When You Just Don’t Want to Turn the Oven on (how to make any casserole into a one-pot stovetop meal)

Katie from the website, KitchenStewardship.com, is bringing us a guest post today. I appreciate this spunky lady for two reasons. 1. She is always so honest! You know that she is going to be direct and to the point.  2. She well understands why eating nourishing food on a budget, that is kid-friendly, and that is not too time consuming is so important. For that reason, she shares tips like the following ones. Her new book, Better than a Box, I am sure will be a great help to many! Plus it is a super-frugal buy right now! – Kimi

A: Dance class and basketball practice on the same day, 95 degree heat, and “Oops, I forgot to plan
dinner and it’s already 5:00.” The question? What are three reasons you want to learn how to make any casserole in your repertoire into a one-pot meal? When my life got super busy, I began challenging myself to see how many favorite comfort-food casseroles I could manage with only one pot. I sought to adapt them to be either completely on the stovetop (great for summer!) or in a pot that could transfer to the oven with the food still in it. I was kind of surprised how many times I succeeded!

Here are some tips for reducing your own complicated, two-pot-and-a-baking-dish recipes into
simple, one-pot wonders:

1. Try a Dutch oven. If you don’t have one, you don’t have to make an expensive
purchase. Any recipe that calls for a “Dutch oven” really only means to use a pot that
doesn’t have any plastic on it and can go directly from the stovetop to the oven. My
deep cast iron pan fits the bill, as does another random pot with metal handles and a
stainless steel lid that I inherited from someone at some point.

You can use this strategy when you need to melt cheese, toast a crunchy topping, or bake
biscuits on top of a casserole that requires a pot to make the sauce anyway.

2. Melt the cheese in the pot. Any recipe that instructs you to pour what you’ve just
cooked fully on the burner into a casserole dish, add cheese, and bake for 30 minutes
is tricking you into more dishes. If you’ve got a casserole that would be completely
edible before putting it in the oven, just sprinkle the cheese on top, lid the pot, and
cook for a few minutes. Melty, delicious, cheesy topped one-pot meal – that didn’t heat
up your house with the oven! If you love the taste or look of browned, crispy cheese,
use a Dutch oven style pot and put the whole thing in the oven.

3. Steam the bread. Plenty of casseroles include a little bread product of some sort –
biscuits, cornbread, pie crust, maybe a crunchy crouton topping. You can either use
the Dutch oven trick to save a dish, or experiment with the power of steaming. Plop
your biscuit dough on top of your casserole filling right in the pot, and over low heat
with the lid on, the bread should be done in 30-40 minutes. It will be a different texture
than baked bread dough – softer, steamier – but often still very good.

I know this isn’t rocket science, and you were probably nodding your head in agreement while
reading. But when is the last time you consciously considered your multi-step, multi-pot meals
and asked yourself if you could simplify them? If you’ve put a casserole into the oven lately
(and spent ten minutes scraping the browned edges of the dish), I guarantee you can save
time on it.

I hope to inspire you to consider what adaptations you might be able to make to save time
and cut down on dirty dishes, whether your casserole has potatoes in it, layered pasta, rolled

tortillas, or something else that you could simplify without having to hire your children to
assemble it.

I explain four more methods for the one-pot meal transformation in my new eBook, Better
Than a Box
, including how to simplify lasagna and one strategy that makes many bread-
based casseroles both gluten-free AND stovetop friendly.

I’m thrilled to share Better Than a Box: How to Transform Processed Food Recipes into Whole Foods Favorites with the Nourishing Gourmet readers. It’s on sale through Friday, January 25th at 8 a.m. for the launch celebration price of $1.99, and only 99 cents on Kindle. The PDF download also includes the Kindle and Nook files, as well as free printable recipe cards, a freezer supply list, how to cook dry beans printable and other handy dandy charts and tips. Regular pricing starts Friday.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. L says

    I like the way you think, Katie! Who wants to wash extra dishes anyways? Not this gal! I’m going to purchase your book now. 🙂

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