A recent study by the Food Marketing Institute reported that 71 percent of Americans are cooking more often and eating out less. Casserole dishes are a convenient and inexpensive way to feed a family and with a sagging economy, casseroles have become a new favorite one-dish meal.
The term “casserole” dates back to 18th century Europe, when casseroles consisted of rice and pounded meat. Today’s casseroles are far more varied and interesting.
“Brothy” and tomato based casseroles take advantage of cheaper, tougher cuts of meat and require longer cooking times, which helps to tenderize. Creamy and quick cooking casseroles are easy to prepare and can often be ready to eat within 30 minutes.
1. Use www.meijermealbox.com to find tasty casserole recipes and money-saving coupons!
2. Cut recipe ingredients (carrots, potatoes, meat, etc.) about the same size. This will promote event cooking.
3. Use a Casserole dish that goes from stovetop to oven which allows you to brown food on your stovetop and then finish by baking in the same dish. Fewer dishes means easier clean up!
4. Use a casserole dish with a tight fitting lid to retain moisture.
5. Size is important—if your casserole dish is too small, foods will bubble over. Only fill casserole dishes about three-quarters full to prevent liquid from overflowing.
1. For long-cooking casseroles (slow-cooker or crock pot recipes), buy tougher cuts of meat. They have more connective tissue that tenderizes during cooking, but doesn't disintegrate when cooked slowly.
2. Coat the meat in flour just before cooking. If you coat it too early, the moisture in the meat absorbs the flour and spoils the texture of the casserole.
3. To get the most flavorful casseroles, begin by browning the meat or chicken, separately. Then add vegetables, liquids and herbs. Browning will also seal in meat juices.
Quick and Easy Casseroles
Salmon with Mushrooms
8 oz. whole wheat blend egg noodles
1 (4 oz.) pkg. sliced button or mini-portabella mushrooms
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons flour
2 oz. (About 2-3 Tbls.) Reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 (7.5 oz.) can wild salmon, drained, skin discarded, broken into chunks
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Cook noodles according to package directions. Heat oven to 375° F. Meanwhile, sauté’ mushrooms in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown. Mix together broth and flour; stir into mushrooms. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until cream cheese is melted. Stir in peas and pepper sauce.
Drain noodles; return to same pot. Add mushroom mixture and salmon and toss well. Transfer to a 2-quart round or square casserole or baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover dish with foil; bake 25 minutes or until heated through. Transfer to serving dishes; top with almonds.
Approximate Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 385 Calories, 12g Fat, 3.5g Saturated Fat, 50g Carbohydrate, 9g Fiber, 23g Protein, 590mg Sodium.
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into bit size pieces
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
1 1/2 cups brown rice, uncooked
1/4 tsp. McCormick garlic powder
2 (14.5 oz.) cans Del Monte diced stewed tomatoes
1 can Campbell’s tomato soup plus 1 soup can of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook cabbage in small amount of water until crisp-tender. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place half of the cabbage in the bottom and evenly distribute the uncooked ground beef over the cabbage. Top beef with onion, then rice and then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover with dices tomatoes and the remaining cabbage. Mix tomato soup with water until well blended and pour over top of the casserole.
Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until cabbage is tender and beef is cooked. Allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.
Approximate Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 315 Calories, 7g Fat, 2.5g Saturated Fat, 31g Carbohydrate, 3g Fiber, 31g Protein, 295 mg Sodium.
1 box (14.5 oz) Barilla Pasta Plus spaghetti
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 4-5 cups)
1/4 cup Smart-Balance butter blend
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Reduced fat milk
2 cups Meijer chicken broth
1/4 cup dry cooking or table wine (optional)
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey or chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, saute’ the mushrooms in 1 Tbls. olive oil over medium heat until browned. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt Smart Balance butter. Stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk, broth, and the wine. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Combine well the pasta, the sauce, the mushrooms, the turkey, the peas, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the 1/3 cup of Swiss cheese, and transfer the mixture shallow 3-quart casserole coated with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl combine well the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, the bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the Tetrazzini mixture.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.
Approximate Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 385 Calories, 9g Fat, 4g Saturated Fat, 35g Carbohydrate, 2g Fiber, 30g Protein, 441 mg Sodium.