Tag Archives: Cottage Cheese

Viva la Difference Zucchini Casserole

We have had this recipe a long time, and it is one to which we go back quite often. It is good, and has all the ingredients for a meal. And it only takes about an hour from start to serving.
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As you can see from the credit line, it was originally published by the San Diego power utility way back in 1975. I am beginning to think that some food ideas do happen at specific times; it seems like some of the older recipes did use the Minute Rice more than we see now days.

Viva la Difference Zucchini Casserole

(San Diego Gas and Electric, 1975)

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • 1 1/2 lbs. zucchini, cut into 1/4″ rounds
  • 2 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • 10 oz. can cream of celery or cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2″ casserole, or two 8 x 8 x 2″ casseroles.

Saute together until browned the beef and onion. Remove from heat and add rice, garlic salt, and oregano.

Prepare and have ready each separately so they can be layered, the zucchini, cottage cheese, soup and cheddar cheese.

In the greased casserole, layer the ingredients as follows:

  • Place half the zucchini mixture in bottom
  • Cover with beef mixture
  • Spoon over the cottage cheese
  • Place the remaining zucchini over the top evenly
  • Spread the soup over all
  • Sprinkle with the cheese

Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbling hot.


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I chose to use the to 8 x 8 casseroles so that I could freeze one to have later.

I was surprised that although it seemed like a lot of zucchini after I had sliced it all, I seemed to be short zucchini for making two layers. I think the hint I have is that you don’t want to work to fit the zucchini tightly like a mosaic. Since the pieces are different sizes, it is hard to judge how much is half of the total.
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While the recipe calls for either cream of celery or cream of chicken soup, that might be a modification that Marlys made for me; I think you could use cream of mushroom soup. I have trouble digesting mushrooms, and so Marlys has modified a lot of recipes to eliminate the mushrooms in favor of something more neutral.

Paska

How about cheese cake without the crust? That is often how people describe Paska. It is a sweet, cheese food that has a history back into eastern Europe. I like it as a snack, but it is also used as part of a meal. My neighbor tasted it, and demanded the recipe so she could make it for Purim/Passover to eat with the matzo bread that is eaten as part of those ceremonies. And, from what I find on the network, it is eaten at Easter in a Russian Orthodox home with a special bread kulich.

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Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942. (This was a Russian lady Errol knew in Missoula, Montana.)

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 lbs. cottage cheese (not creamed)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 cup mixed candied fruits and raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

Having made the recipe in January 2012 exactly as we received it from my Mother, I knew I needed to do a lot of experimenting with both the size and the ability to use modern kitchen appliances. Here is the original recipe; I don’t think you should try to use it as it is written.

I made this original version of the recipe with 4 pounds of cottage cheese as it calls out. I must say that sieving that much cottage cheese will develop muscles. I was really tired by the time I finished the sieving. Then, I mixed everything up, and it took two regular bread loaf pans to hold all the paska. I was surprised to find that indeed, I could invert the loaf pans and place them on plates in the refrigerator without the paska trying to drop out and escape.

The trouble came after the week of aging, and draining the excess liquid. When I tried to unmold the paska, it didn’t want to come out of the loaf pans. Even when I ran a knife around the edges of the pan, it was still stuck firmly to the bottom of the pan. I can only say that it was a mess when I finally got it all out of the mold.

So, I had three problems; first, the amount of paska was way too much for me. Second, it is a lot of work to sieve cottage cheese. And finally, I needed to find a way to unmold the paska after it had aged and drained.

The first problem was easily solved; I divided the recipe in fourths, so that only a single pound of cottage cheese was needed. Now, the recipe reads as follows:

Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942.

Modified for only one pound of cottage cheese by Errol Crary

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. sieved* cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1/4 cup fruit**
  • 2 Tbsp raisins**
  • 2 Tbsp chopped almonds

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

I tried breaking up the curd of the cottage cheese in the food processor, and I think that is an acceptable way of “sieving” the cottage cheese. I will admit that my neighbor thought the paska texture was different, and liked the sieved version better. I couldn’t tell the difference. From my perspective, that solved the second problem. Now, I only had the problem of unmolding to solve.

