Southern Living Complete Quick & Easy Cookbook: Over 600 of Our Best Fast & Delicious Dishes for Everyday Suppers by Southern Living, EPUB, 0848737733

March 12, 2018

 Southern Living Complete Quick & Easy Cookbook: Over 600 of Our Best Fast & Delicious Dishes for Everyday Suppers by Southern Living, EPUB, 0848737733

Southern Living Complete Quick & Easy Cookbook: Over 600 of Our Best Fast & Delicious Dishes for Everyday Suppers by Southern Living

  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Publisher: Oxmoor House
  • Publication Date: October 9, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0848737733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0848737733
  • File Format: EPUB
”Preview”

Southern Living

Quick & Easy

Compiled and Edited by

Susan Hernandez Ray

Fresh Raspberry-Spinach Salad

Pronto Chicken Pot Pie

Contents

Cover

Title

Welcome

The Quick & Easy Kitchen

Streamlined Southern Favorites

One-Dish Dinners

Healthy ’n’ Quick

Quickies from the Grill

Slow-Cooker Favorites

Quick Nibbles

Presto Pizza ’n’ Pastas

Everyday Soups ’n’ Sandwiches

Main Dishes in Minutes

Shortcut Sides ’n’ Salads

No-Fuss Breads

Desserts in a Dash

Copyright

Welcome

Dear Friends,

It’s a fact: Carpools, soccer practice, work deadlines, and homework have all cut into the time you have to plan and prepare supper. We also know that whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen or a seasoned cook, you need practical and delicious dinnertime solutions for your family. That’s why we’re so excited about Southern Living® Quick & Easy. (Take a glance at “Some of My Favorite Recipes” on the below page for a mouthwatering preview.)

Our fast-paced lives have redefined the way we cook and shaped our choice of recipes for the magazine (the “Quick & Easy” column continues to elicit extremely high reader satisfaction). We’ve streamlined ingredient lists and methods, as well as broadened our use of convenience products. This cookbook combines our years of expertise, kitchen-tested recipes, and best time-saving tips to showcase real recipes for real people like you.

One of the cookbook’s most exciting features is this “make ahead” icon. Because we understand just how busy you are, we tell you what can be partially or totally made ahead and how much time you need to prepare each recipe. And we’ve made a special notation when a recipe can be made in 10, 20, or 30 minutes or less. You’ll find these features to be indispensible. What’s more, we include more than 250 mouthwatering photographs (which also include simple ideas for plating and garnishing for entertaining). I hope the more than 600 recipes and ideas in Southern Living® Quick & Easy make each day a little bit easier for you.

Happy cooking!

Scott Jones

Executive Editor

Some of My Favorite Recipes

Grilled Southwestern Chicken With Pineapple Salsa: A spicy rub gives added zip to this favorite entrée that’s paired with a fruity make-ahead salsa.

Warmed Cranberry Brie: This quick spread tastes like you’ve spent hours preparing it.

Shrimp Jambalaya: This one-dish recipe calls for some ingredients that you might already have on hand, and it requires only one pot.

Tomato-Basil Cream Soup: A pretty beginning to any meal, this soup can be made ahead (minus the cream) and frozen.

Grilled Shrimp Gyros With Herbed Yogurt Spread: These tasty sandwiches are great for outdoor gatherings and simple weeknight suppers.

Beef Lombardi: Three types of cheese add a rich flavor to this delicious one-dish meal that’s ideal for entertaining.

Chicken Cannelloni With Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce: Sure to cure any Italian craving, the stuffed shells can be frozen ahead, so they’re perfect for a busy weeknight or casual entertaining.

Lemon Squares: Moist and luscious, this dessert packs loads of flavor with a minimum of fat.

Florentine Artichoke Dip: Parmesan cheese bubbles over the surface of this scrumptious appetizer that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Hot Tomato Grits: With the mild heat of green chiles, this Southern favorite has a hint of Texas flavor.

The Quick & Easy Kitchen

5 Habits of Highly Efficient Cooks

1. Organize Your Kitchen

• Pick a day to clean and organize your kitchen. Store the utensils you use regularly in a convenient place on your counter so you don’t have to dig through drawers to find what you need. Get rid of the equipment and utensils that you never use.

• Use racks, shelves, and bins to neatly store equipment and ingredients.

• Group similar items together in your pantry.

• Group all measuring items (cups, spoons) together near where you prepare foods for cooking.

• Alphabetize your spices and seasonings so they’re easy to find. If you have room, dried seasonings keep best in the freezer. If you store them in a cabinet, just place them in a cool area away from heat or light.

• Keep a notepad in the kitchen to jot down ingredients that need to be replaced.

• Clean out your refrigerator and store the items you use the most in the front and in the door racks.

2. Plan Ahead

• Try to plan and shop for a week’s worth of meals at one time. It might take a few extra minutes initially, but once you’re in the habit of planning weekly menus, you’ll save time and reduce the stress of coming up with meal ideas at the last minute.

• Stock your kitchen with quick cooking staples. Many are listed by food category.

• Read through the recipes you want to prepare and gather everything you need before you start cooking.

• When you’re preparing breadcrumbs or toasting nuts for a recipe, prepare extra and freeze in zip-top freezer bags.

• When the price is right, stock up on standard items you know you’ll use and have room to store.

• Avoid last-minute stops to pick up an item or two; you’ll spend more time and money than you planned.

• Make out a grocery list before you go to the supermarket and stick to the list. You’ll buy less and spend less time in the store.

• Make your grocery list according to the order of aisles in the store. Follow that order, and you’ll backtrack less.

• Microwave to get a jump start on cooking. Use the microwave to thaw foods or to precook casseroles or meat you’ll finish cooking in the oven or on the grill.

• Chop and freeze ½-cup portions of red or green bell pepper, onion, and parsley in zip-top freezer bags.

3. Strategize Cleanup

• Get in the habit of cleaning as you cook. You’ll be delighted that the dishes are halfway done when you’re finished with dinner.

• Soak dirty dishes in hot, soapy water as you prepare meals so you won’t have to scrub so much later.

• Use spray-on oven cleaner on extradirty pots and pans to ease cleanup.

• Use a graduated measuring spoon. It’s one spoon that adjusts for the measurement you need so you don’t have to mess up a whole set.

• Measure dry ingredients before wet ones so you can use the same measuring cups and spoons without washing between measuring.

• Measure or sift ingredients onto wax paper or paper towels for easy cleanup.

• Prevent messy splatters by setting a metal colander upside down over a skillet of simmering food. The colander holes allow steam to escape.

• Use plastic freezer bags to marinate meat or poultry. Turn the bag occasionally to completely coat the food.

• Line baking pans or broiler pans with aluminum foil for quick and easy cleanup when roasting meat, chicken, fish, or vegetables. You’ll have very little mess to clean off the pans after removing the foil.

• Chop a small amount of an ingredient with a chef’s knife instead of dirtying a food processor.

• Use a zip-top plastic bag to make crumbs for toppings. Place cereal or cookies in the bag; crush the contents of the bag into crumbs with your hands or a rolling pin.

• Beat eggs in a mixing bowl first, and then add the other ingredients to save cleaning an extra bowl.

4. Know Your Grocery Options

• Buy small amounts of shredded carrots, celery sticks, cauliflower or broccoli florets, and sliced mushrooms from the salad bar to save cleaning and slicing time. If you need larger amounts, look for bagged shredded or baby carrots, cauliflower or broccoli florets, and sliced mushrooms in the produce section.

• Buy prepackaged frozen chopped onion and green bell pepper.

• Purchase products that combine more than one ingredient, such as Creole, Italian, Mexican, and Greek spice blends (Mrs. Dash has several good blends). Canned Mexican-, Italian-, or Cajun-style stewed tomatoes (you get tomatoes, onions, peppers, and the seasonings in a single can) are also a good choice. Besides saving on cooking time, these products save you storage space and the time it takes to put away groceries.

• Buy bags of precut, prewashed salad greens, such as spinach leaves, romaine hearts, mixed salad greens, and cabbage, to save cleaning and preparation time. Check the expiration dates.

• Peeled raw shrimp and peeled cooked shrimp are the quickest cooking forms. Follow the chart below for weight and measure comparisons, which are especially helpful if you want to start with unpeeled fresh shrimp instead.

• Chopped cooked chicken is available in many forms, and we call for it often in our recipes. Below are some helpful conversions when purchasing different chicken products.

Chicken Choices

Amount and type: 1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Amount chopped, cooked:2⅓ cups

Amount and type: 1 (5.5-ounce) cooked boneless chicken breast half

Amount chopped, cooked: 1 cup

Amount and type: 1 (6-ounce) package grilled chicken strips

Amount chopped, cooked: 1⅓ cups

Amount and type: 1 (9-ounce) package frozen chopped cooked chicken

Amount chopped, cooked: 1⅔ cups

Amount and type: 1 (2-pound) deli-roasted chicken

Amount chopped, cooked: 2 to 3 cups

Amount and type: 1 (3-pound) raw chicken

Amount chopped, cooked: 3 cups

5. Be a Speed Shopper

If you want to be a true speed shopper, determine your shopping style by this clever analysis and plan your supermarket strategy accordingly.*

• Dasher: Runs into the store on the way home every night to pick up something for that night’s dinner. Frequents the deli and frozen food sections and grabs whatever looks good. Opts for a basket rather than a cart. Generally has less than 8 items; uses the express aisle.

• Gatherer: Travels up and down every aisle grabbing items that might be thrown together for a meal. Subject to impulse buys and advertised specials. Sometimes ends up with a cart full of groceries but still can’t figure out what to cook for supper.

• Hunter: Enters a detailed weekly grocery list into the PDA and meticulously searches for each and every item on the list. Not uncommon for this shopper to visit several stores on the quest for one item. Often seen with coupons.

Whatever your shopping style, you can make your selections quickly and move on if you know where to find the foods you need in each section of the store. Our plan on the next page will help you simplify your shopping, whether you’re shopping for the month, week, or just for the night.

