beef and noodle dish

A beef noodle casserole can be made with egg noodles or a variety of other pastas, including elbow macaroni, as seen here. 

Like many of my generation, I have a love/hate relationship with modern technology — just ask any of the IT guys at The Berkshire Eagle who bailed me out so many times, demanding “What did you do?”

It took me years to figure out they weren’t being jerks and blaming me — they literally wanted to know what I had been doing on the computer when it crashed or got hung up. They also had to realize I was old enough to remember black-and-white TVs with rabbit ear antennas — some wrapped in aluminum foil — that only received three channels, and phones with rotary dials. Sigh. I sometimes long for those days …

One big plus these days is the ability to Facetime with my grandson, now 14 months old and still 150 miles away. I can’t imagine being a long-distance Grammie in those days of yore. Guy and I have dinner together several times a week, followed by his tubby time. It’s not as good as being there in person, but those kisses he plants on the cellphone screen for me are priceless.

Things have changed so much since his father was little. The cupboards were stacked with small glass jars of baby food. Now, babies are given table food right from the get-go. Guy started with fruits — berries and watermelon are his favs — and then vegetables and meat. Tonight as we talked, he was chomping on tortellini and sausage. His dad used to eat everything until he was 2, then his teeth clamped shut and only chicken nuggets were allowed past.

I’d like to say he ate better as he grew older. But he didn’t, other than to move on to Hot Pockets and Hamburger Helper. Now, I like “junk food” as much as anyone, but enough was enough. In self-defense, I made a homemade version of the boxed hamburger mix — at least I could control the ingredients.

Now that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler, I find myself craving comfort food — hearty stews, chili, soups and, oddly enough, my homemade hamburger dish. Unfortunately, I lost the original recipe in a house fire in 2009 and I can’t remember all that was in it. I surfed the internet and discovered a recipe that’s pretty darn close. I’m pretty sure mine didn’t have sour cream and cream or grainy mustard — and to be honest, I probably won’t add them when I make it again. I also know I didn’t use chives, I had to grate onions to hide them from my picky eater son!

BEEF NOODLE CASSEROLE

(Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman”)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground chuck

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

12 ounces egg noodles

2 1/2 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

A few dashes Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground chuck and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the meat, crumbling as you go until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add the noodles, broth, 1 cup hot water, mustard, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. Give a big stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow everything to simmer, stirring occasionally and adding up to 1/2 cup more water if necessary, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened, about 12 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and heavy cream and cook for 1 additional minute or until the pasta is tender.

Remove from the heat. Sprinkle over the chives and serve directly from the pan.