Friday, April 4, 2014

What was dark so long had felt like winter; finally there's sun...

I need something to shame me into being a better blogger, I think.  Work is crazy (in a good way) with no chance of slowing down until the summer.  My spring break went by in a blink.  And here we are - April.  And spring.  (Though, I was wearing gloves outside today, we all know in Chicago that spring doesn't really start until May.)  I haven't read a book in the longest time (though I did get to go see Divergent while I was on spring break and it was AWESOME). I think I finally sort of caught up on my cleaning this week.  But piles of laundry will grow.  Surfaces will get dusty.  And before I know it, it will be summer and I'll already feel behind on things I need to get done before the fall.

All of this to say?  I'm sorry I haven't been writing.  And I don't really have a good explanation for it.  Also, I made so many promises (Recipe reviews!  Lenten meal ideas!  New recipes!) of things I would be featuring on the blog this month...and I totally failed.  So, instead, I make no promises on the blog for the month of April and then anything that makes it up here will be a bonus.

Okay, I can make one promise -  I have a meal plan to share with you!

So, here's that.  As for the rest of April?  Fingers are crossed.

Meals with a "*" next to the name are recipes we will be trying out for the first time.  And usually I review those recipes here on the blog, but in the interest of "no promises," I'll just tell you to check me out on Pinterest (especially my "I Made This" board) to see initial reactions.

{April 2014}

Tuesday, April 1 - Taco Salad (We marinaded chicken using a DIY Taco Seasoning recipe [amazing, I will totally never go back to the packet] and this dressing which I've made before [subbing 0% Plain Greek Yogurt for the sour cream.]  The whole meal was delightful.)

Wednesday, April 2 - BBQ Pork Tenderloin; Cole Slaw; New Potatoes

Thursday, April 3 - Very Greek Grilled Chicken*; Greek Cous Cous; Salad

Friday, April 4 - One Pot Pasta; Caesar Salad

Saturday, April 5 - {No meal plan.}

Sunday, April 6 - {No meal plan.}

Monday, April 7 - Cilantro Lime Pasta Salad

Tuesday, April 8 - {No meal plan.}

Wednesday, April 9 - Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef; Risotto; Steamed Broccoli

Thursday, April 10 - Spinach & Mushroom Smothered Chicken*; Brown Rice; Salad

Friday, April 11 - Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Marinade; Cilantro Lime Rice; Guacamole

Saturday, April 12 - Grilled Pork Tenderloin (we usually get one that is already in a marinade, but you could also make your own marinade for this); Grilled Vegetables; Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

Sunday, April 13 - Spaghetti; Salad; Bread

Monday, April 14 - Buffalo Pork Chops; Alfredo Pasta; Peas

Tuesday, April 15 - Chicken Pesto Cavatappi; Salad

Wednesday, April 16 - Chicken Quesadillas; Cilantro Lime Rice; Guacamole

Thursday, April 17 - {No meal plan.} (Wow, April is really easy!)

Friday, April 18 - Spinach Artichoke Pasta; Salad (Didn't get to this meal last month since I was presenting at the Great Lakes Regional AMTA conference, but it's definitely a meatless favorite!)

Saturday, April 19 - Order in.

Sunday, April 20 - EASTER SUNDAY!

Monday, April 21 - Italian Chicken with Artichoke/Tomato; Pesto Pasta; Salad

Tuesday, April 22 - Book Club! {No meal plan.}

Wednesday, April 23 - Beef Dip Sandwiches; Chips; Steamed Broccoli

Thursday, April 24 - Fiesta Chicken; Cilantro Lime Rice

Friday, April 25 - {No meal plan.}

Saturday, April 26 - {No meal plan.}

Sunday, April 27 - {No meal plan - I'll be celebrating Easter with my family and we're having a taco bar, so I'll be bringing my world famous [okay, not quite, but it's good] guacamole!}

Monday, April 28 - {No meal plan.}

Tuesday, April 29 - {No meal plan.}

Wednesday, April 30 - Hamburgers; Tator Tots; Asian Cole Slaw

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nothing ever came from a life that was a simple one...

Okay, sorry for the delay - I'm back with my March meal plan!

As I'm sure I've mentioned here before, we're a Catholic family and so with Lent steadily approaching, you'll notice that on Ash Wednesday and the next several Fridays, we will be abstaining from meat (dates denoted with italics).  Later on in the month, I am going to do a post about making Lenten meals work for our family (especially since my husband used to not eat seafood!)  The post is inspired by Lent, but will feature tons of great ideas for those interested in meatless meal plans (religious practices aside) as well!

