Monday, July 26, 2010

Recipes and Rambling: Poppy Seed Casserole

I know. I know. I already posted this recipe a few weeks ago. However, it was sans pictures and sans rambling and we we can’t have that now, can we?

And since some of you were having a bit of trouble trying to picture what the end result was supposed to look like, I thought it would be helpful if I posted an end result pictures. Right here. Right now. Just for you. Because I’m nice like that.

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This is the casserole my sister, Debbie, made when she and mom were staying with us after my mastectomy. Something about this casserole just tasted so delicious to me when I finally felt like eating again; in fact, I remember feeling distinctly disheartened, deeply distressed, and downright discombobulated when the last of the casserole leftovers disappeared from our fridge.

A post-mastectomy woman who has delved into the depths of discombobulation is not a pretty sight. So. Let’s just move along, shall we?

To make this wonderful casserole, here are the steps . . . from my slightly wacky perspective.

First, cook egg noodles till tender; drain.

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Open cream cheese. Amuse yourself by standing the cream cheese package on its end and arranging the foil so that it looks like one of those high-collared dresses that queens used to wear. Chuckle and pat yourself on your back for your brilliance and witty creativity. (Note: It is probably best to make sure you are alone when you do this so that your family does not think you have suddenly gone bonkers. Giggling over cream cheese dressed like historical queens is not generally regarded as socially acceptable behavior.)

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Step over the dog who believes that it is his duty to find the most inconvenient place in the kitchen to stand. And then stands there. (Please note that he is between me and the stove, in addition to the counter that holds my ingredients.)

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Soften cream cheese a bit (30 seconds) in the microwave. I try to ignore the fact that my microwave hasn’t been cleaned since 1943 and is full of mysterious food stains that will never (ever) come off. Even if I tried really hard to get them off. Which I haven’t. Because I’m lazy like that.

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Measure out a cup of cottage cheese. Random Confession: I do not eat cottage cheese—at all, ever, not to mention never—unless it is in a casserole. Plain cottage cheese? Eaten with a spoon? With nothing to disguise its cottage cheese-ness? Eeck. (I’m only telling you this so that if I ever come to your house for a meal, you will not put cottage cheese on the menu.)

I firmly believe that it’s always more picturesque and eye catching if a little dribble of cottage cheese falls down the side of the cup. And please ignore the fact that I over filled the cup and didn’t level off the cottage cheese the way a good cook is supposed to. Sometimes I just get a little carried away and overdo things just a little teensy tad. (Because I’m bad like that.)

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While the noodles are still hot, mix them with the cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and poppy seeds.

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Your little ol’ casseroled concoction should look like this. Kind of exotic, isn’t it?

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Now this is about what it should like once you’ve gushed it all together. Ain’t it purty? Well, maybe it’s not purty, but it is sort of yummy looking. (If you like like white and speckled globules of noodled food, that is.)

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Step around the dog. Again. Sigh loudly. (Snowy’s main passion in life—the thing that gets him up in the mornings—is that each day holds for him the promise that some small morsel of food might accidentally fall to the kitchen floor, thereby becoming officially and irrefutably his. Standing guard over the floor and all its wondrous possibilities is his primary calling in life.)

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Now. Where was I?

Oh yes. Brown meat (adding pepper and salt and onion if you’d like) and drain. Then add tomato sauce.

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Dig through disorganized cupboard and find Pam. (Do you see that bag of pecans? I always feel extra happy about life when I have a bag of pecans in the cupboard. I just thought you might like to know that.)

And in case you’re wondering why the pen is in the cupboard, it’s because my grocery list is taped to that particular cupboard door and it makes me feel all nicely organized when the pen is right at my fingertips whenever I feel the need to write something on The List. (Don’t you feel better for having learned that?)

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Now. Spray your pan with Pam. Actually, I sprayed the pan at the beginning of the recipe—you can tell ‘cause all the surrounding containers are still full—but you can spray the pan anytime you jolly well please. I will let you be the boss of when you decide to do your Pam pan spaying.

