Our Favorite Casserole

I love reading about casseroles that other people make.  Chicken and rice casserole, creamy noodle casseroles…yum.  They all sound so good and are so easy.  The same thing applies to crock-pot recipes.  So easy and very little work.  Well… that is not my reality.  While my husband and I will eat most things, the kids (especially one) are shall we say…texture averse.  I take that back – they like texture.  A nice piece of meat, carrots…firm things – not smothered in any type of sauce unless it is red and has the word barbecue.

A casserole is not that.  I know someday that will change, but it takes time.  I thought I would sing the Hallelujah Chorus when my teenage son asked me if he could taste my salad.  It was a miracle. That was a year ago.  Now he will eat what is essentially a bowl of greens, maybe some onion, maybe some chick peas, with Honey Mustard dressing.  No tomato.  He could eat a whole bowl of salsa by himself, but will not have tomato on his salad. Go figure.

So when I made a casserole last year that I have loved since I was a teen, I fully expected to be rebuffed.  “Yuck, I’m not eating that!”  “What am I having for dinner?”  Yeah, yeah, I know.  You make your kid eat a bite of everything, or all your children have to finish what is on their plates even if they hate it.  Good for you.  I’m very proud of you.  We don’t do that. I do my best to try to get the kids to try new things, etc. but I don’t force them.  I would not want to be forced to eat food I hate, and I won’t do it to them either.  I want our dinner table to be a place of conversation, interest and happiness, not yelling, tears and bad feelings.

OK, so back to The Casserole – Introduction time.  One kid was not thrilled and picked at it.  The other gradually came to see that IT WAS WONDERFUL.  Now they both love it and request it.  I found this recipe in an old cookbook that my mother probably got at a garage sale.  It was the only recipe in the book I thought was interesting when I found it as a teenager.  It is called Martha’s Company Casserole.  Who is Martha?  I have no idea.  This book was written way before Martha Stewart.  Whoever she was, she was having company and it was good.  Enjoy!

Martha’s Company Casserole 
8oz Elbow Macaroni
3 T Margarine divided (2T melted, 1T unmelted)
1 pound ground chuck
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup cottage cheese

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup snipped scallions
1 T minced green pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook noodles as directed on package and drain.
  • While noodles are cooking, saute’ the ground chuck with the 1 tablespoon of unmelted butter.  Saute’ until brown.  DO NOT DRAIN the fat.  Don’t be disgusted, just go with it.  If you drain it, it will be dry. (trust me)
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and remove from the heat.
  • Combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, scallions and green pepper.
  • Grease a large casserole dish.
  • Spread half of the noodles on the bottom of the dish.
  • Cover with the cheese mixture.
  • Put the rest of the noodles on top of the cheese mixture, distributing them evenly.
  • Pour the 2T of melted margarine on top.
  • Pour the meat mixture on top.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit 10 minutes.

Now, as you have guessed, this is not a low-fat meal.  I do happen to use low fat sour cream and reduced fat cream cheese.  This is what I have in my fridge so that is what I use and it works fine.  This dish tastes even better the next day.  The picture above does not really do it justice – it is the taste that counts.  I usually serve it with a salad or fruit.  Please try it and let me know what you think.

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