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The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin' in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes

The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin' in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes

by Crystal Cook, Sandy Pollock

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Put a new spin on homestyle favorites with this New York Times Bestsller that shows you how to make easy, fresh meals from scratch in your own kitchen.

Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock make a mean Chicken Pot Pie, elevating the classic recipe with white wine and fresh tarragon. Their recipe won them such a following in Texas that Bobby Flay took notice and challenged them to a Throwdown. It turns out that the Casserole Queens, as the duo is known, are much more than one-hit wonders of the one-dish dinner. They have built an entire business around revamping the ultimate quick-fix dinner for modern tastes.

In The Casserole Queens Cookbook, they share their fresh, updated, from-scratch recipes for traditional dishes. Tuna Noodle is brought up a notch with a homemade cream sauce and a kick of cayenne pepper; Halibut Enchiladas with Salsa Verde are surprisingly light and vibrant; Mandarin Meatloaf has a sweet orange flavor that recharges a beloved weeknight staple. There are home-style desserts, like Gooey Apple Butter Cake, and great brunch dishes, such as Frenchy Toast Casserole. The Queens have thought of everything, providing advice on scaling and freezing casseroles so that anyone can stock the freezer with go-to dinners.

With 16 pages of color photographs, plenty of expert tips, and lots of style, The Casserole Queens Cookbook is the home cook’s handbook for making tasty meals any night of the week.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307953391
Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed
Publication date: 08/23/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 334,025
File size: 16 MB
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About the Author

CRYSTAL COOK and SANDY POLLOCK, the Casserole Queens, started their home-delivery business in Austin, Texas, in 2006. They have been featured on Food Network's Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, Bobby Flay Radio on Sirius XM, and other television and radio shows. Visit them at

