Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole (aka Cookout Casserole)

Baked Beans. Burgers. Typical cookout staples, right? Once upon a time, I never had any idea that they could be improved upon. Then a little fairy Godmother served these at a get together on a silver platter. Ah-mazing! I savored every bite. It was an intense, but brief affair. The clock struck 12, and just like that they were gone. The magic faded, but even after the party I couldn’t forget about them. It took some tracking down, but I found the maker of the magical beans, and there was no going back. This became a dinner, and cookout staple. Obviously, our family lived happily ever after in the kingdom of Beef & Beans.

Debut this cookout season in style. Be the belle of the ball by bringing these babies.

P.S. I’ve gotta tell ya, that these are great slathered on a hamburger bun too!

Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole (aka Cookout Casserole)

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped, about 2 cups
1 pound ground beef
2 15-ounce cans Boston-style baked beans
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
6 slices of your favorite bacon

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the beef; cook about 10 minutes or until brown, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks.
3. In a large bowl, combine the beef mixture with the remaining ingredients except the bacon; mix well. Pour beef mixture into the prepared casserole; arrange the bacon slices on top. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake about 45 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Uncover dish and preheat broiler. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bacon is nice and crisp.

Buffalo Mac N Cheese

Another Lenten Friday came and went, and I came up with another meatless meal for everyone to enjoy. I may have to lose the meat for a few weeks, but I’m not giving up anything in flavor.  This flavorful twist on a classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crunchy panko topping, definitely delivered.

Buffalo Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Buffalo Mac N Cheese

recipe originally from Creatively Domestic

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
salt, for pasta water
16 oz (1 pound) small pasta, elbows or shells
3/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half and half (or milk)
16 oz (1 pound) sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)

4 Sons 'R' Us: buffalo mac n cheese

Come to Mama.

Are you sitting down?

Because you’ll want to grab a spoon and consume this entire casserole dish. BY YOURSELF.

Not in the neighborhood for a meatless meal? No worries. This recipe can still be your friend. Add in some cooked, shredded or chopped chicken, and carry on.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a large casserole dish (9×13 is recommended).
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente or the shortest amount of cooking time on the box or less.  Drain.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half, and the hot sauce.  Stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the cheeses and whisk in the sour cream.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.
4. Spread macaroni in the baking dish.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.
5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Stir in the panko and the blue cheese if using.  Sprinkle over top of macaroni.  Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole–Served Hot or Cold!

Every now and then I’m looking for a change from our typical chicken or beef-based meals. A lot of times I will just go meatless, but last week I was still craving something meaty. This hot tuna noodle casserole hit the spot at dinner time. Everyone liked it so much that we made it again, over the weekend, as a cold pasta salad for lunch.

I know everyone has their brands they prefer and remain loyal too, but tuna is one of those things where I will pay for quality. This meal deserves a quality tuna. I go with Costco’s solid white albacore. Less fishy flavor, more actual tuna meat, no oil or grease, and I haven’t come across a bone yet.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

recipe adapted from Sugar Dish Me

12 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
12 ounces canned tuna, drained and flaked (tuna packed in water works best)
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
salt & black pepper to taste
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (use your favorite! I go with a sharp low fat white Cheddar)
2 teaspoons spicy mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, onion, celery, peas, and tuna. Squeeze the lemon juice over the contents of the bowl (being careful not to drop seeds in). Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, to taste.
2. In a smaller bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, Cheddar cheese, spicy mustard, red wine vinegar, parsley, and lemon pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta/tuna mixture in the larger bowl and stir or toss to coat.
3. If you are serving this casserole cold, empty the contents into your serving dish, sprinkle the top with the Panko breadcrumbs, and refrigerate for at least an hour (to let the flavors meld).
4. If you are serving this hot, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Spread the noodle mixture evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle the Panko bread crumbs over the top. You can also sprinkle with a little extra cheese if you like.
5. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just until it’s heated through and the sauce begins to bubble a little.

