Create a comfort casserole

Learn how to make a warm, easy meal with a handful of pantry basics.

Are the colder temperatures getting you down? Are you at a loss for what to make for dinner? Would you like to serve comfort food tonight?

If you choose, it’s really quite easy to make a home-made casserole that will warm your body and spirit – and I’m not talking out of a box! All you need is some sort of protein (hamburger, canned tuna or chicken, cheese or beans), a starch like rice, pasta or noodles, vegetables and a sauce.  Are you ready to start?

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose 1 cup rice or 2 cups noodles or macaroni. Cook according to directions. Place into a greased casserole dish.

2. Pick a protein. One pound hamburger, a large can of tuna or 1 ½ cps of cooked leftover chicken, beef or pork will do. Brown the meat and drain any fat, or drain the water from any canned meat. If you want to use canned beans, it will work; remember to drain them as well. You could also add cubes of cheese. Add your choice to starch layer.

3. Mix ¼ cup milk with a can of creamed soup or follow the directions below to make a white sauce:

White Sauce

            1½  Tbsp. margarine                            ¾  tsp. salt

            3 Tbsp. flour                                        dash   of pepper

            1½  cups milk

  • Melt margarine in a saucepan. Mix in flour to make a   smooth paste.
  • Slowly add milk. Cook over low heat, stirring   constantly until thick.
  • Add salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes longer.

4.  Saute some chopped celery, onion and/or peppers in margarine or butter. This gives added flavor to the casserole.

5.  Add 2 cups of the cooked vegetable of your choice. This is a good time to take those little containers of leftovers out of the freezer and add to your cozy dish. Add sauce, sautéed vegetables and cooked vegetables to casserole.

6. Crush potato chips, cracker or bread crumbs to make a great crunchy topping. You’ll need about 2 Tbsp.  Crumble on top of dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Voilla! You have a less expensive, more nutritious comfort meal that you made yourself. For more information from other Michigan State University Extension educators about healthy meals and living, see the Food and Health section of the news site.  

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