Save time With Casseroles And One Dish Meals
I hope that over the past few weeks you have been keeping those ovens going! It saves you money when you eat at home rather than going out to eat and you can generally turn the thermostat down. Having the oven going really gives a nice toasty feel to your home! Why do you think people always talk about having a “warm” homey kitchen?
I don’t think there is anything else in the whole world that can give your family the warm fuzzy sense of well being that comes from the smell of something savory coming from the oven when they walk into the house at the end of a long tiring day. One dish meals are a great way to achieve all of these things.
Way back in the old days when I was young, we used to call these dishes casseroles but my daughter informed me that in keeping with the changing times, I should call them “one dish meals.” Please forgive me if I slip up once in a while and call those bowls of food with everything mixed up in them casseroles.
Regardless what you call them, one dish meals are not a new invention. They have been around for thousands of years and are still as handy for us today as they were for our great great grandmothers.
One dish meals are great because you can easily use leftovers. You can pretty much use whatever you happen to have in your pantry and you can easily make them ahead of time, like the day before you need them.
Then, thirty minutes or an hour before dinner or when you get home from work, you can put one in the oven. By the time you have changed your clothes and set the table, it will be ready.
Another great thing about casseroles is that the one dish is the whole meal. You really don’t have to fix anything more to go with them, although I do like to add a bread and sometimes a salad or some sliced fruit. If you’re in a hurry, you don’t even have to do that.
In this article, I will give you a couple of one dish meals but here is a flexible formula so that you can make your own using the ingredients that your family likes and the things you have on hand.
1 cup main ingredient
1 cup second ingredient
1-2 cups starchy ingredient
1 1/2 cups binder
1/2 cup of “goodie”
Here are some examples of each type of ingredient:
Tuna (1- 7 1/2 oz. can)
Hard boiled eggs
Any canned, frozen or fresh vegetable (celery, carrots, peas, beans, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.)
Or add another cup of the main ingredient
Note: If ever your casserole seems too dry, just add 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream, milk or stock
Stuffed or ripe olives
Nuts, almonds or cashews
Green pepper, chopped
Potato Chips, crushed
Butter Crackers, crushed
Mix everything you are using and place in a greased, oven-proof dish. If most of your ingredients, like your veggies, are raw, then bake at 350° for about 30-45 minutes or until everything is tender.
If everything you use is already cooked, then bake at the same temperature for about 20 minutes or until everything is warmed through.
You can pretty much mix and match the ingredients any way you want but you probably wouldn’t want to add soy sauce to a Tater Tot Casserole or enchilada sauce to and Italian Casserole.
When adding your toppings, try tossing the crackers, croutons or other toppings in some melted butter before sprinkling on top.
When serving your warm casserole, top each serving with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
One Dish Meals – Recipes
1 cup boxed stuffing (uncooked)
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen green beans, thawed
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cups chicken or turkey, cooked and cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
In a greased 2 quart baking dish, layer all of the above in the order given.
1 cup stuffing mix (uncooked)
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Mix topping and pour over the top. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
2 lbs. hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1( 4 oz.) can of mushrooms
1 (32 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (10 oz.) can pizza sauce
4 oz. pepperoni
16 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
3 cups macaroni twists, uncooked
Boil macaroni twists for 20 minutes. Fry hamburger, onion and pepper. Mix everything except cheese together in a greased 9x 13 pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Add cheese in the last 5 minutes.
Don’t forget that you don’t need meat every night. Here is a good one dish vegetable meal.
1 (16 oz.) package frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower mix, thawed and drained
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 (2.8 oz.) can Durkee French fried onions
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded
Combine everything except half of the cheese and fried onions. Pour into 1 quart greased baking dish.
Bake covered at 350° for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and fried onions. Bake uncovered for 5 minutes.
Chow Mein Hot Dish
1 lb. hamburger
1 onion, chopped
2 cups celery, sliced
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 (4 oz.) can mushrooms
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can bean spouts
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
Brown hamburger and onions. Mix everything but Chinese noodles together (including liquid from mushrooms and bean sprouts) into hamburger. Place in a greased 9×9 pan. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 375°. Top with Chinese noodles. Double the amount for a 9×13 pan.
Note: This takes longer to cook because of uncooked rice. You could use 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice but, if you do, don’t use the liquid from the mushrooms and bean sprouts. That will cut the cooking time in half.
- Use Ramen noodles or instant rice in your casseroles. This makes preparation easier since you don’t need to cook these before you add them to the dish.
- If you have time, roast your veggies before adding them to your casserole for some added flavor.
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