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The Big Book of Casseroles: 250 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food Paperback – October 1, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

You will find no canned soups in Maryana Vollstedt's The Big Book of Casseroles. You will find 250 ways to simplify your weekly meal planning. The properly deployed casserole is economical of both time and money. Anyone living on a family budget--with a family--but eating according to a take-out lifestyle is going to love this book.

Jambalaya is a casserole. So is Coq au Vin. So is classic Hungarian Goulash. But let us not forget Turkey Tetrazzine. Or maybe we should forget. Maybe it's the Turkey Tetrazzines of the world made with leftover dried-out Thanksgiving turkey coming at us after the days of turkey soups and turkey sandwiches and turkey salads that have given the word casserole the kind of odor we look for behind the refrigerator. While Vollstedt's version of Turkey Tetrazzine doesn't ask for a can of cream of mushroom soup, and while it is made from fresh ingredients, the result is still going to be the same.

And that's one of the problems with The Big Book of Casseroles. It's so big, the demands of coming in with 250 recipes are so great, that classics of the genre that would be better off left to foggy memory are rejuvenated for another generation of unfortunate diners. The other problem is how the definition of casserole gets stretched by the author. Any substance covered with another and baked in an oven appears to be a casserole. When is baked fish a casserole and when is it simply baked fish? Such are the questions raised by Vollstedt's choices.

The book covers a lot of ground. Chapters include those on "Basics" (as in white sauce), "Seafood Casseroles," "Poultry Casseroles," "Meat Casseroles," "Vegetable Casseroles," "Baked Pastas," "Grain and Legume Casseroles," "Gratins," and "Low-Fat Casseroles." There are no dessert casseroles.

Vollstedt shows you where the casserole has been, and where it is. Use The Big Book of Casseroles as a launching pad for your own creative endeavors. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

Vollstedt's (What's for Dinner?) reliable collection of robust food encompasses many ethnicities (Seafood Lasagna, Baked Tandoori Chicken on Lentils, Spicy Beef Enchilada Casserole). Recipes are clearly written and carefully worded, and chapters are divided easily by ingredients (seafood, poultry, etc.). Many dishes rely heavily on cheese and other dairy products (California Casserole uses 2 cups of sour cream and 4 cups of Monterey Jack; Italian Potato Casserole incorporates 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan), but Vollstedt compensates with a chapter on low-fat casseroles that includes Spinach, Parmesan Cheese, and Rotini with Pine Nuts, Brown Rice and Broccoli, and Greek Meatballs in Tomato-Yogurt-Mint Sauce made with ground lamb. Vollstedt stretches the definition of casserole to incorporate Tangy Baked Shrimp, Turkey Loaf and Baked Sweet Potatoes (the latter two are cooked separately but served together) and a whole chapter of gratin recipes. An introduction with instructions for making the basic components, freezing casseroles at different stages and reducing fat and calories rounds out this solid effort.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Big Book of
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811822605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811822602
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maryana Vollstedt has written several Chronicle cookbooks in the Big Book series. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
These recipes are great because most of them are very easy and can be prepared ahead of time then popped in the oven a 1/2 hour or so before you eat. As a stay-at-home mom - I can put the dish together while the kids are napping, then am free to play with them during that cranky time before dinner. And every recipe we've tried is delicious!
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Christa Martin on January 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I love this cookbook. The recipes are very easy to make with ingredients most of us have in the pantry. The only tools you need are a knife and casserole dish or dutch oven. While the book features comfort food for home or a friendly potluck, many of the recipes are fancy enough for special company. Very east to read -- each recipe gets its own page. One warning, though -- a number of the recipes feature cheese/sour cream, so it isn't exactly a low-calorie cookbook. For a recent potluck, I used the reduced fat cheese and sour cream, and no one who ate it could tell the difference.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was interested in casseroles because I wanted recipes for dishes I can make ahead and freeze. This book exceeded my expectations. It has all the old favorites like tuna noodle and new ones like Osso Bucco. It even has a section on lower fat casseroles and a section on making recipes healthier. Every recipe I've tried has been a winner and have received lots of compliments. Some of the recipes are one dish suppers like Salmon and Peas, very tasty and easy to prepare. What it lacks in photos it makes up for in creativity.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
You'll strike exciting, easy one dish meals with this book loaded with various ingredients and styles.
They're all here--from chicken pot pies to seafood to Mexican to Pizza casseroles to Moroccan influenced. This is broad in its scope and rich in its diversity, from entrees to side dishes such as the nice section of rich gratins.
I'm especially fond of the Orange-Hazelnut Chicken and the Beer Beef Stew with Parslied Buttermilk Dumplings, Greek Chicken and Rice.
This is a prime candidate to get the kids in the cooking mode. Good place to have them join the fun and experience of cooking.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By D Darkman on September 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
You want a cookbook to be well-tested, so that most recipes work or "nearly" work. This cookbook, simply isn't it.

