Tradition is the foundation of my kitchen. So many dishes come from ones cooked by my grandmothers while I watched with starry eyes. Over the years I have added to my recipe collection but I have always held dear our family favorites. They may not be the fanciest (think egg noodles with cottage cheese or chopped meat and scrambled eggs!) but we love them none the less. Today would have marked my Great Grandma Zam’s 108th birthday. She’ll be celebrating in heaven but she’s still in our hearts and in my kitchen.
They say that dishes get “flavored” through use and this is one of my favorite ones. I can’t count the number of casseroles, meatballs, lasagnas, and so on that have been baked in this dish but I do know that everything I make in it always seems a bit more magical. It was a staple in Grandma’s kitchen and now in mine. I’ll cook in it for my children as she did for hers. With trusted Elsie and Elmer by its side, anything I make, can’t go wrong. So remembering my Grandmother and wishing her the happiest of birthday’s, it may not be exact, but here’s the Conti households’ Grandma Zam’s Macaroni and Beef.
1 box elbow pasta
2 can tomato soup
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 TBS Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the elbows until just al dente.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat over medium-high heat. Drizzle with EVOO. Add in the onions and garlic to the pan and cook for 4 minutes until the onions are just starting to turn translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the beef, Worcestershire, and 1 tsp of both salt and pepper. Cook through, about 8 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and add the tomato soup and bay leaf. Stir to combine and warm through.
Remove from heat and add in cheese. Stir until melted completely. Bake covered for 30 minutes, until bubbling and beginning to brown on the edges.
This dish is the perfect go to for a cool November night. The memories in it fill our house with love and warmth. I’ll be dedicating dinner to you Grandma Zam, with a little bit of orange jello and some cool whip to go with it 🙂
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian a.k.a. Loving Great Grand-daughter