It’s time to get out the grill, start digging in my flower beds and building the boxes for my raised-bed garden my husband, Rick, and I decided to put in the yard at the side of the house. We’re going to grow our own herbs and other vegetables I use in cooking and I can’t wait.
Spring time is also the time for decorations at many of the cemeteries in Walker County and a time for many family reunions, so I thought I would share a casserole recipe I created about two weeks ago while cooking my most favorite supper in the world, which is cowboy beans, macaroni and cheese and O’Brien hash brown potatoes.
I grew up eating cowboy beans and love to fix them for supper sometimes because it is one of the simplest dishes to make, and I generally always have the ingredients on hand anyway. It also brings back fond memories of when my mother fixed cowboy beans for us when we were growing and when I started making them for my own family.
Cowboy beans are nothing more than a can of pork-n-beans and scrambled ground beef mixed together with some diced onions, ketchup, brown sugar and some seasonings — but, man, they taste delicious.
Mother called them cowboy beans in order to get us to eat them and it worked. I can remember my brothers, sister and I quickly asking her to fix them whenever she would ask us what we want for supper.
She’d always make a big pot of them, because she knew we would fight if there wasn’t enough to go around, and fry some potatoes and make a box of macaroni and cheese to go with them, and we thought we were in hog heaven!
We thought we were eating like the cowboys did back in the Old West, and there was nothing on this earth that could be better than that, and I still feel that way sometimes. It always brings back a smile when I fix my most favorite supper.
I changed the recipe up a little bit over the years to make it easier to fix after working all day and coming home to make supper. Now I use canned baked beans instead of pork-n-beans, and sometimes I cut up some wienies and mix them with the ground beef before adding it to the beans. I also use hashbrowns potatoes instead of cutting up potatoes, but I still prepare a box of my favorite macaroni and cheese to go with it.
But the other night when I decided to cook mother’s famous cowboy bean supper, I suddenly realized the smallest can of beans I had was in a gallon size can. Oh, well there would be plenty of leftovers.
But after getting everything cooked I got this bright idea to turn my favorite meal into a casserole. So I started layering everything and added some extra cheese. It filled my large casserole dish, so I had to be careful when I popped it into the oven and cooked it until it was bubblin’ and the cheese had melted.
Then I ate helping after helping of it until I almost made myself sick. When Rick got home, he wanted to know what was on the stove, and I told him it was supper. It was a new recipe created from an old favorite, and it was called EJ’s Chuckwagon Supper.
He ate some and said it tasted like cowboy beans which made me laugh. I said, “That’s exactly what it is,” and he said, “Well, it’s good.” I told him I fixed them in a casserole, because I had to figure out a way to use the gallon of baked beans I had just cooked. He carried what was leftover to work with him and the guys in the press room liked the casserole too.
The casserole I created the other night used a gallon of beans, three bags of hash browns and one box of macaroni and cheese and would probably feed a large crowd.
But I tweaked the recipe so it would easily feed a family of four, not four hundred.
EJ’s Chuckwagon Supper
1 16 oz. can Bush’s Homestyle Baked Beans
2 packages Simply Potatoes O’Brien Hash Browns
1 box Kraft’s Original Macaroni and Cheese (cooked as directed on box)
1 pound ground beef
4 bun length Ball Park Franks (wieners) sliced in 1/4 inch chunks
1/2 cup of Kraft Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Brown ground beef and drain. Stir in the Ball Park Franks and beans and cook for another minute. Then remove from heat and set aside.
Cook hash browns and macaroni and cheese as directed on the package. Be sure to set aside a portion of the hash browns to add to top of the casserole.
Layer a portion of the hash browns into the bottom a greased 8 inch casserole dish, then add a layer of the meat/bean mixture and a layer of macaroni and cheese. Repeat until you use all the ingredients.
Top with the remaining hash browns and cheese.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until cassarole is bubbling and the cheese has melted and browning a little on top.