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Spread 3/4 of the noodles and cheese mixture on the bottom of the Pam-sprayed pan. (And if you’re like me and not good at math, then ignore the whole three-fourths bit and just put in “most of a whole lot” of the noodles.) Then add 3/4 of the hamburger mixture, leaving a border.

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Fight with the very real temptation to step ON the dog rather than around him.

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Spread the rest of the noodles (leaving a border) and then finish with the meat on top leaving—you guessed it!—a border.

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I just absolutely adore these borders. They make my heart almost as happy as when I have pecans in my cupboard.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (covered) and then uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Here is the finished product. Is that beautiful, or what?

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When I first posted this recipe, I asked Sarah to make a diagram for me to show how the layers were supposed to look. I think it was a lovely and helpful diagram. (Thanks, Sarah!)

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The best part of this casserole is that it re-heats very well. However, it may be difficult to maintain all the borders once the casserole has already been through one serving. When I reheated it, I just smushed it all together, sprinkled a little shredded cheddar and parsley on top of it and it was still pretty, even though it wasn’t layered.

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But I’m good with that. I’m still happy. I’m able to deal with an occasional spell of non-layeredness in my life--as long as I have pecans in my cupboard.

(The non rambling version.)

Poppy Seed Casserole

10 oz egg noodles (wheat or regular)

1 lb ground hamburger or turkey

15 oz can tomato sauce

1 C cottage cheese

8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/2 C vanilla yogurt

1 T poppy seeds

1. Cook noodles till tender; drain. While they’re hot, toss with cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and poppy seeds.

2. Brown meat—may add salt, pepper, and onion if desired. (To save a little time, you can brown the meat while the noodles are cooking.)

3. Drain meat and stir in tomato sauce.

4. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray and spread 3/4 of noodles and cheese mixture on bottom of pan.

5. Spread 3/4 of meat mixture over that, leaving a 1-inch border.

6. Spread the rest of the noodles, leaving a border.

7. Top with remaining meat, leaving a border.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees covered; uncover and bake 10 minutes more.

This also heats up great as a leftover

9 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

So I must confess......I have stolen your grocerylist-upon-the-cupboard door strategy....and I actually strung a pen on a string on the inside catch....Amazingly I was able to do my shopping in about 1/3 of the time. As a mom to 5 kids, less time in the grocery store means I'm more likely to not need a rubber room, so thanks a million :-)

Bridget from Canada

Melanie said...

That looks really good! I'm going to have to try it.
Enjoyed the entertaining pictures and rambling too. :)
My dog does the same thing. She's a furry cordless vac!

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy! Unfortunately, we don't do much with milk products here anymore thanks to a gluten and dairy free husband. :+(

Hugs!
Connie F-G

Anonymous said...

This looks great and I will certainly try it. I am sorry to hear about your inability to consume cottage cheese unless it is in a casserole. There is nothing better than a fresh picked home grown tomato sliced and served with a dollop of cottage cheese and a little black pepper. (However, on second thought, something better might be a "mater" sandwich. Thanks for the recipe. Anna

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anna...love cottage cheese with tomatoes or peaches...but love a mater sandwich with Dukes mayo, salt and pepper on white bread even better...
Recipe sounds delish! I may just try it, too, when I cook again... :)
Buff

jmckemie said...

Not a huge fan of poppy seeds. Think I will try it without and see how it goes.
Mmmmm...mater sandwich!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky,
Can't wait to try this recipe. I've made your pineapple casserole recipe for several events this spring and summer and everyone RAVES about it. I now take printed copies of the recipe with me to hand out and save time trying to remember! Everyone wants to know who this "Becky Smith" person is!!

If this recipe is half as good, I'm sure it will be a hit. And I love the step-by-step instructions and pictures. You absolutely rock!!! (as my nieces and nephews say!)

Much love from Ohio,
Linda

Ann Martin said...

Don't care for cottage cheese either and I would hate to buy it just for one cup unless I could get just the one cup. Sounds good. Trying to stay away from pasta but I do use wheat noodles so maybe it wouldn't be bad. The scales and I have a battle going now and I'm trying to get it to go back instead of forward. Take care and enjoy!

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