I’m not trying to hit the gas on summer, close the pools and rush the kids back to school, but who’s ready for fall? For those of you still with me on this ride into pumpkins, mums, bonfires and crisp fall mornings…let’s take this a step further. Who’s ready for FALL CASSEROLES? You’re in the kitchen, it’s not warm enough for the AC and not quite cold enough for heat, so maybe you have a few windows open. (This is also like four days if you live in Ohio.) You have your favorite cozy sweater on, jeans, a glass of red perhaps and you’re throwing all the things into a nice 9 x 13 and coming out with a warm, hearty fall dish.
Let’s roll into my top 5, in no particular order and in a bit, I’ll explain what cooking is really currently like in our house vs. that pretty little picture I just painted.:)
Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest can honestly do no wrong in my eyes and she’s FROM Ohio. She’s not known for casseroles, but if I could start a petition for her to create more…I would. This Homemade Chicken Noodle Casserole (insert drumroll here) is topped with CRUNCHY KETTLE BRAND POTATO CHIPS (cue drooling) and is literally what casserole dreams are made of. Also, did I mention MY KIDS ALSO LOVED IT…winner winner chicken dinner…see what I did there? I also love a meal I can make in advance and then bake just before dinner hits. Let’s be honest; that calm scenario I described earlier of me sipping wine while slowly cooking dinner looks more like saying no to snacks every time I open the fridge and making sure Ford isn’t coloring on the walls, so pre-prep the casserole it is!
Polarizing topic alert…to love or NOT love Tuna Noodle Casserole THAT is the question? I personally LOVE tuna noodle casserole, likely due to the fact it was high in the rotation in my mom’s dinner arsenal. This ain’t ya momma’s 1987 recipe, though! It doesn’t come from a box and the creamy sauce that will smother those delicious noodles? Plot twist. FROM CASHEWS! I went through a dairy-free phase when nursing Ford, which was hard for me. My life has literally revolved around all things dairy since I was a kid. I used a couple of Hummusapien’s recipes for Thanksgiving, one using cashews and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical but WOW. The cashews created a really creamy sauce that was delicious and gave us a healthier option. I personally went a little heavy-handed on the parmesan, but I am who I am. Also, another Ohio connection, Alexis just moved from Columbus to Denver with her sweet family. Luckily, even though she’s far away we can still get her amazing recipes from Hummusapien!
Fiesta means “party” in Spanish, so this Quinoa Fiesta Enchilada Bake is basically a party on a plate, in my opinion. My friend Olivia made this for us when we had Ford and he’s nearly two now and I’ve conservatively made it 1,976 times since then. Both of my children will shovel it into their mouths and the leftovers…let’s just say they don’t last long. I do tweak a few things…I shred an entire rotisserie chicken and add it. I also nearly double everything because, as I just said, the leftovers make me happy and I could literally eat this every day and not get sick of it. And lastly, I serve it with tortilla chips. More specifically, the Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips because they make a nice little vessel to get the bake to my mouth, plus the added crunch is nice!
About 10 years ago I went through a phase of going out with friends and then hitting a restaurant in downtown Columbus for late-night beef stroganoff. You can file that under one of many strange phases I went through in my life, but I digress. I love this casserole because, you can make it in advance, store it and then pop it in the oven before dinner. I did go a little “extra” on the garlic, ranch dressing, breadcrumbs and salt & pepper. My kids go through phases of “I love chicken,” and then next week, chicken is “EWWWWWW.” The same situation goes for ground beef, so if you deal with the same flip-flop young palettes that I do, schedule this one on a “ground meat friendly” week.
Full disclosure, when my kids see something green on their plates, it sets off an internal alarm deep in their little brains that, in turn, causes complete shutdown, occasionally complete meltdown. It wasn’t always like this, and it’s really not ALL green things; oddly enough, they’ll eat green beans, which I don’t even like at my age. So the broccoli in this casserole WAS triggering, but we did get through it with some negotiation. Sorry, I misspelled…it was bribery. This little casserole screams “comfort food” to me and is quick and easy! In Lindsey’s recipe, she says, “bacon is optional.” I say, “bacon is life,” so I recommend not bypassing that ingredient!
There’s my wrap-up! Make some in advance and set yourself up for easier weeknight dinner times. Leftovers from all of these, if they make it to “leftover” land, are great for next day lunches and sometimes even better the next day. The biggest stamp of approval…these are all Ford (22 months) and Georgia (4) approved with their Michelin Star grade palates. I didn’t get any “EWWWWWWS” when I pulled these from the oven. Drop some comments on your favorite casseroles or what you thought of the ones I listed here. Happy fall Y’all!