Edible improv?

We’ve been in a food rut lately, so the other night we decided to improvise an old favorite. Cheeseburger pie is one of my – and my family’s – favorite recipes, yet we hadn’t had it in a very long time, probably because it takes somewhat longer than Hamburger Helper, another family favorite.

The way I fix it is already an improvisation of the original recipe, which comes from the cookbook created by my seventh grade class some twenty years ago (Thanks, Mrs. Dunham!) as part of a semester-long enrichment class. The original recipe calls for a flour crust but, try as I might, I was never able to get the crust to come out well. Instead of being tasty and delicious, it was always solid as a rock and just about as flavorful, so I switched to using a Peter Pan pizza crust mix (which is probably literally the same as just making a flour crust, except for the part where it turns out to be edible when I fix it). I also add way more cheese than the recipe calls for, because there’s nothing better than a great big cheesy cheeseburger, am I right?

Of course I’m right. 😀

The original recipe:

1 lb. ground beef (defrosted)
2 c. shredded cheese
5-7 Tbs. water
1-2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 450°. In large mixing bowl, combine 1 c. flour, 6 Tbs. water, and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon. Add more flour or water if needed. Grease an 8 x 2″ pan; pat in dough. Bake for 15 mins. Brown ground beef. Top crust with ground beef and shredded cheese; bake for 5 mins. Serve.

I use an 8 x 8″ pan (because I’ve never seen an 8 x 2″ pan and because 8 x 8″ is what I had in my cupboard growing up), which makes four servings. I’ve had to adapt it to feed teenagers, though, so now I use a 9 x 13″ pan instead, as well as 2 lbs. of hamburger and maybe about 6 c. of cheese (I was using 3-4 c. to start with, half cheddar and half mozzarella). If properly rolled, which I occasionally manage (or I just use two mixes), that one Peter Pan pizza crust mix will still fit in that 9 x 13″ pan without being too thick. Woot!

Crust thickness is where my recent improvisation ran into trouble. We’d bought a bunch of biscuits to use for donuts on a recent camping trip, but we had more left over than anticipated. Seymour suggested using them for the crust instead of buying a mix, and I thought, “Hey! That’s a pretty great idea!”

I thought we would simply place them in the pan and squish them together so that when we baked them, they’d bleed into each other to form a solid crust. Seymour thought we should combine them all together and then roll them out into a solid crust. Since I was busy browning the hamburger, I let him have at the crust.

Crust fail.

It wasn’t pretty.

Mmm, delicious meat.

But it was going to be covered by meat and cheese, so what did it matter, right? Well…it did matter. Not the looks part, but the ratio part. We had a lot of crust. A LOT. We had so much crust that two pounds of hamburger looked mighty skimpy. And six cups of cheese just wasn’t enough.

Okay, well, this could be salvageable…

From the top down, it looked great. We couldn’t wait to dig in. But it was not nearly as good as I was hoping, and not nearly as good as when I just fix it the way I normally do. This is the sort of thing I’d expect to see on Pinterest Fail.

Looks can be deceiving.

If I ever decide to try improvising like this again, I definitely won’t be rolling all the biscuits into a great big ball. Also, I think I might try using half the biscuits I used this time around and halving them once they’ve baked for a few minutes. Then maybe the crust wouldn’t be so huge.

Do you have any hilarious cooking mishaps to share? Please tell me I’m not alone! 🙂

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