"Yum!" I thought... "Oh, except I hate sour cream. And I hate cottage cheese. But yum, egg noodles and meat in tomato sauce and cheese."
These, I've come to realize, are the burgeoning thoughts of a recipe about to be altered. So prepare yourself to witness some transformation.
I made that all dramatic sounding but, really, all I've done is swap similar items for the ones I don't like. Is that how all recipe altering goes? Am I, like, dozens and dozens of years late to this party?
Well, perhaps. But let's put on our party hats and get swapping.
Things PW used in her recipe that I do not like to eat:
canned tomato sauce (okay, I don't mind this, but the hubby's homemade marinara blows it away)
sour cream --> Philly Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme
cottage cheese --> ricotta
canned tomato sauce --> IMs to the hubby requesting he make marinara
Here's the funny part: I also hate cream cheese. However, I don't mind it in moderation in cooking (and especially not in baking) and since these cooking creme products seem to be on the savory side, I figured it might work out really well.
And it did. The cream cheese added a really interesting tang to the finished product. Nate gobbled up his part and the hubby had seconds, so I'm calling this dish a success. (I just had some leftovers for lunch and it was just as delicious reheated in the microwave.) As we were eating it, we realized it reminded us of Hamburger Helper, hence the "Momburger Helper." Any time I can find a way to make something that replaces a packaged food, I'm very happy. And I think this was much tastier, as well. It also makes a decent sized portion, so if it's just two of you and a little one, you're not stuck eating it for the next eight days. You have enough for two nights of dinner and a lunch.
Cheesy Noodle Bake
1lb ground beef
14oz marinara sauce
8-10oz wide egg noodles
1/2 cup Philly Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme
1 1/4 cup ricotta
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Or, if you're me, don't do this until you're ready to layer the casserole and go, "Crap, I never turned on the oven.")
Make marinara sauce and let it simmer for a while so all the flavors meld. (One of these days I'll get around to writing out how we make sauce.) Alternately, you can go to your cabinet and take out a can of tomato sauce.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain fat, then add marinara/tomato sauce. Add salt and black pepper to taste. I used about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper but I would have used more (and some Italian seasoning) if the marinara wasn't as well seasoned as it was. Stir, then let simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and return to cooking pot.
While the noodles are cooking, combine the cooking creme and the ricotta in a medium bowl. Stir well and add black pepper to taste (maybe less than 1/4 tsp this time). Pour the cheese mixture into the pot holding the cooked egg noodles and stir gently until completely combined. (PW added green onions here, but I didn't because I didn't have any and didn't feel like buying them.)
In a 2 quart baking dish (so, smaller than your traditional 3 qt. 9x13 dish), place half of the noodles on the bottom of the dish. Top with half of the meat mixture and then sprinkle on half of the grated cheddar. Repeat the process (noodles, meat, cheese). Bake for about 15 minutes - enough so everything is heated through and all the cheese is melted but the noodles aren't crispy.