I've got to start posting here again, because ever since I stopped, things have really gone downhill around the house. Apparently I need some accountability. I've tried, repeatedly, to pin down the cycle of despair, to find a starting point--you know how it goes: You can't get one area, like cooking healthy meals, in order, because the kitchen is a mess, and you don't have time to clean the kitchen because the laundry is backed up, and you can't put the laundry away because the closets are a mess, and you can't deal with the closets because the bedroom is a wreck, etc. What? Oh, that's just me? Well, so be it. It ends here. Or maybe I go down in flames--we shall see what we see.
Since everything is so interconnected, I finally just bit the bullet and chose an arbitrary place to start, and that place is meal planning and preparation. I have a week's worth of dinners and lunches planned and ingredients stocked, and the next natural step is cleaning and organizing the kitchen...again, we'll see. Bella and I have tomorrow to work on that, and I WILL be posting progress here. I'll also be regularly reporting on what we're cooking/eating, and the recipes we use, starting with tonight's dinner, which was SO YUMMY.
Last night, I put out a call on Twitter for "your go-to after-work meal," and got several great responses, most of which were quick, creative one-dish meals. This one came from Jenny (who adapted it from an old cookbook) at We're Not In Kansas Any More, Toto (she totally IS in Kansas), and she calls it "Husband's Delight." I'm printing her recipe as she sent it to me, with my minor modifications in parentheses. My changes in no way made the dish any better than Jenny's version, just slightly different.
Husband's Delight Casserole:
one bag large egg noodles - 12 or 16oz. (I used "dumpling" style noodles)
2lbs ground beef (I used ground venison)
1can tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar (I forgot this)
salt, pepper, etc.
1 can diced tomatoes, plain or Rotel-style, according to personal taste (I omitted this)
1 bunch chopped green onions--the bulb end
16oz. (2 cups) sour cream (I used reduced-fat)
8oz. (1 cup) cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
other end of the green onions, chopped (I whirled the chives in food processor)
shredded cheese (I used about 2 cups of RF sharp cheddar & a sprinkle of parmesan)
Boil pasta. At same time, start the ground meat and chopped onions in a skillet. Brown, drain, return to skillet, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt & pepper, and whatever else you like to season.
Separately, mix up the sour cream, cream cheese, and green onions. When the ground meat mixture is cooked and has simmered for 10 minutes or so, start layering noodles, ground meat, and then cream mixture into two casserole dishes that have been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. You can probably fit two full layers. As the final layer add the shredded cheese. Pop it into the oven at 350 or so for 15-20 min or until cheese is melted on top. Since it makes two casseroles, you can freeze one for later or give to someone else. If you freeze it, it's best to not add the cheese until read to cook.
My changes: I used ground venison because we had some on hand and it is extremely lean. I left out the diced tomatoes and just used tomato sauce instead, because everyone in my family, myself included, picks out chunks of tomatoes in any dish. I know, we're freaks. I also added garlic to the meat mixture, because venison, being so incredibly lean, does need a little "boost" in flavor.
Bella made the sour cream sauce, and pronounced it "super-delicious," which it totally was. I chose Neufchatel instead of cream cheese because it's softer even when cold, and lower in fat than cream cheese. I whirled the chives in my Magic Bullet for about 2 seconds, so that more of the chive-y goodness would be released into the sour cream sauce.
Instead of making two casseroles (which this recipe absolutely would make), I used my giant deep-dish casserole and just made one big whopping double-decker one, with a layer of shredded cheese in the middle as well as on top. I froze half of it after cooking, and saved the portion we didn't eat tonight for leftovers tomorrow. It's a LOT of food. I served it with green beans, and it was a hearty, hearty meal.
While I do like the lasagna-type presentation of layering the ingredients, it's a little fussy to assemble that way when you're pressed for time, so when I make this dish again (and I WILL make it again, because, as I said: YUM), I will probably mix everything together, including most of the shredded cheese, before putting it into the casserole dish to bake--I'll likely mix the sharp cheddar into the dish, and top it with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan.
ADDENDUM: Jenny writes to say that she has tried preparing the dish as I describe in the above paragraph, mixing it all together, and that it monkeys with the texture of the sour cream sauce. So you're probably best off making it AS DIRECTED. I'm a hardhead, so will probably try it the other way at least once, and wind up emailing Jenny to say, "Hey, remember when you said not to do that, and I did it anyway? YOU WERE RIGHT." Because that's how I roll.