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Marilyn Hagerty: Hotdish is a hearty winter mainstay

So much for burgers and hot dogs. So much for eating out all the time. It's January and time to bring on the hotdish. Or casserole. Or whatever you call it.

It's a mainstay for many a family. And at the home of Judi and David Loer in East Grand Forks, it's been a mainstay for more than 50 years of marriage.

Now the three grandboys who live nearby enjoy their grandmother's hotdish. It's the simple macaroni, hamburger hot dish with tomato and cream of chicken soup.

Never corn!

She serves that separately with bran muffins.

Judi's hotdish

Here's the way Judi Loer creates what she calls Grandma's Hotdish:

3 cups elbow macaroni

1½ pounds ground beef

2 cans tomato soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

Brown the ground beef and season it with a small amount of salt, pepper and minced onion. Drain and set aside. Cook the macaroni until almost tender. Drain and mix with the soups and ground beef. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 13 to 15 minutes stirring a couple of times.

Judi Loer serves the hotdish with corn, bran muffins, carrots sticks and some fruit.

Never, she says, does she ever put the corn in the hotdish. The grandsons don't like it that way. And she doesn't add salt to the hotdish because the soups provide enough sodium.

When her grandsons were younger, they were happy with just a spoonful of hotdish on their plates. Now as they range from ages 12 to 15, they fill their whole plates and come back for seconds. This time of year, Loer says the boys are busy with basketball. And they all play in the bands at their schools.

The hotdish, she says, has grown along with them.

Eating out

Loer figures she's in the cook-at-home generation. Just starting down the road of the 70s, she says, "We only ate out as a rare treat when I was growing up. And we couldn't afford it when we had a young family.''

These days she and her husband enjoy eating out—maybe one night a week or after church on Sunday. They are out and about enough to partake of concession food or quick stop meals on the way to or from games.

She cringes at the thought of her husband's favorite foot-long hot dog with fried onions at the Minnesota State Fair. But she enjoys the cheese curds, Oof-da Tacos and french fries as well as caramel apple slices and malts.

"Hot dish sounds really good after that," she said.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.