Bargain Meal of the Week, Bisquick, Broccoli, Canned Soup, Casserole, Cauliflower, Cheese, Chicken, Chicken Left Overs, Cream of Anything Soup, Frugal Hausfrau, Ham, Ham Left Overs, Turkey, Turkey Left Overs, White sauce
This simple little casserole works out well with Ham, Chicken or Turkey. This is nothing fancy, just “down home” cooking, and it is a great “learner” dish for a child or teenager, and especially using the short cuts.
Casseroles like this have won their place in the hearts of American families – easy, fast and a great way to stretch a few ingredients. This one is certainly acceptable as is, and I’ve made versions of this as well as had many when I was growing up.
The downside of casseroles, though, we probably all know. Casseroles can be prone to iffy results, mushy, overcooked vegetables, and for those looking to avoid a lot of additives, many of the “short cuts” like canned soup and Bisquick are full of them.
Three relatively simple “improvements” can be made, the first, as far as taste and appearance, I think is most important. If you have trouble with casseroles, or are a new cook, these ideas can easily translate to other recipes:
- Lightly steam fresh vegetables rather than using a frozen product
- Substitute a cream sauce for the canned soup
- Use a simple home-made mixture instead of the Bisquick.
The directions for variations to the Easy One Dish Ham or Turkey Bake are below, in the notes. Just an fyi – my kids tend to like this dish just a bit cheesier and slightly soupier, so I often add a little extra cheese and about a half cup more of milk. This casserole, using fresh steamed vegetables and a home-made Bisquick crust was about $3.00 or so.
Easy One Dish Bake, serves 6
- 2 16 ounce packages frozen broccoli or broccoli/cauliflower florets, thawed and drained or your choice of about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of fresh vegetables, see note.
- 1 can cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup or a white sauce, see note.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup of shredded cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup chopped cooked ham, chicken or turkey (about 5 ounces)
- 1 cup Bisquick baking mix or substitute, see note
- 3/4 cup milk (possibly a bit more)
In an ungreased baking dish (8 x 8 or similar size) mix broccoli, soup, cheese, the half cup of milk, choice of protein and onion powder.
For a better presentation, with a clean, damp dishcloth, wipe off any excess that has slopped onto the sides of a dish. Gently smooth the top of the vegetable sauce mixture with a spatula.
In a medium bowl, mix Bisquick (or substitute) and the remaining 3/4 cup of milk. Look for a thick but pourable consistency, and add a little extra milk if needed. Pour evenly over the mixture in the pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 27 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Let stand 5 minutes and serve, but be aware that the vegetables keep cooking under the biscuit crust – If leaving for any longer, cut the crust through into serving pieces so the steam can escape.
To steam fresh vegetables, bring about 1/2 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan, add the broccoli stems, then the rest of the vegetables. Cover, reduce to a simmer and pan steam several minutes but not until completely cooked, about five to six minutes. These vegetables will continue to cook in the casserole, but if not steamed first they will not turn out well. Note: because there is no excess water, less fresh vegetables are needed than if one is using the frozen vegetables.
To use a cream sauce instead of the canned soup and milk: Omit the soup, 1/2 cup of milk and onion powder. Instead: saute in 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup each of diced onion and celery until just tender. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk for a moment to cook flour. Stirring constantly, blend in 2 1/4 cups of milk, and cook, stirring until thickened, about 5 – 7 minutes. Use the spoon test: Dip a spoon in the mixture, then run your finger down the back of the spoon. If a distinct line stays, it is ready. Add salt and pepper to taste. Off heat, blend in grated cheese.
See my post on using a Bisquick Substitute. I often use the recipe for one cup, but I also put in 2 tablespoons of butter instead of the oil. It does make slightly more than one cup, so the milk may need to be increased just by a bit. Another option for a topping would be the Buttermilk Biscuit Topping for a Casserole Recipe.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
Almost any casserole is easily adapted to the use of left overs, primarily because many of the ingredients need to be precooked. A great way to save money and time on a casserole like this is to use left overs from a Holiday meal, turkey or ham.
