Cheeseburger Casserole

Last week was a little bit rough for me in a lot of ways, but I got a chance to do some fun stuff this weekend. R and I did some shopping yesterday morning and then we spent the evening with family and friends, and today, we slept in and lazed around for most of the day before a quick shopping trip this evening. She even took a nap on me, which she hasn’t done in ages, and I didn’t realize how much I missed all the time she spent sleeping on me when she was younger. After battling with her all last week, it was nice to see her chill out a bit this weekend. I’m sure that my being away from work and my computer (since I work from home) had a lot to do with how well-behaved and wonderful she was this weekend. I can’t tell you enough how great she was.

Oh, and did I mention that I got a new car? It’s much more family-friendly than my little Cavalier and we’re not stuck at home anymore, thank goodness!

Anyway, I’ve been kind of bad about cooking lately and we’ve been eating a lot of convenience food and frozen meals, but tonight, I wanted to make something different. A friend commented on my Facebook a few days ago about cheeseburger casserole and it’s stuck with me since. The traditional method seems to be putting some Bisquick in the bottom of a square dish, covering it with ground beef and onions, topping it with cheese, and baking until the Bisquick is cooked. It sounds easy, simple, and it’s probably pretty good, but admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Bisquick, so I wanted to try this another way. I came up with my own version of cheeseburger casserole and it was delicious. It was so simple and quick to make, I had to share it here.

cheeseburger casseroleYou will need:

  • 1 lb ground beef (my grocery store sells them in about 1.2-lb packages, that’s what I use)
  • 2 small onions, diced (you can adjust to your taste by using more or less)
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
  • cheddar cheese
  • 1 regular-sized can of refrigerated biscuits, any kind
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over medium to medium-high heat, brown your ground beef. When it’s almost finished cooking, toss in the onions. Continue cooking the beef and onion mixture until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are tender, then drain off the fat. Return this mixture to the pan and add the tomato paste. (Here’s a tip: using a can opener, open up the top and bottom of the can of tomato paste, remove the metal lid from one of the ends, and squeeze the tomato paste into the pan using the other metal lid. You get almost all of the tomato paste out without having to scrape the sides of the can with a spatula or a spoon!) Cook the tomato paste for two to three minutes, then add a dash of Worcestershire sauce (I added about a half teaspoon or so) and the water. You won’t need much, so start with 1/4 cup and add a little more if it’s too thick for you, it just depends on your preference. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the water is mixed in, turn the heat off of the mixture and let it hang out for now. Pull your refrigerated biscuits out and check the package directions, then preheat the oven according to what it says on the can. Pop that thing open and cut each biscuit into four pieces. I used the homestyle variety of the Grands Jr. biscuits in the 12-oz can and it was the perfect amount for what I needed. Set your biscuit pieces aside for a moment and pull out an 8″ x 8″ baking dish. Spray the sides to ensure that the biscuits don’t stick, and then pour in your beef mixture. Top that with a generous amount of cheddar cheese (I didn’t measure this, I used about two handfuls) and top the cheese with the biscuits. Bake this for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the top is golden brown. They will not be cooked thoroughly yet! Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and put it back into the oven to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes to make sure that those biscuits are fully cooked when they come out.

After it has finished cooking, let it cool for at least five minutes before serving.

I was really impressed with how good this turned out and I will definitely be making it again. The hardest part is just making sure the biscuits are cooked. I pulled mine out after about 12 minutes and found that while the biscuits looked like they were fully cooked, as soon as I cut into it, the bottom of them were just mush. I baked them for another 25 minutes and they were perfect. This is definitely a winning recipe.

Soft Sugar Cookies

So, it’s night number two of Operation: Put R in Her Own Room, and I can’t sleep because not only am I totally freaked out by the fact that something bad might happen to her while I’m ten steps away in the next room, but I miss her in our bed already. We’ve been bed sharing since she was a few weeks old (and she’s now a couple days shy of seventeen months), so I think this transition is actually going to be harder for me than it will be for her in the end. We’re still nursing to sleep for naps and bedtime, but tonight, she actually nursed for a little bit, then cuddled until she fell asleep. Last night, she ended up in our bed after about two and a half hours; she’s been asleep for two hours now, and she’s shown no signs of waking up yet. We’ll see how the night goes.

If all else fails, since she’s set up on a futon, if I miss her too much, I can always snuggle up next to her for the night, but I’m trying to avoid that. I really want her sleeping in her own room in the near future, even if I do miss cuddling with her when she’s in there.

soft sugar cookiesAnyway, this post isn’t supposed to be about my anxiety in moving my toddler to her own bedroom – it’s supposed to be another recipe post! I meant to put it on here a couple of days ago, but I’ve been busy with work, and (if I’m being totally honest) I’ve been a little lazy too.

