January 29, 2008

A Pennsylvania Mom's Roast Beef Casserole

I have another very simple casserole dish I wanted to share. This was my mother's Roast Beef Casserole that we ate for years. Just a few basic ingredients that can be combined and improvised as to one's taste.

1. Take enough rice for 6 – 8 servings, any rice, she used long grain wild rice. Set that boiling away.

2. Take (2) cups of cubed roast beef and put in a pan, with butter or oil and brown. You can add chopped onions for flavor.

3. Steam about two cups of peas, cut carrots, and corn kernels.

4. When everything is cooked, combine into a casserole dish and mix together.

5. Once mixed, top with one can of cream or celery soup or Parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes, then it’s ready to serve.

Hope you enjoy,

Young Frank

January 18, 2008

Cindy's Several More

Baked Ziti

1 (16 oz) box of ziti pasta
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 (26 ox) jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
3/4 t salt, divided
3 T butter
3 T all purpose flour
3 cup milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t pepper
1 (8 oz) package of shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Cook pasta in a large Dutch oven or pot according to packagedirections. Drain and return to Dutch oven.
2. Meanwhile, saute chopped onion in hot oil in a large skilletover medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.
3. Add garlic, and saute 1 minute.
4. Add beef, and cook, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink.
5. Drain beef mixture, and return to pan. Stir in pasta sauce and 1/2 t salt. Set aside. [Margaret's Note: It is my opinion. and my mother's too, by the way, that any ground beef sauce is vastly improved by simmering over a low heat for an hour or two; the value of this practice cannot be overemphasized).

6. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; whisk in flouruntil smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.
7. Gradually whisk in the milk; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and bubbles.8. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining 1/4 t salt, and the pepper.
9. Pour sauce over the pasta in your Dutch oven, stirring until the pasta is evenly coated.10. Transfer the pasta mixture to a lightly greased 13 X 9 in baking dish.
11. Top evenly with beef mixture; sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.

12. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted.
13. Remove the casserole from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 - 10.

Good Old Tuna/Chicken Noodle Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup (you can use eitherregular or the fat free)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas
2 cans drained canned tuna or chicken (you can always useleftover chicken or even turkey instead of the canned)
2 cup hot, cooked medium egg noodles
2 T dry bread crumbs
1 T butter, melted

1. Stir soup, milk, peas, tuna/chicken, and noodles in 1 1/2 qtcasserole dish.
2. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 min or until hot.
3. Stir.4. Mix bread crumbs with the melted butter in a cup and sprinkle over the mixture.
5. Bake for 5 additional minutes or until golden brown.

Serves 4.

Three Cheese Pasta Bake

1 bag (16 oz) ziti (you can also use penne or rigatoni)
2 10 oz containers of refrigerated Alfredo sauce (if you areambitious enough you can always make your own)
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and returnto pot.
2. Stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with pastauntil evenly coated.
3. Spoon half of the mixture into a lightly greased 10 X 9 in bakingdish.
4. Stir together ricotta cheese and next 3 ingredients; spreadevenly over pasta mixture in baking dish.
5. Spoon remaining pasta mixture evenly over ricotta cheese layer;sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves 8 - 10.

That is it for now. You can use any, all or none of them. You dowhat is best.

Love you and hope to see you soon,

January 15, 2008

Cindy Sends Several

Our esteemed Nashville contingent, Ms. Cindy, has sent several yummywarm casserole recipes, and they will all of course appear here as shortly as I can manage it. Which may not be as shortly as I usually do due to the insaneness of my day job at present. Anybody out there want to pay me to do this full time? I'm as available as an alley cat.

In my posting madness I shall first give Cindy's crab offering, because it sounds so good and because I find the story she provided with it highly amusing, disjointedly. See, she's sent one story for the several casseroles, not specifying which casserole the story belongs to, so I get to take my pick! I pick crab!

Best Darn Crab Casserole Ever

My best friend on the planet, my mom, made this dish during the fall and winter months in Rolla, Missouri when it was just her, Danny and I at home. We didn't have much we had each other. I have so many good memories of those days, all the good times growing up, and this casserole always takes me right into those feelings of comfort and home.

