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Casseroles ......... bring 'em on!

I'm looking for something new in casseroles. New takes on old standards and classics too good to be forgotten also welcome! Casserole me up! I want a fridge full.

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  1. Rainey do you mean a freezer full, or actually a fridge full?

    This makes a firmish casserole, can be cut into moist squares, not spooned like a stew. I vary the ratio of eggs to cottage cheese if I have a surplus or shortage.

    Break 1# spaghetti (regular or the thin "angel hair" kind) into fourths, boil to "al dente" in salted water, drain. Add a little oil or butter to keep it from sticking to itself while you...

    Mix:

    4 eggs

    2 cups cottage cheese

    1 cup fresh grated Parmesan

    Thin sliced pepperoni -- I use packaged Hormel -- about 30 1" rounds, more or less.

    Garlic salt to taste

    Black pepper to taste

    Stir the egg/cheese mixture into the spaghetti. Pour into a 9 x 13 buttered pan and bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

    It's very good, (more than the sum of its parts,) not fancy, and I've frozen it successfully.

    5 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      I'm looking for a metaphorical fridge full.

      My husband, daughter and s-i-l all work long, irregular hours. It's been donkey ages since we've been able to sit down together for a weeknight meal. But if there are yummy casseroles in the fridge they can help themselves at 8pm or 10:30 or whenever. And I can even feed the baby from them or pack food for the office from them.

      Three or four at at time means variety and everyone can find something to their liking.

      Most recent offerings have been chili, lasagna, chicken pot pie and braised short ribs given new life in a hardy soup.

      Maybe I"ll break out some more of the short ribs for a cottage pie.

      1. re: rainey

        Here's a one dish meal with the vegetables already *in*.

        http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/egg... It's great.

        I admire your ambitious 3 or 4 at-a-time plan, I'd stagger them so I wouldn't end up with 4 casserole dishes at once to clean!
        And try frankfurters/sausage over scalloped corn. Anything chicken-y over waffles.

      2. re: blue room

        My son might actually eat that. I'll probably have to grind the cottage cheese up to remove the curd factor, but I will give this a try. Thanks

        1. re: Isolda

          Or use ricotta.

          1. re: Jay F

            My son hates ricotta. He'd know in an instant if I used it. But cottage cheese would be new to him, so he might try it.

      3. I love nothing more than Lasagne Bolognese, but I don't always feel like making my own pasta (and boxed lasagne is just not for me). Instead, I make bechamel with plenty of parmigiano-reggiano, and a full pot of Bolognese, and use a pound of cavatappi for a baked Cavatapi Bolognese casserole.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Jay F

          Jay F I had to look up cavatappi, new to me and neat looking!

          1. re: blue room

            It's my favorite shape of box pasta -- well, it and capellini. I buy them both 5 boxes at a time from Amazon. It's around $2 a pound that way instead of $3 at the store.

            http://www.amazon.com/Cecco-Cavatappi...

            http://www.amazon.com/Cecco-Capellini...

            1. re: Jay F

              Jay, I don't know where you are, but Kroger and Marsh here in Indiana often have both for 1.29 per pound. Kroger has their Private Selection house brand and I believe Marsh is De cecco. And it seems like Kroger has a version of itself everywhere.

              1. re: silvergirl

                I'm in Pittsburgh, SG, and we don't have either of those stores. We used to have Kroger, but no longer. Thanks, though.

          2. re: Jay F

            Hey Jay F,

            care to share your recipe for Bolognese?

            1. re: Barbarella

              It's basically Marcella Hazan's recipe, only I often use ground turkey (7% fat--DO NOT USE FAT FREE) instead of my usual combo of 1/2 ground pork and 1/2 ground beef.

              I'm kind of guessing at amounts here:

              For 2# of ground meat, I saute a chopped onion, 2 diced carrots and 2 diced celery stalks, and when the onion is translucent, I add the meat and break it into chunks. I do this in a 5.5 qt Le Creuset French oven, btw.

              When the meat is kind of gray all the way through, I add white wine, about a cup, and let that evaporate slowly, cooking on low. When the wine is absorbed into the meat, I do the same with milk or cream, about 1/2 cup.

              When the meat mixture has absorbed all the liquid, I grate a little nutmeg, and maybe add a few sage leaves. I add a little S&P at this point, too. Then I add in a 28-oz. can of tomatoes, and let it all cook on low, covered, for an hour. I check it every 15 minutes or so. You may find after doing it this way that you prefer more tomato. Fine. I like it a little more meaty than tomato-y, but I know others like it with more tomato.

