Ooey Gooey Cheesy Casseroles
Dear hub friends. I am taking a departure from my usual format; today there will be no history lesson; there will be no scientific examination of the chemistry of cooking.
This day, this week (unless you live in the southern hemisphere) the weather is cold, blustery, and totally unforgiving. We need comfort. We need comfort food.
Last week I gave you soup recipes. Today we are truly going for the gusto, pulling out all the stops (can I find a few more tired sayings?). We are going full-on CHEESE.
“Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality.”— Clifton Fadiman (American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality)
Baked Ziti Casserole
(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
- 16 ounces whole milk cottage cheese (don't use low-fat or non-fat)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound ziti or other tubular pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
- 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup whole milk (don't use low-fat or non-fat)
- 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of the Parmesan in medium bowl; set aside.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in the colander (do not wash Dutch oven).
- Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.
- Stir cornstarch into milk in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.
- Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes.
Serves 8 to 10
Chicken Noodle Bake
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup light cream cheese
- 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
- 1/2 cup nonfat mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 T margarine
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 10-oz can chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. ground sage seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 6 cooked lasagne noodles
- 3 cups diced cooked chicken breast or leftover rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place first four ingredients in the bowl of food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add onion, bell pepper and 1/4 cup of the parsley. Pulse until combined. Do not over-process (you want to have chunks of vegetables--not a puree). Set aside.
- Melt margarine in a medium saucepan. Add flour and cook 1 minute; stir in milk and broth and whisk until well blended and thickened. Stir in ground sage, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat; set aside.
- Coat a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place 3 of the cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish. Top with half of the cottage cheese mixture, half of the chicken, and then half of the sauce.
- Repeat layering with 3 more cooked lasagna noodles, and then the remaining cottage cheese mixture, chicken, and sauce.
- Combine bread crumbs and parsley. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.
Cheesy Potato Puff Casserole
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
- 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh onion
- 5 teaspoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
- 1 (32-ounce) package frozen tater tots (such as Ore-Ida)
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; carefully fold in frozen tater tots. Spread evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle green onions over potato mixture.
- Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until bubbly.
Yield: 10 servings
Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole
- 1 cup uncooked instant rice
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup fat-free milk
- 4 ounces processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta)
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup diced cooked ham (optional)
- 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 1 cup French fried onions (such as Durkee or French's)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Coat the bottom and sides of a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Combine all ingredients except French fried onions in a large bowl, and spoon into prepared casserole dish. Cover with foil.
- Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle French fried onions on top of casserole; return to oven and bake 15 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and rice is done and carrots are tender.
Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
- 16-oz. dry elbow macaroni
- 2 14-oz. cans petite diced tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN)
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 4 cups shredded pepper-jack cheese
- 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil over high heat in large pot.
- Add macaroni to pot; stir to keep from clumping together. Cook for about 6 minutes or until al dente (do not cook until done).
- Remove from heat. Drain pasta in collander and return to pan.
- Pour tomatoes and their juices into pan with pasta.
- Return to stove top. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed (about 3 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Next, prepare the sauce.
- Melt butter or margarine in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and broth until smooth. Turn up heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then return heat to medium.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add cheeses and whisk until melted. Pour over tomato-macaroni mixture and stir to combine.
- Coat bottom and sides of baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.Spoon macaroni mixture into prepared pan.
- At this point the casserole can be covered and stored in the refrigerator to serve up to 24 hours later.
- When ready to prepare, bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling. (If preparing casserole stored in refrigerator, add 10 minutes to baking time).
- Remove from oven; let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 to 8
Do you love cheesy comfort foods?
© 2015 Linda Lum