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I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight but the fridge and cupboards are pretty bare. It’s looking like breakfast for dinner. At the same time, the blog is pretty neglected, so I thought I might find some inspiration in the kitchen to write about. Nope. Sometimes when I can’t think of anything to write about, I look through the wonderful “ABC of Casseroles” cook book to see which recipe I can make fun of.  I found this:

recipe

But to be fair, a lot of people would probably like that rice and beef concoction. Not me, but a lot of people. I can definitely make fun of the casserole’s name though: “Quickie Jumble” Casserole. So … many … jokes. I could mock that ridiculous poem, too, that points out how probably every person waiting to eat one of the dishes inspired by this cookbook will definitely be starving because they’re not gonna eat it.

So I started going through some old papers and found a handwritten recipe of my Mom’s. I thought, Hmm? Seven Seas Casserole? That sounds fun, and a little exotic. Maybe this was some fancy South Pacific-inspired shrimp or lobster bake thing I never knew about that Mary Ann had up her sleeve.

I should’ve known better:

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This could be the Tuna Casserole that Julie always made on “Welcome Back Kotter.” Apparently it’s some fancy recipe from Minute Rice.

I actually remember eating Mom’s Tuna Casserole once. I just never knew there was a fancy name for it; probably to make people wanna try it. My sister, Tracy, always remembered Mom’s Tuna Casserole, and always suggests I write about it, but I never knew a recipe existed. She probably would love it if I actually made this thing, just for old time’s sake. I actually have all of these ingredients on hand. Yeah … I’m still making breakfast for dinner.

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Making its annual appearance on this award-winning* blog — which debuted five years ago today — I give you, the infamous post, Mary Ann’s Friday Night Casserole:

There were two kinds of Fridays in our house: Pay Day Friday and Casserole Friday. We loved Payday Friday. Dad would come home from his job at Mare Island with a wad of bills. Sometimes he’d let us hold them. Then everyone would hop into the wood-paneled Ford station wagon and head for A&W, or the family restaurant Palby’s, for a big night out. Ahhh, A&W … sitting in the station wagon parked next to the scratchy-sounding order sign machine thing. My family ordered burgers and root beer — in those fancy frosty mugs of course — however, I always ordered a fish sandwich and grape soda. And yes, they all made fun of me. Except for Coleen, who also preferred the fish sandwich. And she believed you weren’t allowed to have a burger until you were an adult. She finally had her first Big Mac at the ripe old age of 10. Tracy had to wait till she was 11.

Now for Palby’s: if you never lived in Vallejo or visited the bustling Solano County metropolis with its abundance of 1970’ish restaurants, you might’ve missed Palby’s. Sucks for you because Palby’s was awesome. Palby’s was on Highway 80 between Vallejo and Napa in the area that’s now known as American Canyon. Palby’s was like a freaky dinner theater for kids. Look out the window and there were peacocks. There were seals. But we didn’t eat them. I preferred the deep-fried shrimp myself. I recall my little sister Pooh always ordered the ribs and proceeded to happily get the sauce all over her face. Thinking back, Palby’s seemed like a Winchester Mystery House to kids, because there were all these different areas with trippy things to see. Or maybe there was just the lobby and the main dining room and I had an over-active imagination.

Sometimes on Payday Friday, Dad and one or two of us kids would just pop over to Munchie’s on Sonoma Boulevard for 10 cent hamburgers. Munchie’s was a burger joint in a cool round building that sold cheap hamburgers and fries and I just liked saying “Munchies.” Sometimes we’d just grab 300 tacos from Taco Bell, when all they really had was tacos.

But, if it wasn’t a Payday Friday, and you didn’t make plans to get in trouble and stay after school — or better yet, offer to babysit for the neighbor’s heathen kids — you were going to experience Mary Ann’s Friday Night Casserole. God have mercy on your soul.

Ingredients:

No rules apply!!!

