Game Show Announcer: And now, another installment of “What’s for dinner?” The Stauch household has eaten all of their planned meals from the last grocery shopping trip and now must raid the pantry and freezer to put together a meal. What will they make?
Does it sound like an exciting game show to you? It does in my head.
Maybe I don’t menu plan well enough, but I always have a meal or two that are a little more “creative” right before I go grocery shopping again. I’m not really sure if these last minute meals are a testament to my creativity and resourcefulness or an indicator that I should plan a little better. I prefer to see the glass half full: I’m a creative genius when it comes to the kitchen!
Whoa, that glass is overflowing! Let’s tone it back some: I am innovative and frugal with the resources I have in my kitchen.
That’s better, half full.
Creamy Pasta/Mock Lasagne/Beef & Noodle Stuff
- 1lb. ground beef, chuck, round, whatever you like
- 1 lb. penne noodles
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
- Spices: oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, salt, pepper, etc. – as needed
- 16 oz. cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more to top casserole
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook noodles al dente (You will bake the noodles at the end, so you want a good amount of bite in the noodles after boiling.)
Drain pasta and set aside.
Brown beef in large skillet until all of the meat is browned, then drain off the fat.
I totally cheat when it comes to making a tomato sauce. I always start with a jar of pre-made sauce then add tomatoes, more sauce, and spices as needed. I don’t have a good reason for why I do this. I know I can make it myself with little effort, I just rarely do.
Pour both into the drained meat.
Then add spices as needed. I usually add oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer while you prepare the cheese mixture. Stir and taste periodically and adjust the spices as needed. I do not have any measurements for the spices as I just dump and taste, dump and taste until I like it.
Now for the cheese mixture, pour the cottage cheese and Parmesan into a bowl.
Add salt and pepper to taste. I used white pepper because I had it on hand. Black is fine though.
Mix well and set aside.
Set out a 9×13 pan, and get read to assemble the casserole!
Stay with a thin layer of the sauce to prevent the noodles from sticking to the pan. (There’s no need to grease the pan for this recipe).
Add half the noodles (I used half white and half wheat noodles. Again, this is what I had on hand.)
Add half the cheese mixture in small spoonfuls as it is hard to spread around.
Top with half of the remaining sauce.
Lather, rinse, repeat using the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to end with sauce on top.
The casserole kind of resembles lasagne in ingredients and layeredness. The side view isn’t quite as pretty as true lasagne, but it’s easy and delicious. I can pass on the pretty sometimes for the sake of ease.
Top the casserole with some Parmesan cheese. Motzerella would have been lovely too, but I didn’t have any.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until nice and bubbly. Serve with a veggie and fruit for a well-rounded meal. I chose peas and strawberries. I’ve been on a bit of a peas kick lately. I love them!
Now let’s tell the truth, I did not bake it for 20 minutes, only 10, because I had a nail appointment to get to. 🙂 Oh shellac, how I love you!
I also did not take any after shots because I was too rushed trying to get to my nail appointment.
My nails do look great though in case you were wondering. Oh, and so does the casserole.