Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brown the hamburger, an onion, and add a can of cream o' soup...

Dear readers, I have been struggling with a moral dilemma lately. I wanted to do it...it was soooo tempting, but I worried: What would they think of me if I did? But then I visited anapestic's web site and saw that HE did it, so I figured, why shouldn't I? If the most urbane and droll anapestic can do it, then it must be ok! (Refer to his Feb. 19th post and recipe for Chile con Queso.)

Though I can make brioche with the best of them, and I am undaunted by puff pastries and phyllo doughs and the like, sometimes, especially in the cold, dark, dead of winter, I long for menu items that are quick (it's too COLD in my kitchen to tarry there for long), hearty, and above all, comforting. And that's when I turn to the genre of church potluck cuisine, to be politically correct about it. When I am being less sensitive, I refer to these as my "trashy" recipes! In fact, one memorable New Year's Eve, my best friends and I hosted an entire trashy buffet that included things like green bean casserole with Durkee french fried onions, tuna casserole with potato chip topping, tater tot casserole, and of course, the ubiquitous bucket of KFC! (My dearest friend, Kurt, brought this, in honor of his tackiest extended family members who always bring the KFC to their potlucks and reunions!) I must tell you that we had a ball that night eating the declassé food, listening to a "horrible hits" mix cd that I made (think "The Pina Colada Song"--it's wrong, but you know you love it!), and after dinner, learning some country line dances. Brilliant!

So I have decided to share my personal canon of trashy cuisine with you today. You know the ones...they always seems to start with "brown a pound of hamburger with a chopped onion and add some cream o' soup..." Like anapestic, I will warn you not to tell anyone where you got these recipes. If you do tell, I'll only deny it! But I know, secretly, in the privacy of your own kitchens, when no one is watching, you will unearth the cream o' soup from your pantries and do what you know you want to do!


1 large whole chicken (3-4 lbs.)
5 or 6 tablespoons chicken soup base (or bouillon)
1 teaspoon of pepper (or to taste)
2 or 3-12 oz. packages of frozen egg noodles (like Ream’s brand)
2 or 3 cans cream of chicken soup

Remove giblets from the thawed chicken. Add chicken to a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer the chicken for at least an hour (maybe two-or “until you get home from church!”). Remove the chicken from the broth, and when it’s cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and break the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. To the broth, add enough chicken soup base/bouillon until it tastes like chicken soup. ;-) Also, add enough black pepper to suit you, and whisk in the cans of cream of chicken soup until well blended. Bring the broth back to boil, and add one package of frozen noodles*. Bring to the boil again, and then add the other package (you could even add a third package if you have more folks to feed). Reduce heat to medium and cook until the noodles are tender. Add chicken pieces back to the pot, mix well, and serve. (Midwesterners will insist upon serving this over real mashed potatoes=CARB OVERLOAD!)

*Try as I might, I cannot find frozen egg noodles here in the northeast, and believe you me, I have asked my local groceries stores to order them for me to no avail. But I have found a decent substitute. At the Super Wal-Mart (yegads!), they sell a one pound package of homestyle egg noodles called Country Pasta. They’re not as good, I won’t lie, but they do quite well. Don’t try this recipe with just any old pasta that you have on hand, though--it won’t be the same (you'll end up with something more like chicken noodle soup).

This next recipe comes from Kurt, or more precisely, from his mother, Muriel. To quote my roommate, Cyd, “This really sounds like sh*t if you read it before you taste it.” And that might be true. But every time I make it for a group function, people rave about it. One of my former colleagues used to refer to it as “The Glop,” but she asked for the recipe and began making it regularly at her house! In fact, people always ask for the recipe for this one, and it’s always embarrassing to give, but here it is:

CAMPFIRE STEW (aka Muriel’s Winter Stew)

1 lb ground beef, browned with a minced onion

1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of creamed corn (or 2!)

Then add a 2 lb. bag of thawed tater tots, 2 tablespoons of flour, and (up to) one quart of milk. Cook over medium heat until the tater tots break up, and the whole thing heats through and thickens somewhat.


For an easy chicken pot pie, cut four chicken breasts into chunks and brown them, perhaps with a chopped onion. When the pieces are mostly cooked through, mix them with any number of canned things. You’ll need some sort of cream o' soup(s)--cream of chicken and cream of celery is my favorite combo. Then any canned vegetables of your choice. I like creamed corn and regular corn, carrots, green beans, and those little whole potatoes, halved. I also throw some frozen peas in there if I have them on hand (I hate canned peas-so mushy!). Add salt, pepper, maybe a little garlic powder, and then spoon the goo into a pie plate lined with one refrigerator crust (oh, the blasphemy!). Top with the other crust and pinch/crimp the top and bottom together to seal. You can even egg wash the pie if you feel strongly about it. Bake at 350 for about an hour or until GB&D (golden brown and delicious). Let it sit for a while (15-20 min?) to cool, or all the molten lava will run out when you try to cut a piece.

That reminds me of another guilty pleasure that I sometimes throw together, the MANWICH PIE! For that sophisticated gem, brown a pound of hamburger and maybe a chopped onion as well, add a can of Manwich sauce, and a can of corn (drained). Fill one prefab pie crust with this mix and top with at least a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. (I suppose you could turn this into a two-crust affair if you prefer, but I rather like the open-faced pie topped with cheese.) Bake in a 350 degree oven until the crust is done, about a half an hour.


4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts--cut into chunks and then browned

Add and cook until heated through:
one can cream of mushroom soup
one can cream of chicken soup
one can green chiles*
one can jalapenos (or less than a full can for a milder effect!)*

shredded cheese

8 flour tortillas (though you could try it with corn, too)

Add 2-3 spoonfuls of the mixture to each of the eight tortillas along with some shredded cheese. Roll and place side-by-side in a 9x13 baking dish, and cover with the remaining sauce and more cheese on top. Bake at 375 for 30 min (I cover it with foil until the last 5-10 minutes, so that the cheese doesn't get too brown.)

*Note: One tme when I made this, I didn't have regular green chilies or jalapenos on hand, so I used one chipotle in adobo sauce (minced) from a previously-opened can. It was spicy and DELISH! Feel free to improvise on this one--the next one, too.)

This last one is not quite as "trashy" as the others, as it has no cream o' soups involved. (I always mistakenly think it does like the previous, similar recipe.) But while we're on the enchilada theme, I am reminded of this, another one of my favorite recipes. We LOVE this one at my house!


one pound of ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 t. salt
1 cup (8 oz.) prepared taco sauce
1 cup shredded cheese (or more…LOTS more!)
8-six-inch flour tortillas
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspooons instant chicken bouillon
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cups sour cream

Brown the beef and onion together and stir in salt. Divide the meat into the tortillas and top each with some taco sauce and cheese*. Roll and place seam side down in a 9x13 baking dish. In a saucepan, melt the butter--blend in flour and bouillon. Stir in the water. Cook and stir until thickened. Gradually add the sour cream. Pour the sauce over the tortillas. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven until melted.

*Note: I find it easier to just combine the meat with the taco sauce and cheese and then spoon this combined mixture into the tortillas. I have also been known to throw some beans--black beans or kidney beans--into the meat mixture. Again, use your imagination!

1 comment:

Lily J. Noonan said...

Hehee... yeah, I have a smackdown version of mac 'n cheese that involves cream 'o mushroom and mayonnaise. Thanks for the additional "inspirations"...