One of the hardest things about writing books at the same time you're working a full time day job is trying to find time to have a home life. The simplest things, such as what to have for dinner, can seem like daunting problems when you're juggling a to-do list like mine. Believe me, it's tempting to run by Taco Bell every night on the way home from work rather than worrying about cooking dinner, especially when I'm no cook to begin with.
So, needless to say, when I learned that I'd be doing the Crafty Corner/Deadline Recipes blog post, I darned near panicked. I'm not crafty--I don't have time to be. And I'm certainly no cook. What on earth am I going to write about, my peanut butter cookie recipe? (1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. Mix, spoon, bake, voila!)
Then I realized, I can't possibly be the only person who looks at a cookbook, sees ingredients like "herbs de Provence" and breaks out into hives. Or wouldn't know an endive if one moved into my house and took over the TV remote.
So, here's the real deal. Even when I have time to cook, I have to depend on the kindness of strangers--those wonderful, wonderful people who put food in cans, ready to eat. But in case you're losing all hope of getting a recipe out of me, never fear. I'm going to give you a recipe that's perfect for anyone who doesn't have a fear of canned goods.
Let's talk about the Desperation Casserole.
This recipe works for anyone who can open a can, tear open a bag of shredded cheese, snap the top off a can of fried onions, turn on an oven and stay attentive enough that whatever you put inside doesn't burn. It's easy, usually delicious, and relatively nutritious, depending on your choice of ingredients.
Casseroles are pretty basic--toss in a bunch of ingredients that go together into a casserole dish, add cream of something soup (undiluted), top with cheese and either fried onions (usually a great choice) or something else that's crunchy, such as crackers, bread crumbs or potato chips, then bake until the cheese is melted and the soup is bubbling.
What kind of ingredients work? Most canned vegetables (just drain them first). A can of mixed vegetables is a good base—to that you can add extra green beans, carrots, mushrooms or other vegetables of your choice. You can concentrate on one vegetable, like green beans. You can throw in every vegetable you can think of. Add canned chicken or leftover steak. Tuna can be a great casserole ingredient.
You can experiment and try sweet ingredients--a cobbler is a sort of casserole and can be done with canned fruit, canned biscuits and sugar. The possibilities are as endless as your cupboard.
Yes, I know this is a sad, pathetic way for a grown person to eat. But sometimes, you have to make choices in life. Do I want to be Nora Roberts or do I want to be Paula Deen? It's rare the person who can be both, and more power to you. But for me, I want to write. And if that means I'll never win the Holly Homemaker award, so be it.
As long as I keep writing for a living, Desperation Casserole will remain one of go-to recipes.
So, how about y'all? Do you have your own favorite version of Desperation Casserole? Share them in the comments. I'll be giving away a $25 eGiftcard from the online bookseller of your choice to a commenter drawn at random.
On the day Jake Cooper said "I do" to his beautiful bride, Mariah, their future happiness seemed certain. But Jake always wondered what she wasn't telling him. And what it would take for the truth to come out…Hoping to build a new life with Jake, Mariah thought she was free of the demons from her past. But when they were kidnapped and held at gunpoint, Mariah knew it was time she came clean—whatever the consequences. Her vow to confess was cut short, though, when bullets started flying and they were forced to run for their lives. Desperate to survive and not fall victim to the man hunting them, Mariah realized just how much she'd gained having Jake in her life. And how much they both had to lose.