Warm a cold winter day with a casserole

These satisfying main dishes are a classic dinner that keep busy families going throughout the year

    Casseroles are a simple way to make a hearty meal on a cold day when families are running to activities and meetings each day.
    Typically made with a cooked meat, vegetables and a starch, such as potatoes or pasta, bound with sauce or soup and topped with crumbs or cheese, casseroles take little time to whip up and warm not just the body but the soul with their tantalizing aroma.
    You can easily vary the flavor by changing one or two ingredients. Instead of beef, use chicken. If you have broccoli but not carrots, use the broccoli. Vary the starch between pasta, rice and potatoes.
    If you want to make your casserole a healthier dish, use a seasoned white sauce or low-fat cream soup to help bind the ingredients.
    To promote even cooking, cut the ingredients to about the same size.
    To add flavor and seal in juices, brown the meat or chicken. Make sure to coat the meat in flour just before cooking. If you coat it too early, the moisture in the meat can absorb the flour, spoiling the texture of the casserole.
    Add the vegetables, liquids and herbs after the meat is browned.
    Most casseroles are baked in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Many casseroles are covered initially, then uncovered for the last 20 minutes or so to create a crusty, browned top layer.
    If you’re making one casserole, think about making a second and freezing it for a later date. Just make sure to use it within a month or two.
    Casseroles can be frozen cooked or uncooked in their baking dish. You can line the baking dish with foil, leaving enough foil hanging over the edges to cover and wrap the casserole.
    Place the casserole ingredients in the dish and freeze it. Once frozen, use the foil to lift the casserole out of the dish. Cover the casserole with the overhanging foil, then place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag and seal. When you want to bake it, place the casserole in its original dish and allow to thaw in the refrigerator or bake it frozen, doubling the amount of time in the oven.
    Following are some casserole recipes from the pioneerwoman.com.

 

    thepioneerwoman.com

Chicken Casserole

2 10-1/2-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 full sleeves Ritz crackers, lightly crushed
4 tablespoons melted butter

    In a large bowl, stir together the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Fold in the chicken and 1-1/2 cups cheese. Transfer mixture to a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish that’s lightly coated with cooking spray.
    In a medium bowl stir together the crackers and melted butter. Sprinkle crackers over the chicken mixture and top with the remaining cheese.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crackers are lightly browned.
    Allow the casserole to cool and set 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

 

Chicken Wild Rice Casserole With Gruyere

For casserole:
1-1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
16 ounces button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 stalks celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cups flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2/3 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus a little more for garnish
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, plus a little more for garnish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
6 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
For topping:
3 cups English muffin bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    Cook wild rice according to package directions, until rice splits and curls into a “c” shape. Drain, if needed, and set aside.
    In a large pot over medium to medium-high heat, melt four tablespoons butter. Add mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until onions are translucent and carrots are softened. Stir in garlic and cook two minutes more.
    Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir to incorporate. Cook two minutes, then stir in chicken broth. Bring mixture to a gentle boil and cook four to five minutes, until nicely thickened. Stir in half-and-half and cook another two to three minutes to thicken again. Add soy sauce, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper, stirring to combine, then fold in drained wild rice and chicken. Add gruyere and Parmesan and fold to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
    Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish. Cover with a lid or piece of foil and bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until it starts to bubble. Top with bread cubes, leaving the outer edge of the casserole exposed. Slowly drizzle a fine line of melted butter over the tops of the bread cubes, then sprinkle evenly with kosher salt and Parmesan. Return casserole to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until bread cubes are browned and the casserole is hot and bubbling.
    Sprinkle with additional fresh parsley and thyme and serve immediately.

Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
2 pounds mushrooms, rinsed and dried
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup small diced onion
1 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup vegetable broth
1-1/2 cups frozen peas and carrots, defrosted and drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions, defrosted and drained
3 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

    Place potatoes with peels in a medium-sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook abut 20 minutes, until tender. Once cooled, peel the potatoes.
    Or you can peel the potatoes and place in an electric pressure cooker place and cook for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally before opening.
    Remove the stems of the mushrooms and set aside. Cut mushroom caps into quarters and mince the mushroom stems.
    Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook six to 10 minutes, until tender. Add rosemary, thyme and garlic and saute one minute, until fragrant. Add minced mushrooms and cook about seven minutes, stirring, until mushrooms have softened and released their liquid. Add remaining olive oil and flour and stir until a paste forms.
    Add red wine to mushroom paste, bring mixture to a boil and simmer gently until mixture has thickened slightly. Whisk in 1/2 cup broth and return mixture to a simmer until thickened. Season with salt. Add remaining stock and bring to a simmer until it has thickened.
    Stir in quartered mushrooms, peas and carrots and pearl onions until well combined. Cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer five minutes.
    Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Add butter, kosher salt and garlic powder. Using a hand mixer, mix the potatoes until creamy, then set aside.
    Spoon mushroom mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then gently spread mashed potatoes over the top. Brush with olive oil. Set on a sheet pan and bake in a 425-degree oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons salted butter
1-1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for topping
3-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup whole milk or canned coconut milk
1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

    Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it shimmers, add onion and carrot and cook about five minutes, until fragrant. Stir in chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook two to three minutes, until the chicken is seared. Add butter, rice, orzo and thyme and cook two to three minutes, until golden and toasted. Add broth and bring to a boil over high heat.
    Add broccoli, bay leaves, garlic powder, cayenne and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until rice is mostly cooked.
    Stir in the lemon zest, milk and 1/2 cup cheese. If needed, transfer rice to an oven-safe casserole dish. Scatter remaining cheese over top.
    Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown. Serve warm with additional thyme and fresh basil.

