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3.14.2013

Cheesy Burger Bake

This is a casserole with an identity crisis.


It's part cheesy beef and pasta bake, part loaded cheeseburger, part healthy dinner.  It's as if Giada DiLaurentiis, In & Out Burger, and Joy Bauer got together for a throw-down and decided to hug it out instead.

For the record, my money would've been on Giada and that giant culinary head she's wielding.
 
During a recent trip to LA, my husband and I ate at In & Out Burger for the first time, and, well, I thought my heart would explode with pure joy at the simplicity and deliciousness of a simple cheeseburger and fries.  And, true, once my metabolism hit 30 (ok, 26) it became important for me to not continue to eat like a man, but at In & Out Burger there's a menu option called "Animal Style".  Do I need to be a lady or something?

Speaking of, a lady at Target the other day referred to ME as a lady to her child.  As in "stop jumping around like that, you're going to step on this lady's toes."  Are we serious?  I realize that I just referred to HER as a lady, but she legit was a lady.  I'm 31...as in not a lady, still a girl.  I think we can all agree on this...

Back to dinner.  If I had to pick one of the above things that this recipe resembles the most, I'd choose to say that this casserole is like a deconstructed Double Double, Animal Style.  Meat, cheese, onions, tomatoes, carbs, mustard, pickle.  But instead of piled high on a bun, we're baking this one-pan gemstone in the oven, quick and easy.

In other news, someone pointed out recently that my blog posts have been featuring more in the way of comfort food lately...and to that I say heck, yeah!  I have an alien inside of me punching my rib cage in the middle of the night, and people keep calling me "lady".  Bring on the healthy, easy, comfort food!


Cheesy Burger Bake
Adapted from SkinnyTaste.com
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 c rotini pasta, uncooked
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef (I used 93% lean)
Salt/pepper
2 tbs tomato paste
2 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes, unsalted if possible
2 tbs Dijon mustard
2 c reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c dill pickles, chopped

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente, and drain well.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in the beef, season with salt/pepper, and cook until browned, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste until combined, and then add in the tomatoes and mustard.  Let the mixture bubble gently until it thickens, about 2 minutes.

Add in the cooked pasta, and toss to combine.  Spread the beef/pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Top with the cheese and bake until melted, about 15 minutes.


Sprinkle the chopped pickles over top and serve.

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