Last month's meal plan was interrupted with lots of illness (blah) and social engagements (whoo hoo!) as well as weather cancellations due to our grill being buried under about a foot of snow (also, blah.)  We're throwing a few of those things back onto the menu, but you know how it always goes...we're being flexible.  I can already see the changes on the horizon.

But...this is the meal plan as it stands today!  (As usual, I'm trying a few new recipes this month and I will review them all...along with everything for January and February.  Whoops.  These recipes are denoted with a "*".  Follow my "I Made This" board on Pinterest for more timely recipe reviews and LOTS of obsessive pinning.)

{March 2014}

Saturday, March 1 - Burgers, Tator Tots, Salad

Sunday, March 2 - Pork Carnitas; Fiesta Lime Rice

Monday, March 3 - Leftovers

Tuesday, March 4 - I will be dining out with my Book Club, so the boys are fending for themselves!

Thursday, March 6 - Italian Chicken (Recipe can be found on the back of Italian Style Progresso Panko Crumbs - it's delightful!); Pasta; Salad

Friday, March 7 - Cajun Shrimp Pasta (My own recipe! Check back for details later in the month!); Salad

Saturday, March 8 - Chipotle Grilled Steak with Lime Butter*; Smashed Potatoes*; (UGH, I WILL TRY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.)

Sunday, March 9 - Quinoa Chili*; Bread

Monday, March 10 - Italian Chicken with Tomato and Basil*; Pesto Pasta; Salad

Tuesday, March 11 - Sloppy Joes (A family recipe); Tator Tots; Cole Slaw

Wednesday, March 12 - Chicken Caesar Sandwiches; Chips

Friday, March 14 - FISH FRY!  (I took my husband to his first EVER [I know, can you believe?] good old fashioned Catholic church fish fry and we all LOVED it.  Making this an official tradition.)

Saturday, March 15 -  No meal plan. (I'll be visiting my family, so I'm banking on my mom's famous Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe in honor of the St. Patrick's Day holiday. Fingers crossed!)

Sunday, March 16 - No meal plan. (I'll be spending the night rocking out with my old band for a charity benefit.  Dinner will be provided.  Rockstar status also included.)

Monday, March 17 - Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Sauce*; Asparagus (I know, about as un-Irish as you can get!)

Tuesday, March 18 - Grilled Pork Chops; Grilled Vegetables; Cacio e Pepe

Wednesday, March 19 - Salsa ChickenCilantro Lime Rice; Corn

Thursday, March 20 - Stuffed Peppers; Bread

Friday, March 21 - MARCH MADNESS (We're headed out to watch some of the games with a group of friends in honor of my most FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR.  RCJHGOKU, by the way.)

Sunday, March 23 - Vegetable Beef Soup (Soup season is slowly fading away [or at least we hope it is!] so we want to make sure we make our Fall/Winter favorite one last time!  I wish I was willing to share this recipe because it is downright incredible. Oh well...)

Monday, March 24 - Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken; Pesto Orzo; Sauteed Zucchini

Tuesday, March 25 - Homemade Pepperoni Pizza; Salad

Wednesday, March 26 - Italian Roast Sandwiches on Brioche; Fettucini Alfredo; Salad

Thursday, March 27 - Simple Chicken and Rice Soup*; Bread

Friday, March 28 Spinach Artichoke Pasta; Salad

Saturday, March 29 - Grilled Chicken with Barley Corn Salad; Broccoli

Sunday,  March 30 - Pot Roast (Another favorite which needs to be on the menu before it gets to warm outside to enjoy it!)

Monday, March 31 - Chicken Bruschetta Bake; Salad

Friday, February 28, 2014

What can I do...

First things first - a winner!

Congratulations to Wendy!  You are now the proud owner of a new (pink!) GooseWaddle gift set.  You will hear from me soon for details on how to claim your prize.  ENJOY!


Next things next - a meal plan.  I know I said I'd be posting it today.


I'm working on it.  My week at work has been unusually chaotic and busy and I have come home too tired to think every night this week.  So, I'll try to post it sometime this weekend or by Monday at the latest.

This weekend will afford me a little bit more rest and a little bit more time to make some decisions on what we're going to eat.  Stay tuned.  For now, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a great start to your March - spring is almost here, right?  RIGHT?!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I've got your love to keep me warm...

