Girls' Night In: Casserole Swap Night

Freezing make-ahead meals for busy weeknights can be a daunting job, even for the most efficient and organized cooks. Turn this chore into a party by inviting friends over to sample and swap frozen casseroles. Instead of being a dreaded task, cooking and freezing for a casserole party gives everyone's "to-do list" a cool ending.

To make sure there is a wide range of dishes to choose from, assign each guest a different casserole to bring. Each girl will cook two batches of her assigned casserole: one to freeze and swap, and one to enjoy at the party. This way, everyone gets to try each casserole and pick one to take home. You'll have a lot of leftovers, so make sure to have to-go boxes on hand to divide them up among all the guests.

The Party Plan

  • E-mail recipes to everyone at least one week in advance.
  • If your countertops are not heatproof, have several trivets available for the hot casseroles.
  • Make the lemonade base, martinis, and gimlets the day before.
  • Make Bagel Croutons and Caesar Dressing the day before. Toss the salad right before serving.
  • Have Crispy Sticks ready for the oven before the girls arrive. Remove casseroles from the oven, and bake the breadsticks before serving.
  • Ask each girl to bring a serving spoon.

The Bar
Casseroles and fruity drinks should have come together long before now. Imagine tasting an array of creamy, bubbly dishes while sipping on fancy, colorful drinks! Keep a backup of lemonade (without soda added), the martini mix, and a pitcher of gimlets ready in the fridge. If wine is more your friends' style, try serving a Beaujolais-Villages, a fruity red wine that's a favorite "everyday wine" in many French bistros. Since it's fairly versatile, Beaujolais-Villages is a good choice for pairing with the casseroles' variety of flavors.

The Food
Luckily, casserole swaps are one of the easiest parties to host! Toss a green salad, warm up some bread, and you're ready to go. For a quick and easy appetizer, pick up some bagel chips and olive tapenade at the market. Thanks to a parade of casseroles marching through the door, there's no need to prepare a full meal.

Before the girls arrive, set the oven to "low" or "warm" so that the casseroles will all stay piping hot. With each guest bringing a frozen casserole too, you might want to clear out some freezer space as well. Also, ask the girls to bring a recipe card, complete with reheating instructions.

For even more casserole ideas, browse these recipe collections:

The Extras
Design, download, and print personalized recipe cards for the party.

If a casserole swap isn't your thing, check out how our Senior Foods Editor, Anne Cain, cooked casseroles for a cause.

Rebecca Lang is a well-known cooking instructor, author, and food writer. She teaches Girls' Night In classes around the country and lives in Athens, Georgia.

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