When it comes to comfort food casseroles take center stage. These delicious meals can consist of meats, vegetables and even fruits baked in the oven. Casseroles can be thrown together using leftovers and/or pantry staples and they freeze very well. You just can’t beat a warm casserole.
Casseroles were derived from France where they were called “saucepans” in the beginning. Early casseroles were simple meals made with pounded or pressed rice combined with sweetbreads or cheap meats. In the late 1800’s casseroles began to take on the version we know today.
Casseroles became very popular in North America in the 1950’s when casserole bake ware became all the rage. They were easy and quick to fix and the elegant bake ware meant a casserole could go from oven to table with no extra work involved. There are many versions of the casserole including Great Britain’s version known as the bake.
What Makes Casseroles So Special?
Its 6:00 and you just arrived home from work. The kids are home and they’re wondering what you’re fixing for supper. Cooking is not necessarily at the top of your ‘things I’d love to be doing right now’ list, but your family has to eat, right? You begin looking around the kitchen and discover there’s a little of this and a little of that in the refrigerator and cabinets. Throw it all together in a dish, bake it and you’ll soon have a nice meal to place on the table.
Casseroles are the perfect main dish. They usually contain meat and vegetables of some type, so adding a lot of extras to the meal is not necessary. A salad or bowl of fruit, along with bread and you’ve got yourself a full meal to serve.
Convenience also comes into play with casseroles. Many of us like to make our meals for the week ahead of time. Casseroles freeze well and are easy to reheat. Just pull them out of the freezer and place them in a preheated oven. In an hour or so you have a meal fit for the entire family.
Not only are casseroles quick and easy, but they save time and money. Many casseroles are made from leftovers. Add a can of creamed soup and sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. You just can’t beat all the advantages a casserole has to offer.
Most casseroles include meat and vegetables although they can be made with fruits as well. Add in pasta, cheese, condensed soups, chopped hard boiled egg and top them with a nice bread crumb topping. Tuna casserole, vegetable casseroles, chicken casseroles, beef casseroles and mixed fruit casseroles are just a few ways of preparing a delicious meal.
Casseroles may have taken a back stage to fast food, microwave and ready to serve meals, but in reality they may be one of the best ideas for our times. They also make great pot luck dinner items and can be made to feed a large crowd very easily. Take a look in your fridge and cabinets and see what you can find to make a casserole for dinner tonight.
Tender Beefy Macaroni Meal
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cups tomato juice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add macaroni and stir to coat. Add beef and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Pour off drippings. Stir in tomato juice. Bring to boil. Mix in onion, garlic powder, oregano and chili powder. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Cover and bake until macaroni is tender, about 20 minutes. Top with cheese. Bake uncovered until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.