We've been going through a really cute phase in the New Mom on the Blog house.  The Incredible Hulk has deemed it his job to find various things in the house that are either "comfy" or "cozy."  The tags on his clothes are his favorites.  Sometimes he'll reach out to touch our hair or his pajamas to let us know if they are "cozy" or "scratchy."  Even his well-loved Lamby has one "cozy" ear and one "not cozy" ear.  (The cat's tail is cozy, but TIH is not supposed to touch it.)

So, when the fine folks at GooseWaddle asked me if I wanted to check out one of their blankets, I knew we had the exact reviewer for the job.  (Literally, I had about five seconds to admire the adorable packaging our blanket came in before TIH ripped it out of my hands and said "COZY."  I haven't really even been allowed to touch the thing since we got it.)  So, TIH?  Tell us what you think.

Me: Sometimes people give things to us so I can tell them what I think of them on my blog.
TIH:  Blog?
Me: Yep.  So, these people want to know what you think of your blanket.
TIH: Hold on, I need to get some water.
Me:  What color is your blanket?
TIH: Blue!
Me:  What do you like about your new blanket?
TIH:  It's cozy.
Me:  What are some fun things you can do with the blanket?
TIH:  Um.  Play.
Me:  How do you play with it?
TIH:  Um, you throw it up into the sky.  (Demonstrates.)  And you can touch them.  (Demonstrates.)
Me:  How many blankets do you sleep with at night?
TIH:  Um...18.  (That's pretty legit.)
Me:  Do you want mommy to get you more blankets like this?
Me:  Do you have anything else you want to say about your blanket?
TIH:  COZY!  TOUCHING!  Where's my other blanket?
(At this point he handed me the smaller of the two blankets and said "Now you can go to sleep."  PRECIOUS.)

Obviously he's a fan, but these blankets get the NMTOB stamp of approval as well.

Last week a nasty stomach virus ripped its way through our house (will this winter EVER END?)  TIH had spent the course of the illness clinging to his two blankies and so the minute he looked to be on the way to wellness, I washed both.  They washed nicely and came out of the dryer just as warm and fuzzy as when they started. Anyone who has been around an infant EVER knows that these things need to be washed on the regular, so I was glad to be able to do a quick quality check there.

I also really love the fact that the gift set comes with its own "lovey" blanket in addition to the large one.  When TIH went to his babysitter for the first time, I really wanted him to have a small blanket to take with him that smelled like us and like home, but I also didn't want to run the risk of him being put to sleep with a blanket on him (since sleeping with loose blankets before age 1 greatly increases suffocation risk.)  GooseWaddle provides the perfect replacement.  (Of course, if you're like TIH, you'll require both blankets to be with you at all times, so it wouldn't quite work out as well as I described.)

Another fantastic feature of GooseWaddle blankets is that they are stretchy enough to be used as a swaddle blanket, but also have the warmth many swaddle blankets are lacking.  TIH was born in the summer and actually hated being swaddled because of how hot he would get.  However, this would be the perfect solution to someone welcoming a baby into our current, polar-like conditions.  (I haven't actually been able to try out the swaddle feature of these blankets.  Swaddling a three year old would likely be like trying to swaddle a cat.)

Additionally, as someone who loves companies who "pay it forward" out into our world - for every GooseWaddle blanket purchased, GooseWaddle donates a receiving blanket to a child in need.  Talk about warm and fuzzy.

So, wouldn't you like a chance to win one of these awesome gift sets?
Great, because GooseWaddle wants you to do just that.

In the interest of not doing anymore obnoxious giveaways in the comments that never work - I noticed a few of my blogger friends using this little widget called Rafflecopter.  So, you can enter the giveaway through that and hopefully it will be smooth sailing!  (If you are having trouble, don't hesitate to ask me.  I certainly don't want anyone to miss out on a chance to win this awesome prize!)  Don't have kids?  Doesn't matter.  How sweet would this be to give as a shower gift?  I'd be excited if it were a gift I received! I'll announce the winner here on Friday when I'll also be sharing our March meal plan!

For more information about GooseWaddle and their line of products, you can check them out on Facebook, Twitter, or by visiting their website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Though GooseWaddle provided me with a complimentary gift set, the opinions expressed in this post are solely my own.  Obviously I barely have the time to wash my own hair daily, so I'm not going to take the time to write about a product I don't fully endorse.

Stay cozy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sure we could see a new start...