This is more than a grocery list—it’s a strategic plan for shopping. We’ve identified the key areas of the store where you’ll find quick cooking staple products for many of the recipes in this book. Although the specific layouts will be different, most stores will have these same areas. Familiarize yourself with your local grocery, and plan your grocery list around the store’s layout.

This sample layout of a grocery store highlights key sections of the store. In each section, there is a list of the products in that section that we recommend you keep on hand to be a superfast chef extraordinaire. Start with the produce section and work your way through the store. The order in which you move through the sections isn’t crucial, except that we recommend you add frozen foods and dairy products to your cart last.

The Hunters and Gatherers will probably go to each section. The Dashers may only hit a few. Either way, you’ve saved yourself the time of going up and down every aisle.

One key point to keep in mind for this strategy to work: Stock up on staples. If you shop once for the staples and condiments that you use frequently, you won’t have to spend time doing that each time you visit the store. Use this chart as a general staples guide for items you need to keep on hand for ultimate quick and easy meals, menus, and entertaining.

When you’re finished shopping, have your grocer bag like items together (frozen, refrigerated, or pantry products), and put-away time in your kitchen will be quicker.

*Based on research done for the national Cattleman’s Beef Association.

Speed Shopper’s Supermarket Staples

Streamlined Southern Favorites

Benne Seed Chicken

Benne seed is the Southern term for sesame seed.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 40 min., Other: 2 hr.

4 chicken leg-thigh quarters (about 2 pounds), separated

1 onion, quartered

2 garlic cloves

1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

¼ to ½ cup benne (sesame) seeds

1. Place chicken legs and thighs in a shallow dish or large zip-top plastic freezer bag.

2. Process onion and next 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides; pour over chicken. Cover or seal, and chill 2 to 8 hours.

3. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Place chicken in a lightly greased shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with benne seeds.

4. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes on each side or until done. Makes 4 servings.

Italian-Seasoned Fried Chicken

You can cut up a broiler fryer yourself, buy it precut, or take advantage of packaged chicken “parts.” Buy all legs or thighs if dark meat is your preference, or all breasts if white meat is your choice.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min.

¾ cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

¾ teaspoon dried oregano

1 large egg

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 (3- to 3½-pound) package chicken pieces

Vegetable oil

1. Stir together breadcrumbs and next 3 ingredients. Whisk together egg, milk, and flour. Dip chicken in egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture.

2. Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch in a large heavy skillet; heat oil to 350°. Fry chicken 20 to 25 minutes or until golden, turning occasionally. Drain on paper towels. Makes 4 servings.

How to Cut Up Chicken

Cutting up your own chicken saves money, and some cooks even believe it tastes better that way. Here’s a quick lesson on doing it right.

• Remove the legs by cutting at the joints with a sharp knife.

• Crack the back thigh joint, finding the point with your fingers. Cut straight through to remove the thigh; repeat on the other side. Use kitchen shears to trim extra skin and fat.

• Stretch wings and cut the joints, removing the wings.

• Cut down the back from the tail end to the neck. Clip along the ribs with shears. You’ll now have a large breast section.

• Press your fingers on the neck end of the breast; the wishbone connects to these two muscles. You will feel a V-shaped breastbone. Cut straight down from the top of the breast to the cutting board, cutting between the ribs and wishbone from the rest of the breast. Your piece will be V-shaped. Be careful not to crack the bone.

Honey-Pecan Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are as versatile and convenient as chicken breasts but lower in price. If you can’t find boneless thighs at the store, ask the butcher to remove the bones.

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 40 min., Other: 2 hr.

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

8 skinned and boned chicken thighs

¾ cup honey, divided

¾ cup Dijon mustard, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup finely chopped pecans

½ teaspoon curry powder

Garnish: flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1. Combine first 4 ingredients; sprinkle evenly over chicken in a shallow dish. Stir together ½ cup honey, ½ cup mustard, and garlic; pour over chicken. Cover and chill 2 to 8 hours.

2. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade.

3. Dredge chicken in pecans; place on a lightly greased rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan.

4. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until chicken is done.

5. Stir together remaining honey, remaining mustard, and ½ teaspoon curry powder; serve sauce with chicken. Garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Simple Fried Chicken

Chilling Simple Fried Chicken before frying adds crispiness to the coating.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 45 min., Other: 1 hr.

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons paprika

1½ teaspoons salt

3 large eggs

⅓ cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 (4½-pound) whole chicken, cut up

Vegetable oil

1. Stir together flour, paprika, and salt in a shallow dish. Whisk together eggs, milk, and lemon juice in a bowl. Dredge chicken in flour mixture; dip in egg mixture. Chill 1 hour.

2. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a 13- x 9-inch electric skillet; heat to 350°. Fry chicken 10 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Reduce heat to 300°; cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Drain on paper towels. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken

Less messy than the pan-fried version, this recipe gets extra flavor from Creole and Italian seasoning.

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 45 min., Other: 8 hr.

1 quart water

1 teaspoon salt

1 (3½-pound) package chicken pieces

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

3 cups crushed cornflakes cereal

2 to 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)

1. Stir together 1 quart water and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; add chicken. Cover and chill 8 hours.

2. Drain chicken; rinse with cold water, and pat dry. Place chicken in a shallow dish; pour buttermilk over chicken, turning to coat.

3. Combine crushed cereal, next 4 ingredients, and, if desired, ground red pepper in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add chicken to bag, 2 pieces at a time; seal and shake to coat. Place chicken on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Repeat with remaining chicken and cereal mixture.

4. Bake on lowest oven rack at 400° for 45 minutes or until done. (Do not turn chicken.) Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Garlic Fried Chicken Breasts

A quick soak in a salty milk mixture makes this chicken extra moist and flavorful. Stir up the breading and heat the oil while it soaks.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

4 small bone-in chicken breasts

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

Vegetable oil

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, and place in a shallow bowl. Whisk together eggs and milk; pour over chicken, turning pieces to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.

2. Combine flour, garlic powder, and paprika in a zip-top freezer bag. Drop 1 chicken breast at a time into bag; seal bag, and shake to coat.

3. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large, heavy skillet. Heat oil to 360°. Add chicken, and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until done, turning as needed. Drain. Makes 4 servings.

Pecan Chicken

Using just 3 ingredients to flavor this chicken makes a quick main dish. Pounding chicken breasts shortens the cooking time.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 12 min., Cook: 18 min.

4 skinned and boned chicken breasts

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (we used Grey Poupon)

2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

1. Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to ¼-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.

2. Stir together honey and mustard; spread on both sides of chicken, and dredge in pecans. Arrange in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes or until done. Makes 4 servings.

Santa Fe Chicken and Dressing

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 40 min.

4 cups cubed country-style stuffing

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (15½-ounce) can golden hominy, drained

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup minced fresh cilantro

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

1 (8¾-ounce) can cream-style corn

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Tortilla chips (optional)

Salsa (optional)

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; add soup and next 3 ingredients, stirring well. Spread in a lightly greased 2-quart shallow baking dish.

2. Bake, covered, at 350° for 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Uncover and sprinkle evenly with cheese; bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Rediscovering the King Ranch Casserole brings back fond childhood memories. We’ve published several versions of this family favorite, and this one’s the quickest yet. No sautéing is needed; just stir together the ingredients and pop in the oven.

Prep: 13 min., Cook: 32 min.

1 (10-ounce) package frozen seasoning blend

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic salt

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

1. Stir together first 7 ingredients.

2. Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces; layer one-third of tortilla pieces in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of chicken mixture and ⅔ cup of cheese. Repeat layers twice.

3. Bake at 350º for 32 minutes or until casserole is thoroughly heated and bubbly. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Freeze casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, and bake as directed.

Quick Chicken and Dumplings

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

4 cups water

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 (10¾-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1 (7.5-ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1. Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often.

2. Separate biscuits in half, forming 2 rounds; cut each round in half. Drop biscuit pieces, 1 at a time, into boiling mixture; stir gently. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. (Recipe can be frozen up to 1 month, if desired.) Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Light Chicken and Dumplings: Use reduced-sodium, reduced-fat cream of chicken soup; reduced-fat biscuits; and chopped cooked chicken breasts.

Barbecue-Battered Chicken Strips

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 7 min. per batch

3 pounds skinned and boned chicken breasts

3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons seasoned salt

1½ teaspoons pepper

¾ teaspoons garlic powder

2 cups buttermilk

¾ cup honey-smoked barbecue sauce

2 large eggs

Vegetable oil

Honey-smoked barbecue sauce

1. Cut each chicken breast into 3- x 1-inch strips, and set aside.

2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a large shallow dish.

3. Whisk together buttermilk, ¾ cup barbecue sauce, and eggs in a bowl. Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture; dip in buttermilk mixture, and dredge again in flour mixture. (If flour gets gummy, just press into chicken pieces.)

4. Pour oil to a depth of 1½ inches in a deep skillet or Dutch oven; heat to 360°. Fry chicken, in batches, 5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Drain on wire racks over paper towels. Serve with extra sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings or 16 appetizer servings.

Barbecue-Battered Pork Chops: Substitute 3 pounds boneless breakfast pork chops for chicken, and proceed as directed. Serve in biscuits.

Warm Barbecue Salad

Leftover barbecue or purchased ’cue from your favorite joint isn’t just for buns anymore, and neither is the sauce.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 35 min.

3 cups shredded cooked chicken (see note)

Barbecue Dressing, divided

1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed

2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

6 cups torn green leaf lettuce (about 1 head)

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

⅓ large red onion, sliced

⅔ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Stir together chicken and 1 cup Barbecue Dressing in a lightly greased 9-inch square pan.

2. Bake, covered, at 350° for 35 minutes or until warm.

3. Toss together corn and next 4 ingredients. Top with warm chicken mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately with remaining dressing. Makes 6 servings.

Note: 3 cups shredded barbecued pork may be substituted.

Barbecue Dressing

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 (18-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce

⅓ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cup honey

⅓ cup ketchup

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1. Stir together all ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Store in refrigerator up to 3 months, if desired. Makes 3 cups.

