Story and photos by Angie Sutton
It’s early Sunday morning. I’m sitting at the laundry mat and have 16 washers going. Why? Because today is the day we pack our worldly belongings into the 26-foot long moving truck and say goodbye to the community we’ve called home. We’re headed to another community we’ve also called home for some time.
My husband and I have been commuters for many years. We live an hour north of Manhattan, where we both work, in a town known for its black squirrels, Marysville. The daily commute was starting to wear on us so we made the decision to move. Turns out the decision to move may have been the easy part!
You don’t really know how much stuff you have until you start packing. I like to organize (big surprise) so I want to label boxes and put certain things in each one. All is going well until you hit the random stuff. Like which box does the giant cow bell go in? And why exactly do we have a giant cowbell? So I took a deep breath and labeled a few boxes (under exaggeration) with “miscellaneous.” The boxes have accumulated over the past month and slowly the cupboards, drawers and shelves began to empty. The little girls think this is great because they can open drawers and get in them now. How cute, right?
It has been a bit of a challenge in the cooking department with our home in chaotic stacks. The solution has been to use the slow cooker and make all-things-casserole. If I can put it in a 9- by 13-inch pan and bake it then that is what’s for dinner!
With holidays soon arriving, early morning football tailgates and life in general, casseroles are an easy and tasty solution to the “what’s for dinner” question. Here are some of our favorites as well as a couple of stress-busting beverages I’ve been trying.
Spiced Pumpkin Coffee Frappe
2 c. milk
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir milk, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice with a whisk until sugar dissolves completely and bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat and stir in coffee and vanilla. Cool and pour into a covered container. Refrigerate overnight. In a blender add the refrigerated mixture, ice cream and ice. Cover and pulse until ice is crushed and mixture is well blended. Serve immediately and garnish with spray whipped topping.
Cider with a Hint of Vanilla
8 c. apple cider (pasteurized)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine apple cider, brown sugar and orange juice. Add a dash of salt. Meanwhile put cinnamon sticks and cloves in a small piece of net or cheesecloth and tie shut securely. Add to pan. Toss sliced oranges on top. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Discard spice bag and oranges. Stir in vanilla.
Bacon & Pineapple Bake
Katie Osborn, Toledo, Ohio
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce and mustard until blended. Stir in cheeses, bacon, ham and pineapple. Gently stir in cubed rolls. Transfer to a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Refrigerate, covered several hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator while oven heats. Bake, uncovered, 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with onions half way through baking. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.
Hash Brown and Chicken Casserole
Jennifer Berry, Lexington, Ohio
15 eggs, beaten
In a very large bowl, combine eggs, potatoes, chicken, milk, tomatoes, 1 c. cheese, green onions, cilantro and seasonings until blended. Transfer to a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Preheat to 350 F. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator while oven heats. Bake uncovered, 1 1/4 hours to 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Marty Schwartz, Sarasota, Florida
8 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 375 F. Unroll crescent roll into a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish; seal seams and perforations. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile in a small skillet, cook bacon and sausage over medium heat until bacon is crispy and sausage is no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings. In the drippings, saute mushrooms, onion and green pepper. Remove and set aside. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggs; cook and stir until almost set. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, garlic and Italian seasoning; spread over crust. Layer with eggs, sausage and bacon, sautÃ©ed vegetables, tomatoes and mozzarella. Bake at 375 F for 18 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with picante sauce and additional sour cream if desired.