              When the vegetables are nice and soft, I take off the lid and let the sauce simmer at the lowest possible temperature--just the slightest bubbling--for a few hours. Six hours is supposedly how long you should let it simmer, but I have a hard time waiting six hours sometimes.

              If it dries out too much, you can add water and keep cooking. I don't often have that problem, but sometimes it's hard for people to get their burner to go low enough, and I suppose you could burn the sauce if that's an issue for you.

              You can make the pasta and the besciamella for lasagne while you're making the Bolognese. I use Marcella's recipe for besciamella, but I prefer Giuliano Bugialli's pasta recipe, which uses a little olive oil, which I think makes the dough easier to roll through the hand-crank machine.

          3. Tuna noodle casserole. Usually I get the idea to make this during Lent. So easy!

            6 Replies
            1. re: monavano

              I make what I call Disgusting Tuna Noodle Casserole. It's noodles, mushroom soup mixed with cream and Worcestershire, deli-sliced swiss cheese, tuna packed in oil, and potato chips of choice.

              1. re: Jay F

                Every once and a while I HAVE to have this. And it HAS to have the crunched up potato chips! What can I say? It's my childhood and I like it!

                1. re: Jay F

                  Tuna casserole is so fun to "doctor" up and one of the classic ways to use cream soup. Gotta have peas!

                  1. re: Jay F

                    wow, that does sound disgusting!

                  2. re: monavano

                    Beware the 1975 "Joy of Cooking" tuna casserole. It calls for 1 cup of condensed mushroom soup, and *no* other liquid. It's been discussed before on Chowhound, it's not a correct recipe.

                    1. re: blue room

                      Why do you think that recipe is incorrect? I think that is how it is (or was) made. Adding liquid to already cooked pasta and tuna would turn into soup.

                  3. I made Homesick Texan's fancified King Ranch Chicken casserole last winter and both H and I loved it. It looks pretty barfy, but tastes wonderful. I'm sure I'll make it again this winter.

                    http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/200...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: agoodbite

                      Thanks. Copying the recipe into my database.

                      1. re: agoodbite

                        Thanks for this! I can't tell you how many batches of King Ranch Casserole I have made in my life. My first taste of this was after my third child was born. A neighbor brought it to me and I had to have the recipe! I was so shocked by the soups. I never used soups as an ingredient. But I loved it so much, I made it anyways, many times. My grown sons still mention King Ranch Casserole from time to time. I think what is so addictive is the sharp pepper flavor with the starchy sauce. My King Ranch always looked like glop! And yet we loved it. Thanks for linking to an updated recipe.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          You're welcome! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I agree that the contrast between the green chiles and the starchy sauce is what makes sets it apart. Oddly enough, my husband thought it had no chance of tasting good, but he loved it even more than the ones he'd eaten made with creamed canned soup.

                        2. re: agoodbite

                          Don't know if I did it "wrong" or not -- I *suck* at following directions -- but mine was not soupy and doesn't look "barfy" in the least. It looks like lasagna. In fact, I dearly wanted to add a queso blanco & egg layer and go all the way to lasagna.

                          I anticipated that the sauce would be tomato-y. In fact, it's brown and piquant from the fond from browning the chicken. Looks wonderful!

                          Alas! I'm waiting for the family to try it and give me their verdict as I don't eat things with dairy or grains anymore.

                          1. re: rainey

                            I'm glad you had success with it! I also suck at following directions and I'm sure my proportions were off since I was using what I had on hand. Can't wait to hear what your family has to say about it.

                            1. re: rainey

                              They're loving it!

                              I've put the recipe in my database with the note that next time I add a layer of queso blanco stirred together with a couple eggs in between the two chicken/tortilla layers. I'm also going to add sliced ripe olives to the melty cheddar on top as soon as it comes from the oven.

                          2. If you like quinoa...I fall back on this one often. http://recipesrandycooks.com/2011/01/...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: LiveRock

                              Sounds delicious.

                            2. Do Chinese Claypots fit the bill for something you would be interested in?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: fourunder

                                'Fraid I don't even know what a Chinese Claypot is. ...altho I do have an unglazed Rumtopf if that helps.

                              2. I have a huge one in the oven right now as I am expecting visiting family whose plane just landed and I am sitting here waiting for them with dinner, a baked version of Arroz con Pollo. A big casserole with pieces of browned chicken breast, little tiny frozen onions, frozen green peas, mushrooms and sweet red peppers sauteed, then raw rice, then fill up the dish with homemade chicken stock with saffron added. Cover with foil and bake for an hour or longer until the rice is done but not split. Garnish with black olives. Serve with sangria. BTW I browned the chicken yesterday but some day will experiment using bought fried chicken to save work.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Querencia

                                  YUM!

