You can adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes and pantry. For example, I always omit the mushrooms and sometimes the celery. I really like the zip added by green olives, so I am generous with those.
When you first add the noodles to the tomatoes, you will not be sure this is going to work since there doesn't seem to be enough liquid. It will. You can see the pre-simmered and post-simmered versions in the pictures below. Let me just add, however, it is almost impossible to get an attractive picture of a casserole. So don't be put off by the pictures. It's quite tasty!
Ground Beef Casserole
1 ½ - 2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup diced celery
½ cup chopped onion
Salt and pepper
2 cans (28 oz. size) tomatoes
½ cup sliced olives, green or black
½ small can sliced water chestnuts
1 small can mushroom pieces (optional)
1 – 1 ½ cups cubed sharp cheddar cheese
6 oz. egg noodles, uncooked
½ - ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Break apart the ground beef in a skillet, season with salt and pepper and brown until fully cooked. Drain off fat. Add celery and onion and cook until tender. (You can cook the onion and celery at the same time you brown the meat to save time, but they will absorb more fat.)
Put tomatoes in large saucepan. (I use whole canned tomatoes and cut them up and core them before adding to pan.) Add beef, olives, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Simmer on low heat while you cube up the cheese. Add the cubed cheese and noodles. Simmer over low heat about 15 minutes, or until noodles are tender.
Transfer to casserole dish. Cover with shredded cheese. Bake at 325 degrees about 30 minutes.