would have gone mushy if I would have cooked it longer than that. Once I put the topping on, I turned it down to low for about 30 minutes. My casserole never got bubbly. I don't know if it's because I did more layers so there wasn't as much sauce in one area as there would have been with just two layers. I also ended up stirring my casserole after it had been cooking for a bit because it looked like some of the noodles were starting to dry out a bit.
4. Cheddar Crumb Topping: In a bowl, combine bread crumbs and butter. Add cheese and stir well. Spread over casserole and cook on high for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and top is bubbly. Again, mine never got bubbly. I just crushed Ritz crackers on top of the casserole & the chunked the 2 TBSP of butter over the crackers and then covered with Cheddar.
I was worried it was going to taste funky because the smell of the tomato sauce wasn't too great. The sauce does turn a slightly different color after the cream cheese melts too. It ended up looking a bit like Hamburger Helper and tasting a little like Goolash. Nash really liked it and the other two weren't big fans. I thought it was ok. I would probably make it again if I could get the other two to try it.
The book says you can partially prepare the dish before it's cooked. Complete steps 1 and 2, chilling cooked meat and onion mixture separately. refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you're ready to cook, continue cooking as directed in the recipe. If the tomato mixture has thickened with chilling, heat it gently until it is a spreadable consistency. To facilitate preparation, the night before you plan to cook the casserole, shred Cheddar cheese, cover and refrigerate.
Here's today's recipe.
Slow Cooker Enchiladas
Comes from Fix It & Forget It Big Cookbook p. 285
*My notes are in bold again.
1 lb lean ground beef I used about a pound and a half
1 c. onion, chopped
1/2 c. green bell pepper, chopped
16 oz can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed & drained I used pinto b/c that's what I had
10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies I used a 14 oz can
1 c water
1 tsp chili pwd
16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
dash of dried red pepper flakes and/or several drops Tabasco sauce, if you like
1 c. shredded low fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 c shredded low fat Monterey Jack cheese I used Motzerella & mild Cheddar
6 flour tortillas 6 or 7 inches
1. In a nonstick skillet, brown beef, onions, and green pepper. I started with a skillet, but ended up having to switch to a big pot like what I'd boil spaghetti noodles in. I'd start with a bigger pot so you don't have to dirty two pots.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except cheeses and tortillas. Bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Combine cheeses in a bowl.
5. In a slow cooker, layer about 3/4 c. beef mixture, one tortilla, and about 1/4 c. cheese. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used. I didn't measure beef, etc. I put enough beef to cover the bottom and then put a tortilla on top. It didn't cover all the meat, so I put a second tortilla on and there was a little overlap. I continued to layer. However, on the other layers, I only did 1 tortilla and centered it. On the last layer (the top) I did use 2 tortillas with an overlap again. I finished with the double tortilla and a good amount of cheese.
6. Cover. Cook on low 5-7 hours.
It looks and smells tasty! I'm excited to try this tonight!