Thursday, August 11, 2011

Casserole Comfort

I use to own a web-based, home- delivery meal service called Personally Yours. It offered mostly fresh, healthy options, but also included a casserole section. The only time I make casseroles now are when I am taking them to someone who needs a meal. Recently, I needed to make some, so Amelia and I got to work. I am officially "training" her to be my sous chef. She was actually a big help! Grated a lot of cheese, poured cans into bowls, and got her arm workout mixing everything together! I was very happy she was there to help. And it only cost me $5 :) A good idea when making someone a casserole is to divide it into two smaller casserole dishes instead of one large one. Bring one ready to heat and the other one frozen. Here are a few of my favorite casserole recipes. Enjoy :)

Baked Rigatoni
3 Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine
Chicken, Wild Rice, and Mushroom

Baked Rigatoni

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, at room temperature
Pinch nutmeg
Sea salt and white pepper
1 cup grated fontina
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, sliced thin
1 pound dry rigatoni
1 cup frozen petite peas
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Bechamel sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup fontina, prosciutto and season with salt and pepper.

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain. Return pasta to the pot and pour in bechamel sauce. Mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce.

Into a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pour the pasta with cream sauce. Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup fontina. Dot the top with diced butter and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.

3 Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine

1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1 box penne, cooked for 5-6 minutes
2 cups shredded roasted skinless, boneless chicken
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, oregano, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or just until spinach wilts.

Combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, pasta, chicken, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, milk, and soup in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Chicken, Wild Rice, and Mushroom

1 box wild rice; cooked according to directions
1 roasted chicken, skin off, and shredded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, chopped and rinsed
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry sherry
2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until their liquid has been released and has evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes. Add sherry, increase heat to high and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together chicken, milk, Parmesan, sour cream, cheese, parsley, green beans, salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread the rice in an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Add the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the almonds are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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