Read an Excerpt

Meet the Casserole Queens
Meet Crystal. Meet Sandy. Together we’re bringing back the classic American casserole, along with other familiar recipes from a bygone era, and updating them with a retro-chic, gourmet flair. It’s the best of the ’50s with a modern, sophisticated twist. We call it sophistakitsch.
We know what you’re thinking. It’s not the 1950s, and the idea of whipping up a home-cooked meal with a freshly powdered face seems unreal. But wait! You can have that wholesome dinner ready for your family to devour! And guess what? You’ll actually enjoy doing it. Don’t think you have to throw on an apron and cook every night of the week (although we think it’s fun!).
We have loads of nifty tips, creative shortcuts, and easy-to-cook meals that are designed to fit your hectic lifestyle. You may be on a budget, or have zero time to cook, but still yearn for a meal that’s healthy and filling. Or maybe you’re feeling adventurous and want to step it up a notch. (If so, you’re in luck—we’ve included some of our best, world-class recipes derived from Sandy’s training at the French Culinary Institute. The Queens are crafty like that.)
Whether it’s a dinner party with friends, an evening meal with the family, or an all-out extravaganza, we hope our unique and quirky perspective, along with our delectable recipes, will inspire you to enjoy an evening gathered around the dinner table. And just maybe you’ll find out what little Johnny is learning in science class.
Our Story
Let’s back up a bit to a warm, summer night in Austin, Texas. Lots of folks have asked us how we got our business started, and the truth is that the idea for the Casserole Queens was conceived one night while contemplating life over a salty margarita (or two). (See “Idea-Generating Margaritas.”)
As we sipped, Sandy spoke of how she was charmed by a recent holiday visit with her family. Sandy had decided to make all the Pollocks’ signature dishes with her mom and siblings. The food was heavenly and the conversation centered on the good memories generated by these favorite recipes. She described the evening (while Crystal continued to sip), and proposed the idea of a business designed to help bring families back together around the dinner table with home-cooked goodness. Crystal, being from the South, couldn’t agree more. Food and family go hand-in-hand where she grew up. In a world where people are always in a hurry and have little time for dinners together, the idea of convenient home-cooked meals is something that Sandy and Crystal both truly believed in. Hence, the Casserole Queens was born.
Now, we aren’t saying that all great ideas start this way, but we have been delivering fresh-from-scratch meals to customers in Austin for over four years, all the while sporting heels, aprons, and the timeless tradition of mom’s best recipes. Our business has been featured in numerous publications. Heck, we’ve even been on national television, appearing on the Food Network’s Throwdown! with Bobby Flay.
Idea-Generating Margaritas
Careful! Drinking more than two of these can make your ideas seem better than they actually are.
Lime wedge
Sea salt
3 ounces premium silver tequila
3 ounces fresh lime juice
3 ounces fresh orange juice
1 ounce Triple Sec 
1 Run the lime wedge around the rim of a margarita glass, and then roll the rim in the sea salt. Add fresh crushed ice to glass and set aside.
2 Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Add tequila, lime juice, orange juice, and Triple Sec. Shake vigorously, then pour over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. Let the ideas roll!
The Kitschy Kitchen: Retro Tips and How-To’s
To us, casseroles represent more than just a delicious and nutritious meal for the family. They also represent a way of life—part of the retro-chic brand that defines the Casserole Queens as a business and the two of us as individuals. When we think of the quintessential 1950s homemaker, we have to chuckle. Hurry, ladies! Rush and fluff the pillows, prepare his favorite drink, straighten your hair, and quiet down the kids—your husband is coming home from a hard day at work! Oh, how times have changed. Homemakers may be men or women, and few of us would seek advice on creating a comfortable environment for our spouse. And yet the kitchen remains an important place in many of our lives, not because we are expected to be there but because it is where we can show our devotion to the ones we love most.
When you choose to express yourself through the dishes you cook, it’s about more than the ingredients. It’s about passion, presentation, creation, and pleasing the senses. (Mmmm, smell that? That’s my cookin’!)
Having the right items on hand to prepare a quick, delicious meal is key. But also, taking steps to appropriately equip and use your kitchen makes the time you spend there more enjoyable and fulfilling. The kitchen has always been a creative, fun environment for us—cooking and dancing like no one is watching. This section was created with care to ensure you never get stuck in a cooking rut! Use our handy tips to minimize fuss, avoid cooking “emergencies,” and create meals that fit your family’s budget, tastes, preferences, and time constraints. We hope to ignite your inner artist, sparking a culinary creativity you never knew you had. Or at the very least, help you cook a solid, memorable meal.
Let’s Dish
Casseroles may have become popular in the 1950s as a way to relieve women of kitchen drudgery, but they were also a response to a more active and social lifestyle. We, on the other hand, think they became popular because they were a way to “one-up” your friends and neighbors by appearing at the potluck dinner with the most colorful dish!
In our kitchen, we celebrate the casserole dish any which way we can. To be completely honest, we have a fairly loose interpretation of what the casserole dish actually is. If it all goes in one dish, then it is a casserole. From the old-school 9 × 13-inch glass Pyrex, to the highly decorated soufflé dish, Dutch oven, ramekin, or pie pan, it’s all comfort—it’s all a casserole.
In our kitchen, we celebrate the casserole dish any which way we can. To be completely honest, we have a fairly loose interpretation of what the casserole dish actually is. If it all goes in one dish, then it is a casserole. From the old-school 9 × 13-inch glass Pyrex, to the highly decorated soufflé dish, Dutch oven, ramekin, or pie pan, it’s all comfort—it’s all a casserole.
In addition to brightening your own table, these dishes make wonderful host/hostess gifts. Ding! Now you know what to get that person who’s impossible to shop for. There are so many super-cute and affordable vintage dishes available on the Internet, the next time you’re invited to a potluck, bring your contribution in a dish that can be left with the host as a gift! And if swanky is the look you’re going for, check out a new fad called the casserole tote. Made from amazing vintage fabrics, these totes make for easy transport and have real down-home appeal. They’re chic and sassy, and easy to make.
Find One That Suits Your Style!
The beauty of the casserole dish is its variety. You can find them in every shape, size, color, or pattern. Go on, girl, get crazy—express yourself! You’ll find that our recipes mostly call for a 9 × 13-inch dish, which is a nice, standard size. But with so many fun options, you can match your casserole to any mood or occasion.
GLASS. Keeping it real. We love this no-fuss, family favorite because glass dishes are inexpensive, and many come with plastic, airtight lids for easy transport and leftover storage. They are great for freezing and easy to clean up, and most are dishwasher safe.
PORCELAIN. The entertainer. Available in an array of colors and sizes, ovenproof, microwave proof, and dishwasher safe, these dishes can go from freezer to oven, then straight to the table. Soufflé dishes, shallow gratin dishes, and—our favorite—the ramekin all find places in our cupboards. Ah, ramekins—an oh-so-versatile dish that is a must in any kitchen. Perfect for individual-size meals and desserts, ramekins can also be used to serve condiments at the dinner table, like dipping sauces, toppings, or fresh sea salt or cracked black peppercorns. (Yes, we are in love.)
DUTCH OVEN. The old-fashioned gourmet sidekick. Aside from the ramekin, the Dutch oven is a heavy contender for our second favorite dish. This sturdy pot doesn’t speak Dutch nor is it an oven, but it is a deep pot with a secure lid that can go from the stove top directly into the oven. Dutch ovens are well suited for long, slow cooking, such as for roasts, stews, and (yep, you guessed it!) casseroles. When we talk about Dutch ovens, we are referring to the modern enameled cast-iron version that does not need to be seasoned before use. These enameled Dutch ovens come in different shapes and sizes, and can usually be cleaned like ordinary cookware. Some brands may even be placed in the dishwasher. Get ready for a tricep toner, because once you fill this dish with food, it can be quite heavy.
Dress the Part
Imagine cooking the perfect dinner, with perfectly coiffed hair, red lipstick, a full skirt, and high heels. Okay, now snap out of it! We all know that June Cleaver left the kitchen years ago, but there is something to be said about feeling “put together” and in charge of your environment. For the Queens, a fun, flirty apron can transport you to another age, relaxed and comforted. We love aprons. Not only are they practical, but even on a rushed day, you can throw on an apron and feel a little more in control. As with everything we recommend, get one to match your personality. Maybe an apron with pockets is perfect for you, especially if you use it to store fun-size chocolates. Or perhaps you want to spice things up a bit in pink chiffon. It’s all you!
Dish-Towel Apron
Sandy’s family does a lot of group cooking during the holidays. One year, Sandy’s sister Yvette made aprons for all the girls in the Pollock family. The aprons were made from an assortment of Christmas-themed dish towels, with red and green ribbons for tying. We all loved them so much and still wear them to this day. Make them for someone you love!
1 dish towel
2 yard-long pieces of ribbon (to accommodate any size body)
2 big buttons
A needle
On the best side of the dish towel, sew a button to each top corner of one long side.
Tie a piece of ribbon around each button, leaving a little tail. This will make it easy to remove the ribbons before washing the apron, which will keep them from unraveling.
To wear the apron, wrap the ribbons around your waist as many times as necessary and tie a bow.


