Once the kids start back to school, I can't help but think about fall. Don't get me wrong, I am loving this most unusual, temperate summer, but fall is on the horizon and I like to be prepared. It seems that once September hits the plans and parties start coming at such a rapid pace that there is no looking back. Advance preparation is the only thing that keeps me relatively sane during the onset of what will ultimately be a very busy season.
Part of this preparedness involves stocking the freezer with meals in the form of soups, stews, and casseroles, in serving sizes that range from individual (for those lovely evenings alone), to two, four, or even eight. Being able to pop a casserole (or pie) into the oven makes an impromptu dinner so much easier and enjoyable.
To get you prepared for what's ahead, from now until year's end I am going to have a “Casserole of the Month.” Something crowd pleasing, that freezes beautifully, and requires nothing more than reheating (or baking) to give you a wonderful meal.
This recipe is a favorite of mine. It's from a lovely volume by Phyllis Hoffman called Gracious Tables, a book full of great recipes, pretty table settings, and party ideas. This recipe takes a bit of work to get it all together, but once you do it will provide you with 8 generous servings to be divided up however you see fit. (I made mine in oval au gratin dishes, and got four servings for two.) A salad and crusty roll is all you need and dinner is served!
(Adapted from Gracious Tables by Phyllis Hoffman)
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
8 ounces uncooked linguine
1 16-ounce container sour cream
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese blend
In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, brown ground chuck, sausage, garlic, bell pepper, and onion over medium-high heat, until meat crumbles and vegetables are tender; drain fat.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil and sugar. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package directions, draining well.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place pasta in individual baking dishes or a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, and green onions. Spread evenly over hot pasta. Top with meat sauce.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
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