Eggplant and Tomato Casserole, Hash Brown Casserole, And…Macaroni and Cheese:

Good morning once again, and welcome back into Miz Judi’s Kitchen. Thank you once more for stopping in to visit with us again today! You guys are great!

Today we’ll share a few more casserole dishes with you guys! I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I personally, kinda like a dish that’s got a little of everything in it! It’s almost like a “one stop shop!”
The more I can get on my plate conveniently…the better I like it, and with a casserole you’re getting a pretty good dose of all of it with every scoop of the spoon! I like that!

Actually, any casserole for that matter, are all pretty much meals in themselves. You want veggies, shoot, just chunk em in. Ya got your veggies. Rice??? Just toss it in! Even most any type of meat can be added to whatever type of casserole you may serve!

They are very versatile in the number of ways you can mix or match em. Your own taste is basically the only drawback. So a good rule of thumb when mixing up a casserole is very simple…if you like it, why not toss it in with the other ingredients! If you don’t like something in particular, why would you put it in anyway?? Gimme a break! LOL!

We’ve also mentioned casseroles are a very good way to put a good, nutritious meal on the table, many times, at a fraction of the cost of other meals. Think about it for a moment…

Say you’re feeding a family of five. Hamburger today is fairly costly anymore, but what isn’t? Still though, Deb and I both consider it one of the better buys, meat wise. There’s just no waste, plus it can be served with just about anything.

Where it may take 2-3 pounds to patty out and fry, or grill a burger for everyone, with a casserole, you could put in maybe ½ a pound, and there you go. A full meal that is prepped fairly easily, not a big mess to cleanup afterwards, is very reasonable on your “pocket-book,” and is tasty to boot!

This means that if you were to put a casserole together, with hamburger for instance, you could serve meat in your casserole 4 to 6 times, versus once using your hamburger as a patty for each person. The same amount of meat , but supplying you with many more meals.

So in an economy like what we’re experiencing today, Deb and I feel that casseroles are pretty dern hard to beat! What say you?

The recipes today come from the cook book, “Cooking in the South,” and was written by, Johnnie Gabriel.

It was published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee.

Mrs. Gabriel has been making cakes for over 20 years. Now I ain’t trying to let anybody in on your age by stating this, Mrs. Gabriel, but that’s what the book says!! LOL!!
Anyway, in 1996 she opened a restaurant and catering company in Marietta, Ga., Gabriel’s Desserts, and before long began serving lunch and dinner.

Deb also pointed out to me that Mrs. Gabriel was a cousin to…Paula Deen! I told Deb, “How bout them apples? Now, who’s Paula Deen??” LOL!! Of course we all know who Paula Deen is, and I personally consider her smile, as maybe, one of the prettiest in the South! Besides Deb’s!! I ALMOST put my dern foot in my mouth…Phew!!

Anyway, we believe if you were to purchase this book, you’d probably enjoy it as much as we have. There are a number of great dishes sprinkled with stories, and tips.

Today, Deb and I have found that cook books aren’t just about cooking anymore…they also can be very entertaining reading too! We have several that we consider some of the better books in our small library.

Well, that’s about enough gab for this morning, and I’m sure you guys are ready to check out these recipes. Soooo…let’s fire off the dern cook stove!

Eggplant and Tomato Casserole:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped or 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes, well drained and chopped
  • ¼ stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 (10-3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant, basil, and garlic and sauté in the olive oil. Turn the heat to low and cover the skillet. Let the vegetables “sweat” for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you use fresh tomatoes, add them to the eggplant the last 5 minutes of the “sweating” process.

(If using the drained canned tomatoes, they will be added later.) Add the butter, milk, soup, eggs, the chopped canned tomatoes (if using the fresh ones, they will already be in the skillet), salt, and pepper. Stir well.

Preheat the oven to 375. Coat a 14×10 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add the eggplant mixture. In a small bowl combine the cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Top the eggplant mixture with the buttered cracker crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil the last 10 minutes if the cracker crumbs are browning too quickly.

If you were to drop in and eat at Gabriel’s Desserts, this is the eggplant casserole you’d be served.

Hash Brown Casserole:

  • 1 (32 oz.) package frozen shredded potatoes, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted, divided
  • 1 (10-3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3 cups (12 oz.) grated American Cheese
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups crushed cornflakes

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the thawed potatoes over the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup of the melted butter, the soup, cheese, sour cream, salt, and onion, mixing well. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Top with the cornflakes and drizzle with the remaining ½ cup of melted butter. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

They say this casserole is one of their customer’s favorites, and this casserole is on their menu at least every other week.

Macaroni and Cheese:

  • 4 quarts (16 cups) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 (16 0z.) package elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 16 oz. Colby cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Salt, and Black pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. ham, cubed (This is optional)
  • About 50 Saltines or Ritz crackers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400. Coat a 13×9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large stockpot, bring the water to a boil. Stir in a hefty pinch of salt and add the macaroni. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the macaroni is **al dente. Drain the macaroni and set aside.

** al dente, is an Italian term meaning “to the tooth,” and is used in reference to the degree of doneness of pasta, risotto, or vegetables. The food should be cooked only until it is slightly chewy when biting into it. It should not be soft and overdone nor have a hard center.

Using the same pot after drying it, add the butter, and melt on medium heat. Add the dry mustard and the flour, cooking and stirring constantly to make a golden colored roux. Whisk in the chicken broth and milk, simmering 5 to 6 minutes, or until thickened. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the cheeses. Stir until the cheeses are completely melted. Add the salt and pepper. Add ham, if desired, for a hearty, main dish meal. Add the pasta to the cheese mixture, stirring to combine and coat all of the pasta.

Pour the macaroni mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using a food processor break the crackers into fine crumbs (about 2 cups) or put them in a reusable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until they are fine pieces. Add the melted butter. Sprinkle the cracker mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese melts.

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