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January 2001 Issue
Quick Comfort Casseroles to Fight Winter Chills
by Victoria Smith
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It snowed here on October first, believe it or not. It is snowing right now, and the town plows, huge things, have been roaring by on the road since first light. I'm so glad that my mother bought a 4-wheel drive vehicle last summer. I think that this will be the scene now, until spring. It's pretty out there, like a living Christmas card, but, of course, I worry about the homeless animals.

I fell on my seat five times the other day, just trying to walk down the driveway. We are on the side of a mountain, very near the top, and the driveway is steep. Good for drainage, so they tell me.

I'll tell you, when we come into the house from 7 degree cold, we need something fast, hot, and comforting, and so this month I have rounded up ten recipes that ought to thaw us out right quick.

So put them together, and eat hearty!


Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 soup can milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion salt
  • 2 cups hot cooked corkscrew or medium shell macaroni (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons margarine or butter, melted
In 1-quart casserole mix soup, milk, pepper and macaroni. Mix bread crumbs with margarine and sprinkle over macaroni mixture. Bake at 400º F for 20 minutes.
  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Baked Rice Casserole

  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 can cream of onion soup
  • 1 can mushrooms with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
Place ingredients into a casserole. Cover and bake at 325º F for 1 1/2 hours or until rice is tender. Stir and serve.
  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


Baked Spinach Casserole

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups light cream (1/2 & 1/2)
  • 3 Tbsp. grated onion
  • 2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 lb. chopped mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
Preheat the oven to 325º F.

For the mushroom sauce, sauté the onions and mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes. Blend in the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Gradually add the cream, stirring to boiling point. Turn off heat and taste for seasoning.

In a buttered casserole, spread half of the spinach; cover with half of the mushroom sauce, then repeat. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Set in pan of hot water. Bake for 40 minutes.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour


Baked Ziti and Bean Casserole

  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes -- drained
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups hot cooked ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 15-ounce can great northern beans -- rinsed and drained
  • 3 slices mozzarella cheese -- 6 1/2 x 4-inches each
  • Grated parmesan cheese -- if desired
Preheat oven to 400º F.

Spray a rectangular baking dish, 11 x 7 x 1 1/2-inches, with nonstick cooking spray. Break up tomatoes in large bowl. Stir in ricotta cheese, onion, parsley, thyme, salt and red pepper. Carefully fold in pasta and beans. Pour pasta mixture into baking dish, spreading evenly. Arrange mozzarella cheese on top. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and cheese is golden brown. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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