This was usually during winter because this kind of casserole, loaded with ground beef, rice, canned peas, tomato soup, and sausages, was definitely the kind of food one ate to keep warm. And growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, keeping warm in 30 below winters was a priority.
My best friend Linda and I were both band students and would lug our saxaphones over to her house after school - making the twenty minute trudge home as our breath formed white fog in the air and the tips of our toes tingled in the cold.
But that was growing up on the prairies.
Winter's winds blew a bitter cold and the sky burned the brightest shades of blue imaginable.
Kids grew up with skates on their feet and every neighborhood had a community club where even on the coldest days we would skate; ducking into the bathrooms to warm our frozen toes under the hand dryers.
It is from those frigid temperatures that the seven layer dinner was born - and it was from out of that bitter cold that some of my warmest memories played out.
Even as a kid I got that.
I understood that sitting around a table with friends and family on a cold day added to life in ways that made things better.
So many kids don't know what this is - a simple dinner, parents who are present, supportive conversations, unconditional love.
"We've got teenagers walking around in a culture of darkness all alone."
It makes me want to continue opening my heart even on days when it would be so much easier to turn a blind eye and look the other way.
That's where the seven layer dinner comes in.
January has been a long month and today was one of those days where I wanted to come home to the same kind of comfort and reassurance found at my friend's table so many years ago.
So I went to my pantry and created my own version of seven layer dinner (or in my case three layers) with turkey sausage, veggies, and cheesy mashed potatoes.
It was the perfect dinner for the way I was feeling and I enjoyed the sense of nostalgia I got with every bite.
If you try this, I hope you will too.
Three Layer Dinner with Turkey Sausage and Apple Sauce
- 2 packages turkey sausages, removed from their casings.
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 cups cooked frozen mixed vegetables
- 3 cups cheesy mashed potatoes to top
- Spray a casserole dish with Pam.
- In a large skillet, cook sausage, mushrooms, and onion over medium heat until the sausage is browned, the mushrooms have begun to release their water, and the onions have begun to carmelize. Add the salt pepper and spices.
- In a bowl, combine the soup, water, and frozen mixed veggies.. Add to the sausage mixture in the pan and stir well to incorporate.
- In the casserole dish, layer half the potatoes, soup mixture and sausage; repeat layers.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
- Turn oven to broil and bake 5 minutes longer or until top of potatoes are golden