I have never been much of a casserole person. Probably because they make me think of the tater-tot and tuna casseroles of the 80s rather than lasagnas and mac ‘n cheese which I love – although, they can all probably fit in the casserole category.
Still, aside from my mac and lasagna, there were very few casseroles that I enjoy. And lately, I had been wishing that wasn’t the case. The ease with which you can make ’em, freeze ’em, and re-heat ’em has converted me to the side of the casseroles. On nights when I get home late or just don’t feel up to cooking, the draw of being able to pull something already made out of the freezer and stick it in the oven was enough to lure me in. And, I discovered that there is a whole other wonderful world of casseroles out there!
So here is how I have been helping make work weeks a bit easier: Every weekend, I make one big dish intended for 4-6 people and I divide and freeze (before the baking step) in two freezer friendly pans with covers – unless we happen to eat one of the the night I prepped it… which happens more than I originally intended. I have been using disposable aluminum baking pans which makes the environmentalist inside me cringe – but lately, I have had to choose sanity.
With this plan, for busy days over the following couple of weeks, I have a few nights’ worth of dinners ready for baking already in my freezer. What about the whole not being a card carrying member of casseroles fan club? Well…. it turns out theres more to casseroles than green beans, canned tuna, and pre-frozen tater-tots. I am just late to the party – as usual. So I have discovered some delicious new (or at least new to me) options that we have been loving! The Healthy Mexican Casserole with Roasted Corn and Peppers from PinchofYum.com is pretty darn tasty. It is designed to be vegetarian, but in order to appease the meat eaters in our household, I threw in some baked chicken. So gooey and cheesy! A real keeper! This Bon Apetit recipe for Lasagne Bolognese can be found on Epicurious.com. It is the closest published recipe that I have found to the Sicilian style lasagna that I make. I ignore the pasta recipe and opt for the store-bought variety here (Especially if you are freezing it!). If you have all afternoon to make this mouthwatering sauce then it will be a real treat when you pull this out of your freezer. This is the number one requested meal in our house. You won’t be sorry! And back to PinchofYum.com for this easy Healthy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Bake… This is a great way to incorporate (or sneak) a cauliflower into your meals without unsuspecting children (or husbands) realizing it. We usually follow the recipe’s advice and add a little sausage. Also from PinchofYum.com (they know what they are doing over there) is this Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Casserole. We love roasted tomatillos in just about anything and this easy dish is no exception! For any casserole that I am making with chicken, sometimes I cheat and buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken and just cut meat off of it. Its more flavorful that way anyhow.
In the reviews for Epicurious.com’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese Recipe one reviewer called it “too cheesy and creamy” which caused me to hit the SAVE button on this recipe. Any mac n’ cheese recipe deemed by a reviewer – albeit possibly a crazy one – too creamy and cheesy is probably the recipe for me. This recipe is a winner, and I just can’t make a list of casserole favorites without a mac n’ cheese.
So, these dishes have converted me to the land of casseroles, and my weekday stress levels thank them. But now that I am a casserole believer I am anxious to add more things to the rotation! Pretty please let me in on your casserole favorites in the comments section!