Casseroles -- The Recipes

Ultra Rich Macaroni and Cheese
Hawaiian Ham and Sweet Potato Bake
Peachy Chicken Casserole
Savory Oxtail and Barley Ragout
Simple Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Marvelous Microwave Moussaka
Cheesy Broccoli Mushroom Casserole
Apple Bean Millet Casserole

Ultra Rich Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe is not for people watching their cholesterol or calories. It does make a spectacular statement and is wonderful as a once in a while treat.

1 pound small pasta (elbows, shells, ziti, rigatoni, or fun shaped pasta)
1 pound mild cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 pound butter, cut into small pieces
2-13 ounce cans evaporated milk
6 eggs
salt and white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
buttered bread crumbs (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water until the pasta is almost as tender as you like. Drain well and return to pan over very low heat. Add the grated cheese and butter and stir until they are totally melted. Remove the pot from the stove. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and add to pasta mixture. Blend well. Add milk, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake for 40-50 minutes or until set.

Buttered Bread Crumbs

Buttered bread crumbs make a lovely topping on almost any casserole and are very easy to make. For more flavorful bread crumbs, add minced garlic, onion, shallots, mushrooms, or fresh herbs to the butter before sauteeing.

Place 4 slices firm bread (white, whole wheat, or any favorite bread) into a blender or food processor and process into crumbs. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat until melted. Stir in the crumbs and saute, stirring frequently until the crumbs absorb all of the butter and turn golden brown.

Hawaiian Ham and Sweet Potato Bake

This is a unique flavor combination that kids really love. It is amazing how a couple of fluffy marshmallows can cajole most children into eating something ... even a casserole!

3 cups cooked ham, cut into chunks
1-20 ounce can pineapple chunks in juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 medium sized sweet potatoes, pared and sliced thinly
12 marshmallows

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain pineapple and reserve juice. Place the juice in a medium saucepan and add brown sugar. Bring the juice to a boil. Meanwhile, layer the ham, pineapple, and sweet potatoes in a greased 8 cup baking dish. Once the juice has reached a boil, pour over the casserole mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Once the potatoes are tender, place the marshmallows on top of the dish and bake for an additional five minutes.

Peachy Chicken Casserole

This great dish makes a very satisfying dinner dish for four. Peaches, chicken, and peas are one of my favorite flavor combinations. Toasted sliced almonds added during the last 15 minutes of baking also make a nice touch.

2 chicken breasts, halved
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup cooked white rice
3/4 cup cooked wild rice
3 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 cups fresh or 10 ounces frozen pea pods
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Shake the chicken breasts in a bag with the flour, salt, and pepper. Brown the chicken in a medium saucepan over medium heat in the butter and oil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place rice in a lightly greased 4 quart casserole dish. Top rice with chicken pieces, peach slices, and peas. Mix together juice, vinegar, brown sugar, basil, and nutmeg. Pour over chicken mixture. Cover casserole and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting often. Uncover the casserole and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Savory Oxtail and Barley Ragout

Two of my favorite soups are beef and barley soup and oxtail soup. This recipe combines the best of these ideas combined with an easy preparation. It does take a while to cook but there is nothing better than smelling this delicious dish cook while catching up on other work. If the idea of eating oxtails makes you a tad squeamish, you can substitute stew beef cubes. Just reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

4 pounds oxtails
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons crumbled savory
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, with leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups beef stock
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
1 cup barley

Cut the oxtails into evenly sized pieces. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and savory in a plastic bag. Shake the oxtails to coat well and reserve any leftover flour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slowly brown the oxtail pieces in batches and place into a large baking dish. Stir onion into the skillet and cook until soft. Add the carrots, garlic, and the leftover flour and cook for 2 minutes more. Add stocks, water, and red wine and cook until gravy thickens and bubbles. Pour over meat and add bay leaf. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Add barley to dish and recover. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until both the barley and the oxtails are done.

Simple Spaghetti Squash Casserole

People always seem to be stymied when it comes to spaghetti squash. Cooked spaghetti squash does indeed resemble spaghetti in many ways and can be substituted in many recipes. It imparts a light buttery flavor that has a bit of sweetness to your dishes and has a slightly crunchy texture. It makes a great addition to many dishes, especially casseroles.

