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Well. That was something, wasn’t it? Thanks to a repaired line (which had been flooded and severed, probably by a mouse), I’m now back, linked with the internet world again and, short of any other rodents or rainstorms getting in my way, back on my regular posting schedule.
And, since downpours followed by hot sunshine followed by rain followed by hot sunshine followed by no internet followed by two shopping trips without buying anything are the kind of things that really make a girl crave some comfort, that’s what I’m bringing today. Comfort casseroles, in fact.
I like casseroles. You bake them in one dish, which means less to clean up and less to carry to a dinner party or potluck (which they’re perfect for!). They are warm and comforting, served piping hot out of the oven and filled with ooey-gooey cheese or a wonderful combination of rich flavors. And they are straight out of a 1940s photograph, my grandma in her classic vintage apron, standing over her white oven, preparing dinner.
What do you think of, when you think of casseroles? My mind first goes to Thanksgiving and the delicious, ubiquitous green been casserole my mom makes, taken right off the french fried onion container. It’s my favorite part of the meal – well, along with the sweet potatoes, the rolls, the turkey, the dressing… Okay, maybe they’re all my favorite.
But beyond Thanksgiving’s green beans, my life hasn’t been filled with too many truly good casseroles: there were a variety of medleys served in the college dining hall – a tuna surprise something stands out infamously in memory – but they weren’t the kind of things that really make your mouth water, or that satisfy in an especially comforting way.
Today, one-pan baked dishes feel kind of quaintly old fashioned. You’ll find fruit salads and veggie trays and all kinds of desserts at holiday office parties and get-togethers, but who really make a casserole anymore? It’s a shame, I think. The kind of thing someone should do something about.
That someone, as it turns out, is Emily Farris, a Brooklyn resident who has become famous for her annual casserole parties, complete with winners and prizes and media coverage. Returning the humble casserole to its former glory, Farris brings us back to an almost-forgotten world of delicious, often simple meals, peak comfort food that also highlights trendier, kicked-up versions of the original concept.
A few weeks ago, the generous people at Penguin Books sent me a review copy of Emily’s book, Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for Your Oven. And I’ve started trying some of the recipes, all of which have been outstanding.
My favorite so far, the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, could rival any restaurant app, and is absolutely to-die-for delicious with some big tortilla chips. Apparently, when you take a can of artichokes, a pack of frozen spinach, some garlic, some onions, cream cheese, mayo, parmesan cheese, and some herbs, mix it all together and stick it in the oven, it is transformed into something so good that it will make you sigh with pleasure. I could eat an entire pan of it myself (and almost have).
You’ll have to get a copy of the book to try it yourself. For this book alone, it’s totally worth it. This recipe it that good.
As if that’s not enough, here’s another fun fact about most of these recipes: they are super easy to reheat. Leftover city, here I come! As with this delicious dip, you just stick the dish back in the oven in its original pan and give it a few minutes to heat through. Without any extra effort, dinner is served, hot and steamy.
Farris’s book, Casserole Crazy, is available on Amazon. You’re going to want a copy. Trust me.
Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Penguin Publishing. A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.