Chicken-Sausage Gumbo

Gumbo is one of the crowning glories of Louisiana cuisine. This flavorful stew is named for the West African word for okra, although not all gumbos actually contain okra.

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 25 min.

½ pound smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch-thick slices (we used Conecuh Original Smoked Sausage)

1 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

2 large garlic cloves, pressed

1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 to 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

Hot cooked rice

1. Cook sausage over high heat in a Dutch oven, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

2. Add enough oil to drippings in Dutch oven to equal 3 tablespoons, and whisk in flour; cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic, and green pepper; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Stir in broth, diced tomatoes, and Creole seasoning. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add sausage and chicken, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Serve over rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Crispy Fried Catfish

Frying fillet strips instead of whole catfish greatly speeds up the process. Three minutes, and these golden nuggets are ready to eat. Serve with Colorful Coleslaw.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 3 min. per batch

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground red pepper

2½ cups cornmeal mix

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons dried thyme

10 (6- to 8-ounce) farm-raised catfish fillets, cut into strips

1 cup buttermilk

Peanut oil

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a shallow dish.

2. Combine cornmeal mix, garlic powder, and thyme in a zip-top freezer bag.

3. Dredge catfish strips in flour mixture, and dip in buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Place catfish strips in cornmeal mixture; seal bag, and shake gently to coat.

4. Pour oil to a depth of 1½ inches into a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet; heat to 360°. Fry catfish strips, in batches, 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and serve immediately. Makes 10 servings.

Frying Success

1. Select an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut oil.

2. Use a deep-fat thermometer to maintain an accurate temperature. When the oil is hot enough, the cooking process seals the outside of the fish or meat to lock in flavor and moisture.

3. Fry in batches to prevent the oil temperature from dropping too low.

Shrimp Jambalaya

Prep: 25 min., Cook: 50 min.

1 pound unpeeled, medium-size fresh shrimp

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ pound cooked ham, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 (14½-ounce) cans chicken broth

1 (14½-ounce) can Cajun-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1½ teaspoons Creole seasoning

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

1. Peel shrimp, and devein, if desired. Set aside.

2. Stir together vegetable oil and flour in a Dutch oven; cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 12 to 15 minutes or until roux is caramel-colored.

3. Add ham, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic cloves, and sauté 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken broth, stewed tomatoes, parsley, Creole seasoning, and red pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in rice.

4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

5. Stir in shrimp; cover and cook 5 more minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Makes 6 servings.

Pineapple-Glazed Ham

Even though it technically doesn’t require additional cooking, reheating a fully cooked ham maximizes the flavor.

Prep: 30 min., Cook: 3 hr., Other: 15 min.

4 cups pineapple juice

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 (7- to 9-pound) bone-in smoked fully cooked ham

12 to 16 whole cloves

¼ cup Dijon mustard

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple slices in juice, drained (optional)

10 maraschino cherries, halved (optional)

1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 25 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding solids. Set pineapple juice mixture aside.

2. Remove skin and excess fat from ham. Make ¼-inch-deep cuts in a diamond design, and insert cloves at 1-inch intervals. Place ham in an aluminum foil-lined roasting pan. Spread mustard evenly over ham.

3. Pat brown sugar on top of mustard. Pour pineapple juice mixture into pan.

4. Arrange pineapple slices and maraschino cherries evenly over ham, if desired; secure with wooden picks.

5. Bake at 325° for 1 hour. Remove ham from oven; shield with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning, and bake an additional 1 to 1½ hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 140°, basting every 30 minutes with pan juices. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

6. Remove from pan, reserving drippings. Cover ham, and chill, if desired. Chill reserved drippings.

7. Remove and discard fat from drippings. Bring drippings to a boil in a small saucepan. Serve warm with ham. Makes 14 to 16 servings.

Chicken-Fried Steak ’n’ Country Gravy

This all-time classic is quicker than you might think! Be sure to serve this Southern steak with mashed potatoes for soaking up the gravy.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 14 min., Cook: 16 min.

2¼ teaspoons salt, divided

1¾ teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

4 (4-ounce) cubed steaks

1 sleeve saltine crackers (about 38 crackers), crushed

1¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

½ teaspoon baking powder

4¾ cups milk, divided

2 large eggs

1 cup peanut oil

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

1. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper evenly over steaks. Set aside.

2. Combine cracker crumbs, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, red pepper, and baking powder.

3. Whisk together ¾ cup milk and eggs. Dredge steaks in cracker mixture; dip in milk mixture, and dredge again in cracker mixture.

4. Pour oil into a 12-inch skillet; heat to 360°. (Do not use a nonstick skillet.) Fry steaks 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and fry 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Remove steaks to a wire rack in a jellyroll pan. Keep steaks warm in a 225° oven. Carefully drain hot oil, reserving cooked bits and 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet.

5. Whisk together remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 4 cups milk. Add to reserved drippings in skillet, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until gravy is thickened. Serve over warm steaks. Garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Hot Tomato Grits

Everything cooks in the same saucepan, so there’s minimal cleanup with this cheesy main dish or side dish.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min.

2 bacon slices, chopped

2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits

2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

Garnishes: chopped tomato, cooked and crumbled bacon, shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Cook bacon in a heavy saucepan until crisp, reserving bacon and drippings in pan. Gradually add broth and salt; bring to a boil.

2. Stir in grits, tomato, and chiles; return to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 15 minutes.

3. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Garnish, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Quick Double-Cheese Grits

Quick-cooking grits make this cheesy dish a 15-minute marvel. Grits can be chilled and reheated. When reheating, whisk a tablespoon or two of warm water into grits over medium heat, adding more water as necessary.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 5 min.

6 cups water

½ teaspoon salt

1½ cups uncooked quick-cooking grits

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

½ teaspoon pepper

1. Bring 6 cups water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in grits. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Remove from heat. Add shredded cheeses, butter, and pepper, stirring until blended. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Creamy Grits

Cream cheese and half-and-half put the “cream” in this Southern favorite. Quick-cooking grits have the germ removed, which gives them a longer shelf life than regular. They’re a great pantry staple.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 10 min.

2 cups half-and-half or whipping cream

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon pepper

½ cup uncooked quick-cooking grits

2 ounces cream cheese, cubed

¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

¼ teaspoon hot sauce

1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; gradually stir in grits. Return to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened.

2. Add cheeses and hot sauce, stirring until cheeses melt. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Grits and Greens

This Southern classic can actually trace its roots to the Native Americans who first threw maize and greens together. The inspired match has been inseparable ever since.

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 35 min.

1 (16-ounce) package fresh collard greens

4 cups chicken broth, divided

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup uncooked stone-ground or regular grits

¼ to ½ cup milk

¼ cup butter

1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cups cubed cooked ham

1. Combine collard greens and 1 cup chicken broth in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until tender. Drain collard greens, and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well on paper towels; set aside.

2. Bring whipping cream and remaining 3 cups chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan; gradually stir in grits. Return to a boil over medium heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 25 to 30 minutes. Gradually add milk, as necessary, for desired consistency.

3. Add butter, cheese, and pepper to grits, stirring until butter and cheese melt. Stir in greens and ham. Cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. Makes 6 servings.

Fried Green Tomatoes

30 minutes or less

Prep: 7 min., Cook: 18 min.

2 medium-size green tomatoes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon paprika

⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper

1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

½ cup yellow cornmeal

¼ cup hot bacon drippings

1. Cut green tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices; chill.

2. Combine 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and next 5 ingredients; spread on both sides of tomato slices. Coat tomatoes with cornmeal.

3. Fry tomato slices, in batches, in hot drippings in a large skillet over medium heat 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels. Makes 4 servings.

“Fried” Green Tomato BLTs

Oven-frying speeds up the cooking process and minimizes the cleanup compared to the traditional frying procedure.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 6 min.

1 medium-size green tomato, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

⅛ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1½ tablespoons self-rising cornmeal

2 green leaf lettuce leaves

2 (1-ounce) slices mozzarella cheese

4 bacon slices, cooked and halved

4 (1-ounce) slices white sandwich bread, toasted

1. Sprinkle tomato slices with hot sauce, if desired; dip in egg white, and dredge in cornmeal.

2. Place slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat slices with cooking spray. Broil 3 inches from heat 3 minutes on each side or until tender and golden.

3. Layer lettuce, cheese, bacon, and tomato slices on 2 slices of toast. Top with remaining 2 slices of toast. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Savory Stuffed Tomatoes

Use a small spoon to scoop out the pulp of these tomatoes. If your tomatoes are too rounded to stand upright on the jellyroll pan, place them in a muffin tin instead—the cups will cradle the tomatoes.

10 minutes or less

Prep: 6 min., Cook: 4 min.

1 (1.5-ounce) slice whole grain bread

4 medium tomatoes

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure ½ cup, and set aside.

2. Cut top off each tomato. Scoop out pulp, leaving shells intact. Discard tops and pulp.

3. Place tomatoes on a jellyroll pan lined with foil. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.

4. Combine breadcrumbs, basil, olives, and garlic. Spoon crumb mixture evenly into tomato shells. Drizzle each with ½ teaspoon oil.

5. Broil 3 to 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Makes 4 servings.

Basil Okra ’n’ Tomatoes

Basil adds an aromatic twist to this traditional side dish.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 20 min.

4 bacon slices

1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

2. Dredge okra in flour.

3. Sauté onion in reserved drippings until tender. Add okra; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in tomato and basil; cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bacon. Makes 4 servings.

Okra Fritters

These golden puffs are a refreshing way to serve this Southern favorite.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 25 min.

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

¾ cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

½ cup salsa

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

2 cups chopped fresh okra (about 1 pound)

1 large tomato, seeded and diced

½ green bell pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

6 green onions, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)

Vegetable oil

1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in okra, next 5 ingredients, and if desired, ground red pepper.

2. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into hot oil, and fry, in batches, until golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels, and serve immediately. Makes 3 dozen.

