Lisa Lillien Would Hate My Trashy Casserole

I have a Saturday morning ritual.

I sleep in as little or as long as I wish, make a cup of tea, sit cross-legged on the floor, and giggle as I watch Hungry Girl.

There’s something about her show that I find endlessly entertaining.  I’m stunned by her perpetual combinations of cooking spray, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, shirataki noodles, garlic powder, egg substitute, the microwave, sugar-free cake mix, and sugar-free drink mixes.  All of these ingredients routinely make their rounds in any particular order and any particular combination.

I had a brief love affair with Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedges.  Somewhere between my sixth package during month three, they were no longer appealing.

What happened to everything in moderation?  I am afraid of this diet for fear of budding like a hydra or growing a forehead eyeball.

On a Friday evening, I found myself hungry and alone with a can of 98% fat free cream of chicken soup I had mistakenly bought.

I felt like a 1960′s church cookbook-inspired casserole and gave it a go, in the name of reducing food wastage.  What’s worse, anyway?  Wasting food, donating a food product low on the nutrition spectrum, or making oneself a trashy casserole?

I chose the latter.  In my typical fashion, I did not measure ingredients.  I just heaped in whatever fresh vegetables I had on hand, scraps of meat from my freezer, and leftover pasta until the mixture wasn’t too saucy.

My trashy, gloppy casserole was surprisingly tasty.  My old church cookbooks are filled with recipes for casseroles containing condensed cream of (fill in the blank) soups.  While my version didn’t escape this unifying factor, it incorporated fresh vegetables and avoided Velveeta.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Velveeta. . .

Ingredients
1 can of cream of chicken soup (mine happened to be 97% fat free)
Shredded cabbage
Diced onion
Diced carrot
Fresh spinach, chopped
Garlic, grated or minced
Elbow macaroni
Salt
Black pepper
Cayenne (or other hot pepper)
Shredded cheese
Worcestershire sauce
A splash of milk
Juice from half a lemon
Meat of choice, cut into small pieces (I used one chicken breast and one chicken sausage)
Crushed potato chips (I used a salt & pepper variety)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Pop open that can of condensed cream of chicken soup.  Shimmy it from its can and dilute with a splash or two of milk and season with Worcestershire sauce, your choice of hot pepper, black pepper, and fresh lemon juice.

Lightly saute the vegetables until they are tender.  Turn off heat.  Fold in spinach until just wilted and stir in the garlic until fragrant.

Cook your meat of choice.

Cook any type of pasta in any quantity.

The amount of vegetables, meat, and pasta you decide to cook depends on the ratio of pasta/vegetables/meat you are aiming for.

Combine the sauce, vegetables, and meat.  Pour into a pan and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Finish with a flourish of crushed potato chips.

Bake until bubbly and golden brown.

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