Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Easy Weeknight Casserole- Just Like Mom Used to Make

Casseroles are definitely a Mom's best friend- they are easy to make, most can be made ahead of time, and kids seem to love them. The challenge is finding dairy free casserole recipes.  I used to make several- but they all contained some form of cheese, creamed soup or sauce, or milk.  Then one night my Mom had us over for dinner and made this dish that she used to make at least once a week when I was a kid.  Of course back then she used cheese, but for me she has omitted the cheese.  It has since become my 3 daughters' favorite meal, both at Mom's house and at mine.  We call it American Chop Suey and I have absolutely no idea why (Maybe you can answer that one for me, Mom?)
My oldest daughter has been asking me to share this recipe on the blog for about a year now, but I haven't had the chance.   Usually I make it on nights when we are running around and I don't have time to take pictures while I cook.  The other night I started it early enough and remembered to take pictures as I went along.  So here you go, my girls' absolute favorite meal:

American Chop Suey
1lb lean ground beef
1 pepper (of any color) chopped
1 medium white onion chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 cans tomato sauce
dried oregano (you can use fresh if you have some)
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
noodles of choice- Penne or Rotini work best

1. Chop all your veggies and mince your garlic and set aside

2. Preheat a large skillet, drizzle in about a tablespoon of olive oil, and add your ground beef.

3. Once your meat is mostly browned, add your onion, peppers, and garlic.  If you use a high fat content beef, drain the fat off first.  We use extra lean, organic beef so I don't have to drain mine.

4. Once the beef is cooked through and the veggies have softened a bit, add your canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and your spices.   Let simmer for as long as you want on low ( I will let this go for an hour or more on very low heat). Or if you want it sooner, simmer on medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly.  

5. While your sauce is simmering, cook up your noodles according to the package.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

6. Drain your pasta and combine with the sauce in a large casserole dish. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes.

If you want to make it ahead of time you can put the casserole in the fridge and cook it later. 

This is such an easy and kid friendly dinner. This time around we paired it with a green salad and my homemade Strawberry Merlot Vinaigrette .  And it makes so much we always have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood that you still make as an adult?


  1. mom recipes are the best! i still make a few childhood recipes (meatloaf, lasagna) regularly. so tasty!

  2. Looks great! A couple of questions: first, how big are your tomato sauce cans? I'm guessing 15 oz based on the pic, but wanted to verify. Also, do you use a 12 oz box of pasta, or another size? Can't wait to try this!

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  4. cant wait to try this one it looks so yummy

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  6. I think the name is regional as I had a friend from Connecticut who called it American Chop Suey. I have eaten it since my childhood in the fifties in Ohio and we called it Johnny Marzetti and I have also heard the same recipe referred to as Goulash. Whatever we call it , it seems to be a favorite comfort food.