All About Okra

Slender, green, fuzzy, fingerlike okra pods contain numerous small, edible seeds. Brought to the South by African slaves, okra remains popular in Southern cuisine. It’s an ingredient in many dishes, such as gumbo, and it can also be fried, steamed, or grilled as a side dish. Okra has a mild flavor, and when cooked in liquid, it gives off a viscous substance that thickens the liquid. Okra is at its peak during summer months, but it’s also available frozen and canned. Store fresh okra in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Crunchy Fried Okra

Pick small, tender okra pods, and skip the traditional slicing step to speed up this time-honored favorite.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 6 min., Cook: 3 min. per batch

1½ cups buttermilk

1 large egg

1½ sleeves saltine crackers, finely crushed

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound small fresh okra

Peanut oil

1. Stir together buttermilk and egg. Combine cracker crumbs, flour, and salt. Dip okra pieces in buttermilk mixture; dredge in cracker crumb mixture.

2. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°. Fry okra, in batches, 3 minutes or until golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Okra Creole

This spicy okra concoction will have you coming back for more.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 25 min.

3 bacon slices

1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced okra

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup frozen onion seasoning blend

1 cup frozen whole kernel corn

½ cup water

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

¼ teaspoon pepper

Hot cooked rice (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Crumble bacon.

2. Cook okra and next 6 ingredients in hot drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Top with crumbled bacon. Serve over rice, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Saucy Green Beans

Purchase one of the flavored tomato sauces for a change of pace.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 15 min.

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed (see note)

1 small sweet onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

½ to ¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1. Cook green beans in boiling water to cover 5 to 10 minutes or to desired degree of doneness; drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

3. Add tomato sauce and sugar; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add green beans, salt, pepper, and vinegar; cook 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Substitute 1 pound frozen whole green beans for fresh green beans, if desired. Cook according to package directions; drain well.

Corn Pudding

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

2 cups milk

½ cup yellow cornmeal

1 (16-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons whipping cream

1. Bring milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan; gradually add cornmeal, stirring until blended after each addition. Cook, stirring constantly, just until mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

2. Add corn, stirring until mixture is consistency of whipped potatoes. Stir in salt and whipping cream. Makes 6 servings.

Bacon ’n’ Herb Butterbeans

Fry the bacon, and stir up the other seasonings while the butterbeans simmer; you’ll be able to toss everything together in a jiffy.

Prep: 8 min., Cook: 34 min.

1 (16-ounce) package frozen butterbeans

4 bacon slices

4 green onions, sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

¾ teaspoon seasoned salt

1. Cook butterbeans according to package directions; set aside.

2. Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

3. Sauté green onions and garlic in hot drippings 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in butterbeans, parsley, and seasoned salt; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with bacon. Makes 4 servings.

Quick Black-Eyed Peas ’n’ Ham

No Southerner is satisfied for long without black-eyed peas. Get your fill with this quick hoppin’ John-style recipe.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

¾ cup chopped cooked ham

¼ cup teriyaki marinade and sauce (we used Kikkoman)

1 teaspoon salt-free Creole seasoning

1¼ cups water

Hot cooked rice

Toppings: chopped tomato, sliced green onions

1. Sauté chopped onion in hot oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add peas and next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Serve over rice with desired toppings. Makes 4 servings.

Note: When you begin cooking, put some water on to boil for boil-in-bag rice—it’ll be ready when the peas are.

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes

Canned black-eyed peas and packaged hush puppy mix make this recipe a snap to prepare.

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 3 min. per batch, Other: 1 hr.

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 (15.5-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained, and divided

1 (8-ounce) container chive-and-onion cream cheese, softened

1 large egg

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 (8-ounce) package hush puppy mix with onion

Olive oil

Toppings: sour cream, green tomato relish

1. Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until tender.

2. Process onion, 1 can of peas, and next 4 ingredients in a blender or food processor until mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir in hush puppy mix, and gently fold in remaining can of peas.

3. Shape mixture by 2 tablespoonfuls into 3-inch patties, and place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill 1 hour.

4. Cook patties, in batches, in 3 tablespoons hot oil (adding oil as needed) in a skillet over medium heat 1½ minutes on each side or until patties are golden. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm. Serve with desired toppings. Makes 30 patties.

Colorful Coleslaw

Serve this cool side with Crispy Fried Catfish.

10 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min.

1 (10-ounce) package finely shredded cabbage

4 green onions, chopped

1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ teaspoon salt

1. Stir together all ingredients. Cover and chill, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Jalapeño Coleslaw

You can quickly snip the jalapeño peppers in a cup using kitchen shears.

10 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min.

⅓ cup sour cream

⅓ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup chopped pickled jalapeño peppers

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

1 (16-ounce) package shredded coleslaw mix

1. Stir together first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; add coleslaw mix, tossing to coat. Cover and chill, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Blackened Tomato Salad

The juice from the tomatoes creates the fantastic marinade for this salad.

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 8 min., Other: 1 hr.

4 large tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons sliced fresh basil

¼ cup olive oil

1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Garnish: sliced fresh basil leaves

1. Cut tomatoes into quarters; remove and discard seeds. Pat tomatoes dry, and brush sides evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

2. Cook tomato quarters in a hot cast-iron skillet over high heat 1½ to 2 minutes on each side or until blackened. Remove from skillet, and cool, reserving juice from skillet.

3. Toss tomato with reserved juice, 3 tablespoons basil, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let stand, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Mozzarella-Tomato-Basil Salad

Prep: 10 min., Other: 4 hr.

½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, drained

4 large red tomatoes, sliced

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup shredded or chopped fresh basil

6 iceberg lettuce leaves (optional)

1. Slice cheese into 12 (¼-inch) slices. Alternate tomato and cheese slices on a platter; sprinkle evenly with salt.

2. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste and basil. Serve on lettuce leaves, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Creole Potato Salad

Leaving the peel on the potatoes adds nutrients and color—and speeds up the prep time.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 18 min., Cook: 12 min.

3 pounds red potatoes, cubed

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup Creole mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1¼ teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 medium-size sweet onion, diced

1. Combine potato and water to cover in a saucepan; cook 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool slightly.

2. Stir together mayonnaise and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; add potato, egg, and onion, tossing gently. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes 8 servings.

Potato Salad With Cucumbers and Tomatoes

An olive oil-basil vinaigrette adds a healthy twist to this Southern favorite.

Prep: 30 min., Cook: 30 min.

5 pounds potatoes

⅔ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes

1 large yellow tomato, diced

Garnish: fresh basil sprig

1. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover 30 minutes or until tender; drain.

2. Cool potatoes slightly, and cut into 1-inch cubes.

3. Stir together oil and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in chopped basil.

4. Add potatoes, cucumber, and tomatoes, tossing to coat. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Dilled Potato Salad

There’s no need to cook the peas for this salad. Just thaw them, and stir them in.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 20 min., Other: 2 hr.

2 pounds new potatoes, cut into wedges

1 (10-ounce) package frozen petite sweet green peas, thawed and drained

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon garlic salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 small sweet onion, chopped

3 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1. Combine potato and water to cover in a saucepan; cook 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and add peas.

2. Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add potato mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Makes 8 servings.

Tomato-Basil Cream Soup

Prep: 40 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 12 min.

4 shallots, diced

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 celery rib, chopped

½ pound leeks, chopped

2 tablespoons oil

2 (14½-ounce) cans Italian-style tomatoes, undrained and chopped

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup whipping cream

Garnishes: lemon slices, fresh basil sprigs

1. Cook first 4 ingredients in hot oil in a Dutch oven over low heat, stirring often, 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. (Do not brown.) Add tomatoes and dried basil; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Cool.

2. Process mixture, in batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.

3. Heat in Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup whipping cream; cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. (Do not boil.) Garnish, if desired. Makes 6½ cups.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

30 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 23 min.

½ cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 medium zucchini, sliced

4 cups chicken broth

1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (11-ounce) can sweet whole kernel corn, undrained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon pepper

Tortilla chips

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1. Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until onion is tender. Add zucchini and next 6 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

2. Spoon soup into individual bowls. Top with tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Makes 2¼ quarts.

White Bean Soup

Ham gives this soup a smoky flavor. Using the canned kind keeps things simple.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 15 min.

1 (16-ounce) can navy beans, undrained

1 (15.8-ounce) can great Northern beans, undrained

1 cup water

¼ cup chopped onion

½ cup preshredded carrot

¼ cup butter or margarine, melted

1 (5-ounce) can chunk ham, drained and flaked

1. Combine beans in a large saucepan; mash slightly with a potato masher. Stir in 1 cup water, and cook over low heat until thoroughly heated.

2. Meanwhile, sauté onion and carrot in butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until onion is tender. Add sautéed vegetables and ham to bean mixture. Cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 1 quart.

Turnip Greens Stew

Frozen seasoning blend is a mixture of diced onion, red and green bell peppers, and celery. Substitute chopped fresh vegetables, if desired.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min.

2 cups chopped cooked ham

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cups chicken broth

2 (16-ounce) packages frozen chopped turnip greens

1 (16-ounce) package frozen seasoning blend (we used McKenzie’s Seasoning Blend)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1. Sauté chopped ham in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add chicken broth and remaining ingredients; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Cover and freeze leftovers up to 1 month, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Collard Stew: Omit turnip greens. Sauté ham as directed. Add 1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped collard greens, chicken broth, and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Add 1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained; cook 10 minutes.

Chunky Beef Chili

This chili is great to keep on hand in the freezer for when you’re late getting home. Just defrost it in the microwave while you set the table.

Prep: 7 min., Cook: 37 min.

2 pounds ground round

2 large onions, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans

½ cup ketchup

1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

2½ tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Cook beef and next 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain; pat dry with paper towels. Wipe drippings from Dutch oven. Return meat mixture to Dutch oven. Add beans, ketchup, and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes. Cover and freeze leftovers up to 3 months. Makes 10 cups.

Old-Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

Bacon drippings add extra flavor to this crispy, down-home cornbread.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 15 min.

