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Not Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole

I feel like most people have heard of green bean casserole by now. It’s been around as long as I can remember, and it’s a Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner staple for us. And who’s had it who doesn’t just love it, with its creamy veggies and crunchy onion topping?

 Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole

But the version I serve my family, with my own indulgent spin on it is definitely not my Mama’s classic recipe. Don’t let the looks of it fool you, it packs some secret ingredient punches that will make it an instant hit with any crowd, holidays or not.

Everybodys gonna want your recipe. You know what? Just go ahead and bring extra copies, that way everybody leaves full and happy.

Not Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole

1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp soy sauce
1 pinch of black pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 cups cooked, cut green beans
1 1/3 cups crispy French Fried Onions
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh (washed and scrubbed) mushrooms

Directions

  1. Stir together the soup, cream, soy sauce, spices, beans, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and 2/3 cup of the onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
    2. Bake the casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes , or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the beans. Sprinkle the remaining onions evenly over top of the casserole.
    3.  Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown.
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French Onion Soup Casserole

Let me tell ya’ll about this here casserole. It’s not just any old ‘veggies in a dish with cheese’, anybody can do that. This one’s a game changer.

I love a good bowl of French Onion Soup, especially one topped with a sprinkling of croutons and melted Swiss cheese. But I’ve got a lot on my plate most day, so basically … ain’t nobody got time for that, at least not often.

<Enter this heaven-sent side dish>

For real though, like the name implies, this tastes just like the iconic soup, but it’s so much easier to make.

French Onion Soup Casserole

Serve this at your Thanksgiving dinner this year, for a fun new side dish that’s sure to be gobbled up.

French Onion Soup Casserole

French Onion Soup Casserole 2

4 medium onions, sliced
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
salt, to taste
1 dash pepper
3⁄4 cup beef broth
1⁄4 cup sherry
1 1⁄2 cups croutons, plain
2 tbsp butter, melted
1⁄2-1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

  1.  In a large skillet melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onions and cook until they’re beginning to caramelize, stirring often, about 6-8 minutes.
    2. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until the onions are evenly coated.
    3. Whisk in the broth and sherry.
    4. Continue to stir, cooking until thickened and bubbly.
    5. Turn the onions out into a 1 quart casserole dish.
    6. Toss the croutons with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and spoon them out evenly overtop of the onion mixture.
    7. Sprinkle the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses evenly overtop.
    8. Put the casserole in the oven under the broiler and broil for about 1 minute, or until the cheese melts and just begins to brown.
    9. Serve immediately.

Pierogi Lasagna

Do you love the taste of Pierogis, Those Eastern European dumplings stuffed with cream mashed potato goodness, but dread the amount of work involved with making the dough, stuffing, and sealing them by hand? Then this here’s the thing for you. Pierogi LASAGNA. Now it’s true you could go to the frozen food aisle and just buy a bag (and I will, in a pinch) but they can’t ever compete flavor wise with the real thing. Or even with our more modernized version.

Periogi Lasagna

Pasta, potatoes, cheese, and bacon. Does it get any better than that? I’m pretty sure those are the hubs and sons four favorite food groups 😉

Still, they might not be the best groups to associate with, especially all at once, if you’re watching your carb intake … Or ya know, flavor.

Periogi Lasagna 2

Alternating layers of rich cottage cheese, and creamy mashed potatoes whipped together with bacon or ham and a generous serving of cheddar cheese are sandwiched between your favorite lasagna noodles before being topped with another sprinkle of cheddar cheese and crisp, crumbled bacon and oven-baked to perfection.

You need this in your life. At least once, or twice. And with the colder days and colder nights approaching, there’s no better time of year to give it a try.

Pierogi Lasagna

Periogi Lasagna 3
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 thinly sliced green onions with a sprinkling of salt (or 1 tsp onion salt)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, with 1/2 cup separated
2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup bacon (fried crisp and crumbled) OR diced ham.
1 onion, chopped and cooked until clear
8 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Directions

  1. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg and green onion, stirring until evenly combined.
    2. In another bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, the mashed potatoes, the 1/2 cup of bacon/ham crumbled and the sautéed onion.
    3. Line the bottom of a greased 9 x 13″ baking dish with 4 of the lasagna noodles.
    4. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture out evenly over the noodles.
    5. Add 4 additional noodles and cover evenly with half of the potato mixture.
    6. Repeat.
    7. Top with remaining 4 noodles, remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
9. Serve warm with sour cream, if desired.

