10 Make Ahead Casserole Recipes

Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey casserole? Especially the kind that can be made ahead and either tossed in the fridge till dinner the next day, or frozen for weeks (or months)!

To me, casseroles are one of the best comfort foods out there, and make-ahead casserole recipes are the best. THE BEST!

10 Make-Ahead Casserole Recipes

My sister-in-law is 8-1/2 months pregnant and I blame her for having casseroles on my brain. She asked me if I’d help her prep a few freezer meals to tuck away until after the baby’s born, which is very smart! (For the record, I was not that smart. For either child.)

Those of you who’ve had babies must remember what it’s like those first 6-8 weeks after the baby’s born. Every single day is comprised of eating, sleeping, diapering and changing baby clothes. I mean, you barely have enough time to grab a shower, let alone pull together a home cooked dinner – right?

Having make-ahead casseroles frozen and at the ready is a terrific way to get dinner on the table without also losing your mind (which may happen anyway, but at least you won’t be able to blame the food!).

10 Make-Ahead Casserole Recipes

NOTE: Each of these casseroles can be covered tightly with aluminum foil and frozen just before the baking step.

  1. Simple Mexican Ground Beef Casserole
  2. Baked Ziti
  3. Baked Creamy Chicken Spaghetti (I’d leave the onion topping off until you’re ready to bake)
  4. Spinach, Mushroom & Italian Sausage Lasagna
  5. Simple Oyster Casserole
  6. Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta
  7. Walnut French Toast Bread Pudding Casserole
  8. Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls
  9. Spinach, Bacon & Cheese Egg Casserole
  10. Chicken Noodle Casserole

(Yes, there are some breakfast options too – enjoy!)

Baked Italian Meatballs

Baked Italian Meatballs

Barbecue Pork Meatballs are a favorite in our house, although my 5-year old will call me out if I make the sauce too spicy (seriously, how tomato sauce, brown sugar and mustard can be spicy is beyond me…but we all know how “testy” those young palates can be).

Staring at a pound of ground pork in the fridge the other day, I thought I’d try my hand at another version of those meatballs. Something with a completely different flavor. Like the way a “spaghetti and meatballs” meatball tastes, but without the spaghetti. And not at all like spaghetti and meatballs.

What?

So, with fresh basil, shredded mozzarella and an unfinished can of tomato paste in the fridge, the flavor direction came together nicely.

Baked Italian Meatballs

I used ground pork in these Baked Italian Meatballs because that’s what I happened to have already thawed in my fridge. You could also make these with ground beef or turkey, or even with meatloaf blend (pork/veal/beef). Whatever floats your boat!

Also, if you don’t have oats on hand, you can use Italian bread crumbs, panko or even stale bread ripped into tiny pieces.

AND, if you’re looking for a good party recipe, these (or the Barbecue Pork Meatballs) would be great baked in a mini muffin tin, and served via toothpicks. They’d probably only take about 20 minutes to cook at the mini size.

Cheers!

Baked Italian Meatballs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat the inside of a 6-spot muffin tin with non-stick spray or with butter.
  2. Combine the pork, oats, egg, ⅛ cup tomato paste, basil, ½ cup mozzarella, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix it well!
  3. Form the pork mixture into 6 meatballs and place one in each spot of the muffin tin. Top them with the remaining tomato paste and mozzarella.
  4. Bake the Italian meatballs for 30 minutes, and let them rest for 5 minutes in the tin before removing them to eat.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

I love Tetrazzini. Chicken or turkey – it really doesn’t matter. Creamy pasta, crispy topping, rich sauteed mushrooms, all baked to delicious perfection – and even better the next day for lunch leftovers.

Yesterday after getting home from my daughter’s dance competition – we were in Baltimore, Md. for a night – I was craving some sort of comfort food, and I was exhausted. Yes, she did all the work, but after standing for 8 hours on the concrete floor of the convention center on Saturday, with awful food options, I was ready to collapse.

Ballet Competition

And eat really good food.

For whatever reason, I was craving Tetrazzini. Except – I forgot to add mushrooms to the grocery list, which means we had none.

Annnnnd, it’s kinda hard to make a traditional Tetrazzini without the mushrooms. {sad face}

But, that’s okay! There were some beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes in my last Hometown Harvest fixed bag, and I thought to myself:

Forget the Tetrazzini! Let’s just make a creamy baked chicken pasta dish, with fresh cherry tomatoes, sauteed onions + garlic and fresh herbs.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Doesn’t that look delicious, and fresh, and totally yummy?

It was.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 8-ounces spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a large, nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the butter has melted, add the chicken. Cook the chicken 4 minutes per side, or until it's cooked through. Remove the chicken to a paper towel, let it rest for 5 minutes, and then cut it into bite-sized pieces and toss them into a large bowl.
  3. Add another tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the large saute pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onions. After 2 minutes, once the onions start to become soft, add the garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and continue sauteeing them for another 5 minutes, and then add them to the chicken in the large bowl.
  4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling, salted water and cook it for 9 minutes. Drain.
  5. Meanwhile, while the pasta's cooking, add 3 tablespoons of butter to the saute pan. Once it's melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 2 minutes, continuing to whisk. Pour the milk and chicken stock in all at once, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil - whisking frequently. Whisk in 1 teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper, then reduce the heat to keep the mixture simmering until it becomes thick and bubbly, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked spaghetti, ½ cup of the cheese, the sauce, ¾ cup sliced cherry tomatoes, green onions and parsley to the large bowl with the chicken. Toss it all together until the spaghetti is well-coated.
  7. Add the pasta mixture to a buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Toss the bread crumbs and remaining cheese together, then sprinkle it on top. Add the remaining sliced cherry tomatoes, dot with 3 tablespoons of butter, then bake it for 20 minutes (or until the sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden brown). Let the creamy baked chicken pasta rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Disclosure: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor. All opinions are my own, and I only work with companies whose missions I support. Interested in signing up? Click here and make sure you tell them I sent you!

Swedish Meatballs with Ground Turkey

how to make swedish meatballs, swedish meatballs using turkey, ground turkey recipes

You know me, I don’t meal plan.

I prefer to keep my pantry stocked with everyday essentials, and buy produce and meats based off of two things: price and what’s local and/or seasonally available.

Last week there were two things in the fridge that begged to be used: ground turkey and yogurt. Like, lots of yogurt.

Chobani* reached out to me a few weeks ago after finding this old recipe where I substituted yogurt for sour cream, and asked if I’d be interested in trying their yogurt (which, of course I’ve already tried, but never in a recipe). I said yes, and then last week two big boxes showed up, filled with 15 32-ounce containers of Chobani yogurt.

FIFTEEN THIRTY-TWO-OUNCE CONTAINERS!

That’s a lot of yogurt!

With expiration dates of late October, I think there’s plenty of time to use the yogurt. My 8-year old and I both like plain yogurt mixed with honey, berries, granola, etc., and my brain is working overtime thinking about recipes that would work well with yogurt inspiration!

how to make swedish meatballs, ground turkey recipes, swedish meatballs with ground turkey

I’ve also wondered if I can freeze the yogurt for later, like, in the containers in which they came. It’d be unfortunate to have exploding yogurt in the deep freeze…

Anyway, here’s my first recipe using Chobani plain yogurt – Swedish Meatballs with Ground Turkey!

turkey swedish meatballs, ground turkey recipes

 

Swedish Meatballs with Ground Turkey
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Adapted from Alton Brown's Swedish Meatballs recipe.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1-lb ground turkey
  • 1 slice fresh white-wheat bread, torn in little pieces
  • ⅛ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + a pinch
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • ¼ cup Chobani plain 2% yogurt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F.
  2. Mix the bread and milk together in a small bowl and set it aside.
  3. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 12" straight sided saute pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and let the onion cook until it's translucent - about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Combine the turkey, egg, bread & milk mixture, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg and the cooked onions. Use a hand mixer to beat the ingredients for 2 minutes over medium speed - it will look pasty.
  5. Make golf ball sized meatballs out of the mixture (I like to use a small ice cream scoop for this process), setting them aside on a baking sheet as you go.
  6. Heat the remaining butter in the same saute pan in which the onions cooked, and once it starts to get foamy, add the meatballs.
  7. Let the meatballs cook on all sides until they're golden brown - a total of about 8 to 10 minutes. Then, use a slotted spoon to put them in a casserole dish, cover, and then rest in the warmed oven while you make the sauce.
  8. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the flour to the saute pan. Use a whisk to make sure the flour incorporates fully with all the grease and drippings. After a minute or 2, add the beef stock and continue whisky until the sauce starts to thicken and bubble. Add the Chobani yogurt, and continue to cook the sauce until it's the consistency you like.
  9. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve them over farfalle or penne pasta.

 

Disclosure: Chobani sent me the yogurt for free, but all opinions are my own!

 

*The yogurt Chobani sent me was not part of the recent recall from their Idaho facility. Also, as you know, I’m on a journey to become more informed about what we’re eating, and find myself more and more curious about GMO products and what a brand’s stance is on them. Here’s what Chobani said about GMOs and their capacity to manage around them:

 

“We agree that people have a right to know what’s in their food and want to set the record straight on GMOs.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms that have had their genetic makeup (DNA) altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur in nature or through traditional cross-breeding methods. GMOs are found in key commodity crops grown in the United States, like corn and soy.

So what does that mean for us? None of our non-dairy ingredients have been genetically modified. The challenge lies in the feed to the 78,000+ cows, across 875+ farms surrounding our plants.

The milk from our trusted farmers is not genetically modified, though currently, there’s no universal definition of the GMO-free claim for milk. And the only regulation to account for the feed is organic, which requires farmers to ensure that at least 30% of their cows’ diet comes from pasture grass during the mandatory grazing season. However, we consciously chose not to pursue USDA Organic certification because our goal is to price our products so that everyone, regardless of income, can have access to delicious, nutritious yogurt. Ultimately, we require a high volume of milk that simply can’t be met by organic farms.”

You can read their full message about GMO stance here.

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