Some men spoil the women in their lives with jewelry, others with shoes and clothes. Mine spoils me with kitchen toys, though he swears he’s the spoiled one. Hey, if he’s going to buy me a spring form pan, the least I can do is make him a cheesecake from time to time. Soup kettles require chili nights. Cast iron skillet? You know he’s getting cornbread with that chili. His most recent bestowing of affection is a Dutch oven, beautiful, with red porcelain enamel to match everything else in our kitchen.
To initiate this beauty into our culinary arsenal, I turned to the woman who could best give me a fitting first meal for this pot – The Pioneer Woman herself. Ree Drummond is my favorite person on the Food Network. She makes hearty, down home food, that no matter if it’s Chicken Parmesan, Indian Tacos, or steak and potatoes, it comes to me as comfort food, and always best when eaten with family and friends. I can’t wait to try her cowboy baked beans, but I’ll need a crowd for which to make them. No couple alone needs that many quarts of baked beans. Ever.
So, I was watching the Pioneer Woman one afternoon, and she made this dinner that I just had to make for myself (and my husband.) The episode was about making meals to freeze and eat later, but patience is not my virtue. Now, in the episode, she layered the meat mixture and the noodle mixture into a aluminum 9×13″ and froze it, to pull out later and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. In my case, as many of you know I don’t like baking something that’s already cooked through, for stove top purposes I did it just a little differently. My husband loved this. As he put it, “This is what hamburger helper wishes it could be.”
Sour Cream Noodle Bake (from The Pioneer Woman)
- 1 1/4 lb. Ground beef
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- pepper to taste
- 8 oz. egg noodles
- 1/2 C sour cream
- 1 1/4C cottage cheese
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 1/2 C chopped green onions
- 1 C shredded cheddar cheese
Put on a pot of water and bring to a boil. In your dutch oven, brown the ground beef and drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Let simmer while you cook the pasta in the pot of water to al dente.
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, cottage cheese, black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste, as well as the green onions and the al dente egg noodles. Combine thoroughly.
If you want to make it as a casserole, preheat your oven to 350. In a 9×13 spread half the beef mixture, then half the noodle mixture, and half cup shredded cheese. Repeat layers, and bake for 20 minutes.
For those who want to keep it on the stove, add the noodle-cottage cheese mixture to the dutch oven, and stir in all the shredded cheddar. When everything has warmed through and the cheddar has melted, serve with crusty bread.
For my next meal, I played a bit of dutch oven roulette, and what came out seems to me a bit like vegetarian johnny marzetti. Others would think of it as a pseudo-lasagna, but you all know how I feel about making lasagna – not my favorite thing in the world. this has many of the same elements, the tomato sauce, the veggies, the noodles, even some cheese, but there’s no layers and no extra baking. You really could put any vegetables you wanted in this, I just used what I had on hand. Feel free to play around with this.
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 Can diced tomatoes
- 1 jar marinara sauce of choice
- 1/2 lb. ditalini, or other small pasta
- 1/2 C shredded mozzarella, optional
In a dutch oven, melt the butter into the olive oil, then add carrots, cook until they begin to soften. Add onion, garlic, and zucchini. Let cook 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add the tomatoes and marinara, let simmer.
Cook the pasta according to its package. drain, and add to the dutch oven. If desired, stir in shredded mozzarella. Top with Pamesan, if desired.
Tip of the week: to help store-bought herbs last longer, wrap them in a wet paper towel and refrigerate in a freezer bag. On a similar note, herb plants are often about the same price as a bunch of what you’re after.