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Just mention the word `casserole' and most people envision warm, comfort food. I am no exception. I love casseroles. They are easy, quick and satisfy even the biggest appetite. The properly deployed casserole is economical of both time and money. Bubbling cheese, golden bread crumbs, tender vegetables, and succulent meats-what's not to like about casseroles? Comfort food just doesn't get any cozier, or more convenient.

As you know already, I am a stay at home mom of 2 little girls. My husband goes off to work everyday and when he gets home I feel he is entitled to a good hot meal. Well, with 2 little ones under foot all day I hardly have the time or energy to make a 3 course dinner every night. That is where casseroles come in for me.

I especially like dishes I can assemble during naptime and hold them in the refrigerator until time to cook. There are literally hundreds of recipes out there and we all have our favorites. This is one of my favorites. I can usually get my 2-year-old to take a few bites, too.

Beef Stroganoff Casserole
1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
 4 cups cooked egg noodles

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 13x9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place beef in large skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown beef over medium-high heat until no longer pink, stirring to separate beef. Drain fat from skillet; set aside beef.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in soup, sour cream and mustard until well combined. Return beef to skillet.

 Place noodles in prepared dish. Pour beef mixture over noodles; stir until noodles are well coated. Bake uncovered, 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.
Cooking Terms of the Week

Here's the skinny on the differences in the milk fat content in various "cream" products:

Light Whipping Cream (or just Whipping Cream) - is 30% to 36% milk fat and whips well. It doesn't freeze well. This is the most common form of cream.

Heavy Cream (Heavy Whipping Cream) - has 36% to 40% milk fat.

Light Cream (also known as Coffee Cream, Table Cream) - usually has 20% milk fat, but could have between 10% to 30% milk fat.

Half and Half (also known as Half Cream in Great Britain) - a mixture of milk and cream with 10% to 18% milk fat.

Double Cream - has up to 48% milk fat. When chilled, it becomes quite solid. This is well known in England as an accompaniment to scones.

Cool Food Site of the Week

How many times have you been out to eat at a restaurant and wanted to re-create one of their dishes at home? Now you can, by visiting Top Secret Recipes (

Whether you are looking for Taco Bell's Enchirito or The Outback Steak House's Ranch dressing, it is all here.

You can also chat with other food aficionados about what they term "dead food". Foods that we knew and loved as children but are no longer available. I must admit it was kind of neat to talk with someone who remembered the "Marathon" candy bar and other food from my childhood. Oops, did I just date myself?

You can also read about Urban Food Myths such as the Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie recipe, which I am sure most of you have heard about at some point. Or the silly story about a kid who dies from eating Pop Rocks and soda. It certainly makes for interesting reading!

So cruise on in to Top Secret Recipes and whip up a batch of KFC's Coleslaw or search for your favorite clone recipe.