Saturday, June 21, 2014

An Apron and a Recipe, Both From my MIL

My husband's mother was one of the world's best mothers-in-law. She went to heaven almost 7 years ago, and I miss her greatly! I've mentioned before that Mom G made aprons for me; she also shared plenty of recipes. Today's post highlights one of each that holds a special place in my heart.

Back in the 1990s, it was popular to decorate one's kitchen in a theme, and my theme was cows. Mom G found some adorable fabric scattered with glow-in-the-dark cows. She made an apron and a "bag bag" out of that fabric for me, both of which I still have and use to this day, although the fabric's glow-in-the-dark property has disappeared. (Ha! I made a funny punny!) In case you're wondering what a "bag bag" is, it's a tube of fabric with elastic at both ends, with a loop at the top for hanging. You stuff your plastic grocery sacks inside it, so you can pull one out when you need it. I forgot to take a pic of the bag bag, and I'm not going to mess with it just now. I'm feeling lazy.

What was I cooking up the day I wore my MOOvelous apron? The casserole recipe that Mom G gave me; it is the perfect one to make for supper on a day when you know you'll be working hard and won't feel like cooking when you get home. The beauty of it is that you put it together at least 8 hours before cooking, so when dinner time rolls around, all you have to do is toss it in the oven. It's also perfect to prepare for a new mother or a full-time caregiver. All they have to do is bake and eat! The name says it all:

Make Ahead Casserole

2 cups cooked chicken (or other meat, or meat substitute)
2 cans cream of whatever soup
2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2 cups dry macaroni or other pasta
2 cups vegetables, chopped if needed
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheese

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan. Mix together all ingredients except cheese in a large bowl.  Pour into prepared pan; sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for one hour.

The recipe is easily halved; that is what I did on this day, so that Some Postman wouldn't have to eat it every night for the next two weeks. A 9 x 13 casserole is a LOT of food for one person! Since our birdies flew the nest, most of the time I make two half-recipes - one meaty and one non-meaty - using 7 x 11 or 8 x 8 pans. That's another great feature of this recipe; it's versatile. You can use whatever cooked meat you've got on hand (you can see I used ham above). For myself, I substitute sliced mushrooms or frozen meatless crumbles or black beans. Any flavor of cream soup can be used (hence the term "cream of whatever soup" in the ingredients list above). Any type of pasta can be used, although I wouldn't recommend spaghetti. The vegetables can be frozen, fresh or canned, and whatever you have on hand. Whatever cheese you've got handy will work, too. I love recipes like this - it's really a basic formula that can be put together in countless flavor combinations!

Here is the casserole ready to be covered and placed in the refrigerator. I completely forgot to take a photo of the baked casserole, and it has long ago been eaten up, so you'll have to make one of your own to see what the finished product looks like.

I'm a rather forgetful blogger, aren't I? Well, at least I remembered to post today!

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