My original direction on solving that problem was to line the bottom of the molds with plastic wrap before I dumped the paska in. But, just as I didn’t want the paska to stick to the mold, nor did the plastic wrap want to stick to the mold. So, when I turned the mold over to drain, the paska fell out. I solved that problem by using nesting plastic containers. After putting the paska in the lined mold, I placed an identical, nesting container on top of the cheese cloth that was on the paska in the first container. Now, I could turn the nested containers over, and the paska would be forced upward by the bottom of the inner container. I would have stopped at this point, but I found that not all nesting plastic containers worked well; some seemed to slope inward too much, and the paska leaked down between the sides of the containers. (I found square blue-top plastic storage containers worked the best, and you would want to use a size that is over 3 cups – 24 ounces for the one pound cottage cheese version).

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At this point, I started thinking outside of the box- or mold, and found what I think is the perfect answer- a colander! So now I line the colander with cheese cloth, dump in the paska, place a piece of cheese cloth on top, and then place a weighted dish on top of the top cheese cloth. I would say the only trick left is to find a dish that fairly well covers the surface of the paska without binding on the side of the colander. (My little red colander is measured as a 1.5 quart colander).
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The recipe calls for candied fruit; I took that to mean the type of fruit that is in a fruit cake. That is a seasonal item in most stores, and wasn’t available in January when I was first experimenting. So I improvised. I used some dried sweet cherries and Craisins that I had, and diced them down to about ¼ of an inch pieces. That made a pretty red color that was just about right for Valentine’s day when I had hoped to have everything coming together. And, my daughters dislike fruit cake candied fruit, so they were not unhappy with the cherry/Craisin substitution. The main thing to remember no matter what you use is to dice the fruits and nuts down to about ¼ inch.

PicMonkey Collage

Pistachio Salad

This salad seems like a rich kin to the Dump Salad; it has a wider variety of textures and flavors, but is still based on cottage cheese and Cool Whip. And of course, you have to work harder to get all the ingredients mixed together. There is even some chopping to do.
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Pistachio Salad

  • 4 oz Coolwhip
  • 16 oz. cottage cheese, small curd
  • 16 oz. canned fruit cocktail, drained
  • 3.5 oz. pistachio instant pudding, dry
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/4 package miniature marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix together in the order listed. Chill well before serving.


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Luckily, Pistachio Jello is one of the flavors that still is in favor, and you should have no problem finding it.

The coconut I use is the Angel Flakes; I have it available for other recipes I cook. I am not certain why the salad has to be mixed in the order the ingredients are given, but it does stiffen up substantially by the time you add the coconut.

Dump Salad

Dump Salad is really a framework in which several different tasting salads can be made. These salads are based on cottage cheese and Cool Whip. There are only two more ingredients; a jello flavor, and a fruit to go with the jello. Once you have the ingredients, they mix up in just a matter of minutes, and then go into the refrigerator to cool.
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I have made three versions of the Dump Salad, and so the pictures below will reflect those three choices of flavor that I made. The recipe comes from Marlys’s Step Mother. And I do have some suggestions following the recipe.
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I think that if you are going with Dump Salad on your menu, then you might need to plan on another dish. If you are having hamburgers on buns with all the fixings, then you probably have enough flavors and textures in your menu. But if you are cooking steaks, I would also plan on a vegetable in your menu- maybe a baked potato with the fixings, or asparagus, beans, peas, sliced tomatoes or even succotash – something to add a different flavor and texture.
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Dump Salad

Margaret W. McBryde 1976

  • 3 1/2 oz. package jello, dry (see flavor in table below).
  • 16 oz. cottage cheese, small curd
  • 4 oz. Coolwhip
  • 8 to 10 oz. drained canned fruit (see type in table below).

Mix ingredients together, chill well before serving.

Suggested combinations:

Jello Flavor Fruit
pineapple/orange &nbsp&nbsp crushed pineapple
orange mandarin oranges
strawberry frozen strawberries
peach canned peaches
lime canned pears
blackberry frozen blackberries


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I have discovered that Jello is no longer available in all the flavors it once was. For that reason, I suggest that you NOT lock in a flavor for your menu until after you have shopped. For example, I could not find peach Jello in any of the three stores where I looked, and I found the strawberry Jello only in the third store. Today’s tastes seem to include the lime and orange flavors; there are also a lot of new flavors such as mango. It would be interesting to hear back from someone who is brave and tries to make a new combination of Jello flavor and fruit.
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The three combinations I have made and are shown here are Strawberry with frozen strawberries, Orange with mandarin oranges and Lime with pears. I bought the mandarin oranges and pears in those little 4 ounce serving packages, and used 3 packages each for the salads. I cheated and did not stir all of the fruit into the salad, but saved a few pieces out to put on top of the salad; I think that gives the salad a nicer look to show what is hidden below the surface.
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