Check the cupboards for stray cans of stewed tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, deviled ham or anything else that resembles vomit. Next, go to the fridge and grab any and every leftover you can find saved in old margarine and Cool Whip tubs — these are important casserole ingredients.

Leftover examples:

Pork ‘n Beans
Kentucky Fried Chicken Cole Slaw
Canned Spinach
Taco Meat
Chopped-up Fish Sticks
Creamed Chip Beef Sauce
The last slice of Olive Loaf luncheon meat that will never be eaten
Macaroni and Cheese
Spam
White Rice
Filling for Stuffed Bell Peppers
Bread Heels
Chicken Pot Pie
Deviled Eggs
Creamed Corn

Directions:

Throw all of the ingredients you found into a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Feel free to add canned tomato sauce or a packet of onion soup mix to make it fancy.

Bake at 350 degrees. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to do this. Just hang around the oven to make sure nothing explodes.

Serve to your happy family. Well, they were happy before dinner. Now they hate your guts and are secretly flipping you off below the table. A few of them might be dry heaving into their towel bibs. You will definitely want to plan a huge dessert for later in the evening (maybe a nice Jello Mold).

* Award for Most Inconsistent Blog Posts in the History of Blogging

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On a few occasions, most likely a Pay Day Friday, my family would go out for Chinese Food. That was pretty much the only Asian cuisine we knew of around the Vallejo suburbs back then. I specifically remember the Cathay Inn. Not a fan. Not that their food wasn’t good. Of course I wouldn’t know, the only thing I ever ate there were the deep-fried prawns. The only thing my family ever ate was the Sweet and Sour Pork and Chow Mein. However, this wasn’t your Sweet and Sour Pork and Chow Mein of today … I vaguely remember chunks of fat covered in limp, bready stuff with bland red sauce and bean sprouts, maybe with a few noodles mixed in. I’m not sure the waitress ever handed us menus, because this is all we ever ordered. The prawns were a safe bet for my discerning palette, and even though I didn’t like fortune cookies, at least there was the promise of a goofy fortune at the end of the meal.

I swore I hated Chinese Food until my sister, Coleen, dragged me to the Mandarin House in Napa as an adult and ordered Broccoli Chicken for me. I was in love. This was Chinese food?! What the hell were we eating as kids?! I don’t remember Orange Chicken! Or potstickers! Cashew Shrimp? Food, glorious food!! Take me to a restaurant now, and all I want is Chinese, Japanese or Thai. Make it Asian please. Domo arigato!!

But I digress. When we couldn’t make it to the Cathay Inn, Mom had her version of Asian fare, and believe it or not, I think I actually enjoyed this one.

Ingredients:
• 4 packages of Top Ramen or any dried Asian noodles on sale. Alright, Top Ramen probably cost 2-1/2 cents a package then, so I have a feeling my Mom splurged for it.
• Prepare the ramen in pot as directed.
• Don’t bother transferring the noodles to a big fancy serving dish — you don’t have one.

Prepare a few of these optional toppings:

Chopped green onions
Grated carrots
Chopped hard-boiled eggs
Chopped pieces of “Land-o-Frost” Pressed/Cooked Luncheon Meat
Diced tomatoes
Chopped Spam
Canned peas

Place each topping in its own special little bowl (substitute old margarine tubs as needed). Put the pot of Top Ramen in the middle of the table. Make sure to place it on the knitted potholder your youngest made for you in summer school. Space the little bowls equally around the pot (this is quite impressive if your kids’ friends come over for dinner). Put a teaspoon in each dish. Go to the small kitchen canister, dig your hand in past the stale saltine cracker packages and grab a handful of the soy sauce packets you saved from Chinese takeout. Place one at each table setting. Spoon some Top Ramen into each person’s dinner bowl and then let them dig into the toppings. If you want to make it fancy and expose the kids to some Japanese culture while they’re eating, be sure to turn on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

 

 

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Hey! It’s Friday Night Casserole’s Third Anniversary! You know what that means … a re-posting of the original FNC blog post, “the” Friday Night Casserole. The recipe of all recipes; I mean, the most disgusting recipe of all recipes you’ve ever heard.