Well, hello February.  And hello blog that I have neglected for the last half of the month.
And hello to you, dear reader.

The last month has been a little nutty for the NMOTB household and while we did do a nice job of sticking to our meal plan (as much as we could), the sticking to "No self-imposed life changes for awhile" resolution we made to ourselves...hasn't gone quite as well.  Namely, my husband started a new job last week.  No worries.  It was just a great opportunity that sort of fell into our laps and after a lot of careful discussion, we jumped on it.

It did require my husband to travel more than originally planned in January, so of course, that did require me to scrap a lot of our meal plan and did not leave me a whole lot of time to do recipe reviews or cook actual meals.

So, here's the February meal plan (which features a whole lot of the January meal plan, sorry about that) and a whole lot of holes because our February is not only short, but it's also really really busy.  Not to mention, we've already had to change things around before I could even post this.  And I'm four days later than planned...

Make sure you check back as I'll try to attempt to be a blogger again this month and will also be doing some recipe reviews - both the ones from January and the ones for new recipes we are trying this month.  Phew.

{February 2013}

February 1 - Well, as this post was being created, we were covered in several inches of snow and it was still falling.  Going to the grocery store just wasn't in the cards.  Our cupboards were unfortunately pretty bare, so we had to order Chinese.

February 2 - SUPER BOWL SUNDAY.  (Wait, I think I'm technically not allowed to call it Super Bowl because it is like trademarked or something.  Whoops.)  Basically our dinner will consist of buffalo chicken dip, guacamole, chili, and all kinds of other things that are ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

February 3 - Chicken Parmigiana; Pesto Pasta; Broccoli

February 4 - World's Best Chicken; Pasta; Asparagus

February 5 - Slow Cooker Classic Beef Stew*; Bread

February 6 - Breaded Pork Chops; Roasted Acorn Squash; Cous Cous

February 7 - Chicken Caesar Salad

February 8 - Skillet Chili Mac*; Cornbread

February 9 - Italian Drunken Chicken*; Salad

February 10 - Leftovers

February 11 - No meal plan

February 12 - Asian Chicken Salad*

February 13 - Moist Lemon Chicken; Cous Cous; Salad

February 14 - Valentine's Day!  So, my husband and I usually don't do anything big for Valentine's Day, but every year since TIH was born, we've always gone out to a casual dining restaurant. (Our favorite was a BBQ place when we were still living in St. Louis.)  So, this year we'll likely do the same thing, though we haven't yet found our special, non-special spot.

February 15 - Pork Carnitas*; Fiesta Lime Rice

February 16 - Spicy Sausage Pasta; Salad

February 17 - Leftovers

February 18 - Chicken Stir Fry; Brown Rice; Asian Salad (Here's a good stir fry recipe I found, but usually we just pick our favorite chicken and veggies, toss them together in a skillet with a nice bottled sauce, and fry it all up.)

February 19 - Slow Cooker French Onion Soup Pork Chops*; Boiled New Potatoes; Roasted Zucchini

February 20 - Italian Chicken (Found this recipe on the back of a Progresso Italian Panko box and it is GREAT); Pasta; Salad

February 21 - Pizza; Salad

February 22 - No meal plan, we'll be attending the annual Auction for Autism!

February 23 - Chipotle Grilled Steak with Lime Butter*; Smashed Potatoes*; Broccoli  (THIS MEAL PLAN WILL FINALLY HAPPEN THIS MONTH.  I hope...)

February 24 - Garlic/Brown Sugar Chicken; Pesto Orzo; Sauteed Zucchini

February 25 - No meal plan

February 26 - No meal plan

February 27 - Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole*; Salad

February 28 - Burgers; Tator Tots; Salad

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The sweet smell of success...

I don't know if you remember, but I used to write a blog about being a new mom.  And now I write mostly about cooking and meal plans and food.  I hope you aren't growing tired of that.  I feel like people are generally pretty excited about my meal plans and recipes, but I just wanted to call out the elephant in the room.  This is still a blog about parenting.  I just spend most of my life as a parent feeding others.  I hope this makes sense to you because it basically makes no sense to me, but it makes me happy to cook and happier to share it with you.  Okay? Okay.