Too many of the recipes have big or small flaws in them (e.g. a recipe says to add two cloves of garlic to a pot, does it mean whole cloves or minced? A different recipe said to cut garlic cloves in half & add to the stew; I get that. But this recipe looks like it was just a typo, dropping the word "chopped") The book is riddled with problems of this sort.

Too many of the recipes are rather similar. Having tried one, I don't see a need to try the next three. I happen to like red wine slow-cooked with beef, but I just kept coming across one after another... without enough variation it seemed.

Many recipes don't really count as casseroles (baked fish... not a casserole...)

Some casseroles have no rice or noodles at all in them... is that a casserole or just a side dish of artichokes and broccoli in a mushroom sauce?

The collection of recipes looks arbitrarily culled from various sources, e.g. one recipe calls for broccoli florets which must be steamed... another recipe asks for a package of frozen broccoli. Hunh? Why was one used here, the other there? No idea. They both end up heavily cooked anyway. One recipe calls for an onion, chopped... another recipe calls for 1/2 cup chopped onion -- hey, wait, why not make your recipes consistent? Because they were just gathered from different sources and the author didn't take the few minutes to standardize how she wrote out these recipes. You'd do better just pulling recipes off the internet at random, I think.

Many recipes aren't casseroles, but stews.

Who would write a casserole book that doesn't include a single "cholent" recipe?
Read more ›
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By cg on March 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
I must admit that I was not expecting much from this book. However, I have been pleasantly suprised to say the least (these are not the boring 1975 style casseroles that our mothers served to us). The recipes I have made so far were so good, they could be served to company! Many of the recipes call for wine - which really brings the dish up to a whole new level. The recipes are easy, and for the most part uncomplicated. I have made both the Country Chicken Stew and the Chicken Italian - both FABULOUS! One note about the Country Chicken Stew- I suggest using the brown "crimini" style mushrooms, as they are so much better than the boring white generic supermarket mushrooms. (I made the stew both ways - and the brown muchrooms made it classier and soooo much better)
One comment on the Tuna Casserole - I have made it twice...very quick and easy. However, it is dry - so I recommend making it with twice the amount called for of the basic white sauce.
Overall - a verrrrrry nice book. It is an unexpected find!
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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful By TheConsumer on February 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have mixed feelings about this book ... some of the recipes are really great, like sweet and sour pork chops, and tangy baked shrimp. But there are some big-time duds in this book, which makes me wonder if all the recipes were really tested before the book went to press.
The directions give it away: in Gourmet Meatballs, you're supposed to make one-inch meatballs, put on a baking sheet and brown for ten minutes at 400 degrees. Then you're supposed to move the meatballs to a casserole, along with any drippings.
Drippings? On a baking sheet? Were they paying attention when they typed this one up? Why not put the meatballs in a casserole to begin with?
Anyway, after 10 minutes at 400 degrees, the meatballs, baking sheet or not, are done. Then why put them in a casserole and bake for another 40 minutes, along with a little beef broth?
This particular one gets the Martha Stewart Award For Recipes That Don't Work. This book is worth buying, but choose your dinner carefully.
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