Herb-Baked Caprese Tomato Stacks

Makes 8 servings

Cooking spray
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 1/4-inch-thick slices fresh mozzarella
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs (see page 196)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

This dish is so simply prepared, yet yields amazingly complex flavors. Sandy was inspired to make these tasty stacks from ingredients that seemed always to be on hand in her and Michael’s home. Because there are so few ingredients in this dish, it is imperative that your ingredients are quality. We also recommend that you take the time to make your bread crumbs from scratch, as it adds that extra something to the dish. And don’t worry about any extra bread crumbs getting stale; just store them in the freezer and they will stay fresh for months. If you find yourself with extra basil, don’t waste it! Use it to make some tasty pesto (see opposite).

1 Preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
2 Arrange one layer of tomatoes (do not overlap) in the bottom of the casserole dish. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Put a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each tomato, then top each with basil. Top each stack with another slice of tomato, and season with salt and pepper.
3 Combine the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle the crumbs over the stacks.
4 Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are heated through, the bread crumbs are lightly browned, and the mozzarella just starts to melt. Serve hot.

Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Makes 3 cups

1 loaf day-old bread
2 tablespoons dried thyme or oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil or parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bread is too good of a thing to let go to waste. How many times does your uneaten bread go to the birds? If for some insane reason you didn't eat the entire baguette for dinner, use the leftovers to make some delicious bread crumbs, which are always handy for adding texture to casseroles. Bread crumbs can go stale quickly, so keep them fresh longer by storing in the freezer.

1 Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2 Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and pulse in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Spread the crumbs
on a baking sheet and dry them out by baking for 10 to
15 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Allow the crumbs to cool completely.
3 Return the dried crumbs to the food processor. Add the thyme, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then pulse until the crumbs are finely processed and well mixed with the seasoning.
4 Store in an airtight container for up to six months.

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