{One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

I love a one pot meal. This recipe is so easy, quick to prepare, and the same great cheeseburger flavors we crave. I can’t stress this enough… it did in fact taste just like a cheeseburger! Less mess, less clean-up, but some very satisfied customers. Sprinkling on some of our favorite traditional cheeseburger toppings rounded out the truly authentic taste. While the rest of us opted for tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and pickles, I did have to draw the line for the oldest son at mayonnaise. What is it about teenage boys and mayonnaise? He puts it on everything. Eventually I caved at steak sauce, as long as it remained only on his plate. But, I digress. This meal really is outstanding. Shake things up, and step outside of the box, the next night you’re craving burgers by giving this a try!

{One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

recipe adapted from Number 2 Pencil

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lb rotini pasta
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • freshly diced tomato
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • pickles
  • shredded lettuce

Directions

  1. In a dutch oven, or large pot, add olive oil. Over medium heat, saute onions until softened.
  2. Increase heat to high and add ground beef. Brown ground beef. Drain.
  3. Return beef to pot and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add canned tomatoes, sauce, broth, water, pasta, ketchup, and mustard to the pot. Stir to evenly combine.
  5. Bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, remove the pot from heat and stir in one cup of cheddar cheese.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over top the pasta and re-cover with lid until the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve. Add your choice of the traditional cheeseburger toppings to your serving and enjoy.

Lazy Day Casserole

This week has just been plain crazy. The hubs got sick, was in and out of the ER for two days, and is now scheduled for a procedure tomorrow that will leave him incapacitated the rest of the week. In between all the traveling, arranging emergency babysitters, making appointments, filling prescriptions (you get the idea) I’ve still had work to do, and a household to run and feed.

While it does take some time to cook, this wonderful, one-dish recipe is perfect for nights like I’ve had this week. This hearty meal filled the sons up and, without a lot of prep or real work involved on my part, I was able to get laundry done, and everything in order that I had neglected earlier in the day while it cooked.

I don’t think before this week, I had ever really taken time to appreciate the beauty of throwing all of these ingredients into a pan, popping it in the oven, and basically having time to do whatever else I needed to get done, be it chores, read a book, return phone calls. Whatever. And have a healthy, piping hot dinner ready in a little over an hour later. It’s impossible to be in two places at once, and after the start to this week, I just wasn’t capable of any ‘exceeds expectations’ multi-tasking.

While I wasn’t able to have a ‘lazy day’ this week, this recipe was the perfect solution for my dinner-time dilemma. And on those days where I am just being lazy (Shhh! Don’t tell the hubs. He thinks I slave away perfecting gourmet meals all day, everyday) this meal gets my ‘meat & potato’ loving mens’ mouths watering!

So whether you’re trying to throw something together that doesn’t require constant vigilance and hours of actual preparation, or if you’re just trying to enjoy an evening without any extra ‘work’ for Mom, this recipe will make your day.

Lazy Day Casserole

4 Sons 'R' Us: Lazy Day Casserole

Recipe adapted from Kayotic Kitchen

  • 5 -6 Italian Sausages
  • 1 lb potatoes, washed, peeled, and cubed
  • 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced (optional)
  •  1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Put all the prepared vegetables into a large roasting pan, or a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. In a bowl combine the garlic, oil, herbs, broth, and vinegar.
  3. Pour the mixture evenly over the vegetables and season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.
  5. Lightly brown the sausages and cut them in half.
  6. After 45 minutes add the sausages to the dish and spoon some of the juices back over the vegetables and the sausage.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 25 minutes, flipping the sausages after 15 minutes and placing back in the oven for the final 10 minutes. 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Lazy Day Casserole

 

Oh, and please excuse my dirty burners! I’ve been putting their much needed scouring on the back-burner, pun intended. Now that you’re aware of their sad state, I will make sure I move them up on the to-do list!