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Beef Noodle Casserole with Cheddar-Crumb Topping

Busy cooking week! We're eating well at our house!

I found this in a book I got at the library. It sounds great. I wasn't that impressed. It was very burnt on the edges after less than 9 hours in my crockpot, and then the topping was a little dry too... of course I didn't leave it the full 30 minutes they suggested, because it was already burnt... don't know... Chad liked it... maybe if I could be home and watch it on a weekend... Plus even though I prepared most of it last night, it's still kind of fussy for a casserole, let a lone one in the crockpot...

Beef Noodle Casserole with Cheddar-Crumb Topping
From The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, by Judith Finlayson, p 90-91

2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1# lean ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dry mustard
1 can (10 oz) condensed beef broth (undiluted)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
4 oz cream cheese, softened and cubed
8 oz egg noodles, cooked and drained

1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring and breaking up with the back of a spoon, until no longer pink. About 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off liquid in pan.
2. Add remaining oil to pan, return to element and reduce heat to medium. Add onions and celery and cook until softened. Add garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and mustartd. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add beef broth, tomato sauce, and cream cheese and cook, stirring until cheese is melted.
3. To assemble casserole: Spoon ½ cup tomato sauce mixture in bottom of slow cooker stoneware. Cover with a alayer of meat, then noodles. Repeat finishing with a layer of sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, until mixture is hot and bubbling.
4. To make Cheddar-Crumb topping: In a bowl, combine bread crumbs and butter. Add cheese and stir to combine. Spread over casserole and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and top is bubbling.

MAKE AHEAD:
This dish can be partially prepared the night before it is cooked. Complete Steps 1 and 2, chilling cooked meat and onion mixture separately. Refrigerate overnight. The next morning, continue cooking as directed in Steps 3 and 4. To facilitate preparation the night before you plan to cook this casserole, shred cheddar cheese, cover and refrigerate.