Casseroles make great entrees, side dishes at home or at church

Published 9:18 pm Monday, May 4, 2015

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I love a good casserole.
The recipes for casseroles are wide and varied. Some make excellent main courses, while others provide the perfect accompaniment as a side dish. Casseroles can be made with any kind of meat, or without meat at all. They can pair up groups of vegetables for a healthy twist, or combine unusual ingredients for a savory flavor.
I remember hearing remarks as a child about how a Southern woman could never have too many casserole dishes.
I also remember a joke from my childhood about a school class that was studying religion. For show and tell, the children were told to bring in something that was a symbol of their religion. The little Catholic girl brought in her rosary, the little Jewish girl brought in a Menorah and the little Baptist girl brought in a covered dish.
While the jokes and remarks may be funny, there may also be some truth to them.
I think they also speak to the good-hearted natures of us folks here in the South. We make casseroles for our own dinners as well as church meals. We make them to take to the sick in our community or to families who have lost loved ones and are grieving.
In small communities such as ours here in Elizabethton, we know the folks around us. We work with them or go to church with them or maybe our children go to school together. We celebrate things together such as weddings and births.
And, when times get tough for someone, we pitch in to help in whatever way we can. Sometimes that means a casserole goes into the oven.

Swiss Chicken Casserole
This simple recipe was given to me by my husband’s grandmother, Helen Ingram. This casserole has a wonderful flavor in its simplicity, but it can also be easily altered to suit your taste. You can use a different kind of cheese if you prefer or switch to cream of mushroom soup for a different flavor. You can also add veggies such as peas, carrots or corn if you would like.
2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite sized pieces
1 package of Swiss cheese slices (10-12 slices)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1⁄2 cup milk
2 cups stuffing mix
1⁄3 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place chicken pieces in a greased 9-by-13 pan. Top with Swiss cheese slices.
Combine soup and milk, pour over cheese.
Sprinkle stuffing mix over top of casserole. Drizzle melted butter over stuffing mix.
Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Jambalyaya Casserole
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup butter
1 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1⁄ 2 inch slices
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1⁄2 cup chopped green onions
1⁄8 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (your choice)
1 tablespoon browning sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a large skillet, saute the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic in butter until crisp-tender. Place in a very large bowl; stir in the remaining ingredients.
Transfer to a greased baking dish. Cover and bake for 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring twice.

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Carrot and Broccoli Casserole
1 package (16 ounces) baby carrots
11⁄2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped OR 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed.
8 ounces of Velveeta, cubed
3⁄4 cup butter or margarine, divided
13⁄4 cups crushed butter-flavored crackers (about 40 crackers)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place one inch of water in a saucepan; add carrots. Bring ot a boil Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add broccoli; cover and simmer 6-8 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain and set aside.
In a small saucepan, cook and stir the chease and 1⁄4 cup butter until smooth. Stir in the broccoli and carrots until combined.
Melt remaining butter; toss with cracker crumbs. Sprinkle a third of the cracker mixture into a greased 21⁄2 quart baking dish. Top with half of the vegetable mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle remaining cracker mixture over top.
Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.
Abby was born and raised in the Stoney Creek community of Carter County. Her love of cooking grew over the years as she worked in the kitchen alongside her mother and grandmother.