1/2 ( 6 1/2 oz) can of crabmeat, drained (don't skimp on this and don't use fake crabmeat!)
1 cup mayo
1 cup soft bread crumbs, plus 1/2 cup buttered soft bread crumbs
3/4 cup half-and-half
6 hard boiled eggs, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced stuffed green olives, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
3/4 t salt
Pinch of pepper

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F
2. In a large bowl, break the crabmeat into chunks.

3. Add the mayo,1c of the soft bread crumbs, half-and-half, eggs, onion, olives, parsley, salt and pepper; fold together.
4. Divide the mixture among greased individual ramekins or spoon itinto a 1 qt casserole dish. 5. Top with buttered crumbs
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Garnish with olive slices.

Serves 4-6.

January 14, 2008

Hungry Man's Linguini

Ok, so here it is, our first non-family submission! Let us consider this a great advance toward fame and fortune, for it is direct evidence that someone other than ourselves is reading and -- yea, participating in our endeavor. Ok, so ya, it's someone I know and all that but, I mean, so, like, still...um, right? It's good!?! And he promises from now on to send in posts that are actually in the theme on the month. Why deny our first non-family applicant, then? When we are heartfully soliciting wildly profuse readership? We shan't. Besides, this particular imperial We is pleased that this submission comes in the form of a story -- for while the rest of Us are pretty good and getting a few recipes sent in to Us, We are still struggling with the story part, now aren't We, Dears? And so:

Hungry Man's Linguine

I would like to share with you and your readers my adventures in the kitchen with a modified version of one of the recipes you shared with me. I know that this month’s theme is casseroles, but I figured that they wouldn’t mind a little deviation in the spirit of good food. Now I must preface this by admitting that I am no expert in the art of cuisine, in fact I am quite the amateur. I also used ingredients found in my humble bachelor refrigerator. The ingredients I used could easily be substituted or improved upon by others as they felt necessary. Now that I have exhausted the excuses and disclaimers I will tell you what I’ve created.

I call it the “hungry man’s” linguine. The portions can be varied depending upon the number of servings. I used a box of linguine noodles that can be purchased at any market and added to a large pot of water and set them it to boil; adding enough salt to the water for flavor and just a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. While that is boiling I put two pounds of ground chicken in a pan to brown. Chicken was used because of its low oil content, and so as not to overpower the rest of the ingredients. I chopped a whole onion into very small pieces, and sautéed them. While the meat is cooking, I added salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Your readers could use additional spices to season as their taste’s desire, but shouldn’t over power the meat. Once the noodles have boiled, they where drained, and then put back in the pot at low heat. To them I added a pint of heavy cream, a can of cream chicken, and approximately one cup of powdered Parmesan cheese. These are mixed together until all the noodles are coated.

Once the noodles are coated, slowly add the fully cooked meat. Stir constantly until everything is coated with the cheese and sauce mixture. I let this continue to simmer for about five more minutes until the sauce was not liquid anymore. After that it is served, or in my case it was put into containers and saved for lunches and dinners for several days. This made between four to five healthy servings. I also added some string beans as a side but any green vegetable would be just as good.

The total cooking time was about 30 minutes, probably due to my inexperience. The time is probably only limited by the noodles and the cooking of the meat, everything else should be fairly quick. I really enjoyed it, and I hope that you would share this on your blog. Next time I’ll try and stay within the boundaries of the current month’s discussion. I really enjoy what I’ve read so far, and will continue to try out your recipes.

Thanks for getting me started,

Young Frank

January 5, 2008

Our Mothers' Meat Pie

+NOTE: I talked to my mother over the weekend, and she tells me that she and one of her sisters had already decided (prior to this post) to have this dish for Papaw's 98th birthday meal. I just think that's really sweet and fitting. Happy 98th birthday, Papaw! Only two more till you're 100! Hand on, I know you can do it.

