So when it comes to the "what's for dinner" question at our house, there are only 2 options - either you get really organized and pre-plan your menus for weeks & weeks ahead of time or you get super creative with whatever's in the house. I vary between those two options frequently, quite frankly, I bet you do too.
On those days when I have to scrounge around and make something from "whatever's in the house," I find myself relying on a recipe I learned from an old cookbook I don't even own anymore. (I'm old enough to have many "previous lives" - you know, the first marriage, various former jobs as a writer, locations I've lived, schools I've attended. This cookbook, A Taste of Oregon, was from one of those previous lives. Actually it was a wedding gift, from one of my first husband's aunts, and I've long since given it back to him). This recipe has been seared into my memory and I use it as a base for any throw-together comfort food casserole that invariably graces our table at least twice a month. I give it to you below as I remember it, as I use it, but I haven't seen the actual cookbook or the recipe itself in well over 13 years.
You can still find this cookbook on Amazon and I think I may be purchasing a new copy for myself again. After all, if I remember right, there was a pretty good Taco Salad recipe in there as well.
Make Your Own Casserole
Use this as a base and make it yours however you want, with whatever's in the house.
|1||Cup Main ingredient (like browned hamburger, cooked poultry, tuna, or pre-cooked beans)|
|1||Cup second ingredient (like vegetables, a second meat, or another cup of main ingredient)|
|1 to 2||Cups starchy ingredient (like potatoes, pasta, or pre-cooked rice)|
|1 to 2||Cups binder (something that holds all things together like a cream soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, tomato paste)|
|1/4 to 1/2||Cup fun item (like mushrooms, water chestnuts, pimentos, artichoke hearts, olives, whatever you like)|
|Onions & celery can be used as part of above ingredients or considered spices and added later.|
|Your favorite spices - be creative here!|
|Optional add-ins for top|
|grated cheese (any kind you like), crushed potato chips, bread crumbs|
|1.||Preheat oven to 350. Mix everything together into a casserole dish. If it seems dry as you're mixing you can add in some water or milk depending on your taste. Place your chosen topping over all and then bake, covered, about 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through.|