A few days ago, I was craving something sweet and there was nothing in the apartment of interest, aside from waffles in the freezer, which didn’t really sound that great at the time, so I did what I always do in these situations: I pulled a couple of sticks of butter out of the fridge to soften and made cookies. The kind of cookies I make often varies, depending on the ingredients on hand and how I’m feeling. About a week or two ago, I pulled out my cocoa powder and attempted a batch of chocolate sugar cookies, but they turned out to be a massive failure. Not only were they incredibly bitter, but they burnt on the bottom a lot more easily than I expected. I was bummed.

These sugar cookies I made the other day were a hit. I’m not even really a fan of sugar cookies, but these were insanely delicious. The best part? This recipe is my own creation. I’m quite proud of myself, really. I encourage you to try this recipe at least once, and feel free to change it up a bit as you please.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks (or 1 cup) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin by preheating your oven to 375°.

Cream together your butter and sugar. (Note: For these cookies, I would absolutely recommend a hand mixer or some kind of stand mixer, as I think you’ll get a better texture for the cookies, but it’s completely up to you how you want to do it.) Once the mixture begins to look lighter in color, continue beating it together for another couple of minutes to ensure that it gets really, really fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides with a spatula occasionally to get the ingredients mixed in correctly. At this point, add your eggs and beat again for another couple of minutes until it’s well mixed and still looks light in color. Add the vanilla and the salt and beat again until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder, then add to the wet mixture. Mix it together very well. Your dough should be a little wet and sticky at this point. Using a medium-sized ice cream scoop, or a couple of tablespoons, place the cookies on a cookie sheet a couple inches apart – they will spread! Make sure they’re also a little flat on top, as I used an ice cream scoop and didn’t flatten them and they ended up getting just a little too brown on the edges during the time it took to cook the middle of the cookies. Bake for about 10 minutes, and once they’re out of the oven, allow them to rest on the pan for another 5 minutes before removing them.

These cookies are some of the best I’ve ever had. I love that they aren’t overly sweet, and they’re so soft, they just kind of melt in your mouth. I promise you, these are totally worth making!

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m exhausted, but I promised I would post this recipe this evening for some of my friends.

The weather has been amazing the past couple of days and it’s really lifted my mood up. R and I have enjoyed some time in the sun while the weather’s been warm. I’m hoping we’re finally over winter because it’s gone on too damn long and I’m tired of being cooped up in the apartment all the time. I think R is, too.

Anyway, I woke up in a great mood this morning and decided it was a good day to make cookies.

And, of course, as soon as I posted the photo to my Facebook, everyone wanted the recipe.

I will preface this by saying this is not a recipe I came up with. I found it a while back, wrote it down on a sticky note, and I keep it on my fridge for those days that I really, really, really need chocolate chip cookies in my life. (Which, let’s face it, is pretty much all the time. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I only make them occasionally.) It makes a perfectly soft cookie that isn’t overly sweet. When we don’t have any chocolate chips at home, sometimes I’ll make them anyway, without the chips, and they still turn out delicious.

For the cookies, you will need:

  • 2 sticks (or 1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 12-oz bag (or 2 cups) chocolate chips

First, preheat your oven to 375°.

Cream together your butter and your sugar first. I prefer using a mixer for this, but you can easily mix by hand with a spoon, you just have to work at it a little more. Once everything is creamed well, add in your eggs, vanilla, and milk, and mix well to combine. (Note: if you mix by hand, you most likely won’t need to add the milk. I’ve noticed that when I use the hand mixer, the cookies turn out a little bit dry, so the milk is necessary. When I mix the dough by hand, I don’t need it.) I usually add the salt into the wet mixture at this point as well.

choc chip cookies 02.pngIn a separate bowl, mix your flour and baking soda. (And salt, if you didn’t add it into the wet ingredients.) Mix well before adding it into the wet ingredients. I usually mix half of the flour first, and once that’s just about combined, I add the other half of the flour. Ditch the hand mixer for this part. When the flour is almost totally mixed in, add in your chocolate chips. Do not over mix the dough! As soon as you see no more dry spots, you’re ready to begin spooning it out.

It’s up to you on how big you want your cookies, but a tablespoon of dough or so for each cookie is what I usually use. Spoon them out onto a pan, leave at least an inch of space between each cookie, and pop the pan into the oven for 8-10 minutes. The cookies don’t spread too much as they cook.

Once the bottom has begun to brown, and the cookie no longer looks wet, pull your pan out and let the cookies sit on it for at least five minutes before removing them.

Sometimes, I change the recipe up a little bit. You can substitute some of the granulated sugar for brown sugar if you’d like; it changes the texture and the taste of the cookie only slightly, but it’s really up to you on what you like. (I usually use about half and half of each.) I will occasionally put cinnamon in the dough if I’m feeling a little adventurous, but my boyfriend prefers the cookies without. He’s a purist when it comes to a good chocolate chip cookie.

As I said, this isn’t my recipe and I’m not taking credit for it! It just happens to be the one I wrote down and stuck to my refrigerator. It’s one of my absolute favorites and I hope the rest of you enjoy it as well.