Casseroles are dinner pleasers for both kids and moms. They can be creamy or saucy, making them yummy to eat, and a single baking dish makes cleanup a breeze. Use a variety of vegetables, either fresh or frozen, depending on the time available and the amount of effort you want to put into cooking. Salad with your family's favorite dressing is an ideal accompaniment and gives you a vegetable option for the kids when serving a casserole without one.
Most casseroles have a grain base such as pasta, rice, biscuits, bread or tortillas. From there you can choose what will go into the casserole and what kind of soup or sauce you will use to bind it all together. For example, a pasta dish may use tomato or Alfredo sauce, while a tortilla dish can incorporate a picante or spicy cheese sauce. Feel free to substitute. If one of your kids does not like rice but is OK with pasta, use pasta. If tomato sauce gives you heartburn, use cream of mushroom soup. Experiment with combinations, and choose what tastes best to you and your kids.
The great thing about casseroles is that you can throw in just about any vegetables you like, including onions, peas, carrots, corn, squash, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers. Toss in fresh vegetables, although using frozen or leftover veggies will be faster. Just be sure to add quick-cooking vegetables toward the end of baking time. Or make a vegetable casserole for a side dish, such as a rice-broccoli-cheddar mixture.
Casseroles often contain poultry, pork or beef. Thaw the meat and ensure that the pieces are of similar size for even cooking. Just before putting it into the casserole, toss the meat in a bag of seasoned flour to coat and brown it quickly, if you like. The flour will help thicken the casserole’s sauce. For non-meat lovers, casseroles also lend themselves well to meat substitutes. Soy crumbles are an alternative to ground meat and chunks of Portobello mushrooms provide a consistency and heartiness similar to chunks of beef.
What you use to bind the casserole together is just as important as the individual ingredients. Make a cream-based sauce with canned soups, or make a simple, seasoned white sauce with flour, milk and butter. Your sauce can be tomato-based or cheese-based, too. Make your casserole au gratin by sprinkling butter-moistened bread crumbs over a shredded cheese topping. Broth thickened with cornstarch works as a sauce, or use fondue recipes as sauces. If you or your kids have a milk allergy, substitute almond milk or a cauliflower puree for dairy milk.
Like This Article? Let Us Know!
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images