The car pulls into the driveway and guests — family from the other side of the state, an old school chum or someone else you were not expecting — tumble out. They are just in time for lunch or supper, so you can’t really send them on their way without a meal. What are you to do?
Essentially you have three options, get back in the cars and go out to eat, go for carry out or scramble to come up with something at home. As to the first and second, your choices are bordered by what your guests like or do not like. You may have a place you really like, and think your guests will like, too, so make suggestions; but remember it is best to keep it simple.
The Texoma area is fortunate to have quite a few excellent Mexican and Central American restaurants that range from traditional Tex-Mex to more authentic regional Mexican cuisine. The predictable franchise restaurants, several steps above fast food, are always a possibility, and, on the funky side, a visit to the area’s rapidly growing food truck venues could offer something for everyone.
If you want to bring it back, what about a bag of barbecue sandwiches and sausage stuffed jalapeños (a Texoma trademark), and perhaps a rack of ribs that should satisfy the hungriest of guests?
If staying at home is a must and you do not have the making to whip up a grill full of burgers and the like, remember that the casserole is your best friend. Easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to serve up in short order when the unexpected drops in or you just do not want to cook. Here are three filling comfort casseroles that are sure to please. Add a salad and something for dessert, and you are covered.
One should cool baked casseroles before freezing. Putting still-hot items in a freezer will bring down the freezer’s temperature rapidly, and that can adversely affect other items in the icebox.
Before baking, line the pan with foil, fill it with casserole and freeze in the lined pan. When frozen solid, lift out the frozen casserole, wrap it tightly in foil, label it with the use-by date and baking instructions and return to the freezer. You will save space, and your casserole pan will be ready to use for another meal.
Well wrapped and sealed casseroles can be stored frozen for up to six months without damaging flavor or texture.
Microwaves will have trouble with thick, frozen dishes, so stick to reheating in the oven. Disposable aluminum pans make good cooking and storage containers.
To bake a frozen casserole, first thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it the next day.
If that is not practical, you can put a frozen casserole in a cold oven. The casserole will heat slowly as the oven comes up to temperature. To crisp the top, pull back the foil in the final 10 minutes of baking at full temperature.
Be sure to reheat a casserole thoroughly before serving. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the casserole is at least 165 degrees for safe consumption.