Tuesday, March 29

Firewood and Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Last Friday was one of those chilly, cloudy days that feel more like December than late March. I don't know about you, but those days always inspire me to put something in the oven, something nice and warm and filling to come to come in from the cold and enjoy. Those days also inspire Scott and I to cut more firewood to keep our little house nice and toasty.

There had been a stack of 2x2s and 2x4s in Scott's truck for a few days, which he'd brought home from work after a load of steel was delivered. Cut into thirds, they make great kindling, and we were all out, and Scott was out of his trusty lighter fluid to get the bigger chunks going, so we tackled the task of cutting them up and refilling our front porch.

Only this time, instead of using our circular saw to cut them one by one, Scott tried a new strategy, bundling them together then cutting them with the chain saw, and it worked well and went a lot faster carrying them to the porch when two-thirds of every bundle could be carried to the porch in smaller bundles with the ropes still on. My job was to pick up and stack all the loose ones.

Scott started on them while I was getting dinner put in the oven to bake, and what I made was Sour Cream Noodle Bake, from PW's website last week or so.

It started out with a package of ground beef. I love recipes that start out with ground beef, because of our neverending supply. It's cheap - as in Bob resupplies us from Association beef - and can be made into so many variations.

This was a recipe made from ingredients out of my pantry and freezer, so I did adapt it a little from PW's original, to suit the ingredients I had on hand, but I did happen to have these two cans of tomato sauce available.

I started by browning the ground beef on the stovetop.

Then added the tomato sauce. If I did it again, I'd season the ground beef as it was browning. I always forget, and always wish I had when I taste the final product.

Boil some water for some noodles.

Then add them to the pot. PW called for egg noodles, but I've had a box of whole wheat rotini in my cupboard for quite some time, so I used it in the recipe.

For the sauce to hold it all together, of course there had to be some sour cream.

And there was some cottage cheese. I always use lowfat dairy products instead of fat free - they cut the calories, while still having a somewhat normal texture and taste to them.

I think the recipe called for green onions, but I didn't have any so I just put in some yellow onion.

So you mix the dairy products, onions and seasoning all together, and it was actually quite good on its own. :-)

And this little 'pasta salad' mixture also tasted quite good on its own. :-)

I used my trusty Martha Stewart cast iron baking dish. After I've used it for a few months now, now I kind of wish I also had a smaller one for when I make recipes for just Scott and I. Sometimes the single batches kind of get lost in its large size. But, I guess soon enough I'll consistently make more family-sized recipes, instead of just meals for two.

With the pasta mixture on the bottom, layer some ground beef on top, top with cheese, then repeat the three layers again.

It's always better to grate your own cheese. It's so much more fresh and soft and flavorful and not dried out. And always grate a little extra. Extra cheese is never a bad thing.

I added a little sprinkle of parsley to the top of the whole thing, just to pretty it up a little bit. Then it went in the oven, and I went outside to stack wood.

When we were all done and came in the house, this is what we enjoyed for dinner, along with buttered and garlic-ed French bread I'd also stuck in the oven, wrapped in foil. And this kind of thing makes for great leftovers!


  1. I made that PW recipe last week. Dad loved it! :)

  2. i've had this recipe for awhile now. very yummy.