3 bacon slices

2 cups buttermilk

1 large egg

1¾ cups white cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1. Cook bacon in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

2. Heat skillet in a 450° oven 3 minutes or until very hot.

3. Whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add cornmeal, stirring well.

4. Stir in bacon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour batter into hot skillet.

5. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Broccoli Cornbread Mini-Muffins

Mini-muffin pans speed up the cook time for these cheesy cornbread bites.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 (8½-ounce) package corn muffin mix

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1 small onion, chopped

2 large eggs

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

2. Stir together eggs and butter, blending well; add to broccoli mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into lightly greased mini-muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.

3. Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 2 minutes before removing from pans. Makes 2 dozen.

Jalapeño Hush Puppies

If you like more spice in your hush puppies, simply mince the jalapeño pepper without seeding it—it’ll save a little time too. If you have any puppies left over, pop them in a zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to a month. Crisp them in a 400° oven until hot.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 7 min. per batch

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup self-rising white cornmeal

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 small onion, grated

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

Peanut oil

1. Combine first 4 ingredients; stir in onion and jalapeño pepper.

2. Whisk together buttermilk and egg; add to flour mixture.

3. Pour oil to a depth of 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into oil; fry, in batches, 5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Makes about 2½ dozen.

Blueberry-Pecan Cobbler

The pecans in this cobbler provide a surprise middle layer.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 33 min.

3 pints fresh or frozen blueberries

1 cup sugar

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup water

1½ tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Vanilla ice cream

1. Bring first 6 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

2. Spoon half of blueberry mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Roll 1 piecrust to ⅛-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut dough into an 11- x 7-inch rectangle. Place dough over blueberry mixture; sprinkle with pecans.

3. Bake at 475° for 10 minutes. Spoon remaining blueberry mixture over baked crust. Roll remaining piecrust to ⅛-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch strips. Arrange in lattice design over blueberry mixture.

4. Bake at 475° for 10 minutes or until golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 4 servings.

Quick Peach Cobbler

A quick-to-make biscuit topping keeps this recipe easy. Try substituting apricots, cherries, or apples for the peaches, if you’d like.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min.

1½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

1 (8.5-ounce) can sliced peaches, undrained

½ cup buttermilk baking mix (we used Pioneer)

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Vanilla ice cream

1. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 tablespoon cold water in a medium saucepan; add peaches, and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Pour into a 1-quart baking dish.

2. Combine baking mix and sugar; add milk and vegetable oil, stirring to form a soft dough. Drop dough by spoonfuls on top of peach mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with ice cream. Makes 2 servings.

Texas Star Pecan Pie

This decadent pie is sure to be a star on your favorite recipes list. A ready-made graham cracker crust rather than a traditional pastry crust is a refreshing twist. Serve it with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce on top.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 27 min.

4 egg whites

⅛ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 (9-inch) ready-made graham cracker crust

1. Beat egg whites in a small bowl at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; add salt and vanilla, beating until soft peaks form.

2. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Stir in chopped pecans.

3. Spoon mixture into crust. Bake at 350° for 25 to 27 minutes or until pie is done. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

Coconut Cream Pie

Use a refrigerated or frozen piecrust to keep this recipe quick. It’ll be ready in less than 20 minutes other than the stand and chill time.

Prep: 12 min., Cook: 6 min., Other: 1 hr.

¾ cup sugar, divided

¼ cup cornstarch

2 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 baked 9-inch pastry shell

1 cup whipping cream

Garnish: toasted coconut chips

1. Combine ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan; gradually whisk in half-and-half and egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in butter, coconut, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

2. Place plastic wrap directly over custard mixture; cool to room temperature. Spoon custard mixture into pastry shell, and chill 30 minutes or until set.

3. Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie. Garnish, if desired. Store in refrigerator. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

Honey-Pecan Pie Fingers

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 35 min.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar, divided

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup honey

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine 1¼ cups flour and ⅓ cup sugar in a medium bowl; cut ½ cup softened butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press flour mixture firmly and evenly into an ungreased 9-inch square pan. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until edges of crust are lightly browned.

2. Combine remaining ⅔ cup sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Pour evenly over prepared crust. Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes, shielding with aluminum foil the last 5 minutes, if necessary. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 1½- x 1-inch bars. Makes 4½ dozen.

Pecan Squares

Find toffee bits in the baking section of your supermarket.

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min.

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, cut up

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (7.5-ounce) package toffee bits (we used Heath Bits ’O Brickle)

1 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Press mixture evenly into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.

2. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Combine sweetened condensed milk and remaining ingredients; pour over prepared crust. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool and cut into squares. Makes 3 dozen.

New-Fashioned Banana Pudding

Who knew you could make banana pudding just like Mom used to make? Half-and-half enriches instant pudding and makes it taste homemade. Sit down, and dip your spoon into this big bowl of comfort!

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 20 min.

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup milk

1 (5.1-ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix

1 (12-ounce) package vanilla wafers

6 small ripe bananas

4 egg whites

⅓ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes or until mixture is smooth and thickened.

2. Layer one-fourth of wafers in a 2½-quart baking dish. Slice 2 bananas, and layer over wafers. Pour one-third of pudding over bananas. Repeat layers twice, ending with pudding. Arrange remaining wafers around edge of baking dish.

3. Beat egg whites at high speed until foamy. Add ⅓ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Fold in vanilla extract.

4. Spread meringue over pudding, sealing to edge of dish. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 8 servings.

One-Dish Dinners

Veggie Scramble

Serve these veggie-filled eggs with whole grain toast.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 10 min.

½ small red bell pepper

½ small green bell pepper

¼ small sweet onion

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Chop bell peppers and onion. Cook in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. Whisk together eggs, black pepper, and salt. Add mixture to vegetables in skillet, and cook, without stirring, until eggs begin to set on bottom. Draw a spatula across bottom of skillet to form large curds. Sprinkle with cheese, and continue cooking until eggs are thickened but still moist. (Do not stir constantly.) Remove from heat. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Green Eggs and Ham

Guacamole-stuffed eggs are topped with country ham in this storybook-inspired recipe.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 5 min.

6 ounces thinly sliced country ham

12 large hard-cooked eggs

1 ripe avocado, peeled and mashed

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing

1½ to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 small tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

1. Cook ham in a nonstick skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Drain and finely chop.

2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, and carefully remove yolks. Mash yolks with a fork; add avocado and next 5 ingredients, stirring well. Fold in tomato, and spoon into egg whites. Top with ham. Makes 2 dozen.

Ham ’n’ Cheddar Omelets

Omelet aficionados like to have two omelet pans. The process is simple enough to cook two at a time, and your meal can be ready in half the time.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 8 min., Cook: 10 min.

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 green onions, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons butter, divided

½ cup chopped cooked ham, divided

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a wire whisk until blended.

2. Place an 8-inch omelet pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 1 teaspoon butter, and rotate pan to coat bottom. Pour half of egg mixture into skillet. As mixture starts to cook, gently lift edges with a spatula, and tilt pan so uncooked portion flows underneath.

3. Sprinkle ¼ cup ham and ¼ cup cheese over half of omelet. Fold omelet in half, and transfer to a serving plate. Repeat procedure with remaining butter, egg mixture, ham, and cheese. Makes 2 servings.

Omelet Secrets

• Have all filling ingredients prepared before you begin cooking the omelet.

• When cooking omelets on the stovetop, use 2 or 3 eggs per omelet; any more and the omelet is difficult to handle.

• If an omelet gets a tear, add an attractive garnish to cover it up. But if it falls apart, chop it up and serve it as scrambled eggs.

Ham-and-Broccoli Omelet

Simplify your meal preparation by purchasing diced ham in the deli section of your supermarket.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 35 min.

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups diced cooked ham

1 medium-size sweet onion, diced

2½ cups chopped fresh broccoli

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

12 large eggs

½ cup sour cream

¼ teaspoon baking powder

6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 (8-ounce) block Havarti cheese with jalapeños, shredded (see note)

½ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)

1. Melt butter in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet; add ham, onion, and broccoli. Sauté 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

2. Beat eggs, sour cream, and baking powder at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over ham mixture.

3. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with tomatoes, cheese, and, if desired, basil. Bake 15 more minutes or until set. Serve immediately. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Note: 1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese may be substituted for the Havarti.

Easy Crawfish Omelet

Serve this dish with bloody Marys and hash browns for a New Orleans-style meal. Chopped cooked shrimp makes a fine substitute for crawfish if it’s easier to find in your area.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 8 min., Cook: 9 min.

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon water

¼ teaspoon hot sauce

5 large eggs

¼ cup cooked crawfish tail meat, chopped

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon sour cream

⅓ cup sliced mushrooms

¼ cup finely diced ham (1½ ounces)

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Garnish: chopped chives

1. Whisk together first 4 ingredients; set aside.

2. Combine crawfish, Creole seasoning, and sour cream.

3. Sauté mushrooms and ham in hot oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet for 3 minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan; let egg mixture set slightly. Carefully lift edges of omelet with a spatula, and tilt pan so uncooked portion flows underneath. Cook 3 minutes; flip omelet. Spoon crawfish mixture onto half of omelet. Carefully loosen omelet with a spatula; fold in half. Gently slide omelet onto a plate; top with cheese. Cut omelet in half. Garnish, if desired. Makes 2 servings.

Breakfast Burritos

Have a Southwest-style dinner with this blend of potatoes, onions, and eggs wrapped in warm flour tortillas. Instead of frying bacon, look for precooked bacon at your grocery store.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 8 min., Cook: 12 min.

1 (10-ounce) baking potato

8 bacon slices

4 green onions, sliced

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

⅓ cup milk

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 (7-inch) flour tortillas

Toppings: sour cream, picante sauce

1. Prick potato with a sharp knife. Microwave at HIGH 5 minutes; let stand 5 minutes. Peel and dice potato.

2. While potato cooks, cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; drain bacon on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

3. Sauté potato in drippings over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until potato begins to brown. Remove from skillet, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Sauté green onions in drippings 1 minute.

4. Combine eggs and next 3 ingredients; pour over green onions. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until set, stirring gently. Stir in bacon and potato. Remove from heat.