I launched FNC on Mary Ann’s birthday, January 31st, in 2011.

Mom would be 71 today. I’m pretty sure she’s celebrating with something besides Friday Night Casserole. I just hope she’s enjoying all these ridiculous posts and crazy recipes as much as my three readers and I am.

So as tribute to my beautiful mom (pictured below in her Graduation photo), and in celebration of the third year of FNC, I give you, once again, “the” Friday Night Casserole.

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There were two kinds of Fridays in our house: Pay Day Friday and Casserole Friday. We loved Payday Friday. Dad would come home from his job at Mare Island with a wad of bills. Sometimes he’d let us hold them. Then everyone would hop into the wood-paneled Ford Station Wagon and head for A & W, or the family restaurant Palby’s for a big night out. Ahhh, A & W … sitting in the station wagon parked next to the scratchy-sounding order-sign-machine-thing. My family ordered burgers and root beer—in those fancy frosty mugs of course—however, I always ordered a fish sandwich and grape soda. And yes, they all made fun of me. Except for Coleen who also preferred the fish sandwich. She thought you weren’t allowed to have a burger until you were an adult. She finally had her first Big Mac at the ripe old age of 10. Tracy had to wait till she was 11.

Now for Palby’s: if you never lived in Vallejo or visited the bustling Solano County metropolis with its abundance of 1970’ish restaurants, you might’ve missed Palby’s. Sucks for you because Palby’s was awesome. Palby’s was on Highway 80 between Vallejo and Napa in the area that’s now known as American Canyon. Palby’s was like a freaky dinner theater for kids. Look out the window and there were peacocks. There were seals. But we didn’t eat them. I preferred the deep fried shrimp myself. I recall my little sister Pooh always ordered the ribs and proceeded to happily get the sauce all over her face. Thinking back, Palby’s seemed like a Winchester Mystery House for kids, because there were all these different rooms and areas with fun, trippy things to see. Or maybe there was just the lobby and the main dining room and I had an over-active imagination.

Sometimes on Payday Friday, Dad and one or two of us kids would just pop over to Munchie’s on Sonoma Boulevard for 10 cent hamburgers. Munchie’s was a burger joint in a cool round building that sold cheap hamburgers and fries, and we just liked saying “Munchies.” Or, sometimes we’d just grab 300 tacos from Taco Bell, when all they really had was tacos.

But, if it wasn’t a Payday Friday, and you didn’t make plans to get in trouble and stay after school—or better yet, offer to babysit for the neighbor’s heathen kids—you were going to experience Mary Ann’s Friday Night Casserole. God have mercy on your soul.

Ingredients:

No rules apply!!!

Check the cupboards for stray cans of stewed tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, deviled ham or anything else that resembles vomit. Next, go to the fridge and grab any and every leftover you can find saved in old margarine and Cool Whip tubs—these are important casserole ingredients.

Leftover examples:

Pork ‘n Beans
Kentucky Fried Chicken Cole Slaw
Canned spinach
Taco meat
Chopped up Fish Sticks
Creamed Chip Beef Sauce
The last slice of Olive Loaf luncheon meat that will never be eaten
Macaroni and Cheese
Spam
White Rice
Filling for Stuffed Bell Peppers
Bread heels
Chicken Pot Pie
Deviled eggs
Creamed corn

Directions:

Throw all of the ingredients you found into a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Feel free to add canned tomato sauce or a packet of onion soup mix to make it fancy.

Bake at 350 degrees. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to do this. Just hang around the oven to make sure nothing explodes.

Serve to your happy family. Well, they were happy before dinner. Now they hate your guts and are secretly flipping you off below the table. A few of them might be dry heaving into their towel bibs. You will definitely want to plan a huge dessert for later in the evening, perhaps a nice Jello Mold.

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Really, do any of those words go together? Chipped Beef? Beef on Toast? Creamed anything on toast?