                                  1. re: Querencia

                                    I was going to suggest the same thing. It really works well.

                                  2. Here's a gem, quick and easy---Instant Chicken and Dumplings. Buy frozen pierogies, the Polish dumplings filled with mashed potato. Dump them frozen into a big deep casserole. Add as much boneless skinless chicken breast as you want, raw. Fill to the top with the chicken stock that comes in a carton. Cover with foil. Bake at 350* for an hour and a half.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Querencia

                                      Querencia, I have a bunch of pierogies in my freezer and would love to try this. Can you give me a sense of how much chicken stock in proportion to the pierogies and chicken? Enough to cover them , I'm assuming? Have you ever added vegetables to the mix?

                                    2. I am going to recommend the Macaroni and Cheese recipe in the latest edition of Joy of Cooking. The only change I would make is to add crumbled cheese crackers instead of buttered crumbs for the topping. I've had occasion to make it several times in the last year, and it is very good and very rich. (I can't eat it myself unfortunately.)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        The '97 JofC? Got it! I'll check it out tho my family is very fond of the M&C I've been making for 50 years or so. ;>

                                        1. re: rainey

                                          No, the 2006 ed., p. 326.

                                          However the recipe in the 1997 ed, on p. 320 seems to be essentially the same. I also note that there is a tuna noodle casserole in the '97 ed. on the next page.

                                      2. Nice play on King Ranch casserole, barfy-looking though it may be, is to make the meat mixture and layer it over torn up corn tortillas, top with shredded cheese, and bake.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: mamachef

                                          Decent green (canned) green chiles and plenty of them are important also. H's only complaint is that the sauce-to-tortilla ratio was off in a too-soupy way. I'm a recipe deviator in that I use what's on hand, but I'll tighten up my interpretation next time.

                                          1. re: agoodbite

                                            So true. I agree that the green chiles are what makes this dish. and it's good too if it's not swimming in itself. :) Which brings us to the next interpretion: layered over potatoes, thinly-sliced; and baked - or just baking the whole thing topped with can-pop biscuits and ladle the results over the biscuits to your desired degree of soup-levelness.

                                            1. re: mamachef

                                              I can see how the biscuits might work, but I'm not on board. The nixtamalized flavor of the corn tortillas is integral to the outcome.

                                              1. re: agoodbite

                                                I'm going to tag this on to your little sub thread because of the green chiles in this recipe. I saw this in last Sunday's Parade magazine and made it a couple of days ago. I actually made it first thing in the morning and served it later that night (along with some chicken thighs and broccoli that I did in my 7.5 qt Dutch oven) after reheating a few squares of it in the microwave for 2 minutes.

                                                This "egg, cheese and green chile" casserole is very quiche like and came out perfectly after 45 minutes at the lower temperature (starts out at 400 degrees for the first 15 minutes to brown the top). Really very tasty and I'll be making this many more times without a doubt.

                                                http://www.dashrecipes.com/recipes/su...

                                        2. Thanks for all the great ideas. Keep 'em coming!

                                          I think tomorrow I'm going to try the King Ranch thing. Wonder if I could do it with a rotisserie chicken tossed in lime juice and a taco seasoning spice blend.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: rainey

                                            You can certainly use whatever precooked chicken you have. The "old" way was to cook the chicken first, so using rotisseried chicken would eliminate that step. Often that supermarket chicken is awfully juicy, so I don't know if that would affect the final product or not. The updated version seems like it might be soupy to begin with.

                                          2. i make something a co-worker invented called "Special-T 2000". it's a pasta bake.

                                            preheat the oven to 350. boil a pound of your favorite pasta (i use rotoni), until a little less than al-dente (this is important, because if you cook it until it's done, you will end up with overcooked pasta. this way, some of the sauce will be absorbed into the pasta during baking, the two will become one, and you'll end up with much better tasting, perfectly cooked pasta). next, brown (a huge cast iron skillet is best for this, but use whatever you have) about a pound and a half of hamburger and a pound and a half of sliced italian sausage. the key here is to really brown it -- don't just wait until it's grey and call it a day. throw in a ton of chopped onion and garlic, and sautee until translucent. then add pasta, and two jars of your favorite pasta sauce (i use newman's own sockarooni and it tastes great, i used classico once and it was terrible, so be careful what you use here). mix it all together, heat it up on the stove top for a few minutes and throw it in the oven for a half hour or until you get a nice crust all the way around. the good thing about cast iron is that it will give the bottom a good crust too, which is important if you want the perfect casserole. lastly, put a ton of grated mozzarella and parmesan on the top, so that you can't see any red. switch the oven to broil, and cook until the top is nicely browned.

