Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Meat and Potatoes Casserole

Meat and Potatoes Casserole, a baked dish, layered with potatoes, seasoned ground beef, cream soup sauce and topped with shredded cheese.
Meat and Potatoes Casserole, a baked dish, layered with potatoes, seasoned ground beef, cream soup sauce and topped with shredded cheese.

Meat and Potatoes Casserole

I've been super busy the past few weeks, trying to get my spring gardening in before the heat sets into south Mississippi. It comes pretty quick, and seems quicker as I get older, and once it does, it makes it impossible for me to do much in the way of gardening. I just can't tolerate the heat anymore.

You may recall that we moved a few years ago, and although this house had so many features we loved, gardens and flowers were not one of them. Previous owners had either not had an interest in planting or had failed due to the east/west exposure. All the post-Katrina planting I did at the old house, which frankly was an awfully good selling point and one of the reasons the new buyers fell in love with the place, I'm having to completely start from scratch with at this house.

One of my Freedom hedge roses - I planted 4 more of them this spring!
One of the first things I did here was to put a garden in around our backyard patio - it's one of my favorite places at this house - so spring is mostly a matter of clearing up the weeds and grass that have infiltrated it, and setting out fresh soil and mulch, and then adding a few new perennials, annuals here and there, and of course a few vegetables. Because of the exposure, most things I plant go into containers that I can move around, at least until I can see what will survive the intense summer heat where I place it.

Although our house sits on an oversized lot and we have plenty of sunshine, I don't go overboard on veggies - just a few tomato plants, cucumbers, bell peppers, beans and herbs that I commonly use, is about all I have been doing the past few years. I never got around to rebuilding my square foot gardens here, or turning dirt for a garden either though, so this year I thought I would try a different kind of raised bed and found this fabric version on Amazon. I love having a small herb and veggie garden literally right out of the back door!

I also usually put out a few 5 gallon buckets with tomato plants as well, but they've not done that well the past few years, so this year I decided to try some of these similar grow bags from Smart Pots and planted three of them with Creole tomato plants. More breathable for the heat and lots more grow room for root growth in these.

...and some patio cherry tomatoes I put in hanging baskets.

I don't know - we'll see how it all goes down on later into summer! I'm not much of a gardener so it's really just all hit and miss from year to year really.

Anyway, far as cooking goes, I've been relying on some of my easy casseroles, and quick cooking, mostly skillet recipes, and some of the old standby recipes of the past, including this throwback to the 70s from my days as a new and very young bride.

Made with layers of thinly sliced potatoes, seasoned ground beef, topped with a cream soup sauce and finished with cheese, it's a delicious and easy meat and potatoes casserole I'm sure that your family will enjoy.

Here's how to make it and as always, scroll further down for the full recipe with measurements, instructions and a printable for your convenience.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions and bell pepper and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add ground beef and cook through, mashing as it cooks.

I used to use my good ole potato masher to do this, but honestly with arthritis and carpal tunnel these days (the joys of getting older), makes even that a little harder. I love using a meat masher now though, because it cuts through the process quicker and is much easier on the old hands. It's even good for mashing potatoes!

Drain off any excess fat. There's that Easy Greasy again y'all! It's another kitchen tool I love, and because this colander has a base it sits on, you can drain off grease right at the stove. I use mine so much that I bought a second one!

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mushroom soup, milk, salt, pepper and parsley. I had a can of Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup in the pantry, so that's what I used today, but use whatever variety you favor.

Now... let's talk about potatoes.

Anytime that you are going to prepare a casserole dish with sliced potatoes, such as au gratin or scalloped, you want the slices both thin and uniform, otherwise you'll end up with some that are overcooked, and others that are undercooked.

You can counter that by parcooking them a tad, or even pouring boiling water over the slices and letting them sit, and while I have my new food processor (which as it turns out, I use more than I thought I would!), I still tend to lean toward my handy, dandy mandolin for potatoes. I can zip through a few potatoes almost before I can even assemble the food processor, so it's super fast, and it's easy to clean too!

I fill the bottom with water to hold my potatoes as I slice them all, to keep them from turning brown too and look how beautiful these slices are. You just can't get that by hand slicing.

To cook the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 2-1/2 quart baking dish. I recommend an oblong, 11 x 7-inch dish. Layer half each in baking dish, in order, potatoes, half of remaining salt and pepper, ground beef, soup mixture and cheese. 

Repeat layers, ending with cheese. Remember to season each layer! You're going to think there's not enough liquid. Don't worry. Just cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake covered at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour, then check to make sure the potatoes are fork tender.

While it may not exactly photograph so beautifully (and I'm no photographer anyway), it's certainly tasty, and my meat and potatoes lovin' fella really digs this dish. So do I. Hope y'all do too!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on April 13, 2016
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