tot casserole

Photo: Ben Fink

The Cheddar Trick to Turn Tater Tots into a Real Meal
Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook, aka the Casserole Queens, can do wondrous things with the most basic ingredients—and usually, one of those items is cheese. Witness their Tater Tot Casserole, which uses just six ingredients (plus salt and pepper). It's a delicious combination of ground beef, mushrooms and tots laced with shreds of sharp cheddar cheese.

Get the recipe: Tater Tot Casserole

Photo: Paige Green

A Way to Emphasize What Really Matters in Mac 'n' Cheese
We hear you, devoted Velveeta fans, but let us explain: The combination of mild and slightly sweet fontina, sharp and salty blue cheese, tangy Pecorino Romano and almost fruity Parmesan is absolutely worth the few extra minutes spent with a box grater. Add butternut squash and sage, and the humble mac 'n' cheese tastes totally different—and outrageously good.

Get the recipe: Penne Pasta Quattro Formaggi with Butternut Squash and Sage

Photo: Alison Gootee

A Meal That'll Make You Look at Brussels Sprouts in a New Light
We love shaved Brussels sprouts salad as much as anyone, but on a chilly night, a salad has nothing on a casserole. Enter this brown-rice bake, which incorporates those little sprouts with onion, wine, chicken stock, apples and thyme, as well as a cup of grated cheddar (the sharper the better, to contrast the earthy vegetables). It has the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Get the recipe: Cheddar and Brussels Sprouts Rice Bake

Photo: Joe Keller/Keller + Keller

The Easy (But Still Cheesy) Version of an Italian Favorite
Making baked ziti can be time-consuming, since it often entails making sauce, boiling pasta and assembling and baking the dish. This smart recipe streamlines the process, attaining excellent results in less time, with fewer pots and with plenty of delicious mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You cook the ziti right in the sauce, all in one skillet.

Get the recipe: Baked Ziti with Charred Tomatoes

Photo: © Iain Bagwell

The Lone-Star Spin on a Classic Chicken Dinner
This Tex-Mex addition to the casserole canon combines the usual baked cheese with some zippy add-ins: chili powder, roasted peppers and cumin. And the protein here is smoked chicken, but you could also use a rotisserie bird. You mix the chopped meat with cooked onion and bell and poblano peppers; then layer tortillas, the chicken and vegetables and not one but two kinds of cheese: Monterey Jack and cheddar. The finished dish embodies comfort—with a kick.

Get the recipe: King Ranch Chicken