                                            if you're not refrigerating right away, you're gonna wanna let the casserole cool for at least fifteen minutes before digging in. this way it will set up enough to come out in nice squares, and wont be burning hot when you eat it so you can wolf it down immediately.

                                            1. Here is a dish I make in the crockpot, but don't see any reason it could not be baked in an oven. We really like it, and I have received many compliments on it when served to a group.

                                              Sauerkraut Supper

                                              3 strips thick-sliced, hickory-smoked bacon -- cut in small pieces
                                              3 medium small Idaho potatoes* -- cubed
                                              2 large Granny Smith apples -- cored and cubed
                                              2 pounds Polish sausage, sliced -- remove casing to slice
                                              3 teaspoons brown sugar
                                              1 1/2 teaspoons flour
                                              1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
                                              2 27-oz cans sauerkraut**
                                              1/2 cup water

                                              Fry bacon and Polish sausage until crisp. Remove from skillet. Add flour to drippings in skillet and blend well. Stir in sauerkraut; mix well. Place sauerkraut mixture, bacon and sausage pieces, and all other ingredients in a very large bowl; stir together thoroughly. Put in crockpot. Cover and cook on Low 7 to 9 hours. (High: 3 to 4 hours).

                                              *Not real small, but not large, large.
                                              **I like to buy two 32-oz jars of Bush's Best Shredded Sauerkraut; use one whole jar and all but approximately 10 oz of the other jar.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                I love sauerkraut cooked slow and low until it turns sweet don't even need the sugar. I do something like this with spareribs or pork chops. And sometimes the second day I stir in some sour cream. Ever tried that? Yum!

                                                1. re: rainey

                                                  No, rainey, I have tried the sour cream. But, I have added your note to my recipe so that I can try it the next time I make this dish. Sounds yummmy!

                                              2. I made this Mexican Lasagna for friends and it was a big hit. There are lots of recipes out there for this kind of thing.

                                                http://letsdishrecipes.blogspot.com/2...

                                                Also, I make a "ravioli lasagna" for my kids and they like it. Basically, buy fresh ravioli (refrigerated like Buitoni) and layer it with sauce and cheese in a casserole dish. You can add vegetables or cooked sausage or ground beef or whatever and bake, topped with cheese.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: valerie

                                                  Oh, valerie, your message reiminded me a dish I used to prepare when lots of teenagers were here - they inhaled it and told their friends about it so those friends wanted to come over and have it; nearly all of them asked me for the recipe to share with their moms.

                                                  Baked Ravioli

                                                  1 pound ground beef or turkey or Italian sausage
                                                  1 pkg frozen beef or cheese ravioli
                                                  1 28-oz to 32-oz jar tomato and basil marinara sauce
                                                  2 cup shredded Mozarella cheese

                                                  Brown ground beef. Mix all ingredients together in a very large bowl, then place in a 9 X 13 pan sprayed with Pam. Cover and bake at 350˚ for 35 minutes. Uncover; add more cheese on top. Turn oven off and replace ravioli in oven for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

                                                  Serving Ideas: Serve with garlic bread and salad.

                                                2. Baked Ziti- this gets raves plus freezes beautifully

                                                  4 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
                                                  3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
                                                  1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
                                                  1 yellow onion, chopped
                                                  3 garlic cloves, minced
                                                  1/2 cup dry red wine
                                                  1 can (28 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes with juices
                                                  5 oz. ziti, cooked until al dente
                                                  1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
                                                  1/3 cup rinsed chopped Kalamata olives
                                                  2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
                                                  Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
                                                  1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

                                                  Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

                                                  In a 10-inch nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

                                                  Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and warm 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, under tender and browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

                                                  Set the pan over medium heat and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage, pasta, basil, olives, 2 cups of the mozzarella and the tomato sauce to the bowl with the eggplant and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta mixture to 9 by 13 pyrex dish (any lasagna pan will do) and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover the pan and broil at 500°F for 5 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

                                                  1. I seldom pass up a chance to recommend this one:

                                                    Brown Rice & Cheese Casserole
                                                    A classic, courtesy of Oma (Elisabeth Wiley), and perhaps my favorite casserole of all time...
                                                    Kinda halfway between a soufflé and a risotto. I still need to have this at least a couple of times
                                                    a year, and honestly would be happy eating it a couple of times a week.