 So, anyway, a couple of times a month, I like to share my reviews of new recipes I've tried as part of our meal plan. The recipes we have been trying so far have been a wild success.  In case you've missed it, I also repin the pins for all of the recipes I try through Pinterest on my board "I Made This" so make sure you are following!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef - Well, to say this recipe was successful would be a major understatement.  For starters, my husband actually MISSED OUT on this dinner due to delayed/cancelled flights while he was out of town.  So, the next day he heated it up for lunch - and then proceeded to eat it for lunch for the next three days.  In fact, we all loved it.  I knew from the minute I mixed up the sauce and poured it into the crock pot that it was going to be perfect.  I served it with some boiled new potatoes and steamed broccoli.  Next time, I'll definitely consider serving it up with some mashed potatoes and using the sauce in the crock pot as as gravy.  Either way, this is a wonderfully easy and delicious meal.

Quick Lime Cilantro Chicken - I accidentally cut up the chicken too small when I did this recipe.  The only thing that affected was the way I wanted to serve it.  I felt like it was small enough to be a taco filling when you're really supposed to eat it over a bed of rice (review for the rice below).  My husband disagreed and said he wouldn't change a thing.  I wouldn't necessarily call this a "quick" recipe.  The prep took a bit of time (zesting/juicing limes, cutting chicken breasts, chopping cilantro, mincing garlic, etc.), but once it was in the pan it wasn't a big deal.  We did a sprinkle of both the chili powder and cayenne pepper along with cumin.  The flavor was awesome.  I am thinking about using this recipe for shrimp or fish to make fish tacos for Lent.  I'll let you know how that turns out!

Fiesta Lime Rice - Oh, holy hell this was great.  My husband who does not like beans or tomatoes even raved about this.  TIH took one bite and said, "MMMMM."  I could eat a giant bowl of this for every meal.  The flavor reminded me of a Chipotle Burrito Bowl, minus the sour cream, cheese, meat, and guac.  So, that also means it's got all of that flavor with mostly healthy ingredients!  BEST.  We used brown rice instead of white and it was perfect.  I allowed everything to sit together for a bit before service which I think helped the flavors meld a bit.  Couldn't recommend this higher.  We had almost none leftover.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - The other day, a friend of mine texted me and asked if I could point her in the direction of a good Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.  I knew this one was on our meal plan, so I shot her the link with the caveat that we hadn't tried it yet, so I had no idea if it was going to be any good.  She let me know that it was, in fact, delicious and I excitedly looked forward to making it for our Saturday dinner all week.  My excitement must have clouded my judgment.  Because not only did I forget two key ingredients (black beans and red bell pepper...what?!), I also totally neglected to check out the cook time and pretty  much started cooking dinner about 2 hours later than I should have.  (This was also on the day when I completely forgot about a birthday party TIH was invited to until someone texted me.  Seriously.  My brain must have turned to mush from all of the snow days.)  HOWEVER, brain mush aside - this soup is actually DELICIOUS and SUPER simple to put together (as long as you don't forget key ingredients.)  You should not only cover it with every suggested garnish in the recipe, I also read in the comment section that many people suggested serving it with a squeeze of fresh lime over the top. (Definitely do that, it was great!)  Our only snafu in serving this was that the avocado I picked up had clearly frozen at some point (probably when traveling on the truck through our polar conditions.)  So, when I cut into it, it was no good.  The next time we make it, I am really interested to see what the diced avocado adds as a garnish, but it was still pretty dang fantastic without it!

Greek Stuffed Pitas - I will admit right from the start that I had my doubts about this recipe.  First...eggplant.  I like it in small doses, but I was pretty sure my boys weren't going to be into it.  Secondly...oregano.  I know it is so strange since it is such a common ingredient in so many recipes, but oregano is just not one of my favorite herbs.  Sure, I can handle it in spaghetti or pizza sauce, but I've been known to substitute (or fully omit it) in the past in other recipes.  However, this recipe was far too easy to put together to pass up.  When I opened up the oven, I was assaulted by the smell of oregano, and I thought my suspicions were coming true - I was not going to like this recipe.  I felt this way right up until I took a bite.  AND THEN MY SOCKS WERE KNOCKED OFF.  The flavor of the chicken (oregano and all) was PERFECT.  The eggplant took on the yummy flavor of all of the juices of the other veggies, chicken, and dressing and was perfect.  We served ours in whole wheat pita pockets with a little Greek vinaigrette (thanks Aldi) poured on top.  And, of course, feta.  My husband complimented the meal several times between bites, called dibs on the leftovers for his lunch the next day, and has already requested it for a future meal plan.  Simple?  Tasty?  Husband pleasing?  WIN.  (Also, vegetarian crowd - throw some tofu in there instead of chicken, or maybe some beans of sorts and you've got yourself a happy little meal.)


