Noodle bake

Cheesy Noodle Bake is perfect for cold winter nights.

Last week, I reached a new level of quarantine boredom and decided to go through my old recipe book and clean it up a bit to make room for the growing stack of magazine clippings that were eating up precious counter-top real estate in my kitchen. 

It was like a strange amble down my culinary memory lane — I found a sweet index card with my late grandmother's writing for her apple crisp; cookie recipes from swaps pre-pandemic (remember when you didn't think twice about crowding around a tray of sweets stuffing your face?); and plenty of casseroles with cream-of-something bases that fueled most dinners in the early years of my marriage.

My husband loves a casserole, almost as much as he loves the curly-haired lady who makes them for him. But the last few years as my cholesterol rose alongside his adorable waistline, I decided to scale back.

But, if there's ever a time to revisit the comfort of a oozy, gooey casserole it's right now, folks. It's like a hug in the form of food — a safe hug that doesn't require hand sanitizing afterward. 

In my old recipe clippings, I found one from a Taste of Home magazine (always a good spot to find a casserole worthy of being passed down generations, in my opinion) for a four-serving Hamburger Noodle Bake. This thing has it all: cream cheese, cottage cheese, egg noodles, sour cream and spoonfuls of comfort in every bite. 

It's similar to one I used to make as a freezer meal from the Pioneer Woman, but is halved so you aren't stuck with leftovers for days. I made a few adjustments to make myself feel a tiny bit better about all that dairy, like subbing ground turkey for beef and adding some wilted spinach to the sauce. What little leftovers we had reheated beautifully for lunch the next day. A word of caution for parents: my tiny 5-year-old Gordon Ramsay wasn't a fan of the sliced green onions. While I loved the flavor kick it gave this mellow casserole, you may want to omit for a more peaceful dinner experience. 

NOODLE BAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked egg noodles

1/2 lb ground turkey (or beef)

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

One 16-ounce can tomato sauce

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic salt

pepper to taste

2 to 3 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup cottage cheese (I use chive flavored)

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon thinly slice green onion

1 tablespoon sour cream

Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown ground turkey and onion until no longer pink. Remove from heat, stir in tomato sauce, sugar, salt, garlic salt and pepper. Add in spinach and stir until wilted.

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, green onion and sour cream. 

Drain noodles. Place half the noodles in greased 1-quart baking dish. Spoon half of meat mixture on top. Layer next with cottage cheese mixture and then remaining noodles. Top with remaining meat mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Cover and bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes until heated through. 

Lindsey Hollenbaugh can be reached at lhollenbaugh@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6211. On Twitter: @Lhollenbaugh.

Managing Editor of Content Engagement

Lindsey Hollenbaugh is the managing editor of content engagement for The Berkshire Eagle. A native of upstate New York, she has a journalism degree from Ithaca College. She lives in Pittsfield with her husband and son.