Economical Family Cooking: Think Casseroles In The Kitchen

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Most of us are wanting to learn more economically ways to save money.  I enjoy being able to teach others about affordable meal solutions. I’m always on the look out for better ways to spend economically for family mealtime. I’ve talked before about Power Cooking and how cooking meals “ten at a time”, saves both time and money; now I’m going to share with you what types of meals work for saving you both time and money.

Casseroles are one of my family’s favorite meals and one of my favorite types of meals to make. They are not only wholesome and economical but tasty and good. Making a casserole is simply using what you have on hand in the cupboard, refrigerator or freezer and combining ingredients. Leftovers can make great casseroles too.  To many, including myself casseoles are considered comfort foods.

Making casseroles is another way to introduce your kids to helping in the kitchen. Kids in the kitchen is a great experience for them learning new foods, how to cook  them, teaching them to follow directions,  about different cultures and even math skills. Make it FUN!

Here’s an all time favorite recipe for a lot of people around the Thanksgiving or Christmas Holidays, but you can make it anytime. I found this on a recent episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8; their 100th episode. Emeril Lagasse was visiting and fixed the family a couple different casseroles. I know there has been a lot of controversy about the show but what I took away from the show was not the fact that Jon and Kate have their issues but that Emeril was not only making them a meal but teaching the kids as well. The kids helped with prepping the fresh green beans for the casserole they were making. The kids had fun doing it. He was teaching not only Jon and Kate but other families watching the show how they can make an economic meal for a large family and get their kids involved in the kitchen.

I’ve included the recipe for the green bean casserole from the show that the kids helped make. Maybe your family could use a economical casserole meal. This will be included in our families recipe of meals. And change it up, make it your own. That’s how family traditions are started in the kitchen.

Emerilized (From Scratch) Green Bean Casserole

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, courtesy Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.  

This is gonna make you think twice about green bean casseroles! When you start with fresh green beans, mix them with a homemade mushroom-béchamel sauce, gild the lily with some fontina cheese, and then top the whole thing with some crispy fried onion rings just like we make at Emeril’s Restaurant in New Orleans – you won’t even recognize this as an updated version of that tired old classic.


6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
Vegetable oil for deep frying
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
1/3 cup Crystal Hot Sauce
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence
2 cups chopped yellow onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound button mushrooms, wiped clean, ends trimmed and sliced
1 ½ teaspoons Emeril’s Bayou Blast
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and blanched in salted water until tender
¾ pound fontina cheese, rind removed and cut into ½-inch cube


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9- by 13- inch casserole dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.

Heat at least 4 inches of oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer to 360°F.

Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Combine with the Crystal Hot Sauce in a mixing bowl and toss thoroughly. Place 2 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl and, working in batches, dredge the onion rings in the flour to coat. Transfer the coated onion rings to a colander or strainer and shake over the mixing bowl containing the flour to release any loose flour from the prepared rings. Fry the onion rings in batches until just lightly golden, about 1 minute per batch. Note: it is important to allow the temperature to return to 360°F between batches. As batches are completed, transfer the onion rings to paper-lined baking dish to drain. Season the onion rings with the Essence and set aside. Repeat with the remaining batches.

Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over high heat and sauté onion and celery until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, Bayou Blast and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft and golden brown and have released their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of flour and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is thick and creamy and any floury taste is gone, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine the green beans, mushroom sauce, and cubed fontina cheese. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and top with the fried onion rings. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the casserole is hot and bubbly and onion rings are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


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About noelskitchen

Noel is a CEO and Mother of 4 who can be found blogging from her home office, who's passionate about family, nutrition, fitness and supporting others reach their health & fitness goals. Noel uses her blog to share about simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, walking, workouts and a little sprinkle of life! She created Noel's Kitchen Tips teaching families how to make budget friendly meal and healthy recipes. She's blessed to have the opportunity to be able to teach busy moms and families how to use food and cooking as a means of bringing family meal times back to the table and stay fit.

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