Looks great, eh?  Anybody cook anything delicious?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably heard that regions in the Midwest are experiencing something called a "Polar Vortex." (I linked you to a Wikipedia article to explain what that is, but I'll give you the Cliff's Notes - it's freaking cold.  Chicago was colder than the South Pole during parts of the day.  They brought the Lincoln Park polar bear INSIDE because it was too cold.  TOO COLD FOR A POLAR BEAR.)  Needless to say, we've all been snowed in (literally, our garage is frozen shut) and have been doing what we can to stay warm and not bored out of our minds.  (I love me a snow day, but being cooped up in the house gets a little maddening after awhile.)

So, what else could possibly be better on a too-cold-for-a-damn-polar-bear kind of a day than a nice, cheesy, comforting, casserole?

Before I go on to share this old family recipe, I must provide the following disclaimer: I know that cream-of-whatever soup is not good for you.  You'll notice there are a lot of foods I post on this blog which ignore some of my own basic food rules (i.e., feeding my  family with mostly whole foods packed with great nutrients).  SOMETIMES YOU BREAK THE RULES.  There are a ton of substitution recipes out there for cream of celery (et al) out there, so if that's your thing - check it out.  Otherwise, continue on.  All the while knowing that this recipe is built for comfort, not health.  And that it should be served in moderation. On days that are too cold FOR AN ACTUAL POLAR BEAR.  Now, proceed...

This used to be one of the simple recipes my dad would put together for us as kids when my mom would work late.  She would cook it sometimes too, but I think my dad was pretty much the king of casseroles in our house when I was growing up.  When my husband and I got married, he requested that I gather some of the simple weeknight meals that my family was accustomed to eating so that we would have some easy things to cook for the two of us.  This recipe?  At the top of his list.  You're gonna love it.  Let's get started.

{NMOTB Hamburger Casserole}

- 1 lb. of ground beef (We usually use the leanest beef we can find.  Go with what makes you happy.)
- 1 box of rotini noodles (We always use whole wheat rotini.  Growing up we used a lot of different shapes of noodles and obviously didn't use whole wheat.  You can experiment here if you want.)
- 2 cans of cream of celery soup (Just get over it.  It's fine.)
- Milk (You're just going to fill up one of the soup cans with milk.  LOOK, RECYCLING.  YOU'RE WELCOME.)
- Cheddar cheese (I use most of a 2-cup bag.  Eyeball this.  You just want enough to cover the top of your casserole)

- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  I forgot both steps while photographing this tutorial.  That was a bummer choice.  Do me a favor and don't forget.

- Begin by browning your pound of beef in a large skillet.  Truth be told I've never tried this with ground turkey or chicken (obviously, it's HAMBURGER casserole), but if you wanted to be experimental, I'd love to hear your results...

- Drain your beef once it is browned.  Add to your skillet both cans of cream of celery and then fill one empty can with milk and add that in there too.

- Stir the mixture around until everything is combined and allow to cook over medium low heat until it bubbles and thickens. (At this step my mom would also sprinkle in a little thyme. We've tried it both ways and like it better without. But, by all means - experiment! It's a casserole. You can almost never screw it up!)

Don't worry, it'll look more appetizing in the casserole.
- In the meantime, I hope you were boiling your pasta and didn't forget like me.

- Once your soup mixture has thickened a bit, your casserole is ready to assemble.  Begin by draining your pasta and putting it in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.  (You can probably put it in something slightly smaller, but you may want to adjust cook times.)  Pour your soup mixture evenly over the noodles.  You don't have to worry about mixing it up, it'll get in there, but make sure it's relatively even so the whole casserole is layered correctly.

- After you've layered the noodles and soup mixture, sprinkle the entire top with cheddar cheese.  Like I said, I usually use most (if not all) of a 2-cup bag of cheddar cheese to do this.  Hey, no one said this recipe was health food.

- Then, just like any good casserole, you stick it in your preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted/bubbly.

You know it looks delicious.
- We usually serve ours with some sort of salad or green vegetable.  Because it makes me feel better about eating something so rich.  IT BALANCES OUT, RIGHT?  Recipe serves at least 8.  Or, two people who like seconds and a busy 3 year old who eats two pieces of pasta - with leftovers.  ENJOY!

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