The other day, my wife Sarah was having a rough go of it. Just a bad day over all. My first thought on how to comfort someone is always with food. So, on went the thinking cap. After a few minutes of going through some recipes, I came across one that my mother-in-law had sent to me to put in my cookbook. This recipe was passed down to my mother-in-law from her mother, Sarah’s late grandmother. She’s better known in the family as ‘Babci.’ (Babci is Polish for grandmother.) Unfortunately, Babci is no longer with us, but she touched the hearts of everyone she met. You could always count on her for a heartwarming hug “hello” and “goodbye.” To lead the family in prayer before each holiday meal or gathering. A phone call to sing “Sto Lat” (Traditional Polish Birthday song) to you on your birthday. And, to give you her honest opinion, whether you wanted it or not. Babci was a humble woman but so proud of her family. I would sometimes glance over at her at a family picnic or party and catch her looking around at everyone with a grin on her face, taking it all in. Her family was everything to her, as she was and still is everything to them.
I debated on making a few changes to the recipe to make it my own, but I left it as it is. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
As I was prepping the ingredients for the dish I asked Sarah if she remembered this from her childhood, to which she answered “No,” but was excited to try it. As it was coming together and the ingredients started to permeate the air, Sarah yells into the kitchen “You know, that does smell really familiar!” As it baked in the oven, the aromas intensify and our bellies are started to growl. After a few heavenly bites, Sarah was whisked away back in time to her Babci’s kitchen table. Nostalgia starts to set in and she begins to reminisce about memories with her Babci. Isn’t it crazy how food, or the taste or smell of something, can do that to you? It’s funny how comforting a simple meal can be when you cook with love. Have you ever tasted something so delicious and you can’t quite put your finger on what makes it taste that good? Well, I believe that’s the secret ingredient of love. Babci’s favorite ingredient.
I hope you guys enjoy the recipe as much as we did. This was my first time having it and it was quite delicious!
Babci’s Beef Noodle Casserole
4 cups medium egg noodles (4 cups uncooked egg noodles is the equivalent to cooked)
2 lbs ground beef
2/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (divided to 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
2 cans tomato soup (20.5 – 21 ounces total)
1 cup corn
1 cup green beans, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp salt
Pre-heat oven to 350°
1. In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Season water with salt and boil the noodles. Drain, toss with a touch of olive oil, and set aside.
2. In the same pot, add the ground beef and chopped onions. Cook until the beef has browned and onions are cooked. Be sure to break up the beef as you cook it. Drain off the fat.
3. Stir in the 1 1/2 cups of cheese to the beef and onions until the cheese has melted.
4. Gently stir in the tomato soup, cooked egg noodles, corn, green beans, water, yellow mustard, and salt.
5. Transfer to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.