5. Place tortillas in a zip-top freezer bag; do not seal. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until warm.

6. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, spoon one-fourth of egg mixture down center of tortilla. Fold bottom third of tortilla over filling; fold opposite sides over filling, leaving top open. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas and egg mixture. Serve with desired toppings. Makes 4 servings.

Breakfast Pizza

Enjoy breakfast for supper with this savory egg-topped pizza. Quickly snip fresh basil in a small cup using kitchen shears.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 8 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 (16-ounce) prebaked Italian pizza crust

1 (8-ounce) package shredded Italian cheese blend, divided

8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

4 plum tomatoes, sliced

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 large eggs

½ cup milk

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1. Place pizza crust on a pizza pan or jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle half of cheese over pizza crust; top with bacon, tomato, and pepper. Whisk together eggs, milk, and basil; pour into center of pizza (it will spread to edges). Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

2. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until egg mixture is set. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Southwest Egg Casserole

This recipe received our highest rating. You can prepare it the night before and pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. Let it stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 55 min.

1 pound mild ground pork sausage

1 small onion, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped

2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles

8 (10-inch) flour tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese blend

6 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet. Add chopped onion and bell pepper to sausage in skillet; sauté over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in 2 cans tomatoes and green chiles; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

2. Layer half each of tortilla pieces, sausage mixture, and cheese in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Repeat layers.

3. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper; pour over layers in baking dish. Cover and chill up to 8 hours, if desired.

4. Bake, lightly covered with aluminum foil, at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Traditional Eggs Benedict

20 minutes or less

Prep: 12 min., Cook: 8 min.

8 (½-ounce) Canadian bacon slices

Vegetable cooking spray

2 English muffins, split and toasted

4 large eggs, poached

Hollandaise Sauce

Garnishes: paprika and coarsely ground pepper

Fresh fruit, fresh mint sprig (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until thoroughly heated, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

2. Place 2 bacon slices on each muffin half. Top each with a poached egg, and drizzle evenly with Hollandaise Sauce; garnish, if desired. Serve immediately with fresh fruit and mint sprig, if desired. Makes 2 servings.

Hollandaise Sauce

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 10 min.

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup butter, melted

¼ teaspoon salt

1. Whisk yolks in top of a double boiler; gradually whisk in lemon juice. Place over hot water. (Do not boil.) Add butter, ⅓ cup at a time, whisking until smooth; whisk in salt. Cook, whisking constantly, 10 minutes or until thickened and a thermometer registers 160°. Makes 1½ cups.

Creamy Ham Casserole

Keep supper simple with Creamy Ham Casserole, a green salad or vegetable side dish, and crusty bread.

Prep: 25 min., Cook: 45 min.

3 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 medium cauliflower)

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

½ cup sour cream

2 cups cubed cooked ham

1 (3-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 cup soft breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon cold butter or margarine

1. Cook 3 cups cauliflower florets in boiling salted water to cover 10 to 12 minutes or until tender; drain and set aside.

2. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in ⅓ cup flour until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup milk, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Add shredded Cheddar cheese and ½ cup sour cream, stirring until cheese melts. (Do not boil.)

3. Stir cauliflower, ham, and mushrooms into cheese sauce; pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over casserole. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into pieces, and sprinkle evenly over breadcrumbs.

4. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Makes 6 servings.

Double-Stuffed Ham-and-Broccoli Potatoes

Prep: 25 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 30 min.

6 (10-ounce) baking potatoes (see note)

2 cups chopped cooked ham

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained

1 (8-ounce) container soft chive-and-onion cream cheese

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Pierce potatoes with a fork, and bake at 450° for 1 hour or until tender. Let potatoes cool to touch.

2. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out pulp, leaving 8 (¼-inch-thick) shells intact; reserve remaining 4 shells for another use, if desired.

3. Stir together potato pulp, ham, and next 4 ingredients until blended. Spoon mixture evenly into 8 potato shells. Sprinkle with ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese. Place stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 8 servings.

Note: 1 (22-ounce) package frozen mashed potatoes may be substituted for baking potatoes. Prepare mashed potatoes according to package directions. Stir in ham and next 4 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese. Bake as directed.

Chunky Ham Pot Pie

Prep: 10 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 5 min.; Other: 10 min.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup chopped onion

1 (10-ounce) package frozen cut broccoli or florets

1 pound new potatoes, coarsely chopped

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of potato soup

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

¾ cup milk

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2½ cups chopped cooked ham

½ (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, 10 minutes or until onion is tender and begins to brown. Set aside.

2. Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well, and set aside.

3. Cook chopped new potatoes in boiling water to cover 10 minutes or until barely tender; drain.

4. Combine cream of potato soup and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well. Stir in onion, broccoli, new potatoes, and chopped ham. Spoon ham mixture into a lightly greased 3½-quart casserole dish. (Cover and chill 8 hours, if desired. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.)

5. Unroll piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll pastry to extend ¾ inch beyond edges of casserole. Place pastry over ham mixture. Seal edges, and crimp. Cut slits in pastry to allow steam to escape.

6. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 45 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: You can divide this pot pie into 2 (2-quart) dishes. Bake one now, and freeze one for later. You will need the whole package of piecrusts for two casseroles. Top the casserole to be frozen with crust before freezing, but do not cut slits in top until ready to bake. Let frozen casserole stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

Tortellini Carbonara

This one-dish meal uses only one pan, so cleanup is easy.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 12 min.

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

4 bacon slices

1 garlic clove, minced

⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

¼ cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Cook tortellini in a Dutch oven according to package directions; drain tortellini, and set aside.

2. Cook bacon in same pan until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1½ tablespoons drippings in pan. Crumble bacon.

3. Cook garlic in reserved bacon drippings 30 seconds.

4. Return tortellini to pan. Add reserved bacon, Parmesan cheese, and remaining 3 ingredients to tortellini; toss gently. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Tortellini Tidbits

• Refrigerated pasta, such as tortellini, makes a nice choice for a quick meal because it cooks up superfast.

• As it cooks, pasta needs plenty of room to roam in rapidly boiling water. Using plenty of water and stirring two or three times during cooking keeps pasta from sticking or clumping.

• Taste-test a piece of pasta for doneness near the end of cooking. Pasta’s ready when it’s firm but tender, chewy not soggy.

Beefy Noodle Casserole

30 minutes or less

Prep: 7 min., Cook: 17 min.

4 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles

1 pound ground chuck

1 (14-ounce) jar pasta sauce

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cubed

1 cup cottage cheese

½ cup sour cream

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Place noodles in a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook beef in a large skillet, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in pasta sauce; set aside.

3. Place cream cheese in a 1-quart glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until softened. Stir in cottage cheese and sour cream. Spread mixture over noodles. Spoon beef mixture over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with heavy-duty plastic wrap; fold back a small corner to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated, giving dish a half-turn after 4 minutes. Garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Corn Chip Chili Pie

20 minutes or less

Prep: 4 min., Cook: 13 min.

1 pound ground chuck

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained

1 (11-ounce) can sweet whole kernel corn, drained

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (2¼-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 (1.25-ounce) package chili seasoning

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup coarsely crushed corn chips

1. Combine beef and onion in a 2½-quart baking dish. Cover with wax paper. Microwave at HIGH 5 to 6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, stirring at 2-minute intervals to crumble meat; drain.

2. Stir in beans and next 4 ingredients. Cover and microwave at HIGH 4 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, giving dish a half-turn after 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and corn chips.

3. Microwave at MEDIUM HIGH (70% power), uncovered, 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Makes 6 servings.

Weeknight Pizza Casserole

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 35 min., Other: 5 min.

1 pound ground beef

1 (3.5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni

1 (2¼-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

1 (14-ounce) jar pizza sauce

1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

¾ cup all-purpose baking mix

1 cup milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in pepperoni, olives, and, if desired, bell pepper. Spoon into a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Top with sauce and cheese.

2. Combine baking mix, milk, and eggs, stirring until smooth. Pour over cheese, spreading evenly.

3. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Deep-Dish Taco Squares

Use hot picante sauce to pack a punch in this scrumptious Tex-Mex creation.

Prep: 7 min., Cook: 34 min., Other: 5 min.

2 cups all-purpose baking mix

½ cup water

1 pound ground chuck

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 (8-ounce) jar picante sauce

⅓ cup mayonnaise

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Paprika

Picante sauce (optional)

1. Combine baking mix and ½ cup water in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork until blended. Press mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Bake at 375° for 9 minutes.

2. While crust bakes, cook beef and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in jar of picante sauce; spoon over crust.

3. Stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, and cheese; spoon over meat mixture, spreading to within ½ inch of edges. Sprinkle with paprika.

4. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into squares. Serve taco squares with additional picante sauce, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Shepherd’s Pie

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 40 min.

1 (22-ounce) package frozen mashed potatoes (we tested with Ore-Ida Frozen Mashed Potatoes)

1 pound ground beef

1 onion, chopped

½ cup frozen sliced carrots, thawed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt, divided

½ teaspoon pepper, divided

1 cup beef broth

1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Prepare potatoes according to package directions; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, brown beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet; add carrot. Stir in flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add broth, and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon beef mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.

3. Stir together potatoes, egg, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread evenly over beef mixture.

4. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake 5 more minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Easy Skillet Tacos

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min., Other: 5 min.

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

¾ cup water

½ cup salsa

1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Taco shells or flour tortillas, warmed

Toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream

1. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well. Remove ground beef; wipe skillet with a paper towel.

2. Sauté onion in hot oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, ¾ cup water, and salsa. Mash pinto beans in skillet with fork, leaving some beans whole. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced.

3. Top evenly with cheese and cilantro. Cover, turn off heat, and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with taco shells or tortillas and desired toppings. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Taco Dinner Mac and Cheese

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 25 min.