Also known as Sh*t on a Shingle, this delicacy was served up in my house often when I was a kid. Yeah, it tasted like sh*t on a shingle. Looked like it, too. Not that I’ve ever eaten a shingle – or the other part for that matter. It’s no wonder that on Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast night I’d go outside and eat all the apricots off the tree in the backyard (which I’d then puke up all over my bedspread in the middle of the night).  Well, I had to eat something.  And it sure as hell wasn’t gonna be that creamed stuff.  Strangely, people actually like Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast. My Dad did; my sisters did, too. I think they still do. Mom would use those fake packaged Land O’Frost luncheon meat slices to make this. You know, the kind that costs about 12 cents a package. It’s quality sh*t.

Jay would probably love for me to make this — though I’m not going to. But hey, if you like mushy bread swimming in a creamy flour yuck sauce with fake meat, then by all means, fix this one.

This recipe results in about 2 cups of gravy, enough to feed four lucky family members.

Ingredients:

5 TBS butter

5 TBS flour

2 Cups of milk

2, 3 or 10 packages of Land O’ Frost Luncheon Meat (either Beef, Pastrami, or whatever; it doesn’t really matter)

Salt and Pepper

8 pieces of toast

Directions:

Throw all the ingredients in the garbage and go out for Fish ‘n Chips. Oh, wait … that was my wish when I was a kid. Here are the real directions:

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add flour and whisk to make a roux. (That sounds pretty fancy. I don’t think Mary Ann knew she was making a roux.) Add the milk to the pan. If you add warm milk, the gravy will be done faster, in case you just can’t wait to get to the dinner table with the stuff. Use cold milk and it will take longer (recommended – there’s always the hope that a friend or family member will show up at the door with a pizza before this creamed stuff is finished). Warm or cold, whisk the milk with the roux constantly until thickened. Chop up those fine slices of luncheon meat and add to the cream stuff. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toast – about two pieces per person.

You’ll know you’ve got the recipe just right if it looks like your dog barfed (or something else) on a wet piece of Wonder Bread.

shingle

 photo: http://imgfave.com/view/1635688

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I’m sure you’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for the report on the Big Mac Casserole, or Le Big Mac Casserole as I think Vincent Vega would call it. Well, I made it tonight. And survived. I even took pictures so you could play along.  Here’s the recipe again, only I cut everything down to 1/3 (I certainly wasn’t planning on eating any of it):

Big Mac Casserole

1 cup white onion, chopped
5 dill pickle spears, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
10 slices of American cheese
1 tube reduced-fat crescent roll dough
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
Fake Big Mac dressing (see below)

So here’s what you do. Sauté the onion and ground beef. When it’s close to being browned, add in the chopped pickles:

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Just look at that. Sautéed pickles. Mouth-watering. Next, drain the nasty grease and spread the meat mixture in a 9 x 13 dish (I used an 8 x 8 since I reduced the recipe).

Next place the America cheese slices evenly over that incredibly disgusting meat mixture.

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I did cover that last little section. Just wanted to show the masterpiece-in-progress like all those fancy food blogs do.

Next, take the crescent rolls out of package, unroll the sheet and place on top of the cheese and meat mixture. If you’re like me, popping that crescent roll package on the seam scares the crap out of you, so here’s a tip: just throw it on the floor. As I was holding it as far away from myself as possible trying to break the seam with a spoon, it dropped on the floor. And popped.

Make sure to poke some holes in the dough so the steam can vent. And you can make it fancy if you want:

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Now it’s ready for the oven – 375 degrees for 17 minutes. While it’s baking away, get your Fake Big Mac Sauce ready. Mix together this stuff:

3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup mustard
3 tsp. sugar
1/8 cup onion – (fresh or reconstituted) minced
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish

Remember I reduced the amount above to 1/3. I have no idea how I did that. And um, “reconstituted onion?” I have no idea what that is, and I don’t want to know what that is. Obviously I used fresh. It all looked like this:

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That’s disgusting. I also used organic cane sugar, organic mustard and light mayo, just in case you’re trying to match my version exactly (wait, as if anyone is going to make this).

