Blast from the Past

After reminiscing about old recipes, a group of 417-land friends gathered for a throwback casserole party complete with flavors from years past.

Retro Chicken Pot “Pie” Casserole is the perfect blend of retro comfort food and trendy tastes.

When you’re hosting a dinner party today, you’re likely going to think about a whole slew of things you would have never dreamed of if you hosted the same party 30 years ago. Chances are, today’s event would include at least one guest who eats dairy-free, or gluten-free, or maybe even vegan. Times have changed, and people who have played host for decades—or remember the days when their parents used to host—have watched it happen. 

Susan Metzger was sitting and chatting with a group of girlfriends about this exact scenario. “We were talking about how it is so different entertaining at home today,” Metzger says. “Most of us grew up in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. You used to just fix a casserole back then, and everyone would eat it.” This spiraled into a conversation about old casserole recipes—the kind that were sure to fill your belly with one helping and more often than not included a can of creamy Campbell’s soup. 

The gals’ husbands were nearby, and they liked what they heard. “All the guys were hearing us talking about these recipes,” Metzger says. “They said, ‘Hey, now, what’s wrong with that stuff? We love that stuff! We’d love to have something like that again!’” 

And just like that, an idea was born. The group decided to host a casserole party—a special night where everyone would bring a prepared casserole that they used to eat when they were a kid, or even that they regularly made years ago, and they would indulge. “We thought it may be a fun thing to do and a fun way to entertain,” Metzger says. 

As the host, Metzger determined her next step was organizing the event. After picking a date, she turned her attention to making sure the menu included a bit of variety—a tip she’d recommend to anyone planning to host a similar party. After asking people what they wanted to bring and receiving initial responses, she started telling the others what types of casseroles were still needed. “I tried to steer them so that we wouldn’t end up with something like 10 green bean casseroles and nothing else,” Metzger says.

The dinner took place on a cold day this past February, when guests arrived with stick-to-your-ribs main dishes, side vegetable casseroles and desserts. “We even had a JELL-O salad category, because that was a big thing once,” Metzger says. “We had three of those.” And because she knew her friends would want to eat some sort of salad, Metzger prepared an old layered salad recipe from the ’70s—most people who were around in that era know it as that salad made with peas, bacon and sour cream. Metzger displayed old cookbooks for guests to look through as they enjoyed cocktails, and when it was time to eat, they forgot about calories for one night and treated themselves to a meal fresh from the good old days. After eating, everyone stayed around for a bit more socializing—a few guests even brought instruments, making it possible for them to end the evening playing music. “It was a very easy party to have,” Metzger says. “It was a really fun way to get together with friends.”

 

Tater Tot Casserole

Submitted by Lori Guy

 

Ingredients: 

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion chopped

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

3 cups tater tots

 

To prepare:

Heat oven to 425˚F. Saute beef and onions. Drain grease. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soup. Mix. Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add tater tots. Bake at 425˚ for 30 minutes.

 

 

Squash Casserole

Submitted by Joan Whitaker

 

Ingredients: 

6–8 medium yellow squashes, sliced into 1/8-inch slices

1 medium onion, diced

1 stick of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

1 sleeve Saltine crackers, crushed

8 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed

1 cup milk

2–3 eggs, beaten

 

Heat oven to 325˚F. Cook squash, onions, 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper in a little water in a large pot. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until squash is tender. Don’t overcook or it will get mushy. While squash is cooking, crush crackers, cube the cheese, and whisk the eggs and milk together. Drain squash in a colander. In large bowl, combine squash mixture, remaining butter, crackers, cheese and egg and milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold ingredients lightly. Don’t stir or the squash will turn to mush. Pour into greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake 30 minutes covered in foil at 325. Uncover, and bake for another 25 minutes.

 

Layered Salad

Submitted by Susan Metzger

 

Topping Ingredients:

1 cup real mayonnaise

1 8 ounce container sour cream

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Original Salad Dressing mix

 

To Prepare Topping: 

Combine all ingredients.

 

Salad Ingredients:

1 head lettuce, torn

2 cups raw spinach

1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

1 package frozen green peas, thawed but not cooked

4 green onions, chopped

5 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

5 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

 

To Prepare Salad:

In large bowl layer lettuce/spinach, cauliflower, peas, onions, bacon, cheese and eggs. Spread with topping as though it were icing. Contents should be completely covered. Refrigerate overnight. Toss just before serving.

 

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Submitted by Claudine Colvin

 

Ingredients:

2 packages strawberry JELL-O

16 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice

1 24–ounce package of frozen strawberries

2 sticks butter

3 cups crushed pretzels

1 envelope Dream Whip, prepared according to directions (or substitute 16 ounces Cool Whip)

1 cup sugar

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

 

To prepare:

In a pot over medium-high heat, boil pineapple juice. Dissolve JELL-O in boiling pineapple juice. Let the mixture cool. Add frozen strawberries. Let congeal slightly. Melt butter, and mix with crushed pretzels. Place in a 9-by-13-inch pan and bake 10 to 15 minutes at 375˚F. Cool. Prepare Dream Whip (or use Cool Whip), and whip in sugar and cream cheese. Spread evenly over cooled pretzels. Spread partially congealed JELL-O evenly over top of Dream Whip mixture. Chill in refrigerator at least one hour.

 

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