8 ounces elbow macaroni

1 pound ground beef

1 (1.25-ounce) envelope reduced-sodium taco seasoning mix

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 (8-ounce) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Toppings: chopped tomato, chopped avocado, sliced green onions, sour cream, salsa

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

2. Brown ground beef in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain.

3. Return beef to skillet; stir in taco seasoning mix and ¾ cup water. Bring mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove beef mixture from heat.

4. Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.

5. Stir in 1½ cups Cheddar cheese until melted. Stir in cooked pasta and beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese. Serve immediately with desired toppings. Makes 4 servings.

Beef-and-Lime Rice Salad

Serve this salad right away, or chill and serve cold.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 35 min.

1 pound lean ground beef

1 teaspoon salt, divided

3 cups water

½ teaspoon cumin

1½ cups uncooked long-grain rice

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Toppings: salsa, shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, avocado slices

1. Cook beef and ½ teaspoon salt in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Wipe pan clean.

2. Add 3 cups water, ½ teaspoon cumin, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt to saucepan. Bring to a boil, and add rice; cover, reduce heat, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in cooked beef, 1 teaspoon lime rind, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Serve salad with desired toppings. Makes 4 servings.

Beef-and-Bean Chimichangas

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 pound ground chuck

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

¼ teaspoon salt

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

½ cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

10 (10-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

Vegetable oil

Salsa Verde

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a large skillet until meat is browned, stirring until it crumbles. Drain; stir in refried beans and next 3 ingredients.

2. Place ⅓ cup meat mixture just below center of each tortilla. Fold bottom edge of tortilla over meat filling; fold in left and right sides. Roll up to form a rectangle, and secure with a wooden pick.

3. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven, and heat to 375°. Fry chimichangas, in batches, 1½ minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Remove wooden picks.

4. Arrange chimichangas on a large ovenproof platter or baking sheet; top with Salsa Verde, and sprinkle evenly with Monterey Jack cheese.

5. Broil 5½ inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Salsa Verde

Prep: 15 min.

5 Anaheim chile peppers, seeded

1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded

1 large onion, diced

1 small tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup lime juice

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes 2 cups.

Tostadas

20 minutes or less

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 15 min.

1½ pounds lean ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

Vegetable oil

6 (8-inch) flour tortillas

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 large tomato, chopped

½ pound iceberg lettuce, shredded

1 large avocado, peeled and chopped

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Toppings: sour cream, salsa

1. Cook first 5 ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink; drain and set aside.

2. Pour oil to a depth of ¼ inch into a heavy skillet. Fry tortillas, 1 at a time, in hot oil over high heat 20 seconds on each side or until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

3. Layer beef mixture, beans, tomato, and next 3 ingredients on warm tortillas. Serve with desired toppings. Makes 6 servings.

Beef Lombardi

Prep: 10 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 21 min.

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 (6-ounce) package medium egg noodles

6 green onions, chopped (about ½ cup)

1 cup sour cream

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

1. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in both cans of tomatoes and next 3 ingredients; cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, and add bay leaf; cook 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

2. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to package directions, and drain. Stir together cooked egg noodles, chopped green onions, and 1 cup sour cream until blended.

3. Place noodle mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with beef mixture; sprinkle evenly with cheeses.

4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes. Garnish, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Freeze casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bake as directed.

Light Beef Lombardi: Substitute low-fat or fat-free sour cream and 2% reduced-fat Cheddar cheese. Reduce amount of cheeses on top to ½ cup each.

Easy Beef Casserole

To make ahead, prepare the recipe except for topping with the seasoned potatoes. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Top with potatoes; bake.

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 35 min.

1 pound ground beef

¼ teaspoon salt

½ (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

½ (32-ounce) package frozen seasoned potatoes (we tested with Ore-Ida)

1. Cook ground beef and salt in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain well. Spoon ground beef into a lightly greased 2½-quart shallow baking dish.

2. Layer vegetables, soup, and cheese over ground beef. Top with potatoes.

3. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Skillet Beef Burgundy Stew

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 40 min.

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 pounds boneless sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1 (10½-ounce) can beef consommé, undiluted

1 (8-ounce) package fresh mushrooms, quartered

1½ cups dry red wine

1 pound small red potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 (1-ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Combine first 3 ingredients. Dredge steak cubes in flour mixture.

2. Sauté steak and onion in hot oil in a Dutch oven 4 to 5 minutes or until steak is browned. Add carrots and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender. Makes 6 servings.

Beef With Ginger

Add dried crushed red pepper, if desired, for a little more heat in this dish. Chilling the beef in the freezer for 5 minutes makes it easier to cut into very thin slices.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 24 min., Cook: 6 min.

Fluffy White Rice

1 pound sirloin steak, chilled

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup fat-free reduced-sodium beef broth

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons lite soy sauce

6 green onions, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional)

Garnish: sliced green onions

1. Prepare Fluffy White Rice as directed; keep warm.

2. Cut chilled steak diagonally across the grain into very thin slices. Sprinkle with pepper and salt; set aside.

3. Stir together beef broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth; set cornstarch mixture aside.

4. Sauté ginger in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat 2 minutes or until slightly golden. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds. Add steak; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in soy sauce.

5. Stir cornstarch mixture; drizzle over beef mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until thickened. Add 6 green onions, and, if desired, crushed red pepper; cook 1 minute. Serve immediately over Fluffy White Rice; garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Fluffy White Rice

Rinsing the rice before cooking reduces its starchiness, making for a fluffy, not sticky, product. This recipe is also used in the Chicken-and-Snow Pea Stir-fry.

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 25 min., Other: 10 min.

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1½ cups water

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1. Place rice in a large bowl. Rinse with water 3 or 4 times or until water is no longer cloudy; drain.

2. Bring rice, 1½ cups water, and oil to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Makes 4 servings.

Steak Stir-Fry

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 12 min.

¾ cup beef broth

¼ cup lite soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1¼ pounds boneless top sirloin steak

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Hot cooked rice

1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Trim excess fat from steak. Slice diagonally across grain into thin strips.

3. Pour oil around top of preheated wok or skillet, coating sides; heat at medium-high 2 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients, and stir-fry 1 minute. Add steak to wok; stir-fry 2 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove steak from wok with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.

4. Add pepper strips and onion to wok; stir-fry 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add steak, water chestnuts, green onions, and reserved beef broth mixture; stir-fry 2 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Beef Salad With Cilantro

Prep: 20 min., Cook: 12 min., Other: 10 min.

1 pound boneless top sirloin steak

¾ teaspoon salt

½ small red onion, sliced (about ¼ cup)

3 green onions, chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 medium head romaine lettuce, chopped

¼ cup chopped peanuts

1. Sprinkle steak evenly with salt.

2. Heat a large cast-iron grill skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Grill steak 4 to 6 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill; cover lightly with aluminum foil, and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

3. Combine red onion and next 9 ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

4. Slice steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips. Stir steak into onion mixture. Serve over romaine lettuce. Sprinkle with peanuts. Makes 4 servings.

Steak-and-Spinach Salad With Hot Pan Dressing

Serve with your favorite crusty garlic bread.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 (1½-pound) boneless top sirloin steak

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon butter, divided

1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

2 medium portobello mushroom caps, sliced (about 1½ cups)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ cup red wine

½ cup beef broth

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach

2 plum tomatoes, sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

½ lemon

⅓ cup crumbled Roquefort cheese

1. Sprinkle steak evenly with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Melt ½ teaspoon butter with ½ teaspoon oil. Add steak, and cook until well browned on 1 side (about 6 minutes). Turn steak, and cook 3 to 5 minutes or to desired doneness. Remove steak from pan, and set aside.

3. Melt remaining ½ teaspoon butter with ½ teaspoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms and garlic 4 minutes. Stir in wine, broth, and balsamic vinegar, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Toss together spinach, tomatoes, onion, and hot mushroom mixture in pan; divide evenly among 4 plates. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over top.

5. Cut steak into ½-inch slices, and arrange over salads. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Makes 4 servings.

Roast Beef-Blue Cheese Salad

10 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min.

8 ounces thinly sliced roast beef

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 (8.5-ounce) package mixed salad greens

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese

¼ cup olive oil vinaigrette

Parmesan Toasts

1. Arrange roast beef slices into 2 stacks; roll up stacks. Cut into 1-inch slices. Arrange beef and tomatoes over salad greens. Sprinkle with blue cheese, and drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette. Serve with Parmesan Toasts. Makes 4 servings.

Parmesan Toasts

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 3 min.

4 Italian bread slices

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Brush each bread slice evenly with butter. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and pepper. Place on a baking sheet.

2. Broil 3½ inches from heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken-Vegetable Stir-Fry

Put on a bag of boil-in-bag rice when you start the stir-fry, and the rice will be ready when the chicken’s done.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 3 min., Cook: 15 min.

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup lite soy sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons Asian garlic-chili sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1 pound chicken breast strips

1 (16-ounce) package frozen vegetable stir-fry blend

Hot cooked rice

1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Heat sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok at medium-high heat 2 minutes. Add chicken, and stir-fry 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Add vegetables, and stir-fry 4 minutes. Add broth mixture, and stir-fry 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken-and-Snow Pea Stir-Fry

Peanut oil—with good monounsaturated fat—is a heart-healthy choice for cooking Chicken-and-Snow Pea Stir-fry.

Prep: 5 min., Cook: 30 min.

Fluffy White Rice

¾ cup chicken broth

¼ cup soy sauce

1½ tablespoons cornstarch

2 skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into ¼-inch-wide strips

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

4 celery ribs, sliced

¼ pound fresh snow peas, trimmed

4 large mushrooms, sliced

3 green onions, sliced

1 (2-ounce) package slivered almonds, toasted

Garnish: green onion strips

1. Prepare Fluffy White Rice as directed, and keep warm.

2. Stir together broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch.

3. Cook chicken in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 6 minutes or until almost done. Add celery and next 3 ingredients, and cook, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done. Stir in broth mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Serve over Fluffy White Rice, and sprinkle with almonds. Garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken With Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

Serve over rice or linguine for a one-dish meal. If you don’t have fresh herbs, substitute 1 tablespoon dried basil and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 9 min., Cook: 20 min.

