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Last week's weather was so dreary, it really disrupted my regular routine and kept me and the little one home to stay dry.
The upside, however, is that I got a lot of work done and also got to do more cooking. Friday was particularly productive, as I took time to choose three recipes at once and did all my chopping and vegetable sauteing ahead of time, making final meal prep time go by much easier.
I've found that now that I have the baby, it is really nice to prepare a one-dish meal ahead of time and then just put it in the oven an hour before we're going to eat dinner. I know this isn't any tremendous insight, but I guess now I'm really feeling the reality of just how helpful this can be.
So today I'm presenting two of the casseroles I made this weekend, both of which got my husband's zealous seal of approval. The first is a hash brown casserole, which we did have for breakfast on Sunday, but it would also be a great side dish at dinner or even a good pairing with a dinner quiche. My husband doesn't even like potatoes that much, but he really enjoyed it and even asked how fattening it was, but thanks to it coming from Cooking Light magazine, it wasn't that bad. Unless you're one of those people who doesn't eat carbs, in which case I feel bad for you.
The second is for a gnocchi casserole (more potatoes, but this time in dumpling form) that uses a broth-based white sauce. It wasn't super thick or creamy, but the flavors of ham and peas and potato and Swiss cheese went really well together. This was my husband's last dinner before running in the Baltimore Marathon relay Saturday, and he said it did the trick.
Enjoy!

Hash brown casserole with bacon, onions, and cheese
6 bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (32-ounce) package frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (I used fat-free plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed reduced-sodium, reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
Cooking spray

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and crumble. Discard drippings in pan. Add chopped onion and garlic to pan; cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the potatoes; cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine crumbled bacon, 1/4 cup cheese, green onions, sour cream or Greek yogurt, salt, pepper and soup in a large bowl. Add potato mixture; toss gently to combine.
Spoon mixture into an 11- by 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove casserole from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Bake casserole, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until bubbly around edges and cheese begins to brown.
Source: Cooking Light

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Cheesy gnocchi casserole with ham and peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 (8-ounce) piece deli ham, diced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 (17.5-ounce) package potato gnocchi
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Preheat the broiler to high heat.
Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the ham and thyme and continue to cook until the ham is lightly browned.
Add the chicken broth and 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Add the gnocchi, stir well, cover and cook until the gnocchi is slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Uncover and stir in the peas, cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Serve.
Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com

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