We sat down with everyone’s favorite casserole-lovin’ ladies, the Casserole Queens, and asked them all about their new cookbook, The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook. Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock told us everything from their favorite recipe in the book to what they do when they’re pressed for a quick recipe for a dinner party. And best of all – we’ve got a giveaway below that will inspire casserole-making in your own home.
TRC: What is your favorite casserole recipe in the book?
The Casserole Queens: Sandy’s current favorite is the Cheesy Grits-Stuffed Eggplant with Tomato Sauce. This casserole is so hearty and comforting that it makes you feel warm from head to toe! Using grits as our stuffing works nicely in this recipe, because the grits have a creamy texture that serves well as a vehicle for other flavors. In this recipe we add a touch of creole seasonings and a couple of our favorite cheeses – oh boy, it is yummy!
If heirloom tomatoes are in season, then the Summertime Tomato Pie is Crystal’s absolute favorite – hands down! In fact, Crystal’s mom used to tease her that her hair was red, because she ate so many tomatoes growing up. But who can blame her? Tomatoes ARE delicious, and in this savory pie they really shine! And if tomatoes are not in season, then it would easily be the Shakshuka. Not only is Shakshuka fun to say, but it includes Crystal’s other favorite food product – the egg! In this dish the eggs are poached in a flavorful (yep, you guessed it) tomato sauce – that can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
TRC: Quick! You forgot that you were hosting a dinner party and your guests will be there in 2 hours. What do you cook?
The Casserole Queens: Well since the first hour will be running to the store and cursing at ourselves, then we had better keep dinner simple. In fact, just a few quality ingredients can transform themselves into an elegant masterpiece. Take our French Onion Tart for example – it has a thin, flaky crust, a creamy caramelized onion filling, and a delicious topping of Gruyere cheese. With a touch of crumbled bacon, this meal is over the top! And even though tarts are great cut up into small pieces for use at parties, we prefer serving ourselves a larger slice along with a simple green salad dressed in our homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette. Ah, problem solved!
TRC: There are a lot of recipes in the new book for gluten-free and diet-friendly casseroles. What inspired this?
The Casserole Queens: We can’t tell you how touched we were when we traveled around the country promoting our first book and our show on HUNGRY. It gave us the opportunity to mingle and talk with folks, and we truly listened to what they had to say. As we worked on new creations in the kitchen, we couldn’t help but draw inspiration from all our fans – which many of them had expressed concerns about their dietary restrictions. A lot of people just felt that casseroles could not be a part of their lives, and as the Casserole Queens, we made it our mission to find a way! Casseroles for all – right? Anyhow, we made a conscious effort to address some of the challenges that people face and even worked with a local nutritionist to be sure we got it right! There are a staggering number of issues that people can be faced with when choosing what to eat. So many, in fact, that it would be impossible to cover all of them. So we settled on the categories that we felt were most relevant to our fans: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free and Diabetic-friendly.
TRC: We can’t help but notice that there are a ton of great looking desserts in here. If you could recommend a dessert to a novice baker, what would you tell them to make?
The Casserole Queens: Our Pretzel Nut Nilla Cake is so yummy and comes together in a snap! The nuts and pretzels – along with the vanilla wafers – make for a sweet, salty, crunchy, happy experience! This is a great beginner cake that is sure to impress your guests, but the best part for the cook is that clean-up is a cinch! Because everything mixes in one bowl, and then cooks in one pan – there are no dish pan hands to worry about at the end of the night!
TRC: This isn’t just casseroles. There are a ton of great recipes in here for sides & salads. How do they fit in with your casserole point of view?
The Casserole Queens: Our main mission has always been to get families back around the table, and our casseroles are a wonderful way to make weeknight dinners or entertaining easier. But the age old question is always what to serve with the casserole? Knowing that time is a factor for a lot of our readers, pairing them with a simple salad and some bread always makes for an easy solution! That is way we highly encourage folks to keep their favorite mixed greens on hand and to make their own dressings! You only need a few simple ingredients on hand (and a couple minutes) to make some yourself. It is also easy to take flavor cues from your casserole to match your dressings. Having something Italian? Serve it with a Lemon Parmesan Dressing. Having Mexican? Go for a Creamy Chipotle Ranch Dressing. Is that easy! And for those who have a little more time, we have introduced some of our favorite side dishes and recommended pairings throughout the book to make dinnertime memorable!
Enter to win a Pyrex casserole bake set and a copy of The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook and their previous cookbook, The Casserole Queens Cookbook. All you have to do to win is comment below or tweet at the @CasseroleQueens why you want to get their cookbook (or that you’ve pre-ordered it) and you’ll be entered to win! A winner will be chosen on August 31. Good luck!
Get sample recipes from the Casserole Queens and order your copy of the book: