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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.

SAMSUNG

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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Someone once asked me if I’ve ever made Friday Night Casserole. That’s hysterical; I think we all know I’d never do that. But if I ever had to, I bet I could come up with a special Friday Night Casserole meal by using the leftovers in my fridge, like my Mom would have. Of course, my fridge actually has food in it that I want to eat. But there aren’t usually leftovers in my fridge (hello … Jay lives here). Though there are times I look through my cupboards and fridge to survey what I could make a meal out of. Thankfully I always have good stuff like chicken stock, tomato sauce and pasta noodles in the cupboards;  onions, mushrooms, spinach, butter and cheese in the fridge, and olive oil, limes and tomatoes on the counter. Always. These are all some of my favorite foods and I bet I could come up with at least 20 ways to prepare them. But I wonder what I could come up with if I had to resort to some of Mary Ann’s ingredients.

Have you ever seen the TV show “Chopped” or “Iron Chef?” I think Mary Ann created the concept of Iron Chef before the Japanese did. They have to make a meal featuring one secret food ingredient. The chefs on “Chopped” find four random (and often disgusting) ingredients in their baskets and have to prepare dishes with them. Somehow they always make something the judges like. Mary Ann could also take any ingredients and make a meal out of them. Unfortunately it was usually something her judges didn’t like. One time her secret ingredient was turnips. Of course, she told us that big bowl of mashed white stuff was potatoes. And naturally, being the Spud Queen, I piled that stuff on my plate. Big mistake.

Here’s a sample of four ingredients that could be found in one of Mary Ann’s baskets:

Spam

Canned Pineapple

Jar of Marinated Vegetables

Lipton Onion Soup Mix

or

Canned Tuna

Oyster Crackers

Celery

Cream of Mushroom Soup

or

Bell Peppers

Leftover White Rice

Ketchup

Velveeta Cheese

or

Can of Stewed Tomatoes

Pimento Loaf Lunch Meat

White Bread

Water

Okay, it usually wasn’t that extreme, but it’s close. So anyway, there’s no such thing as throwing together a Friday Night Casserole at my house. When I find the leftovers are piling up in the fridge, I’ve found a way to make them appealing. See, Jay loves buffets. Loves them. I hate them. All those glass sneeze-guards that are too tall to block kids’ sneezes, day-old lettuces, rice pilaf ending up in the mashed potatoes, sticky serving utensils, crab that’s never crab, and pretty much just cooties galore. Jay knows the only way he can get me to go to a buffet is this: when one of the nieces or nephews spends the night and we ask them where they’d like to go for dinner, he whispers “HomeTown Buffet” in their ear. Then I’m screwed.

So for times when Jay passes up the leftovers in the fridge, I hold a “Buffet Night.” I take out all the leftovers, which are never disgusting, and heat them up. I place them on the kitchen counter in pretty bowls and plates and add a bowl of green salad, make some yummy appetizer and throw in a bowl of his favorite potato chips to make it fancy. Works every time. I have to be honest: I got the idea from Jay. One time he had to watch our niece for about an hour before I got home. She was about 2 at the time. When I got home, she yelled out, “We’re having a Food Party!” He had put raisins, cheese, grapes, goldfish crackers, pretzels and other kid foods in a bunch of cute little bowls on the table, and my niece was eating every single one of them. See, you just have to make it fancy.

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Breakfast is my favorite meal. If I could only have one meal a day, it’d be breakfast. I love it so much, I eat breakfast for dinner sometimes. We did that when I was a kid; it was easy and cheap … and delicious.

Now, I don’t like all breakfast foods. I’ve never cared for pancakes or waffles or French toast. They require maple syrup and that just results in a mushy, disgusting combination to me. As a kid, I tried them with honey and jelly, but that didn’t help. My family thinks I’m so picky, but I consider myself discriminating.

My favorite breakfast consists of eggs and potatoes. Of course adding bacon or ham doesn’t hurt. When I was a kid, my Mom made breakfast on the weekends which is where my love of eggs and potatoes began. Dad liked his eggs prepared just right: soft yolks with the whites cooked through. Over-easy, over-medium, depends on the restaurant … but my sisters and I learned real quick how to make those eggs just how Dad liked them. And that’s exactly how I like them today. But I love them scrambled, too – egg whites with mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes is just divine.