1 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 bunch scallions, chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
6 fresh plum tomatoes
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parlsey
1 tablespoon fresh basil
salt and pepper
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup fine bread crumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place the squash face down on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until soft. Cool, and using two forks, remove the flesh. Saute the onion, scallions, garlic, mushrooms, and herbs until the onions are soft. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and add to the mixture. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Mix the mozzarella and the bread crumbs into the mixture and add the squash. Place in a greased 2 quart casserole and top with the parmesan. Bake for 40 minutes.

Marvelous Microwave Moussaka

Microwaves are a great way to make casseroles. While many casseroles take about the same time in the microwave as they do in the oven, often it is nice to have your oven free for other things like bread or dessert. This moussaka is a nice version of the traditional dish. It is a little bit more difficult than the typical casserole dish, but it is also much more elegant.

1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons fine bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Meat Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 pound lean ground lamb
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1-6 ounce can tomato paste
3 tablespoons finely chopped parlsey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Custard Sauce:
3 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
salt and white pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat a browning dish for 5 minutes. Slice the eggplant. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the browning dish and stir to cover the whole dish. Add eggplant slices and microwave for 3 minutes on high or until the eggplant is soft. Set teh eggplant aside. Using the same browning dish, add 1 tablespoon more of olive oil. Crumble the lamb into the dish adn add the onion and garlic. Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes at high or until the onion is transparent. Drain the excess fat. Mix in the salt, pepper, tomato paste, parsley, and cinnamon. Set aside. Place the butter in a 2 quart casserole. Microwave for about 30 seconds on high or until melted. Add flour slowly and stir well. Slowly add the milk, making sure to stir constantly to prevent lumps. Add the beaten eggs, salt, white pepper, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Place half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of a 3 quart casserole. Top with half of the meat mixture. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Top with the eggplant and then the meat mixture. Pour the custard sauce over the meat sauce. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup parmesan and sprinkle with nutmeg. Microwave for 16-18 minutes on 80% power or until custard sauce is set.

Cheesy Broccoli Mushroom Casserole

Sometimes the best casseroles are the simplest. This one has an intriguing flavor and is wonderful on these cool fall days. It makes a wonderful meatless supper. It uses the whole broccoli stalk, something that I almost always do when cooking. As long as you prepare it correctly, the stalk of the broccoli makes a wonderful addition to casseroles, soups, and stir fries because of its sturdy shape and great color.

2 stalks fresh broccoli
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 large onion
1 bunch scallions
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 eggs
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh chervil
3 cups pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the tough outer skin of the broccoli stalks and slice thinly, Cut the florets into chunks. Thinly slice the mushrooms and dice the onion. Chop the scallions and add all of the vegetables to a medium saucepan with the 2 tablespoons butter and saute until tender. Salt and pepper lightly and toss with the white wine. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the ricotta and the sour cream. Mix in the spices. Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water until slightly undercooked. Drain and add 3 tablespoons butter. Add the vegetables and the noodles to the cheese mixture. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the wheat germ. Pour the casserole into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining wheat germ on the casserole and top with the grated cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 20 minutes more.

Apple Bean Millet Casserole

This casserole, because of the beans, does require quite a bit of preplanning. It is important when soaking and cooking the beans not to add any salt to the water as it tends to make the beans tough. Plan at least 4 hours of time to make this casserole. Most of the time is not spent in active preparation so it makes a perfect dish for a busy day where you can run in and out of the kitchen periodically. This dish is very hearty and goes great with polenta or corn muffins. [For those that are busy, substitute canned beans]

3 cups favorite dried beans
3 cups millet
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped onion
3 large carrots, chopped
2 large apples, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups grated muenster cheese
6 tablespoons dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and pick over the beans carefully. Soak the beans for at least 2 hours or overnight in a very large amount of water. Cook the beans for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Add more water if needed. Drain off the excess water. If you want to use this water as a base for soup you can, or else you can use it as a base for the millet. Place the millet in 5 1/2 cups water and cook for 15 minutes. Saute the onion in the butter until it is soft and clear. Add the carrots and cook until they are tender. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a large buttered casserole. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes.

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