This is my version of a family classic. We always called it goulash, but it’s also known as American Chop Suey, or Hamburger Casserole. Whatever you call it your family and friends will call it delicious.
Growing up we ate a lot of ground beef in our house. My mom liked using it because we all liked it. My dad liked using it because it was relatively inexpensive for a family of 6. We liked it because it meant we weren’t forced to eat liver that night.
With 4 very active kids, who came home super hungry after a long day of causing trouble, my mom knew making a meal stretch as far as possible was going to be important. More often than not we showed up with friends, begging her to let them eat dinner at our house.
My mom was always cool about our friends having dinner with us. My dad was not quite as open to it when we were young. He liked the dinner table to be relatively quiet. He knew if our friends were with us any chance of quiet was impossible.
We ate at 4:30 every single day. Without exception. No excuses. You had to be at the table at that time. Us kids always thought it was way too early. Most of our friends ate way later than us. You know when you’re a kid how much that matters.
Every meal was spent with us kids trying to inhale our food as quickly as we could so we could head back outside with our friends to play. That was always so much easier to do with a meal we all loved. So my mom made sure she made stuff we loved.
Our friends would be waiting on our porch when we were done. They all knew how strict my dad was. We had to wait 30 minutes after eating to go outside to play. I still think back on that and laugh. I think dad confused the play outside rule with the swimming rule.
As we grew up our friends started to eat over more and more often. My mom loved having our friends around. It made her feel connected to us kids. And our friends loved my mom. All my friends called her Mom Too. She loved it and ate up the attention.
Sadly my mom passed away when I was just 15. It was heartbreaking for all of us. My mom was everyone’s best friend. Everyone loved her, most of all us kids. She was the heart of our family. She remains that for me, she always will.
When she first passed away our household got very quiet for a long time. None of us knew how to cook, how to clean or how to have fun like she did. We certainly didn’t know how to make guests feel welcome and happy.
Time passed and the house started to not be as quiet. A friend of my brother’s moved in with us, and he was a happy go lucky sort of guy. He helped lighten up the dinner table considerably. We laughed every day when he was with us.
More time marched on and my other brother’s friend moved in with us. He lived with us for years, and became like a brother to me. I still call him my brother from another mother. He was with us through a lot.
As more time passed my cousin moved in with us for awhile. He was a riot, and having him in the house was always fun. No dinner was complete unless someone had milk come out of their nose. We laughed that hard.
I think my dad realized that all those people who needed his help were helping us. I still look back on it and think it was my mom sending us the right people at the right time to teach us how to laugh and have fun again.
One thing that remained consistent through all those years was our love of a good, easy hamburger dish my mom called goulash. Sometimes she used pasta, sometimes she made a version with potatoes. No matter the version ground beef was the star!
My own life marched on over the years and I continued some of my mom’s traditions when raising my own kids. We always had my kids’ friends over for dinner.
We also ate a lot of ground beef. It’s economical, versatile and you can do anything with it.
When I think back over the years of learning to cook and spending so much time standing over the various stoves I’ve used it occurs to me that my love of G.E. Appliances dates back to my childhood. All my memories involve their products.
Growing up my dad always said buy the best you can afford. When I bought my parents’ house in 2007 after my dad passed away the first thing we did was listen to my dad. We went out and bought all brand new G.E. Appliances.
I bought a dual fuel range, a french door refrigerator, a microwave and my first dishwasher. I remember my dad buying my mom her first one. So I felt so nostalgic picking up a new version of her old one.
It’s amazing to me how so many of my memories of my childhood and my kids’ childhoods are centered around my favourite appliance company. When you love a company you stay loyal to them. I love the quality, and reliability of them.
And let’s just be honest here, if you’re going to spend as much time in your kitchen as I do you want, you want your appliances to not only be highly functional but you also want them to be gorgeous. My appliances are beyond gorgeous. 8 years later I’m still so happy I chose them.
They’re never clean though. When your whipping up goulash, a.k.a. hamburger casserole, a.k.a. American Chop Suey it’s hard not to make a mess. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. With great messes come great memories.
Places to stalk Cravings of a Lunatic!
- 1 and ½ pounds of macaroni noodles
- 2 tablespoons oil, canola or vegetable
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 (28 ounce) cans of san marzano tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet basil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- 1 and ¼ pounds of mozzarella cheese, cut into large chunks or rounds
- Parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Fill a stock pot with water. Place on stove. Bring to a boil. Add salt to the water. You will be using this to boil the noodles but don't do that till your sauce is simmering.
- In the meantime place a large dutch oven on the stove top. Add oil, onions and shallots to the dutch oven, turn on medium heat, cook until onions start to soften.
- Add ground beef to the dutch oven and cook until it's browned and juices run clear.
- Pop the tomatoes to a blender and give it a whir until it's smooth. Transfer that to the dutch oven. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Stir.
- Add spices to the dutch oven and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- At this time you want to add your macaroni noodles to the pot with water. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the package tells you to cook them.
- Please do not rinse your noodles, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, set that aside for when you need it. You can now drain your noodles, but do not rinse them.
- Add the cooked macaroni noodles, pasta water and parmesan cheese to the dutch oven. Mix really well.
- Now you can cook the casserole in your dutch oven in the oven, but I transfer mine to two casserole dishes. Spread out with a spoon.
- Press about ½ the mozzarella cheese into the casserole so it sinks in a bit. Then top with the other half.
- Pop your casserole in the preheated 375 degree F oven, cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how you like your cheese. We like ours when it is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and eat right away.
- Serve with a big old casserole loving smile!
You can omit the cheese. But um, don't.
You can use cheap parmesan for this one. I grew up on that stuff.
Thanks to G.E. Appliances for sponsoring this post. Make sure you follow them on twitter for their #OurAmericanKitchen campaign. Also swing by their youtube channel to watch The Richards Family as they tell their story.
They whip up Vietnamese Spring Rolls as they share their inspiring story of their own family. They show us how the kitchen is the heart of the home.
You can watch other fabulous webisodes from G.E. Appliances. All these family’s have a unique story to share. All those stories are connected by a common thread, our kitchens are the heart of our homes.
Toodles and smoochies! xx
Watch the Richards Family story here!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of GE Appliances. The opinions and text are all mine.