Cheeseburger Casserole

This is, in my opinion, kind of the ultimate Sconnie Sustenance recipe because it is so unglamorous and unpretentious. It’s fast, easy, delicious, and moderately healthy. We’ve all eaten variations of it as kids. This is easily my favorite quick go-to beef recipe.

photo(1)Cheeseburger Casserole

(adapted from Bakerette)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (ideally rotini, but other shapes will work too)
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×9 casserole dish with cooking spray.

Boil the pasta over medium high heat until al dente; set aside.

In a large skillet, pour the canola oil and saute the onions and garlic until soft.  Stir in the ground beef and cook until brown all the way through. If there is fat remaining, drain it. Add the seasoned salt, ketchup, diced tomatoes, and mustard, mixing well. Simmer for a few minutes as it comes together. Add cooked pasta and combine.

Pour the whole thing into your prepared casserole dish and spread around evenly. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Remove and top with pickles, if you’re into that kind of thing, which I am not.

Notes

It’s basically a cheeseburger without the carbs, right? And extremely idiot-proof. And done under 30 minutes, easy. You’re welcome.

The original recipe calls for 1.5 cups of diced onions, which I find excessive. It also calls for “4-5 large Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced”. Seriously? Just use a can of diced tomatoes! So much less work! To me that just makes sense, but I also use frozen diced onions rather than chopping my own fresh, so that’s where I’m coming from. Less work wins, particularly when you can’t really notice a difference between the finished product of the easy way and the hard way.

Is it REALLY healthy? I mean, it’s not a bowl of quinoa, but I don’t think there’s much to feel bad about here if you use lean ground beef and low-fat shredded cheese – you can also use whole wheat pasta if you really want, but let’s not go crazy.

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I’m baaaack! With beef stew.

So I got married, I went to India, got married again…it was all fantastic. Then I went back to normal life. And now finally, three months later, I’m back to the blog.

Everybody loves a good beef stew in cold weather. I can’t really imagine eating it in July, but come October and onward, it’s damn near the most comforting dinner you can have. And EASY. We love good and easy at Chez Sconniemolly.

Because everybody loves a good beef stew, most of you probably already have a recipe that you use every time and love. That’s cool. I actually didn’t, until I came across this one. So I decided to post it in case there are others like me out there searching for a quality stew recipe. I don’t have a picture unfortunately, but I’m pretty sure we all know what beef stew looks like.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

(adapted from Amy Bites)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs stew beef
  • 1.5 cups thickly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 6-8 small potatoes, quartered
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or water
  • 1 cup frozen peas or green beans (whichever you like)
  • S&P to taste

Directions

You CAN dredge the beef in flour and brown it on the stove before dumping it in the slow cooker, but I am lazy and I did not do that, and I feel my beef turned out deliciously. So-

Dump the first 9 ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 8 hours (on LOW) or 4-6 hours (on HIGH).

Ten minutes before serving, add in the peas or green beans. Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. Done.

Notes

Another dump-it-all-in-and-forget-about-it recipe…love! I made the mistake of including my green beans with the whole stew as it cooked for 4 hours on HIGH…they turned out pretty limp and unpleasant sadly. But not enough that it ruined everything because after all, the beef and potatoes are the stars here, and they were tender and lovely.

Enjoy!

Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

I know…it’s been a million years. Get used to it. Two and a half weeks from the wedding, I’m surprised I’m posting at all! But, busy though we are, we still gotta eat…and I can only do so much wedding work before I HAVE to do something else for awhile. I actually made this recipe several nights ago and am just getting around to posting it now. It’s a different way to do mac and cheese than anything I’ve tried in the past…for starters, there’s NO butter! Weird, right? But it still turns out tasty.

veggie mac n cheese

Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

(adapted from The Comfort of Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup small broccoli florets
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 10 baby carrots, diced
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (elbows, penne, rotini)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 to 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs (I just had regular, which was fine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil a pot of salted water and cook pasta according to package directions.

