I pulled out of the freezer some leftover Christmas ham and made a satisfying dinner that truly could have been assembled with unlimited ingredient choices. My Anything Casserole starts with a base of Casserole Sauce Mix, and then I add frozen or fresh, blanched vegetables, a meat choice, a starch, plus a cup of shredded cheese, and then bake. Leave out the starch if you’re cutting carbohydrates.
This is truly a clean-out-the-fridge, rustle-around-in-the-freezer kind of meal.
- ham, frozen hash browns, cauliflower rice
- ham, broccoli, cauliflower
- ham, asparagus, red potatoes, chopped tomatoes
- ham, leftover roasted brussels sprouts – I mean, really! Any leftovers!
- chicken, celery, water chestnuts, mushrooms
- chicken, any vegetable, egg noodles
- chicken, broccoli, cooked rice
- ground beef, frozen vegetables, tater tots
- ground beef, mirepoix, potatoes
- you fill in the blank – Meat:____, vegetable on hand:____, starch of choice:____
A Home Economics Pep Talk
Cooking can be easy. It can be fun, as well as economical. You don’t have to encounter waste. Build a menu plan from what you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. It’s amazing how inspired you can be by looking at the food items you purchased with great intentions. Rev up those intentions again, and get cooking!
The chicken you use can be cooked up on the spot – I like using individual chicken tenderloins because they thaw quickly and I can cook as few or as many as needed. Three for my husband and myself; 16 when I’m having company or taking food to someone.
You can also keep portions of cooked chicken in the freezer. I achieve this by cooking a whole chicken and saving some of the meat for a future use, baking multiple breasts or thighs and measuring out two-cup portions for the freezer, or deboning a large rotisserie chicken (thank you, Costco) and saving some of it.
Browned ground beef is another life-saving staple to keep in the freezer. When my stack of freezer containers labeled “GB” runs low, I buy a 6-8 pound package of ground beef and cook it up with onion, salt, and pepper. Then I freeze portions that are slightly under a pound each. It’s a 40-minute job that saves hours in the long run, not to mention how often it stops us from going out to eat when I realize how easy it will be to whip up a meal. I usually remove from the freezer one of my containers of ground beef the night before or in the morning. But if I need it on the spot, it doesn’t take long to thaw in the microwave.
If you haven’t gotten around to making my Chicken Casserole Sauce Mix or Beef Casserole Sauce Mix yet, all you need to do is use a can or two of condensed cream soup of your choice. But you really ought to mix up a couple containers of this amazing dry mix.
- 2 c water
- 2/3 c Casserole Sauce Mix beef or chicken
- 2 c cooked protein ham, chicken, or ground beef
- 2 c vegetables frozen, blanched, or previously cooked
- 2 c starch frozen potatoes, cooked rice, cooked noodles
- 1 c cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 c cheddar cheese for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the water and sauce mix, whisking thoroughly. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Continue microwaving one minute at a time, stirring between each cook, until thickened.
- Add protein item of choice, vegetable of choice, starch of choice, and 1 cup cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Sprinkle on remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Continue baking until melted.