Still sick, but wanted to do SOMETHING with my day for once, and when running out of easy-to-grab food, I figured I'd cook something up using stuff that we have around the apartment (plus some onion and peppers Jeff picked up for me yesterday). So, I came up with a beef and potato bake (that's currently in the oven!). I used this recipe that I found as a rough starting point (and for the cheese sauce idea). But here's what I did.
1. brown 1 lb ground beef. While browning, chop up 1 med red onion and 1/2 large bell pepper (I had yellow on hand and like it for it's sweetness cause i'm making this a spicy dish!)
2. drain beef in a colander and return pan to heat. Add onions and pepper to pan. Garlic would be good here as well if you have some on hand - I was out. Sprinkle on garlic powder, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes in whatever amount looks yummy to you. Stir occasionally on med heat until onions begin to become translucent.
3. Meanwhile, cut 3-4 large red potatoes into bite-sized chunks without removing skin. Add to a pot of water and begin to boil just to soften a bit - they do not need to cook fully, this is just to help them cook faster in the oven. Alternately, you could slice them and skip this step as the original recipe calls, but I wanted chunky pieces and not mush in the end.
4. Mix all of the ground beef and veggies together in a big bowl. Drain potato chunks and let cool a bit.
5. Begin making a cheese sauce by using the same pan you cooked everything in already and adding about 2 tbsp butter (i used the end of a stick, so it was closer to 2.5 for me). and about 2 tbsp of flour. cook this until the butter is melted and it is incorporated, and then begin adding 3/4 cup of milk a little at a time and stir to thicken.
6. Meanwhile, Spray your casserole pan (mine was 9x9" glass) with a bit of cooking spray, and put a layer of the beef mixture into the bottom of the pan. Cover with a layer of potato pieces and repeat to use up all of your ingredients. Mine made 2 nice layers of each.
7. Your sauce should be getting nice and thick and brownish from the beef drippings still left on the pan (that's why i didn't use another pan as in original instructions - extra flavor!). Add 1/2 cup of grated cheese (i had Mexican cheese on hand from tacos yesterday so we're going extra zesty) and some seasoning - salt/pepper and i used a small amount of a spice in the drawer called Paniolo Roundem Up 6 Pepper Salt that has salt, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, coriander, white pepper, chilli pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper and chipotle chili pepper all together in it - but you use what you like. simple nutmeg would also be good instead if you're going for a less firey dish.
8. Stir up your sauce to melt the cheese and incorporate everything, and then pour it over top of your potatoes and meat.
9. Top with some extra grated cheese and paprika or (what i used) chili powder!
Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees?) for about 1 hour............
....... i've got a couple minutes till this comes out of the oven and a while till i eat it, so i'll let you know how it turns out!