Arrange a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking tray and coat with cooking spray. Toss your chopped vegetables with a little bit of olive oil (this isn’t the 1/4 cup, that comes in a bit) and salt and pepper. Pour onto the baking sheet in a single layer and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat the 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until softened. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute; then whisk in the milk slowly as it starts to thicken. (Start out with 3 tbsp of flour and add another tbsp if the sauce doesn’t become thick enough.) Remove skillet from heat and add shredded cheese, stirring until melted into the sauce. Add cooked pasta, the roasted vegetables, and crushed red pepper; toss it all together really well.

Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Put the dish in the oven for just a few minutes until the breadcrumbs have started to brown.

Notes

Yummy, huh? V liked this a lot, which I didn’t really expect. The sauce was perfectly cheesy, but not in a super processed-cheesy way like the blue Kraft box (which I still love, by the way, always will, don’t care).

You may or may not hear from me again until after the wedding, after India…somehow I suspect you’ll manage. Happy summer!

Foolproof Chickpea Curry

I made this recipe today for two of my bridesmaids before heading out to do some wedding shoes/centerpieces/jewelry shopping. (Which was very successful! Although took almost 4 hours – these girls have the patience of saints.) Maid of honor is vegetarian and was coming straight from work, so I knew I needed to feed her well. I’m always looking for more vegetarian recipes for my repertoire, especially ones that are not pasta-based, since I eat so much of that already. Enter: chickpea curry.

chickpea curry

Chickpea Curry

(adapted from The Sweets Life)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 14.5 oz cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • approximately 5-6 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4  cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions

Pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat; after it warms, add in all the diced onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until clear-ish. Sprinkle garam masala over onions and stir well to coat evenly. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach. Stir until spinach wilts.

Remove from heat and mix in Greek yogurt along with salt. Add fresh cilantro and serve over hot cooked rice.

Notes

Easy as that! Probably one of the fastest, least-fussy curries I have ever made. I kind of wished I’d made naan to go with it instead of rice though. I also completely forgot the cilantro! I just have dried cilantro around, but next time I will be sure not to forget that step. Sometimes I feel kind of iffy on Greek yogurt, but it is PERFECT here; adds just the right amount of creaminess to every bite. Mmmm. Try this one and let me know how you like it!

P.S. Allow me to emphasize – as with every other Indian dish I’ve posted, this is NOT spicy. You can add chilies or whatever to make it spicy if you want to, but as written, it’s safe for literally every palate.

Tuscan Sausage Soup

We’re having sort of a rough time of it, food-wise, in our household lately. Both V and I are attempting to diet, and for him, this means eating a lot of protein. (I haven’t really determined yet what it means for me – apparently so far, not much.) We all know I cook a lot of pasta, which has dubious nutritional value…but I also cook a lot of spinach, which has good protein…I’m just starting to run out of ideas because I have a certain comfort zone when it comes to cooking. HELP! This isn’t good!

I found this one on Foodgawker awhile ago and for some reason had never made it, even though it incorporates several of my favorite things. It seemed like a good choice for tonight, and it was – very hearty and very satisfying. I believe V found it to be sufficiently protein-rich.

tuscan sausage soup

don’t mind the weird spinach stem sticking out.

Tuscan Sausage Soup

(adapted from Dainty Chef)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • about 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can cannellini or navy beans
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 lb small pasta such as elbows or shells
  • 3 or 4 oz baby spinach
  • grated Parmesan

Directions

Cut up the Italian sausage into slices about a half-inch thick. Put a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a deep, large pan and add the sausage slices. After letting it brown for a few minutes, add your chopped onion, carrots, and minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, beans, basil, Italian seasoning, and pasta; bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente-ish. Add in the baby spinach and stir around until it wilts. Serve with however much parmesan your little heart desires.

Notes

I love how simple this recipe is, and I love that it’s another one where the pasta cooks in the same pot as everything else so I’m only getting one pan dirty. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna has always intimidated the crap out of me. So many steps! So much patience required! Consequently, for a very long time now I have put off making it, despite having more than one serviceable recipe at my disposal. But tonight I did it. It definitely did not turn out perfectly, but it does taste really good and that’s what counts. I’ve never placed a lot of importance on the appearance/attractiveness of food. What’s the point? I’m eating it, not gazing at it framed in a museum.

