Cook's Corner

Published 11:44 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2005

By Staff
Casseroles complete holiday fare
Casseroles - one of many side dishes you'll find on holiday tables from now until New Year's Day!
I have a great friend who has a famous quote. &#8220I don't eat anything that ends with ‘asserole'.”
I know how he feels. I don't eat anything that ends in &#8220greens” like turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, etc. Now before you judge me too harshly, keep this in mind. I love pot liquor. Give me some good, homemade cracklin' cornbread and a bowl of pot liquor from turnips or collards and I'm set. I just don't eat the greens. I guess it may have something to do with the fact that when we were growing up we ate a lot of greens. So many, in fact, that we had to tie coal oil rags around our feet to keep the cutworms from eating us.
It's because of this that I am making a public appeal to my anti-casserole friend, Tony. If you'll eat the greens, I'll eat the casseroles!
As you may have guessed, this week's recipes will be covering casseroles. It's gotten to the point that my family feels like the holiday meal isn't complete without Broccoli Casserole on the table. I've included my recipe for this dish this week. I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think.
Broccoli Casserole
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen, chopped broccoli
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked rice
1 medium chopped onion
3 tbsp. butter
1 (16 ounce) jar cheese sauce OR 1 lb. Velveeta Cheese, melted
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute onions in butter until wilted and beginning to become translucent. Cook broccoli as directed on package and drain. Mix together broccoli, soup, rice, onion, butter, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
I have seen the broccoli casserole recipe that is basically the same as the one I use, only they add one cup of mayonnaise to the mixture before placing it in the baking dish and then it is usually topped with a crushed cracker crust. I haven't tried it, but it sounds like a winner to me!
Green bean casserole has never been appealing to me. I loved green beans as a child, but for some reason I no longer care for them. I will eat the blue beans my mother grows when they are picked fresh, but I don't care for them from the can or the freezer. Go figure. Some people feel like their holiday meal is lacking in splendor if the green bean casserole hasn't made an appearance. Well, to each his own. I believe this recipe comes from the Kraft company as &#8220the” authentic recipe for this holiday favorite.
Green Bean Casserole
3 (9 oz.) pkgs. Frozen French cut green beans, thawed and drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. jar cheese sauce
Ground pepper, to taste
1 (2.8 oz.) can French fried onions, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except half of the canned onions. Pour into a 1 and one-half quart casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining onions on top. Bake an additional five minutes.
Sweet potatoes always make an appearance at our holiday meals. Since I feel that sweet potatoes go well with ham that means we usually have this specialty at Christmas rather than Thanksgiving when we usually have turkey.
You may like the version that uses marshmallows for the topping, but we prefer the version that has butter (a Paula Deen favorite), brown sugar and pecans on top. Yum.
Sweet Potato Casserole
4 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
One-half cup milk
One-half tsp. salt
One-third cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
One-half cup all-purpose flour
One-third cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, salt, butter and vanilla. Mix together and pour into a greased 13×9 inch baking dish. To prepare the topping, combine in a separate bowl the brown sugar, flour, melted butter and pecans. Mix together and crumble over sweet potato mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.
With just three weeks until the big feast, the time to narrow down your menu has arrived. Try to make your day as stress-free as possible. One way to do this is to plan ahead. If you don't have a busy weekend planned, try making at least one dish and putting it in the freezer. You can take it out the day before to thaw and pop it in the oven or microwave on the big day for a low-hassle preparation time. I do this every year and with those last minute problems that tend to pop up, having half the meal prepared ahead of time is a life saver. I already have my broccoli casserole in the freezer. I plan on making a large pan of cornbread this weekend to be a little ahead of the game when it comes time to make the dressing.
I hope that you are making plans for your meal. Whether it's turkey and all the trimmings, ham, seafood or steak, planning ahead helps make the day a little easier on the cook.
If you have a special way of preparing your Thanksgiving turkey or ham, I'd love to be able to share it with others, if you're willing to share it with me. If you want, you can email your tips to me at and I'll pass them along.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!!!

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