You can’t out casserole a southern woman. I’ll say it again. You CANNOT out casserole a southern woman. It’s built in. It’s genetic. Perhaps we learn it in the womb. From infancy practically we’re accumulating casserole recipes. You won’t catch a southern lady unprepared without the perfect casserole for any occasion. We use casseroles for so many life events, births, deaths, surgery, long illnesses, short illnesses, adoptions. Come casserole events become convoluted. For example: I might travel to another state to care for a sick relative (which means make casseroles). Upon returning, I might receive a casserole because southern women don’t like to be idle. Since they couldn’t help with the sick relative themselves they will casserole the problem. I had friends in Texas who would have surgery just so that I would bring a casserole. Not really, but they would request one. So when someone from the south doesn’t want to adhere to the “Rules of the Casserole,” I find myself completely dumfounded.
Recently I've come upon several who don’t understand how the casserole concept works. It’s unusually because these are mostly good southern folks. They’re not foreign, or even worse – Yankee…
Last year a man's wife we know passed. I’m all over the plan for casseroles. Husband calls and said he didn’t want any food. “Yes he does,” I answer. “No! Really he doesn’t,” Husband replied. “He’s just saying that, everyone wants casseroles!” Then he forwards me an email from him politely declining any offerings of food. He kind of gets a pass. He lost his wife after battling a dreadful condition for 18 months. He barely left the house. He wanted to be out of the house, eat out – that type of thing. OK, fine. But he WILL get a casserole from me at some point! He will!
Another lady we know has been hospitalized and will be at home for a time. This woman has a heart as big as Dixie, but bless her heart, she is a bit odd. But she’s from a decent southern family. She’s a preacher’s daughter for crying out loud. She knows the rules of the casserole.
Husband calls me today and informs me that she’s coming home from the hospital and that she and her sister don’t want any food. “I’m sorry! What?,” I reply. Sensing my resistance, be becomes more emphatic. “(The sister) said they don’t want food. They want restaurant gift cards.” “Restaurant gift cards!?!?!,” I repeat. I don’t believe it. This woman’s condition, I know, is partly to blame on eating at restaurants for 3 meals a day for 30+ years. But that’s a blog for another time.
Since presently I’m unable to fulfill my inherent need to casserole, I’ll share two of my favorites. Make them. Freeze them. Freeze them. Eat them. Give them away. And when a southern woman gives you a casserole, accept it. Accept it the spirit of love that it is given.
· 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
· 2/3 cup milk
· 1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
· 3 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey (I use deli turkey)
· 12 ounces thin spaghetti, cooked
· 1 (10-ounce) package frozen petite peas
· 1 small can or jar of mushrooms
· 1 1/2 cups shredded baby Swiss cheese
· 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
· 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
· ¼ tsp paprika
· Whisk together soup and milk in large mixing bowl; whisk in Alfredo sauce. Stir in chopped turkey, next 4 ingredients, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Pour into 2 lightly greased 11 –x 7 inch dishes.
· Stir together remaining Parmesan cheese, crushed croutons, and paprika; sprinkle evenly over casserole.
· Bake, covered, at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 more minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
· Note: Casserole may be assembled and frozen up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight; bake, covered, at 350° for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Easy Breakfast Casserole
· 6 pieces of bread
· ¾ cup milk
· 4 eggs
· Sausage (or ham, turkey, asparagus or whatever you want)
· 1 Cup (however much you want)
· 1 Can cream of mushroom soup
· 1 smallest can of evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed)
· Spray an 11x13 inch baking dish with Pam
· Put margarine on 6 slices of bread and put them margarine side up in the baking dish
· Place cooked sausage (or chopped ham) over the bread
· Beat together the eggs and milk
· Pour eggs and milk over sausage and bread
· Sprinkle cheese on top
· Refrigerate over night or several hours
· Mix together cream of mushroom and evaporated milk
· Pour over casserole and let stand for 10 or 15 minutes
· Cook in 375° oven for 45 minutes to an hour
· It’s best when allowed to stand for about 10 minutes after cooking.