One Dish Dinners

Tuna Noodle CasseroleMinnesota is often called the "Hot Dish Capital of the World," and that just might be true. You really need to be from here to appreciate the merits of this dinnertime staple, with recipes that are passed down from generation to generation on handwritten note cards and through church cookbooks. When young people leave home and set up their first kitchen, a casserole dish or two – along with their favorite family hot dish recipes – are usually some of the first items acquired. Most of these recipes contain a can of some type of cream soup or tomatoes, pasta, ground beef or chicken, and a crunchy or cheesy topping. Many casseroles don't even require a recipe or need specific amounts of ingredients, so they are a good way to use up leftovers.

When we recently asked our Facebook friends what kinds of recipes they were interested in for the fall/winter season, casseroles and slow cooker recipes led the way. It is no wonder, since these dishes can be prepared with simple ingredients that many cooks already have on hand and can be served in the same dish for easy clean-up. In response, we have updated the classic Tuna Noodle Casserole (pictured above) with an adaptation that is good enough to serve for company.

You can adapt any casserole recipe to a slow cooker by reducing the amount of liquid (sometimes by as much as half), since a slow cooker tends to retain a considerable amount of moisture as compared to conventional cooking methods where evaporation is expected to occur. For converting conventional cooking times to slow cooker times, use the following guidelines:

34-45 minutes6-10 hours3-4 hours
50 minutes to 3 hours8-15 hours4-6 hours

Easy Enchilada CasseroleYou'll find more one-dish dinner ideas in the recipe section of our site, including our recipes for Classic Eggplant Parmesan. We have even taken the popular enchilada and made it really easy by layering the ingredients in a glass baking dish and adding fresh toppings at the end for yet another casserole idea, Easy Enchilada Casserole (pictured at right). Add a healthy salad, bread or dinner rolls, and a simple dessert to any of these casseroles to take the work and stress out of mealtime. Be sure to keep the basic ingredients on hand for your favorite casserole recipes so you'll be prepared. You can even take a day and make up several one-dish recipes and freeze them along with the baking instructions, to be defrosted and baked when time is short.

They are often the butt of jokes and the centerpiece of the "Potluck Dinner," but whether you call it a hot dish, casserole, covered dish or one-dish dinner, you can't beat the convenience they provide for easy, hearty meals. We hope you'll add our recipes to your favorites file and enjoy them through the colder months ahead.

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