Of course, the Holy Grail of breakfasts is Eggs Benedict. I could eat it every day. My sister, Tracy, makes a great Eggs Benedict. And she makes fancy Hollandaise sauce from scratch. She learned the perfect recipe from my Stepmom, Phyllis. Me? I use McCormicks Hollandaise Sauce Mix or Aunt Penny’s in the can, cuz I’m lazy. Sometimes I just fry an egg for my Eggs Benedict, cuz who cares, I’m just going to shovel it into my mouth so fast I won’t be able to tell if the egg’s poached or fried. Yum.

Yes please

If I’m at a restaurant with Tracy for breakfast, we’ll both order Eggs Benedict and we always ask for extra Hollandaise Sauce. When the server sets that fancy little pitcher of sauce down on the table, Tracy and I will lock into a staring match like gunslingers in the Old West to see who will grab it first. If I get to that little pitcher before her, I’m bound to pour the entire contents directly into my mouth.

Well, I should quit talking about Eggs Benedict because the only thing waiting for me for dinner tonight is a leftover piece of pizza. Lots of people love pizza for breakfast. Not me. In fact, I don’t want any kind of dinner for breakfast. When I was a kid, my Mom would threaten that if we didn’t finish our dinner plate, we’d eat it for breakfast. I found out once she wasn’t kidding. We were having meatloaf and mashed potatoes for dinner. I don’t know how I did it, but I put sugar on my mashed potatoes instead of salt. Simple mistake. Uh, big mistake. Mom didn’t care. She told me to finish those potatoes because the children in China were starving and they would love to have those potatoes. So I told her we should send the potatoes to them.

The next morning I sat there staring at my leftover plate of cold, sugary mashed potatoes while my sisters ate their Maple Brown Sugar Cream of Wheat. I think you know I love spuds, but not those. I don’t know how long I sat there, but my legs fell asleep three different times, and eventually Mom let me off the hook. But I learned a great lesson: don’t trust Mom when she says she’s prepared a lovely bowl of mashed potatoes and you don’t realize it’s really turnips until you’ve piled some on your plate. Oh, wait a minute, that’s a different story.

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Well kids, today is the one-year anniversary of the Friday Night Casserole Blog! And it’s also the birthday of the woman who inspired it…Mary Ann. (Check out her photos below!) So you know I need to pay tribute to Mom and re-post the infamous Friday Night Casserole recipe. Have you tried it yet? If you have, you’ve probably cancelled your subscription to this blog. So let’s hope you haven’t.

Thanks for all your support this year; I hope you’re enjoying the posts…even though I’ve become a little lazy (busy) and haven’t posted regularly each Friday.  I’ll do my best to keep entertaining you, or, activating your gag reflex…whichever.

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 even 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. Ah, 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 cuz Palby’s was awesome. Palby’s was on Hwy 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, cuz 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 drive on 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

Throw all of the ingredients 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 (stay tuned for “Jello Mold” and “Mayonnaise Cake”).

Mary Ann circa 1982

Mom in the kitchen. I think she’s doing a Rita Hayworth-type of impersonation here.

Happy Birthday Mom!

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It’s been a long week. Actually it’s been a long two or three weeks, which I think is obvious due to the lack of posts. I’m hungry and Jay will be even hungrier when he gets home. Also, my niece is staying with us and she’s a vegetarian, so I try to accommodate her for each meal. So I have to figure out some dinner because I just don’t feel like ordering pizza. That’s the only thing that gets delivered in our area. It’s not like your fancy bustling city where you can get just about anything delivered. And it’s not payday so we really shouldn’t be getting anything delivered, unless it’s money.

So I thought, hmm…in this situation, WWMD?  (What would Mary Ann do?) Unfortunately, I think we all know what Mary Ann would do…she’d go to the fridge and whip up some Friday Night Casserole. I wonder if I could do that and actually make something edible?

I assessed the current leftover contents in our fridge which consist of:

Chicken Ravioli

Tortilla Soup

Small container of Guacamole

1/3 of a container of whipping cream

Homemade Salmon Dill Dip

Molasses cookie batter

1 Chicken Garlic Egg Roll

Smidge of homemade turkey soup

1 slice of pizza

And sure, I have a can of cream of mushroom soup in the cupboard.

I guess I could throw this all into a casserole dish and bake it at 350 and see what happens. My niece is out of luck and will have to resort to cereal. However, I think I’ll throw it all straight into the trash and also have some cereal. With some beer.

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