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Convenience & Comfort Combine in Creamy Casseroles

 
Convenience & Comfort Combine in Creamy Casseroles
Leona's Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole

Canned soup is my friend. Like any ingredient - expensive or not - it is what you make of it. And let me tell you, there are some really tasty, economical casserole recipes out there that elevate the humble can of soup to an art form.

A true Andy Warhol of the kitchen, Muna Escobar has brought us one of the most talked-about recipes on justapinch.com: The Tater Tot Casserole. The recipe is so simple and classic in its preparation, yet home cooks everywhere are buzzing about how dang good it is! Perhaps one of this recipe’s biggest fans is the Honorary Kitchen Crew’s Gail Herbest.

“This was fantastic!! This is a very kid-friendly dish and I will bet they will be asking for seconds! If there is any left at the end of the meal, though, it does heat up well for leftovers the next day.”

With a simple base of vegetables and ground meat, the real magic happens when you mix in two creamy cans of condensed soup - one chicken, one mushroom - and create a top crust of frozen tater tots. Basic? Yes. But delicious? Absolutely. Top with cheese and brown in the oven for pure comfort on a plate.

“I used ground turkey and both cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese piled on top,” says Gail. “Super satisfying, it tasted just like something Grandma used to make. (Kind of like chicken dumplings, but not as heavy.)”

Another comforting casserole classic comes to us from Leona Krivda of Belle Vernon, PA. She crafted her signature Cauliflower Broccoli Casserole by melding together just five simple ingredients: cauliflower, broccoli, cream cheese, cream of celery soup and butter or margarine. It’s so simple, but so decadent and delicious.

“Everyone always like this a lot and wants the recipe,” smiles Rene.

Our own Leah Stacey of the Honorary Kitchen Crew jumped at the chance to taste-test Leona’s recipe.

“I could smell the cream cheese cooking and it smelled great,” exclaimed Leah. “[It is] absolutely lovely as a side dish with roasted or grilled chicken.”

The warm cream cheese and soup melts to envelope the veggies and the finished product is a rich, silky punctuation mark for any meal. Want a little extra crunch? Leah suggests topping your casserole with panko breadcrumbs. (Always a good idea in our book!)

Also a frequent guest at our table is Dewillia’s Chicken Spinach Tortilla Casserole. It is, well, just like it sounds! Ms. Dewillia Cotton of Chickasaw, AL created this dish to satisfy the palettes of both her and her husband. The recipe is put together in just one bowl, layered in a baking dish with spinach, then topped with copious amounts of ooey, gooey cheese. While perfecting the recipe, Dewillia also came up with one of our favorite thrifty tips of all time!

“It is just me and my husband and I can’t cook a small casserole, especially when it calls for a 9 X 13 pan,” explains Dewillia. “So I took aluminum foil and made in to fit the pan and made two half portions before I baked it. I pulled it up on the inside so it would not cook together. Then all you have to do is pick up one side at a time. You can either share it or put it in the freezer for another time. I carried half to my friend and her husband, and they dearly loved it.”

Fancy can be grand, but sometimes there’s just nothing better than a creamy casserole made at home. Stock up on your staples and give that ol’ can of soup another chance - You’ve got magic in your pantry just waiting to happen.

© 2011 Just A Pinch Recipe Club. Used by Permission.

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