One of my favorite meals is one sort or another of casserole. This is the first of two that I'd like to share with you. It has the advantage of being quick and easy to make (except for oven time). It also tastes pretty good (when I make it, don't ask about when my wife makes it). The amounts are set up for a 4 quart Pyrex bowl as seen in the picture. If you don't have one, any four quart bowl that can stand being put into the oven will do. If you wish to make smaller amounts, any bowl from one to four quarts can be used. Just decrease the amounts accordingly. For the smaller bowls, you might not want to leave them in the oven for as long.
1 1/2 pounds of 80/20 ground beef.
1 large package of medium egg noodles
2 cans of condensed vegetable soup/w beef broth.
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic (this can be replaced with garlic powder if more convenient).
Salt and Pepper to taste (roughly one teaspoon each for this amount).
1 eight ounce package of Shredded Cheddar Cheese (anything from Mild to Extra Sharp, depending on how dominant you want the cheese flavor to be.
Using a microwave, brown ground beef in the serving dish with the spices, onion and garlic if you wish. Otherwise the spices, onion and garlic can be added to the sauce mixture. While browning, you can chop the meat up to any degree of fineness you wish. Drain when browned.
At the same time that you're browning the meat, use a 4 quart pan of water to cook the noodles to the proper degree of softness (taste test to make sure that they are right). Drain noodles. NOTE: Any frozen vegetables you may wish to add (extra peas, corn, etc) can be pre-cooked with the noodles. If your timing is perfect (mine usually isn't) the noodles should be done at about the same time as the meat.
While waiting for the noodles to cook, preheat oven to 350º and open soup cans and cheese pouch.
Once the noodles and meat have been drained, add soup to the meat and mix. Pour the meat/soup mixture into the noodles and mix in the cooking pan. After mixing in the meat and sauce, place shredded cheese into the pan and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Pour contents of cooking pan back into the dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 1 1/4 hours. If you wish, when there is about ten minutes left, you can remove the foil and sprinkle more cheese on top. Then finish baking until the cheese has melted.
This is an especially good dinner if it is cold and snowy outside, particularly if you have little kids playing outside before dinner. It fills them up and warms them at the same time.