This is also a cost-effective way to make use of a left over chicken breast or two, and I often bake a little extra chicken to have for left overs in casseroles.
Any left over vegetables that would suit the flavor profile would be good in this casserole as well.
- Frozen Vegetables: Buy during the fall and winter months when the sales are the best and the coupons are out there. It’s not unusual to pick up packages of basic vegetables at no cost with coupons, catalinas and sales. If you’re not getting a super bargain on the pricing, fresh is generally the way to go. For a casserole like this, a good quality vegetable is important. Frozen vegetables are generally not the bargain most people think they are – even the brand names are often inferior and the weight is never really what one expects. See below and see my “rant” on frozen broccoli.
- Fresh Vegetables: Broccoli is regularly on sale in my area for 99 cents a pound, sometimes for 99 cents a bunch, in which case be aware of how much the “bunch” weighs. Cauliflower tends to cost a bit more, and carrots are often on sale for 50 cents a pound or so, especially if bought in large bags.
- Ham: I almost always pick up several during the holidays when they are dirt cheap, and chuck in my freezer to bring out throughout the year. There are times I’ve looked at a ham steak in the summer and that one little 1/2″ thick cut of meat has cost around the same as a half ham during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or Easter seasons. For other ideas on using ham left overs, see 12 days of Ham. I look for a price of 68 to 88 cents a pound. My last ham was 69 cents a pound, but the basic prices I saw on sale were 99 cents, so I’ll go with that price. Cost for a cup, about five ounces, 31 cents.
- Cream of soup: If you’re interested in making your own to avoid the additives or to dress up the recipe, see my “Cream of Anything Soup” recipe. I find in many recipes that any of the “Cream of” soups will work. Try to stock up on canned soup like this from the fall through spring – you’ll find more coupons and sales than you will through summer. This is another item I can sometimes get free or very cheaply, but with little effort, about 80 cents a can is pretty doable, so I’ll use that figure.
- Milk: About $2.50 a gallon in my area on sale, the cost for this recipe runs about 18 cents. Buy on sale – unopened it keeps a bit past it’s “sale by” date – then you can pick up one for the beginning of the week, and another at the end of the week for the week following. Be careful with your milk, and even opened it will last a lot longer – pour, lid and put away, don’t bring it to the table or leave it on the counter while you eat dinner or down your cereal and you’ll notice it stay fresh last MUCH longer. We’ve cut way back on dairy, as most health experts suggest – putting it away helps with that, too. Cost for 1 1/4 cups, about 10 cents.
- Bisquick Mix: Having never bought Bisquick and unsure of the cost, I can only price the substitute: A cup of flour, about 8 cents, 2 tablespoons butter, about 16 cents, total 24 cents.
Per Serving : 276 Calories; 12g Fat (39.6% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 29g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 35mg Cholesterol; 1086mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat.
Put your own spin on It:
- More cheese can be added to this recipe
- More milk can be added to this recipe, which will make it a bit on the soupy side; my kids love it that way and use it as a “sauce” to dip the topping into.
- This could be made with a variety of vegetables and cheeses.
Things in the world of frozen vegetables have gotten worse. I few years ago, I ranted on a Frozen Broccoli, but that was a cheaper brand. It came out to about 10 ounces of broccoli, six ounces of water. Knowing I wanted a new photo of this recipe and having recently cooked a ham, I bought a premium brand this time, Bird’s Eye.
Boy, was I disappointed. Many of the vegetables were discolored, all were much smaller than the florets on the photo with the exception of one piece of cauliflower. Most were tiny, little shreds. After being drained of the excess water, they weighed five ounces, meaning that the water amounted to a whopping SEVEN ounces. The package contained a hair over 1 1/2 cups. Luckily, I was able to supplement with my own broccoli and some left over carrots I had on hand.