My Father didn’t (doesn’t) approve of the concept of the casserole, nor did his father before him. There are long-held male beliefs in my family lineage that women sneak things into casseroles that should not be there, and so they have been denounced for many generations.
So in 2001, when I made my first casserole and presented it to my newlywed husband with much disclaimer and meekness, I was shocked at his exuberance and delight in my creation.
“But, but…I thought guys weren’t supposed to like casseroles!”
“This casserole has meat and creamy goodness and is topped with POTATO CHIPS AND CHEESE!! What’s not to like? What’s not to LOVE?!?”
That first casserole went on to become one of his favorites, ubiquitous chicken casserole though it may be. But Mansserole is somewhat of a unique creation, birthed from his subsequent scouring of my family cookbook for more casseroles that he might be missing out on experiencing.
“Hey! What’s this Smoked Sausage Casserole?”
“I have no idea – my Mom never made it. You know, Dad, casseroles, and all.”
“Well will you make it?”
“I hate smoked sausage.”
“Trade out the smoked sausage for cocktail smokies, then!”
And so I did. But I added another meat, another sauce, and basically changed the recipe completely from it’s original intent, and so was able to continue respecting the tradition of leaving the casseroles mentioned in our family cookbook untouched, only serving the purpose of being placemarkers of the History of Casserole Sufferage.
So here’s my recipe for what was dubbed by my husband as Three-Meat Casserole, and then later renamed to Mansserole. I don’t know the calorie count and I don’t want to know, but I do know the quantity of joy that it births in the heart of my husband, and that’s good enough for me.
(And I find it pretty tasty as well. But don’t tell.)
2 cups of rice
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 pound ground beef
1 pound breakfast sausage
16 ounces of cocktail smokies, or some other third meat that your family likes.
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can of Cream of Celery soup
16 ounces of sour cream
1. Cook the rice according to package directions, then throw in a big bowl.
2. Sauté the vegetables in butter, then throw those in also.
3. Cook the beef and sausage in the vegetable’s former pan, then add the cocktail smokies until warm.
4. Drain the meat well, then throw them into the bowl with everything else.
5. Add the soups, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste and mix into a giant conglomerate of man-pleasing goodness.
7. Place mixture in a baking dish, then cook on 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
8. Offer the cheese to your man as garnish to complete his joy.
I especially like it topped with a healthy dose of cracked black pepper and a tasty vegetable like Zucchini Sticks:
Which is also easy to make, and thankfully makes up for the unknown calorie count of Mansserole, coming in at only four calories per Zucchini Stick! I got this recipe from my friend Debra and love it.
Baked Zucchini Sticks
1 Egg White
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut Zucchini into sticks, approximately three inches long.
3. Create a wet mix and a dry mix in separate bowls:
Wet: whisk the egg white with the milk
Dry: Combine the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
4. Dip Zucchini sticks into wet mix, then roll generously in dry mix, patting on a good outer coating.
(This is a great process to do with kids, even mess-averse ones – I just got Ali to drop the sticks into the wet bowl and she was happy.)
4. Generously grease a baking sheet with your preferred grease (I used Olive Oil Cooking Spray), and line up your Zucchini.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crispy. I don’t turn my Zucchini Sticks, but I do rotate my baking sheet to help encourage even baking.
And there you have it. Something for him, something for you, two things you can both agree on. Or at least we do.