Case in point.

Case in point.

Spinach Lasagna

(adapted from Easy Lasagna Recipes, via Pinterest)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (or if you’re feeling really hedonistic, whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach (thawed, obviously)
  • 4 1/2 cups chunky tomato/marinara type of sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Gouda or Swiss cheese (slices may be used – I did)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Spread about 1 cup of the tomato/marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place uncooked lasagna noodles in a row across the pan. Combine ricotta and parmesan together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper as you like, and then spread about 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Top the cheese with the thawed chopped spinach and spread around liberally. Repeat the process until you run out of lasagna noodles. There should be a row of lasagna noodles on top when you run out, but I didn’t manage that for some reason, and in my opinion it’s not that crucial.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. When the time is up, take the pan out and add your grated or sliced Gouda or Swiss. (I cannot STAND Swiss cheese so the Gouda was a no-brainer for me.) Put back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown on top.

Notes

Lots to say here. The lasagna noodles I had (Market Pantry brand from Target, whoohoo!) were about an inch too long to fit neatly in my pan so I kept having to break them and trying to keep them somewhat uniform. Obnoxious.

More bothersome – I really don’t know why this recipe calls for frozen chopped spinach. Just convenience I guess? Frozen chopped spinach is pretty bland and unappetizing, if you ask me, and I think fresh spinach would have greatly improved this dish, even though it was still very yummy as written.

The choice between Gouda and Swiss is strange to me also; both seem too sharp to really go with the creamy goodness that is ricotta. The Gouda slices on top were okay, but it was kind of an odd combination for me. I’m not sure what I’d substitute. Whatever it would be, I would probably use the grated or shredded varieties instead of slices, just as a reluctant nod to the dish’s final aesthetics…

Anyway, despite its flaws, I really liked this lasagna and I will definitely be making it again, with the aforementioned tweaks. If you try it, let me know how it goes for you!

Sausage, Vegetables & Roasted Potatoes

Another sausage and vegetables recipe, this time with potatoes instead of pasta. Not sure if you’ve noticed yet, but I am a big fan of Italian sausage. Usually it’s Klement’s – gotta keep it Sconnie, obviously – but sadly Woodman’s was out of Klement’s so today it’s Hillshire Farm Gourmet. Also very good. Also, as it happens, this is another one-pot meal! Hallelujah praise Jesus.

summer vegetables with sausage and potatoes

Sausage, Vegetables & Roasted Potatoes

(adapted from Skinny Taste)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over low heat and add the quartered red potatoes. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper; place a tight-fitting lid over the skillet and cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, do all that laborious veggie-chopping and sausage-chopping.

Once the 25 minutes is up, remove the potatoes to a plate and set aside. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until slightly browned; add peppers, onions, and zucchini and cook until softened. Put the potatoes back in and mix it all well. Add more seasoning if you’d like; cover the skillet and cook for 5 more minutes before serving.

Notes

You don’t have to use red potatoes, if you have regular ones on-hand. Nor do you have to use each entire bell pepper; it is a LOT of veggies once all is said and done. But that’s what makes it healthy! Enjoy!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Three posts in four days?!? Man oh man. I guess I’m taking to this blogging thing more than I thought I would – plus, it motivates me to actually cook stuff. Today we have another rather non-glamorous dinner, but it felt right for today, after eating a heavy Easter lunch at my grandma’s…although, truth be told, this soup is somewhat on the rich side, rather heavy on the butter and cheese. No surprise I like it so much.

This is actually also another slow cooker meal. I feel like I use crockpots in a different manner than most people – it’s supposed to be a convenience, a “throw it all in in the morning and come home to dinner all ready” but as I’ve mentioned, I don’t pull that off too often. Apparently I use it more on the weekends. Anyhoo…let’s get to it.

tbps

This soup doesn’t photograph well…sorry.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

(adapted from PinFoody)

Ingredients

  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 32 oz box vegetable broth
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups half-and-half, room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add first 8 ingredients (through the bay leaf) to the crockpot and stir well. Cook on LOW for 5-7 hours.

About 45 minutes before you want to serve, prepare what the fancy folks call a “roux”: melt the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add flour and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes. Pour a cup of the hot soup into the skillet and mix; add three more cups and stir. Pour it all back into the crockpot and add parmesan cheese and warmed half-and-half. Stir everything well; you might need to add more seasoning since the soup has been cooking for so long.

Cook it for another 30 minutes on low. Serve with a baguette warm from the oven. This soup is freaking fantastic for bread-dipping.

Notes

I personally feel the baguette/other similar bread is a crucial accompaniment. That’s really about it!

Minestrone Soup

V and I are watching “Chopped” on the Food Network. We’ve literally never watched anything on the Food Network before, but whaddaya know, it’s really enjoyable! And…stressful! You wouldn’t think it’d be that interesting or that dramatic, but it totally is, and they’re using all these crazy ingredients I’ve never heard of. Mamey? (apparently a fruit) Duck tongue? Okay I know what duck tongue IS, but…

Anyway – not relevant. We are a little more humble here at Sconnie Sustenance. Minestrone is pretty damn humble and is insanely easy to make. It’s kind of my go-to dinner when I a) don’t have a lot of food in the house, b) don’t want meat and c) want something healthy. Fortunately, these are all ingredients I pretty much always have on hand.

minestrone

Minestrone Soup

(adapted from Cookie Monster Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 32 oz box of vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you don’t care about keeping it vegetarian)
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into quarters
  • 1/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup dried elbow macaroni (or shells, or something similar)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • as much grated parmesan cheese as you please

Directions

Heat the oil in a large deep pot. While it warms, chop up your onion and then add to the pan, along with the garlic. Swirl it around so as not to burn.

Pour in the box of vegetable broth and can of diced tomatoes. Add diced carrots, sliced zucchini, and chopped celery as well as the basil, oregano and sugar. Put the lid halfway on the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes is up, add the elbow macaroni and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Finally, add in your drained and rinsed black beans and salt and pepper. Stir it up good and pour into bowls. Now, this next part is my personal favorite: shake as much parmesan cheese as you want over that bowl. It probably goes without saying that I prefer a heavy hand with the parm. It’s all the better if you buy a quality bag of grated parmesan.

Notes

The original recipe also called for 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. The first time I made the recipe, I followed those directions and did not care for the taste the balsamic vinegar imparted on the soup. Too tart. I really don’t recommend using it.

Also, the original recipe did not include any celery, I just added that because I had some I needed to use up. And it called for 5 cups (40 oz) of vegetable broth, but the package of broth boxes that I get from Costco come in 32 oz containers, and 32 oz has worked just fine for me thus far.

Try it and let me know how you like it!

Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake

My source for this recipe claims that it’s a great “pre-marathon meal”. I really can’t speak to that…I can just tell you that this is yummy. This is exactly what I mean when I say “classy comfort food”. There’s nothing sexy or sophisticated about chicken and spinach pasta bake, but it hits the spot.

chicken spinach pasta bake

Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake

(adapted from Bitchin Camero)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb small pasta (shells, elbows, rotini)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a large saucepan of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions, or slightly less. Drain and set aside. While the pasta cooks, you can chop up the spinach.

Dice up your chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Pour olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken for 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and stir for a few minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Add salt, spinach, and white wine to the skillet and stir for 3-5 more minutes or until the spinach begins to wilt. Pour your drained pasta into the skillet and mix well to combine everything. Now pour it all into a medium-sized casserole dish or a 9×9 pan*. (The one I used was kind of a weird size, about 10×10, but worked okay for this recipe.) Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for about 25 minutes, give or take.

Notes

*The casserole dish. I halved this recipe from what it was originally because it called for four chicken breasts and I only had two. If you used the original amounts, a 9×13 pan would probably work just fine. The only ingredient I didn’t halve was the mozzarella cheese…because I love melty mozzarella cheese…and I felt 2 cups was just right, regardless 🙂

Enjoy!