2014-02-28 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Centuries of casseroles can’t be wrong
By Connie Wendell
Special contributor

Casseroles, a one-dish meal, have been around for centuries; some of the earliest were prepared by the Aztecs in the 1600s. They are still around today because they are so easy to make and serve. They not only taste delicious, but are chock full of nutritious ingredients.

I’ve included a couple of casserole recipes; give them a try. I’m sure you’ll find them quite tasty.

Garlic cashew chicken casserole

Nonstick cooking spray; 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth; ¼ cup hoisin sauce; 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger; 4 teaspoons cornstarch; ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper; ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch strips; 2 cups sliced bok choy; 2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges; 1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks); 1 cup sliced carrots (2 medium); ¾ cup chopped green sweet pepper (1 medium); 6 cloves garlic, minced; 2 cups cooked brown rice; 1 cup chow mein noodles, coarsely broken; ½ cup cashews; and ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

For sauce: In a medium bowl combine broth, hoisin sauce, ginger, cornstarch, crushed red pepper and black pepper and set aside.

Lightly coat an extra-large skillet with cooking spray; heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, turning once. Remove from skillet. Add bok choy, onion wedges, celery, carrots and sweet pepper to skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables start to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Stir in chicken and cooked rice.

Transfer chicken mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake, covered, about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (165°F.) and edges are bubbly. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles and cashews.

Bake, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes more or until noodles and cashews are golden. Sprinkle with scallions.

Mexicali hamburger casserole

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef; 1 (15 ounce) can Mexican-style diced tomatoes; 1 ½ cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed; ½ teaspoon finely shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided; ½ cup all-purpose flour; ½ cup cornmeal; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt;1 egg beaten; 2/3 cup milk; 2 tablespoons cooking oil; and 1 recipe fresh tomato toss (below).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 12-inch skillet cook and brown beef; drain off fat.

Stir in undrained tomatoes and 1 cup of the corn; heat through. Transfer to greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese.

For corn bread topping, in medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in egg, milk and oil.

Evenly spread on beef mixture. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake uncovered, 30 minutes or until topping is set. Let stand five minutes.

Fresh tomato toss

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved; ¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro; ½ cup of the remaining frozen whole kernel corn; and 1/3 cup green olives, halved.

In a bowl stir together tomatoes, cilantro, remaining corn and green olives. Spoon over each serving.

Enjoy making these casserole and inventing some of your own. Until next time, keep Cooking On Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

Return to top