Meat Lover’s Pizza Casserole

I think it’s safe to say that we all look forward to pizza night every other Friday. Some nights, it means placing an order on the computer and having it delivered about 45 minutes later. Other nights, it means Mom thawing out the pizza dough the night before and getting busy with a variety of toppings. It could be your traditional pepperoni, or even as funky as Mac & Cheese pizza. We love pizza. Period. But then, naturally, you’ve got those ‘oops’ moments. You know the ‘pizza night’s come up again, and even though you told yourself multiple times, posted sticky notes, and tied a ribbon around your finger, you still forgot to thaw the dough out’ moments. And it’s 30 minutes until you told everyone to be at the table. See, an ‘oops’ moment. Luckily for me, one of my guys favorite pizza flavor combos will forever be meatlover’s.

Meatlover's Pizza Casserole

And what’s not to love? Especially for a meaty, hearty kind of appetite. Where else are you going to find beef, pepperoni, sausage, ham, and occasionally bacon thrown together into one incredible dish? This is my pizza night savior on those no-dough nights. Instead of a traditional pizza crust, I opted to mix there favorite flavors with some pasta. And man, oh, man is it good! All their promised favorite flavors, mixed with some fun pasta shapes.

meatlovers pizza casserole 2

And it’s customizable. Use whatever pasta is your family’s favorite shape. I didn’t include them in the recipe, but add in some ground beef, or swap it for something else. The sons consider it a real treat when I sprinkle some crispy, crumbled bacon over top the pepperoni and cheeses. So whether you forgot to plan ahead like moi, you don’t want to do delivery, or it seems like too much work, with this meal you won’t have to let that stand in the way of you and your family enjoying your next pizza night.

Meatlover’s Pizza Casserole

 1/2 lb bow tie pasta
1 lb mild pork sausage
2 (26 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
1 large onion, diced
1 lb cooked ham, cubed
sliced pepperoni
3 (8 oz) bags of shredded mozzarella
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano

Directions

1. Cook pasta according to the package directions, or until al dente. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process, drain and set aside.
2. Add the sausage, onions, garlic, and oregano until the sausage has cooked through and the onions are translucent. Remove them from heat, drain if necessary, and set aside.
3. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Add some sauce to the dish, just enough to lightly coat the bottom when spread out.
4. To create the first layer, add 1/3 of the cooked pasta and spread it out evenly into the dish. Cover the pasta with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle one bag of cheese out evenly overtop. Sprinkle two tbsp of Parmesan out evenly over the mozzarella. Add the cooked sausage mixture and spread it out evenly.
5. For the second layer, spread half of the remaining pasta into the dish. spread half of the remaining sauce out over the pasta. Sprinkle another bag of mozzarella and two tbsp of Parmesan evenly over top. Sprinkle the diced ham out evenly to finish the layers.
6. To prepare the final layer, add all the remaining pasta, the rest of the pasta sauce, the last bag of mozzarella and the rest of Parmesan, and finally top with all the sliced pepperoni.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Banana Berry Breakfast Bake

How’s that for alliteration? Betcha can’t say that 5 times fast. Good thing it’s easier to throw together than it is to enunciate! I used to be able to get the sons’ to gobble up some oatmeal at breakfast time. Now, they take one look at it and you’d think I served them gruel. Well, I guess technically speaking I did, BUT we’re not in any kind of feudal conservation mode so it’s not a thin, runny mess and it’s usually pleasantly seasoned. Anyway, I blame the hubs for this irritating breakfast expectation since he’s spoils us all with 5 star, 4 course brunches on the weekends. He says he’s making up for all the cereal, fruit, and yogurt (grab and go style) breakfasts we eat during the week since I don’t ‘do’ breakfast. Sorry (not really), but I’d rather conserve my gusto, my get-up-and-go, for lunch and dinner. Still, every now and then I get an itch to do breakfast for actual breakfast, not for dinner, and surprise the hell out of everyone. Gotta keep em on their toes and all. This was my latest expedition into AM meal territory. Think oatmeal 2.0, or some equally revamped sounding name. The hubs has taken to calling it oatmeal pie (in his best Cartman from South Park accent) mostly just to annoy me, but if the name fits…

Oats done right with fresh strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and a hint of chocolate. What meal isn’t made better with the addition of chocolate?! Enjoy a healthy start to your day that’s full of nutrients and ready to keep you fueled til lunchtime, that’s scrumptious enough remind you of dessert.

