Monday, September 22, 2008

Girls' Night In: Casserole Swap Night

I found this wonderful article in and thought I would share!

Girls' Night In: Casserole Swap Night

Help friends fill their freezers with this comfort food by hosting a casserole swap.

Freezing make-ahead meals for busy weeknights can be a daunting job, even for the most efficient and organized cooks. Turn this chore into a party by inviting friends over to sample and swap frozen casseroles. Instead of being a dreaded task, cooking and freezing for a casserole party gives everyone's "to-do list" a cool ending.

To make sure there is a wide range of dishes to choose from, assign each guest a different casserole to bring. Each girl will cook two batches of her assigned casserole: one to freeze and swap, and one to enjoy at the party. This way, everyone gets to try each casserole and pick one to take home. You'll have a lot of leftovers, so make sure to have to-go boxes on hand to divide them up among all the guests.

The Party Plan

• Email recipes to everyone at least one week in advance.

• If your countertops are not heatproof, have several trivets available for the hot casseroles.

• Make Bagel Croutons and Caesar Dressing the day before. Toss the salad right before serving.

• Have Crispy Sticks ready for the oven before the girls arrive. Remove casseroles from the oven, and bake the breadsticks before serving.

• Ask each girl to bring a serving spoon.

The Food

Luckily, casserole swaps are one of the easiest parties to host! Toss a green salad, warm up some bread, and you're ready to go. For a quick and easy appetizer, pick up some bagel chips and olive tapenade at the market. Thanks to a parade of casseroles marching through the door, there's no need to prepare a full meal.

Before the girls arrive, set the oven to "low" or "warm" so that the casseroles will all stay piping hot. With each guest bringing a frozen casserole too, you might want to clear out some freezer space as well. Also, ask the girls to bring a recipe card, complete with reheating instructions.

For even more casserole ideas, browse these recipe collections:10 Tastiest Main Dish Casseroles10 Casseroles Under 300 CaloriesCozy Holiday Casseroles

The ExtrasDesign, download, and print personalized recipe cards for the party.

If a casserole swap isn't your thing, check out how our Senior Foods Editor, Anne Cain, cooked casseroles for a cause. Rebecca Lang is a well-known cooking instructor, author, and food writer. She teaches Girls' Night In classes around the country and lives in Athens, Georgia.

September 2008

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Easy Chicken Pasta

Easy Chicken Pasta

What's For Supper Ya'll?

White Beans, Pasta and Chicken
8 ounces dried cavatappi, fusilli, rotini, ditaloni, or other short pasta tubes
1 15- to 19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional - I usually skip it)
Olive oil (optional - but I recommend at least a little for moisture)
1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine 3/4 cup of the beans and the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Place bean puree in pan used for cooking the pasta; bring to boiling. Return pasta to pan.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook garlic in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining beans, shredded chicken, snipped parsley, pepper and salt. Heat through.
4. Add the tomato mixture to hot pasta; toss to cost. Top with parsley sprigs and additional olive oil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Posted by Stacy Nelson, Easy Dinner

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