Then get your iceberg lettuce ready. I say what’s the point. It’s just water. But apparently the crunch paid off, so I recommend it. And I used a fancy lettuce knife to cut it; having to look at brown iceberg lettuce might have sent me over the edge.SAMSUNG

Oh! I almost forgot the most important ingredient!!

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You’ll want your favorite alcoholic beverage nearby to make it through the process.

Okay, so prepare your serving plate with a bed of chopped lettuce. When the casserole is done, let it rest for a minute, then cut a large portion and place that on top of the lettuce. Next, pour some of that Fake Big Mac Sauce over the top. I put the sauce in a plastic baggie and cut a slit in the corner so I could drizzle it on like some fancy chef. Okay, so I cut the hole too big and it looked like crap.

Anyway, I present … Big Mac Casserole:

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Jay could hardly wait to taste it. After he took the first bite I asked, “So, does it taste like a Big Mac?” And he said, “EXACTLY!” Apparently it was heaven on a plate, and he must’ve said “OH MY GOD” 25 times as he devoured it. Yep, he ate the entire casserole – all 64 square inches of it:

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So, did I taste it? Well, yes – one bite. And I have to admit … it didn’t suck. I’ve never eaten a Big Mac, but surprisingly, it tasted like a fast food cheeseburger. Not terrible. But that one bite was enough. So now, Jay wants to make Big Mac Casserole at least once a month. Thanks, all you freaks who search on “Big Mac Casserole” and show up in my blog stats.

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Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Big Mac Casserole must be some crazy thing my Mom made in the ‘70s. Wrong. Mary Ann never made any type of casserole with Big Macs in it (that I know of). Sure, plenty of Big Macs were consumed by my Dad and sisters, but there would never be any of those leftovers in the fridge to add to Friday Night Casserole at the end of the week. You know, I’ve never eaten a Big Mac in my whole life. I’m sure I’ve taken a little bite of a Big Mac once, but I must’ve blocked it out. I did indulge in a Filet O’ Fish or two. Or two hundred. That was my Mickey D’s request whenever we visited the Golden Arches.

Big Mac Casserole is something I learned about after I started this blog. See, I have a stats page that tells me how many visits there are to the blog each week (minimal), how many comments there are (very close to zero) and what types of keywords people search with that lead them to this earth-shattering blog. Guess what? The one keyword phrase that shows up almost every week is “Big Mac Casserole.” At first I thought it was hilarious; then I found it disturbing. Then I thought I’d capitalize on it. Hey, if Big Mac Casserole is searched on all the time, and it leads people to my blog, then I guess they deserve some Big Mac Casserole. Give the people what they want — Big Mac Casserole. I think I’ll say BIG MAC CASSEROLE a few more times and freak out the Google search spiders or whatever they’re called.

So, I realized if I asked Jay if I should make a Big Mac Casserole, he would say “YES PLEASE.” So I went out to Google to see what this Big Mac Casserole was all about.  Strangely, the first two results that popped up were from a fitness site and Weight Watchers. Ohhh – kay. Then I checked Google images. Well, that was a mistake. I wanted to post a few of the revolting pictures I found, but that would be insulting to the owners of the pictures when I said they all looked like Ronald McDonald threw up on a plate.

So really, Big Mac Casserole? What’s the appeal here? I mean, if you want a Big Mac, go get a Big Mac!! Why make a casserole out of it? Hmm … must be a ploy to get featured on my blog.

Suddenly I feel like Julie in “Julie and Julia” where Julie attempts to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes in a year. I think I need to make this Big Mac Casserole. Besides, Mary Ann would make it. But shudder — I’m certainly not gonna eat it. But Jay will. I just read the recipe; I’m kinda freaked out. But stay tuned. I promise to post pictures and let you know how it turned out. And I apologize in advance Julia.

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