Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Weekly Recipe: Green Lake Casserole

I came across this recipe by chance, while looking at another recipe article on Yahoo (Yahoo had a winning week for me – I made both, with great results!).  I’m always looking for new casseroles to try, because they are such a great make-ahead meal, and as much as I love to cook, I am all about saving time on week nights.  While its title grabbed my attention, I quickly committed to trying it for another reason – posted by Anne Dolce on The Daily Meal, the introductory paragraph explains that the origins of this casserole stem from feeding large crowds at the family’s camp in Green Lake, Maine.

I will admit, I’d hoped it would be healthier than it is.  I love casseroles and baked pasta dishes, but so often, they are carbohydrate-heavy with rich, creamy ingredients – delicious, but not as good for you as they are tasty.  Although it calls for sour cream, Cream of Mushroom, and a 16 oz. bag of breadcrumbs (eek!), I chose to forge ahead.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 16 oz. bag stuffing (I used Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 15 oz. can cooked lentils
  • 1 10.75 oz. can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1/2 packet French onion soup mix
  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen, French cut green beans, defrosted
Ready to get to work!

Ready to get to work!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium-size sauce pan, sauté the onion and celery in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

IMG_20130818_175418_981 (2)

Season with salt and pepper, and add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the bag of stuffing.  Stir well to dampen the stuffing and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium sauté pan and cook the mushrooms until they are well-browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Browning the mushrooms...

Browning the mushrooms…

In a medium-sized bowl, combine lentils, soup, sour cream, onion mix, and mushrooms.  Stir well to combine.  In a 9×13 baking dish, create one layer using the green beans, a second layer with the mushroom mixture, and a top layer with the stuffing mixture.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the stuffing topping is golden brown and the mushroom mixture is bubbling.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

A couple of noteworthy items: rather than making one casserole in a 9×13 dish, I split mine into two smaller pans.  My intent is to freeze one so Nick and I have a meal handy in the future.  In Anne’s introductory notes, she also points out that this casserole is vegetarian, while the original used Cream of Chicken Soup and shredded chicken.  That sounds pretty yummy, I must say!  When I’m ready for unhealthy casserole round 2, I’ll certainly try it that way.

This casserole was quite good.  I wasn’t entirely certain how much I’d like it while I was mixing the ingredients, but it really turned out well.  I do think the original version, with chicken, would be better – I can see the chicken flavor complementing the other ingredients really nicely.  I’ll let you know when I confirm this hypothesis!


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Siano’s for Breakfast!

It’s been a snowy Sunday here in Maine – and so wonderful to be home!  Although my flight to Charlotte is right around the corner (I’m typing this at my gate), I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time here.

Snowy view from my parents' kitchen window

Snowy view from my parents’ kitchen window

This morning, my mom, sister, cousin Stephanie, and I continued our tradition of getting together for a girls’ breakfast when I’m in town. We’ve tried a number of the local breakfast places, and they can each claim a unique charm and personality. This was my first ever visit to Siano’s, a neighborhood pizza joint that also offers breakfast, but I had high expectations, having gone to high school just down the road at Catherine McAuley, where Siano’s pizza had reigned supreme as the Friday hot lunch option.  I knew from this personal experience that their pizza was delicious, but I was relying on my mom’s recommendation that their breakfast would be well worth trying.

Sadly, I have no photos to share of my breakfast, as I was starving when it arrived and it was excellent.  My omelette, which consisted of cheese, spinach, tomato, onion, and mushroom, was more than half gone when I remembered my intentions.  While the food was very good, perhaps my favorite thing about our breakfast experience was the relaxed atmosphere at Siano’s.  Our waitress was friendly and attentive, but didn’t rush us as we lingered over our meals and chatted (an unpleasant experience I’ve had at other breakfast places).

There was also something charming about observing the cooks prepare massive quantities of pizza dough for the lunch and dinner rushes; watching the fires roar in the brick ovens; and experiencing the flow of conversation at tables around us – all of which was indicative of the family-friendly, neighborhood restaurant that Siano’s is.  Several patrons greeted each other by name, and everyone wore a smile as the stomped in out of the windy, snowy cold and into the welcoming space.

Now, I’ve got to catch my flight back to NC – but don’t forget to stop by Siano’s in the future – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Siano’s Pizzeria
476 Stevens Ave
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 771-7878