Pat’s Pantry: Stretching a meal

By Pat Mills

It seems like we have to stretch out our food more and more these days. I’m finding that I look for casseroles that will feed the family. Some days it’s even a meatless casserole. – Pat

Ham casserole
2 cups cubed peeled potatoes
1 large carrot, sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cups water
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
2 teaspoons chopped green pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
7 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup soft breadcrumbs
In a saucepan, cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water until tender; drain. In a skillet, sauté ham, green pepper and onion in 3 tablespoons butter until tender. Add to potato mixture. Transfer to a greased 1-½ qt. baking dish. In a saucepan, melt remaining butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the cheese until melted; pour over the ham mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Beef and noodle casserole
1 package (8 oz) medium noodles
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound ground beef
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
½ cup sour cream
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup (8 oz) 4 percent cottage cheese
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. In a large skillet, sauté onions and green pepper in butter 3 minutes or until tender. Add beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain excess fat. In a medium bowl, combine tomato paste and sour cream; stir in the noodles and cottage cheese. Layer half the noodle mixture in a 2-qt. casserole. Top with half the beef mixture. Repeat. Pour tomato sauce evenly over the top of casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through.
Sausage rice casserole
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 cup uncooked instant rice
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
½ cup water
½ cup plus 4 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
In a small skillet, cook the sausage, onion and red pepper over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Remove from the heat. Stir in the rice, basil, soup, water and 1 cup of cheese. Transfer to an ungreased 2-qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

Mac ’n’ cheese
1 package (16 oz) elbow macaroni
2 ounces Muenster cheese, shredded
½ cup each shredded mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and Monterey jack cheese
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
2 cups Half-and-Half cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cubed process cheese (Velveeta)
¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the Muenster, mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and Monterey jack cheeses, set aside. In a large saucepan, melt ½ cup butter over medium heat. Stir in the cream, eggs, process cheese, seasoned salt; pepper and 1-½ cups of the cheese mixture. Drain pasta; add to cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to a greased 2-½ qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture and dot with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Yield: 7 servings.

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