Beef Stroganoff Casserole

2 pounds ground chuck, browned and crumbled
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces egg noodles, cooked
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

    Brown ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain and add diced onion and mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds.
    Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook two minutes, stirring continuously.
    Add chicken and beef broths and scrape the bottom of the pan. Add sour cream, ranch dressing, salt and pepper. Stir well.Add egg noodles and stir well.
    Pour mixture into a three-quart casserole dish coated with nonstick spray.
    In a small bowl, mix panko breadcrumbs, melted butter and chopped parsley. Sprinkle mixture over the stroganoff.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Cool on a cooling rack 10 minutes before serving.
    Serve with hot, crusty bread and salad.

Garlic Bread Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley or basil
4 cups shredded mozzarella
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup pizza sauce
1 package medium-sized pepperoni slices
2 14.1-ounces packages premade pizza dough.

    In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic and parsley. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, beat together two cups mozzarella, cream cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Spread mixture evenly in a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish coated with cooking spray.
    Spread pizza sauce evenly over the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and top with pepperoni.
    Divide dough into the same number of pieces as the number of pepperoni slices used. Roll dough pieces into balls and place each on a slice of pepperoni. Brush each ball of dough with the butter/garlic mixture and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pizza dough is golden brown, cooked through and the pizza dip is bubbly.
    Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

1-1/4 pounds thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3 cups marinara
2-1/2 cups rotini pasta
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Chopped fresh basil

    Toss chicken with the Italian seasoning. Set aside.
    In a casserole dish, combine marina, uncooked pasta and broth. Stir, then add chicken in an even layer. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes.
    Uncover and continue to bake another 10 minutes.
    Remove and sprinkle with the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and then the breadcrumbs. Bake 10 to 12 minutes longer, until the cheese has melted, breadcrumbs are golden and sauce is bubbling.
    Let casserole sit five minutes before serving with fresh basil over the top.

French Onion Chicken Casserole

5 tablesoons salted butter
1 10-ounce package cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken, skin removed
1 long baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2-1/2 cups shredded gruyère cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    Melt one tablespoon butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook two minutes, without stirring, until browned on the bottom. Stir and continue to cook two to three minutes longer, until browned all over. Remove the mushrooms and set on a plate.
    Add remaining butter to the pot and melt over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until dark golden.
    Return mushrooms to the pot. Add thyme, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Sprinkle in flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Let toast for a minute, then increase the heat and pour in the wine. Bring to a simmer, then add the broth and chicken. Return to a simmer and cook about three minutes, stirring, until thickened.
    Ladle enough of the onion-chicken mixture into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish to cover the bottom. Place half the baguette slices in a single layer on top. Ladle half of the remaining onion-chicken mixture on top and push down on the baguette slices with the bottom of the ladle to submerge. Sprinkle with 1 cup gruyère and 1⁄4 cup Parmesan.
    Top with the remaining baguette slices in a single layer. Ladle remaining onion-chicken mixture on top. Sprinkle with the remaining gruyère and Parmesan cheeses.
    Cover with foil, tenting it so it doesn’t touch the cheese. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 425-degree oven about 20 minutes, until bubbly. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer, until the top is browned and crusty. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Spinach-Artichoke Tuna Noodle Casserole

8 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta
1 12-ounce package wide egg noodle
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 10-ounce package baby spinach
1 14-ounce can artichoke quarters, drained, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, cut into four pieces
3 5-6-ounce cans white albacore tuna in water, drained
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    Melt two tablespoons butter in the pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook about one minute, until starting to turn golden. Crank up the heat to medium high, add half the spinach and cook about 30 seconds, until it just starts to wilt. Add remaining spinach and continue cooking one to two minutes, until wilted.
    Remove spinach from the pot and put in a strainer over a bowl. Use a tongs to squeeze the excess liquid into the bowl. Return the liquid to the pot. Add artichokes and cook three to four minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the artichokes start to turn golden. Place artichokes to the strainer with the spinach and set aside.
    Melt four tablespoons butter in the same pot over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook one minute, stirring. Gradually add milk and sherry, whisking until mixture is smooth before adding more liquid. Cook three to four minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle in 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
    Remove pot from the heat and add the cream cheese, whisking to melt. Stir in the tuna, then the spinach and artichokes and half the parsley. Add noodles and stir until coated. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that’s been coated with cooking spray.
    Melt remaining butter in the microwave. Toss with panko and remaining parsley. Top casserole with the panko mixture. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden.

 

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