Tag Archives: fail

Chuck Wagon Skillet


“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”
— Robert Burns, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough”, 1785

All ingredients assembled per recipe directions? Check.

Heat reduced to low? Check.

Checking the food every ten minutes or so to make sure that all is well? Check.

Smell of burning? ……Dang. Check. :(

I had my trepidations about this recipe, and I ignored my gut feeling. The result was somewhat of a disaster. I’m noticing a pattern here: this recipe is from the same source as the failed Easy Pork Chop Rice Bake, and has a very similar problem. There simply was not enough liquid to prevent the dish from burning. Not a good sign for future reliability.

The flavor of the unburned portion was pretty good, but the pasta was still hard and crunchy. I think that I could rework this recipe without too much trouble, by doing the following:

– Cook the pasta in advance. Hoping that it will miraculously self-cook, as the author of this recipe seems to have done, is unrealistic.

– Brown the ground beef and onion together, and layer over the pasta in a 13” x 9” Pyrex dish.

– Layer the remaining ingredients per the original recipe directions, omit the extra water, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour.

I really don’t think that this would be a difficult fix, and I’m a little disappointed that the original recipe led to a burned mess of what could have been a really delicious casserole. The next time that I attempt a “Peggy’s Kitchen” recipe from the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, I’m going to follow my instincts. I have been fooled twice now, and it’s time to wise up. In the meantime, here are the pictures and directions for what I did cook. While today’s post is filed under the ‘fail’ tag, I took on this recipe blog with the intent to be transparent and honest whenever things didn’t go according to plan. If I can learn from my own mistakes, others can learn from them as well.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 2 cups medium noodles, uncooked
  • 1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water



In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the butter until tender.


Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper, and cook until browned.


Layer into the skillet the cheese,






and noodles.


Pour the tomatoes and water over the top.


Cover, and heat to steaming.

Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.


Serves 6.

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Easy Pork Chop Rice Bake


Sometimes, despite the best of intentions and pre-cooking checks, things do not go according to plan. This recipe sounded tasty, and it came from a trusted source: the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company. I was a little suspicious of the long cook time, but a similar technique worked well in the Sherried Beef recipe I published a while back, so I proceeded according to directions. When I removed the casserole from the oven, however, I was instantly alerted to the fact that something was Not Right. The rice was quite dark around the edges, and things looked… well, burned. I tasted the results anyway, and ended up going to the store for a frozen pizza. The pork chops were salvageable; the rest was a crunchy, unpleasant mess.

The main problem is that the rice burned during cooking. I think that this is due to a combination of factors: long cooking time, cooking uncovered, and failure of the liquid to fully penetrate the rice. In a future revision, I would like to try the following modifications:

– Add a bit more liquid to the casserole. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of water; I would increase this by at least a quarter cup, if not a half cup.

– Add a layer of fresh mushrooms. These will release liquid during cooking, and also add delicious flavor.

– Cover the casserole with aluminum foil.

– Reduce the cooking time. 1 hour 45 minutes is not required to fully cook either pork chops or rice.

Until then, here is the casserole that I did cook, complete with pictures. I’m interested in any additional ideas readers have for how to salvage this recipe!


  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 package onion soup mix, divided
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


In a lightly greased 9” x 9” x 2” baking dish, spread the rice evenly and cover with half of the onion soup mix.


Place the pork chops on top of the rice.


Combine the cream of mushroom soup, water, and remaining onion soup mix, and pour over the pork chops.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 45 minutes.


Serves 4.

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