Comforting Casseroles

Casserole, by definition, refers to the pan your food it is cooked in and then used to serve said food, from oven to table with one dish. Most often though, casserole is what we refer to as the food itself. In America and Europe, the casserole consists of meat and vegetables, diced to bite size pieces or shredded, and a binding agent such as potatoes or rice. A liquid is usually added in the way of beer or wine, stock or broth, or even cider or vegetable juice. These are most often topped with a generous layer of cheese or a crunchy breadcrumb topping and sometimes, both. Then, it is baked to golden perfection. According to Wikipedia, in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, the casserole is named so because of the dish rather than the food. What they typically serve as casserole is what we usually call a stew. Instead of baking, theirs is finished on the stovetop and then served in the same dish.
Casseroles are great when you don’t think you have a dinner to throw together or even for using up leftovers from another meal. You can use any meat you may have on hand. Throw in a can or two of vegetables from the pantry and dice or slice up some potatoes and you can easily have a casserole. Need more liquid in it? You can add a can of soup like cream of mushroom or chicken or vegetable or chicken stock. Top liberally with cheese or even crackers and voila, instant dinner with easy clean up!
I love casseroles for the ease in cooking and clean up. Casseroles can be either side dish, main meal, or even dessert but are delicious either way. This week, I am looking at casseroles as the meal. Add rolls or Texas toast or even chips to any of these and maybe a salad if you are so inclined for a delicious well rounded dinner. Make your grocery list and meet me in the kitchen this week for recipes so easy to make, cook and clean up.
Eggs Benedict Casserole
6 English muffins
Sirloin steak, thinly sliced. I used 5 steaks as I wanted plenty of meat. (they were on the small side)
10 eggs
2 ½ cups milk or heavy cream
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 pkg hollandaise sauce mix
Open English muffins and toast. You can broil in oven or use a toaster, whichever is easier for you. Cut 5 English muffins into quarters. Use last muffin to cut into smaller pieces to fill holes as needed. Place English muffins in bottom of 9x13” pan. Evenly layer steak on muffins. In large bowl, combine eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Gently spoon over English muffins and cover with foil. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Remove pan from fridge while preheating oven to 350°F. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Prepare hollandaise sauce. Pour over dish. Cut into squares and serve.
Note: Eggs benedict is traditionally made with Canadian bacon, but I can’t have pork so I used steak. Feel free to use Canadian bacon if desired.
Recipe adapted from centslessdeals.com

Pizza Casserole
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 cups Italian blend cheese
16oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 tsps. Italian seasoning, more or less to taste
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
½ tsp ground black pepper
¾ cup pizza sauce, I used a 4 cheese blend pasta sauce
2lbs ground turkey, cooked and drained, or other pizza topping of choice
1 15.25oz package of pizza premade pizza dough
Heat oven to 350°F and spray a 9x13” casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, beat together mozzarella, cream cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Spread mixture evenly into prepared 9x13-inch dish. Spread sauce evenly over cheese mixture. Top with ground turkey. Sprinkle with Italian blend cheese. Divide dough into even sections. Roll dough sections into balls and place evenly over meat. Melt butter and mix in garlic powder and basil. Brush each dough ball with butter/garlic mixture. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until pizza dough is golden brown and cooked through. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Note: I only used one package of dough but if you want the top completely covered, you will need two packages.
Recipe adapted from cookierookie.com.

Chicken Squash Casserole
2 medium spaghetti squash, halved with the seeds scraped out (about 2.5lbs each)
2 tsps. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1lb chicken breast
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup crackers of your choosing, crushed (Ritz are good here, but this time I used a cracker made of rice and I have also used almond crackers)
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
Preheat oven to 400°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub oil on inside of squash and sprinkle with salt. Roast, cut-side down, until fork tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on size. Set aside to cool enough to handle easily. Reduce oven to 350°F. Bring medium pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add chicken and cook until no longer pink inside, about 12-16 minutes. Set aside to cool. Scrape spaghetti squash into colander in clean sink. Use hands or spoon to compress squash to remove as much moisture as possible. Place in large bowl. Shred chicken and add to bowl along with salt and pepper to taste. Add cream of chicken soup and stir everything together until well mixed. Once mixed, press firmly into 9x13” baking dish and cover with crackers. Bake until casserole is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from foodfaithfitness.com.

Oreo Casserole
1 family pack Oreos, crushed
6 Tbsps. real unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8oz container whipped topping, divided
2 3oz boxes instant chocolate pudding mix
10-12 Oreos, crushed into small pieces
3 cups cold milk
Topping:
Oreos, crushed
Chocolate chips, I used mini semi sweet and white chips
Lightly grease 9x13” baking dish. Mix Oreo crumbs and melted butter in medium bowl. If crumbs don’t stay together well, add another tablespoon of butter. Spread evenly into bottom of prepared baking pan, using your hands or the back of a spoon evenly distribute. In medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar with electric mixer until smooth. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture over crust. In medium bowl, mix together pudding mixes with cold milk. Stir in chopped Oreos. Allow to set just slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Spread over cream cheese layer. Spread remaining whipped topping pudding layer. Chill dessert in refrigerator for at least two hours. Top with more crushed Oreos and chocolate chips if desired. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from belleofthekitchen.com.