This is my very favorite in all the world comfort food one dish casserole meal. This dish of my mom’s has a biscuit crust baked on top of a browned ground beef and vegetable mixture, with a little salt and pepper. That’s it. The secret is to cook the beef on the stove top for an hour or so, keeping it covered with water, to tenderize it. Over lo these many years I have tried various enhancements to the recipe, but as soon as any other ingredient is added it’s not the same dish. So I leave it alone. No tomatoes, no cheese, no mushrooms. I like a little hot pepper sauce on it after it’s on my plate. And I tell you, I love this dish so much that I can only make it when there are plenty of hands and mouths to help me eat it. Otherwise I will overeat, stuff myself, eat half the casserole in one sitting, the other half for breakfast in the morning. It tastes to me of all my wishes and dreams of a mother’s love, of the memories of my mommy holding me “like a baby,” back before I was “too big” to be help that way anymore, that feeling of being encompassed and nurtured and loved for no good reason whatsoever. Even against all odds. Maybe that’s how I’ll know when I have finally come to a fulfilled heart: I will be able to eat just one serving of My Mother’s Meat Pie, then stop. I've called this "Our" Mothers' Meat Pie, because my mother and my aunts' and uncle's mother both made it. And if you are my cousin you can tell me if your mother and father made it. I would really like to know.

Our Mother’s Meat Pie

One pound of good ground beef *
One bag of frozen mixed vegetables, rinsed in a colander and drained a bit
Salt and pepper
Bisquick or your favorite short biscuit recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy, deep skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat. Make sure it stays soft – don’t let it get crispy. If the beef is too lean to get a good sizzle going add some olive oil or butter.

2. Add water to twice the depth of the meat and simmer on medium for an hour, checking frequently to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Keep a kettle of water steaming on the stove to add as you need it.

3. In the last few minutes before the beef’s cooking time is up allow the water to reduce, but leave enough to make sure that there is a nice gravy in the bottom of the dish after is comes out of the oven.

4. Add the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes, letting the vegetable thaw and warm.

5. Turn the heat to low.

6. Prepare your biscuit batter.

7. Turn off the heat under your pan.

8. Spoon the biscuit batter over the meat mixture, and spread it out a bit. Don’t worry about getting it too even, part of the charm of the dish is its peasant look.

9. Put in center of the preheated oven until the biscuits are browned. This will take longer than if you were cooking the biscuits by themselves, maybe twice as long. Just keep an eye on them.

10. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then serve. Mashed potatoes and a crisp lettuce salad make perfect accompaniments. A beer, or a light red wine won’t hurt, either.

*I like to use a combination of very lean and medium lean cuts; if it’s too lean the dish will be too dry** The basic ones: peas, carrots, potatoes, green beans, maybe lima beans in there, but stay away from broccoli or any of the more exotic mixes.

Mamaw, says my Mom, served these with the mashed potatoes, as did she. This is a great combination, and you’ll love the meat and gravy mixed in with your potatoes, as you’ll love the sticky bottoms of the biscuits and how they combine with the gravy to make this really sublime combination of flavors -- even though all this is going a bit heavy on the starches, obviously, given the already wondrous presence of the biscuit topping, but it’s worth it, just as having foi gras and caviar on top of your steak is worth it, so just keep a stiff upper lip and dig in. Eat fruit and fish for a few says after if you want to counteract the effects.

Further notes on the etymology of “casserole.”

Is My Mother’s Meat Pie a true casserole? I found myself wondering. Which lead me to wonder: what is a casserole? Really?

So off I went to the web – finding what Wikipedia says (

cooking a casserole, from the French for "sauce pan,"[1] is a large, deep pot or dish used both in the oven and as a serving dish.

The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a dish. These foods usually consist of meat and/or vegetables and sometimes bulked with pasta, potato, rice or other grains cooked slowly in sauce or other liquid, and may be served as a main course or a side dish.
What I like about this is the Frenchness of the whole thing. And of course, mon amis, casserole is a French word. What is French for “duh?”

Casseroles originate from the ancient practice of stewing meat slowly in earthenware containers. Types of casserole include ragout, hotpot, cassoulet and carbonnade. A distinction may be made between casseroles and stews: stewing is a cooking process whereby heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically over a fire or on a hob), whereas casseroling in done in an oven where heat circulates all round the cooking vessel.

One could argue in either direction the continental flavor or none of this really simple, really Anglo-Americanized dish. In reality, I suppose, if it’s not Native American or Asian or African or Aboriginal or a hybrid this by default is European, right? I mean, where did we get our recipes, from Space Aliens?

Bon Appettite.