Pros: great photography, loads of recipe ideas, easy to find ingredients, good nutritional information
Cons: recipes need adding to make tasty
Casseroles have had a bad reputation over the years. Personally I love a good casserole. Those one dish wonders are not only a time saver for the busy homemaker they are a nutritious often delicious concoction of goodness. I sincerely doubt most of us can honestly say that they grew up without eating a casserole or two that their mother placed on the table. Why is it then, that we, as a culture of foodies, have taken such a poor view of this dish? I’ll tell you! DULL AND BORING! Many casseroles are just that, dull and boring. They are thrown together leftovers, as a rule, put into the same dish and wet down with a can or two of creamed soup.
When I received this book to review I was hopeful that it would dispel the myth that casseroles are a thing of the past. I think this book will help that perception but there is a ways to go yet.
I scanned through the book upon receiving it and I admit…I jumped at the chance to try a recipe which used a lot of zucchini. Considering I am getting 3-4 zucchini a day from our garden anything new and different I can find to use them on is truly a Godsend. As I began the gather the ingredients to make this dish I realized something about the recipe. It was VERY bland. No spices of any kind were included. So being the seasoned cook that I am I added a bit here and a bit there and before I knew it I had taken this recipe and practically rewritten it.
The recipe I will post is the one that I tried and modified. I will tell you that we did enjoy the final product and like many casseroles it was even better warmed up the next day. Would I make it again? YES! Would I make it without modifications? NO!
I‘ll tell you what I did. First I used a sweet sausage rather than the bulk breakfast type sausage. Then I used cream of mushroom soup rather than cream of chicken (personal preference really), and I also lightly sautéed the zucchini separately with fresh chopped garlic and oregano. In addition to all that I added sautéed red peppers, onions, mushrooms to the body of the dish and freshly grated parmesan cheese to the seasoned bread crumb and some French fried onions to the topping.
I think this book is a wonderful book for seasoned cooks looking for ideas. All the recipes I looked at in this book were fine recipes but those I looked at needed spices. I understand since this is from the Better Homes and Gardens test kitchen and they write their recipes for a very wide ranging audience that spice or certain flavors will not appeal to everyone. I am sure their hope was to write a book that would appeal to the masses, and they have done that and done it well in my opinion. However, as a cook, I would encourage you to buy this book not for the recipes as is but for the base recipes you can get from it. There is a section in this book that discusses spices and making the dish your own, that is exactly what one needs to do with these recipes. As they are written most are mundane and day in day out Sheppard pie dishes. (Not to say I don’t like a good Sheppard’s pie every once in a while) The nutritional information on each recipe is a wonderful addition however in today’s special diet conscious society.
The book has some excellent photography of many of the dishes featured within its pages. There are over 400 recipes contained in this book and most are graced with very appetizing pictures of the featured dish. I was unable to find the name of any photographers listed among the credits. What a shame I was unable to give this person the credit.
Zucchini – Sausage Casserole
Prep time 30 min, bake 30 min, oven 350, makes 8-10 servings, 3 qt dish
1 pound bulk pork sausage
4 medium zucchini
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8oz) carton sour cream
4 cups chicken flavor stuffing mix
1/3 cup butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 3 quart baking dish; set aside. In a 12 inch skillet cook sausage over medium heat until brown. Drain off fat.
- Meanwhile, halve zucchini lengthwise; cut crosswise into ¼ inch pieces. Add zucchini to sausage in skillet. In a small bowl combine soup and sour cream; stir into sausage mixture. In a large bowl combine stuffing mix and melted butter.
- Spoon half of stuffing mixture into prepared baking dish. Spread sausage mixture over stuffing in dish. Spoon the remaining stuffing mixture evenly over sausage mixture. Bake, covered, about 30 min or until heated through.
Nutrition facts per serving: 487 cal, 34 g total fat, (16 g sat fat), 70 mg chol, 1128mg sodium, 28g carb, 2 g dietary fiber, 14 g protein.