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Jan 24, 2012 03:30 PM

tasty, freezable cassersoles -- please help if you can

I belong to a group that prepares and freezes casseroles for members of our church when anyone has a need. We're meeting at the end of this month to present new ideas, new recipes for our group to prepare. We've been asked to bring our "easiest, freezable, nutritious-but-tasty" casserole recipes. I'm single, and hardly ever prepare casseroles anymore, though I love many of them. Would you please share your best recipes that fit the criteria I've been given? I'll be grateful, as I know the families who receive them will be. Thank you.

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  1. This isn't exactly a classic casserole but could easily be frozen for a needy congregant. It is from a long-out-of-print diabetic cookbook but I've used it many many times for church and other suppers. Low carb and very yummy.

    Tofu Chicken Casserole with Mushrooms and Artichokes
    • Nonstick cooking spray or olive oil
    • 1 lb. extra firm tofu
    • ¾ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
    • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
    • 1 cup broth
    • 2 T. cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
    • 2 T. plain nonfat yogurt
    • 1 T. dry sherry
    • ½ t. salt
    • Coarsely ground pepper to taste
    • 1 t. dried tarragon (or 1 T. fresh)
    • 1 t. garlic powder
    • 1 c. halved fresh or thawed frozen artichoke hearts (or artichoke quarters)
    • Dash of paprika
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 2- or 3-quart casserole dish with the cooking spray (or oil) and set aside.
    Drain the block of tofu and press between several thicknesses of paper towels to remove excess moisture. Cut tofu into ½ inch slices. You should have about 1 2/3 cups. Heat medium skillet, lightly coat with oil or cooking spray, brown pieces of tofu until they are golden, drain and set aside.
    Heat the same skillet again and lightly brown chicken on both sides, drain, pull or cut into smaller pieces, and set aside.
    Heat skillet again, add mushroom slices, and brown. Remove skillet from heat and hold on the side.
    Heat broth in saucepan and add dissolved cornstarch. Add the yogurt, sherry, salt, pepper, tarragon, and garlic. Cook on low heat until the sauce is warmed through and immediately turn it into the skillet with the mushrooms. Over a low heat, mix the ingredients thoroughly.
    In the prepared casserole, layer the tofu, chicken, and the artichokes, repeating layers until all ingredients are gone. Pour the sauce and the mushrooms on top. Sprinkle paprika over and bake for about 40 minutes until browned. Serve.
    Makes 6 servings of 1 cup each.

    1. Hanks Rice Casserole and Variations
      1.5 lbs ground chuck
      1 medium onion, chopped
      2 ribs celery, chopped
      2 carrots, chopped
      2 tbls tomato paste
      8 oz sliced mushrooms
      1 tsp dried thyme
      2 tbls flour
      1 tbl vegetable oil
      1.5 cups long grain white rice, cooked
      1 can tomato soup
      1 tsp paprika
      1 tbl minced garlic
      1 tsp brown sugar (optional if it is getting to acidic for you)
      ½ cup beef broth
      Brown the ground beef in a med high skillet. Lower the temperature a little, add some salt and pepper and sweat the onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, thyme, paprika and tomato paste and stir it to thoroughly incorporate the tomato paste. Taste it now and see if it is too acidic. If it is add the sugar.
      Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and mix it in for about 2 minutes. Add the beef broth. Stir until it thickens.
      Spread the meat mixture over the bottom of a 9 x 13 pyrex baking pan. Spread the rice over the meat. Completely cover the meat. Poke several holes through the rice with the handle of a spoon.
      Mix the tomato soup and a half a can of water. Spread this mixture over the rice with a spatula. You may not need all of it. No need to make it soupy. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Serve.
      Italian – use 1 lb ground chuck and ½ lb Italian sausage. Use pasta sauce instead of the tomato soup. Use Italian spices instead of or in addition to the thyme.
      Mexican – Use 1 lb ground chuck and 1/2 lb chorizo. Use chopped bell pepper instead of the celery and carrots. Add a can of rotelle spiced tomatoes instead of the broth. Add a tbl of chile powder instead of the paprika and more to the tomato soup. You can even add cheese on top.
      Cajun – Use 1 lb ground chuck and ½ lb andouille sausage. Use chopped bell pepper instead of the celery and carrots. Add a can of rotelle spiced tomatoes instead of the broth. Add a tbl of chile powder instead of the paprika and more to the tomato soup. Like it spicy? Add a little cayenne.
      As always with a casserole, don’t be afraid to change things. That’s what casseroles are for. You could add frozen peas. You could use mashed potatoes instead of rice. You could use noodles and mix it all together. You could use chicken or sliced beef. There are no limits.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        Tcamp and Hank -- thank you both so much. Tcamp, I know I don't think enough about taking special dietary needs into consideration, Thanks for that reminder. Hank, I've followed you for years and am honored you'd respond. Thanks so much for the variations.

        Would love to hear from anyone else who'd like to help. Thank you all.

        1. re: peppergal

          Somebody follows me? Shucks, I'm just an old geezer trying to put dinner on the table.

