Honestly, I think I have the most fun when I cook if there is a challenge involved. If there are leftovers to be used up, so much the better. I'm inspired by those bits and pieces.
I am also a fan of casseroles, because they are such great comfort food. After a rainy, cold, day, I wanted something hot, bubbly, and cheesy. My refrigerator held lots of leftover possibilities. I chose:
1/2 head of cauliflower
1 cup of cooked brown rice
3 carrot sticks left over from a recent cocktail party
1 lump of low-fat cream cheese (roughly, 2 T.)
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese
1/4 bag of spinach
Bechamel sauce (see link)
I started off by cooking the cauliflower and carrots until tender, and then drained.
Then I made a basic Bechamel sauce, and threw in the little lump of cream cheese, because I could. What else would I use it for?
To that sauce, I added the steamed, drained, vegetables and rice. Then, I heard my mother's voice: "This could use a little color." Mom was really big on color. She was right. I tossed in the spinach. That went into my vintage Pyrex, a gift from Mr. L. last Christmas, and I topped that with cheddar cheese and paprika. Mom put paprika on everything white, and she was right. Life needs color.
I baked the casserole at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.