I realized the other day that I have been so focused on making ice cream and what not that I haven’t posted an easy Sunday Supper post in quite awhile. Let me make it up to you now.
Casserole Supreme: A Childhood Favorite
I don’t know when my mother found the Better Homes & Gardens Casserole Cookbook, but it was published in 1968. As far as I’m concerned, it was a very good year. Just as it says about my beloved Angel Slices in older copies of Joy of Cooking, “many a copy of Joy has been sold on the strength of this recipe alone,” the same should be said of the Casserole Supreme recipe in the BH&G Casserole Cookbook.
I just got off the phone with my mom, because I wanted to know why she bought the cookbook in the first place and how she chose Casserole Supreme to make at all. She thinks she bought the book to find “recipes for a crowd,” since we always went to our Wednesday night potluck suppers at our church, and she didn’t want to bring the same thing every time. I guess the first time she made it, the angels sang and people clambered for the recipe, so she really did end up making more or less the same thing every week after all. But at least it was a delicious thing that everyone loved. And, if there were a very special occasion at home, like Greg and I not fighting for a whole day or dad’s church softball team winning a game, mom would make Casserole Supreme just for our family. No sharing with the greedy Presbyterian horde!
This is my no means Haute Cuisine, but it is definitely Hot Cuisine, which is close enough. The list of ingredients is short and readily available, and the result is a purely American concoction of ground beef, onions and canned tomatoes all swimming in a deliciously creamy sauce.
This recipe makes enough to feed a hungry family of four or a moderately hungry family of six. Or to let 12-16 Presbyterians have a few bites apiece. I have adapted the recipe only slightly from the original by adding some Italian herbs and subbing in a huge can of whole tomatoes rather than a can of tomato soup and one of tomato sauce. Otherwise, this is pretty much the 1968 (and beyond) classic that I grew up eating and loving. I hope you enjoy it.
- 1 pound ground beef (I had some local grass-fed beef)
- 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil if necessary (depends on how fatty your meat is)
- 1 small-to-medium onion , diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend of your choice
- 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes and their juice
- 3 oz softened cream cheese (eyeballing it is fine)
- 3/4 cup sour cream (ditto--a huge serving spoonful will do nicely)
- 1 pound pasta short pasta of your choice , cooked to al dente (elbows, shells, penne, fusilli, rigatoni, wagon wheels, radiatore, cavatappi, etc)
- Place the ground beef in a heavy skillet to brown, breaking it up with a spatula. If the meat is on the lean side, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pan.
- Once the meat is about halfway done (some will be browned and some still pink or red), add the onion and garlic.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Cook until onions and garlic are softened and meat is completely cooked.
- Add the tomatoes and softened cream cheese
- Stir around so the cream cheese melts evenly into the tomatoes.
- Let simmer for about ten minutes or so.
- With the heat on low, stir in the sour cream.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Fold the sauce into your freshly drained pasta.
- Serve as-is or spoon into individual ramekins or a big old casserole.
- Bake at 350F until the pasta on top has a bit of crunch to it and the casserole is bubbling all around the sides.
- Let sit for ten minutes before serving.
And there you have it for your quick and easy Sunday Supper! Chances are you have everything you need already in your pantry, so go for it. And no, there is no rule that says you can’t add some bell pepper when you add your onions. Or maybe make it Mexican-style by stirring in some black beans and using cumin and/or chili powder for flavor rather than the Italian seasoning. However you make your Casserole Supreme, do make some and enjoy the creamy retro-goodness!
Ice Cream Tuesday Preview: The Best Laid Cinco de Mayo Plans
Y’all I had fully intended on posting a fun chocoflan recipe for Cinco de Mayo. You know the one, where you ladle in chocolate cake batter and then flan batter, bake the whole thing in a water bath and be amazed when the cake rises to the top and the flan sinks to the bottom. When you serve it, the cake layer is on the bottom and the flan is on top (since you turn it out onto a platter), and everyone is amazed!
Well, despite knowing better and even questioning my decision, I decided that I should make chocoflan with my favorite brownie recipe as the cake part. Now, brownies are really dense, so when I glooped it into individual ramekins and then put the custard on top to bake, the brownie batter sullenly refused to change places with the flan.
This would have been fine had I made this in a Pyrex baking dish of some type. I could have just sliced and served it in squares. But no, I had to go for individual chocoflans, so I made mine in ramekins. Impossible to turn out, especially when the flan was still goopy and the brownie layer still molten.
I rolled my eyes and cursed a little bit, and then I just laughed as I dumped/scooped the contents of all 8 ramekins into a hastily pan-sprayed 11″x7″ Pyrex. I swirled everything together–the dulce I was using as the caramel part, the brownie batter (seasoned with chipotle and espresso powders and a shot of Kahlua) and the cinnamon-spiked flan mixture–and shoved it back in the oven until everything seemed done.
After cooling the Truly Impossible Because Jenni Is Stubborn Cake down, I chilled it and gave it a try. The verdict: while completely delicious, it is so ridiculously rich that it needs to be served in small pieces like fudge. So, I’m showing it to you now as it came out of the fridge. But, stay tuned for my Seis de Mayo celebration for the latest Ice Cream Tuesday: Mexican Coffee Chocoflan Ice Cream.
The lessons here: physics is a real thing and heavy things sink, no matter how you may wish otherwise. Nothing that is tasty is a failure. And everything has a purpose, even truly impossible cake.
Being Fearless in the Kitchen doesn’t mean always getting it right, but it does mean having enough tools in your toolbox to be able to, in the inimitable words of Tim Gunn, make it work.
And there you have it. Thanks for stopping by today, and do come back by on Tuesday to check out Ice Cream Tuesday!
Take care, and have a wonderful day!