                                                    2 eggs, lightly beaten
                                                    1/2 cup heavy cream
                                                    1/3 cup water
                                                    1½ cup cooked brown rice (3/4 cup uncooked) [Oma says she uses a bit more than this]
                                                    1¼ cup freshly grated Cheddar (10oz bar = 2½ c)
                                                    salt to taste (preferably Herbamare seasoned salt...)
                                                    1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (½ med. pepper, can use green, red, or both for a festive look)
                                                    2 Tb grated onion {Oma uses a little more here too}

                                                    Preheat oven to 350°. Beat eggs together with cream and water. Stir into cooked
                                                    rice. Add cheese, salt, green pepper & onion. Mix well. Turn into an oiled casserole
                                                    dish and bake 45 minutes or until set.

                                                    serves 2 - recipe times 9 is enough for 20 people

                                                    tender variant uses 1/2 cup water and steamed, skinned peppers

                                                    proportions for larger batches
                                                    for double recipe:
                                                    4 eggs, lightly beaten
                                                    1 cup heavy cream
                                                    2/3 cup water
                                                    3 cups cooked brown rice (1½ cup uncooked) [and a bit more]
                                                    2½ cups freshly grated Cheddar (10oz bar)
                                                    salt to taste (or Herbamare...)
                                                    1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (1 med. pepper)
                                                    4 Tb grated onion {and a little extra}

                                                    1. Mushroom - Barley Casserole - by James Beard
                                                      Absolutely wonderful!! A favorite in our family for decades.

                                                      3/4 cup (12 Tb) butter, plus a little for the almonds
                                                      1/2 lb firm white mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
                                                      2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
                                                      1½ cups pearl barley
                                                      3 cups stock (a bit more may be necessary)
                                                      salt to taste (if using salted stock, this may be omitted)
                                                      ½ cup finely slivered almonds (optional)

                                                      Melt 4 Tb of the butter in a skillet and saute the mushrooms for 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

                                                      Melt the remaining butter and saute the onions until they are soft and wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside.

                                                      Add the barley and stir over medium heat until the barley becomes beautifully brown- this is important as it improves both the flavor and texture.

                                                      Return the mushrooms and onions to the pan and combine well with the barley.

                                                      Transfer to a two-quart casserole and add 1½ cups of the stock. Cover and cook in a 350° oven for half an hour.

                                                      Add remaining 1½ cups stock and cook 30 minutes longer. If you're adding salt this is the time.
                                                      If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more stock- the barley should be tender, not mushy.

                                                      Toast the slivered almonds in butter and add to the barley just before serving

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                        I just LOVE barley but, unfortunately, I've given up eating ALL grains. Still, I can see that you could substitute reconstituted dried wild mushrooms for the white mushrooms and add a little sherry and the mushroom soaking water to the stock and come up with something terrific.

                                                        I'm not seeing too much in the way of herbs. Do you have a favorite flavor to add to this?

                                                      2. In researching this new (for me) staple of cooking I found this interesting recipe for making an alternative to canned condensed soups. http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,2348,... Note the differences in calories, fat, sodium and cost. Plus, the artificial ingredients are limited to the bouillon or soup base -- the significant ingredient, to be sure, but I still would be willing to guess that it's also lower than commercial condensed soups.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                          Our coop sells cream-of-mushroom-type soups. I haven't actually read any of the labels but suspect they have fewer ingredients that sound like they came from a chemical factory.

                                                        2. Splendid Table had a segment with Martha Rose Shulman a few weeks ago. She had a basic recipe for making a kind of a casserole with vegies in season, and eggs, a little bit of rice and some cheese, and some onion and whatever herbs sound good.

                                                          She said it was good hot for dinner, reheated for lunches and could be cut into squares for appetizers, hot or room temp. Here's the recipe with zucchini:

                                                          http://www.publicradio.org/columns/sp...

                                                          And here's the audio from the Martha Rose Shulman segment:
                                                          http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: karykat

                                                            LOVE Splendid Table!

                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                              I'm figuring on this Martha Rose Shulman casserole with stuff from our farmers market until the snow flies.

                                                          2. I made this Tuna Casserole recipe from Chow and it was really good. It does not use condensed soup.
                                                            http://www.chow.com/recipes/10889-tun...