          There are a lot of casseroles out there, especially if you can use yellow cheese. Unfortunately, my broker, E.F. Mama (you have heard of E.F. Mama - when she talks you listen?) doesn't eat yellow cheese so I have learned to live without it.

          1. re: Hank Hanover

            Following you -- could sound dangerously like stalking, couldn't it? Please reassure E.F. Mama that isn't the case! Just love reading your posts. Something about "an old geezer" who loves food and has a great sense of humor....

            We "do" yellow cheese. Yes!

            Although I didn't emphasize it in my post, I think "freezable" is a key. We prepare several casseroles, then freeze until the need arises (unfortunately, too often), Then prepare and freeze another several. Obviously, some things freeze more successfully than others, so that is definitely a big consideration. I've never been a big freeze-ahead person, so my knowledge about that is limited.

            And "tasty", of course!

            Thanks for all the great responses so far, Would love to receive additional ideas from anyone who'd care to share.

            1. re: peppergal

              I guess I am surprised to hear that not only someone reads my comments, they respect what I have to say.

              I sometimes think I am the only sane voice in a sea of people that only eat the left breast of an organically grown free range chicken that only eats organic worms out of my personal compost heap with a side of curried chickpea stew with eggplant and hummus.

              1. re: Hank Hanover

                Oh, yes; never doubt.

                I don't think I've ever ordered anything remotely like that -- certainly never prepared it! Keep doing what you're doing, and the real food lovers will follow!

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  Posts like this is exactly why people read you, sir. : )
                  You're pretty followable.

                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                    I'm a follower of yours, as well! Wit is hard to find these days, so props to you. Plus you share the first name of my sweet 11-year-old nephew:)

                    1. re: KrumTx

                      Welcome, KrumTx!

                      There are some great "followables" on CH -- mamachef, Hank, et al, and I'm sure you'll be one, too!

                      1. re: peppergal

                        How sweet! Thank you! I've been a lurker for a while. It's nice to make the transition from stalker to member!

                  2. re: peppergal

                    Wow! I really appreciate the kind words, folks. I try to provide a voice for the common everyday cook. The kind I suspect is lurking and not wanting to post.

                    There are a lot of seriously gourmet cooks on chowhound. They can intimidate a lot of home cooks. Extreme cooking is fine but most of us are just trying to make ends meet and put food on the table. The people that come here are just trying to learn something.

              2. re: Hank Hanover

                The soup....condensed campbell's okay?

                1. re: Westy

                  Is there any other kind? Yeah that will be fine. :-)

              3. Some suggestions (I know you can find these online) -- chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie, lasagne, simple baked spaghetti (cooked spaghetti and sauce with or w/o meat topped with cheese.) All simple and taste good when food really doesn't mean a lot.

                1 Reply
                1. re: berkleybabe

                  You're right, berkleybabe. On most of these occasions, food doesn't really mean a lot, except, perhaps, that people care. On the other hand, there are joyous times, like a newborn. I wish there more of those.

                  Good to know that pasta freezes well. It's probably common knowledge, but in all these (many!) years, I've never frozen pasta. Never too old, right?

                  Thanks for the good suggestions.

                2. I have made this many times. Penne, sausage, beans and spinach casserole. It is really tasty and super filling.

                  It was originally published in Calgary Swerve magazine by Julie Rosenthal.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Lasagna, chicken pot pie, and enchilada bake all come to mind. Here is a recipe for a veggie enchilada casserole that freezes very well and is very customizable:

                    Also anything with some kind of pasta would freeze well. Simple mac&cheese (or dress it up by adding broccoli, chicken, bacon, etc.), baked ziti with cheese and meat sauce, how about this chicken spaghetti bake?

                    My mom used to make a "must-goes" casserole using leftovers in the fridge. It usually consisted of some kind of meat + veggies, mixed together with a "cream of" soup (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, etc.) and some shredded cheese. Dump it in a 9x13" baking dish and top with 1 box of Stovetop Stuffing, prepared per the package instructions. Bake until heated through and set. Sorry I don't have a more accurate recipe...if you weren't using leftovers, I would go with a couple chicken breasts (cooked and diced), a bag of frozen mixed veggies, a couple cans of cream of chicken soup, a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and a box of chicken stuffing.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Maggiethecat

                      Thanks for the great links, Maggie. I'll pass them on to the group. I know they'll be peased.l

                      1. re: peppergal

                        Minnesota Tater Tot hot dish


                        1 1/2 pounds ground beef
                        1/2 cup chopped onion
                        1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
                        1 (10 3/4 ounce) can chicken gumbo soup
                        1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup with1/3 less salt
                        1 (10 1/2 ounce) can chicken rice soup with 1/3 less salt
                        1 teaspoon browning and seasoning sauce
                        1 (2 pound) package frozen tater tots

                        Brown beef and onion in skillet, crumbling meat while cooking; drain. Spread meat on bottom of 9x13" baking pan. Spread vegetables over meat. Heat soups and browning sauce to boiling, pour over vegetable layer. Cover with tater tots. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven until bubbly in center (60-70 minutes).
                        Amount: 8 servings