Banana Berry Breakfast Bake

 Berry Banana Oatmeal Bake

 2 cups oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup strawberries
2/3 cup blueberries
1 ripe banana
2 cups milk
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Spray a 8×8 casserole dish generously with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the chocolate chips, & half the berries. Stir until evenly incorporated and pour into the prepared casserole dish. 3. Sprinkle the other half of the berries & chocolate chips on top of the mixture. Then, slice the banana & add to top.
4. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, butter, & vanilla. Whisk thoroughly. Pour this over top of the oatmeal mixture, making sure the all oats are soaked evenly.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar over the top of the casserole for added sweetness. The extra sugar is optional. Bake for an additional 5 or 10 minutes or until the top of the casserole is golden brown.

Chili Dog Casserole with Cheese Fries

So as I’ve mentioned before Son # 1 made the JV football team. What I probably haven’t mentioned since then, and totally need to (ok, I’m gonna brag a bit) is that he kept getting promoted from position to position, and to starting each position, until half way through the season earning his Varsity letter. Go him! He is a pretty awesome guy, and I’m not at all surprised, but damn if I’m still not proud as hell. The parents will often get together, especially for a big game, and host a tail-gate/team meal for the players. And when it comes to tailgating the boys prefer some of the more traditional fair.

When it comes to tailgating foods, chili is a classic dish that is perfect for football weather.  You can make it ahead so you don’t miss any of the action, and I can make a big batch. Big enough to feed a team of athletic teen boys.      And speaking of chili, who doesn’t like a good chili dog? This casserole is great to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon or while watching weeknight sports on TV, or (in our case) to serve to a hungry crowd of rowdy teen football players.

 Chili Cheese Hot Dog French Fry Casserole

We’ve established that our family, and the son’s team, all love chili corn dogs, but this dish has truly taken that flavor to the next level. All the flavor of the two classic stadium treats, but in one tasty casserole. We can’t be alone either because Americans love hot dogs. We really do. We know this because, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (which is, yes, a thing), we bought $1.6 billion worth of them last year, just in grocery stores. But for me the hotdog — along with the slightly more grownup-sounding sausage — is always going to be most at home inside a stadium or at some nearby tailgate. Even better, there isn’t really any standard for how you should eat one, this recipe is a nice change up from the same old, same old.

Chili Dog Casserole with Cheese Fries

Chili Cheese Hot Dog French Fry Casserole 2

recipe adapted from The Weary Chef

5 hot dogs (your favorite brand) , sliced into ¼” rounds
15 oz can chili
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup shredded, or very thinly sliced, carrots
12 oz frozen shoestring, or crinkle cut, French fries
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Spray a 9 x 13” baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium sized skillet, saute the sliced hot dogs until nice and fragrant and browned.
3. In a medium bowl, add the hot dogs, chili, tomatoes, and carrots. Stir until evenly combined. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish.
4. Evenly arrange French fries in a single layer on top of the hot dog mixture. Bake in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes.
5. Evenly, or as evenly as possible, sprinkle the cheese on top of the fries, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Zucchini & Squash Au Gratin

I may or may not have an … obsession. A zucchini obsession. It all started when I was inundated with bags and bags of free summer squash. I had to do something with them. I had to do something new too, since the sons wouldn’t stand for having one more zucchini muffin shoved down their throats. Instead, they got these harmless little zucchini fritters. Before them I really was only a casual zucchini user. Nothing much creative about it.   Then I got really creative with the cheesy zucchini rice. And then a couple of weeks ago I died and went to zucchini heaven with the glazed lemon zucchini bread. But today, it’s official. We’ve revolutionized their use with this zucchini and squash au gratin. Which is saying something since summer squash, especially zucchini, are pretty much one of the best, most versatile, veggies ever.

Move on over potatoes, there’s a new star in town.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Squash Au Gratin

recipe adapted from Dishin With Rebelle

2 tbsp butter
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 large squash, sliced
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream, or half and half
Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or provolone works best)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
pinch of oregano
Parmesan cheese, to taste
 
Directions
 
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When melted add in the shallots and garlic, and saute until they begin to turn clear.
2. Next, add the zucchini, squash and cream. Give it a stir and then add the salt, pepper, and Parmesan.
3. Cook the mixture 8 to 10 minutes over medium-medium low, stirring occasionally. You do not want it to boil, only lightly simmer.
4. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the top with a little more Parmesan and evenly distribute the shredded cheese over top.
5. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes at 450 degrees, or until the casserole is bubbly and golden brown on top.
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