¼ cup fine, dry breadcrumbs

6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

4 skinned and boned chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 large mushrooms, quartered

1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced

3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 large garlic clove, pressed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1. Combine breadcrumbs and 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, and dredge chicken in mixture.

2. Cook chicken in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from skillet.

3. Add mushrooms and bell pepper to skillet; sauté 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, and salt; return chicken to skillet. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano, and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken-Vegetable Pilaf

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 40 min., Other: 5 min.

¼ cup butter or margarine, divided

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

2 celery ribs, sliced

2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

3 (10½-ounce) cans condensed chicken broth, undiluted

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1½ cups shredded carrots (about 3 large carrots)

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained

1 (3.8-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and celery, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from pan, and set aside. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

2. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven; add rice, and sauté 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. Stir in mushroom mixture, broth, and next 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.

4. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken and Rice

Skinned and boned chicken thighs contain a little more fat than breast meat, but they’re flavorful, nutritious, and moist.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 1 hr.

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 pounds skinned and boned chicken thighs

Vegetable cooking spray

1 small onion, diced

1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1 cup sweet-and-sour dressing (we tested with Old Dutch Sweet & Sour Dressing)

1 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

2 green onions, chopped

1. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken thighs. Cook chicken in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside.

2. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to Dutch oven coated with cooking spray; sauté 5 minutes. Add rice; sauté 2 minutes or until rice is opaque.

3. Stir in dressing and broth. Add chicken thighs; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and chicken is done. Sprinkle with green onions. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken Spaghetti

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 20 min.

1 (12-ounce) package spaghetti

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

Vegetable cooking spray

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

1 (14¼-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes

1 (6-ounce) can Italian-style tomato paste

1 (16-ounce) package pasteurized processed cheese product, cubed

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

2. Sauté onion and bell pepper in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cheese; cook 1 minute or until melted. Stir in pasta and chicken; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Stuffed Peppers With Chicken and Corn

Prep: 19 min., Cook: 41 min.

4 large red bell peppers

1 (12-ounce) package frozen corn soufflé, thawed (we tested with Stouffer’s Corn Soufflé)

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)

¾ cup soft breadcrumbs

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained

½ medium-size sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoon taco seasoning

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, divided

Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro

1. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, leaving stems intact; remove seeds. Place cut sides down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil 6 inches from heat 4 to 5 minutes or until they begin to blister.

2. Combine corn soufflé and next 6 ingredients; stir in 1 cup cheese.

3. Turn peppers cut sides up; spoon corn mixture evenly into peppers.

4. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Top evenly with remaining 1 cup cheese; bake 5 to 10 more minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken-and-Broccoli Casserole

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 40 min.

½ cup butter, divided

4 skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (16-ounce) package fresh broccoli florets

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Melt ¼ cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add chicken, and sauté until done. Remove chicken from skillet, and set aside.

2. Cook broccoli in a steamer basket over boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat; drain well, and set aside.

3. Melt remaining ¼ cup butter in skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in Swiss cheese, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt.

4. Layer half of chicken, broccoli, and cheese sauce in a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Repeat layers once. Cover and chill casserole up to 8 hours, if desired. Remove from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

5. Bake, covered, at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; bake 5 more minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Creamed Chicken in Biscuit Bowls

You can also serve this over toast points, split biscuits, cornbread, waffles, or puff pastry shells.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 20 min.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

½ cup finely chopped onion (about 1 small onion)

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 (10¾-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

½ cup milk

¼ teaspoon dried tarragon

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

2½ cups chopped cooked chicken

½ (16-ounce) package frozen peas and carrots, thawed

1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Biscuit Bowls

Garnish: parsley sprigs

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, celery, and mushrooms, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Whisk in cream of chicken soup, ½ cup milk, and tarragon; cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Stir in cooked chicken and next 4 ingredients.

2. Cook over low heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Spoon mixture evenly into Biscuit Bowls. Garnish, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken Pot Pie in Biscuit Bowls: Substitute 1 (10-ounce) thawed package frozen mixed vegetables for peas and carrots. Add ½ teaspoon dried thyme and ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning. Omit tarragon, sliced mushrooms, and pimiento. Proceed with recipe as directed. Makes 8 servings.

Biscuit Bowls

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 14 min.

1 (16.3-ounce) can refrigerated jumbo flaky biscuits

Vegetable cooking spray

1. Roll each biscuit into a 5-inch circle.

2. Invert 8 (6-ounce) custard cups or ramekins, several inches apart, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Coat outside of cups with cooking spray. Mold flattened biscuits around outside of custard cups.

3. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes. Cool slightly, and remove biscuit bowls from cups. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Frozen biscuits may be substituted. Let thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes. Biscuits may be slightly sticky; lightly flour before rolling out. Bake at 350° for 16 to 18 minutes.

Chicken Tetrazzini

To make ahead: Cover and chill before baking. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before baking; uncover and bake 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Prep: 35 min., Cook: 45 min.

8 ounces spaghetti

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and sauté until tender. Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually stir in milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in spaghetti, chicken, ¾ cup Cheddar cheese, and next 7 ingredients. Spoon into 4 (2-cup) lightly greased oven-safe bowls.

3. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes; sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Cheddar cheese, and bake 5 more minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Entire recipe may be baked as directed in a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.

Pronto Chicken Pot Pie

Prep: 23 min., Cook: 53 min., Other: 10 min.

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1¼ cups chicken broth

1½ cups peeled, cubed sweet potato (about 1 small sweet potato)

1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 cup frozen petite green peas

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

½ (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1 large egg, beaten

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add broth and sweet potato; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until sweet potato is just tender. Stir in soup and next 2 ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Fold in chicken.

2. Spoon chicken mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch (1¼-inch-deep) pie plate. Roll piecrust into a 12-inch circle; fit over chicken mixture in pie plate, cutting dough around edges to leave a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under, and crimp. Cut several slits in top of crust for steam to escape. Brush crust with egg.

3. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Leslie’s Favorite Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole

Prep: 30 min., Cook: 45 min.

2 (6.2-ounce) packages fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix

¼ cup butter

2 medium onions, chopped

4 celery ribs, chopped

2 (8-ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained

5 cups chopped cooked chicken

4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

2 (10¾-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup

2 (8-ounce) containers sour cream

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup soft breadcrumbs (optional)

1. Prepare rice according to package directions. Set aside.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions, celery, and water chestnuts. Sauté 10 minutes or until tender.

3. Stir in rice, chicken, 3 cups cheese, and next 5 ingredients; spoon mixture into a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch baking dish or a 4-quart baking dish. Top evenly with breadcrumbs, if desired.

4. Bake casserole at 350° for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese, and bake 5 more minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: Casserole may be frozen up to 1 month. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 55 more minutes. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese; bake 5 more minutes.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Place crackers in a zip-top plastic freezer bag, seal all but a small corner to allow air to escape, and crush with a rolling pin.

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 30 min., Other: 5 min.

4 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 (10¾-ounce) can chicken-and-mushroom soup

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 (8-ounce) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

25 round buttery crackers, coarsely crushed

1. Stir together chicken, soup, sour cream, pepper, and 1½ cups cheese; spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.

2. Combine remaining ½ cup cheese and cracker crumbs; sprinkle evenly over top.

3. Bake casserole at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chopped Cooked Chicken

Lots of speedy recipes call for chopped cooked chicken. Turn to the chart for quick ways to get the amount you need. It’s also easy to keep chopped cooked chicken on hand in your freezer. Just freeze leftover chopped cooked chicken or turkey in 1- or 2-cup batches for up to 1 month to use as needed.

Heavenly Chicken Lasagna

Prep: 30 min.; Cook: 1 hr., 5 min; Other: 10 min.

1 tablespoon butter

½ large onion, chopped

1 (10½-ounce) can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

1 (10-ounce) container refrigerated light Alfredo sauce (we tested with Buitoni Light Alfredo Sauce)

1 (7-ounce) jar diced pimiento, undrained

1 (6-ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, drained

⅓ cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon dried basil

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

9 ounces no-cook lasagna noodles

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in soup and next 5 ingredients. Reserve 1½ cups sauce; set aside.

2. Drain spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels. Stir together spinach and next 3 ingredients.

3. Place 3 lasagna noodles in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer with half each of sauce, spinach mixture, and chicken. Sprinkle with 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 3 noodles and reserved 1½ cups sauce. Cover and chill up to 1 day ahead, if desired. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Cheddar cheese, and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Chicken Cannelloni With Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

For easy freezing, prepare and stuff cannelloni shells. Wrap each unbaked shell tightly in wax paper, and freeze until ready to serve. Let thaw in the refrigerator. Unwrap and place in a baking dish; top with your favorite supermarket pasta sauce or our Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce, and bake as directed.

Prep: 30 min., Cook: 30 min.

1 (8-ounce) package cannelloni or manicotti shells

4 cups finely chopped cooked chicken

2 (8-ounce) containers chive-and-onion cream cheese

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

¾ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

Garnish: chopped fresh basil or parsley

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

2. Stir together chicken and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Cut 1 side of pasta shells lengthwise, opening each shell.

4. Spoon ½ cup chicken mixture into each shell, gently pressing cut sides together. Place shells, seam side down, in 2 lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dishes.

5. Pour Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce evenly over shells.

6. Bake, covered, at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

Savor this rich sauce over your favorite pasta or grilled meats.

Prep: 5 min.

2 (7-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers, drained

1 (16-ounce) jar creamy Alfredo sauce (we tested with Bertolli Creamy Alfredo sauce)

1 (3-ounce) package shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides. Makes 3½ cups.

Chicken-and-Refried Bean Tacos

To save time, let folks assemble their own tacos.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 15 min.

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

¾ cup salsa, divided

1 (10.7-ounce) taco dinner kit

½ medium-size green bell pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

½ cup water

8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

1 small tomato, chopped

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Microwave refried beans, ¼ cup salsa, and 1½ teaspoons taco seasoning mix from dinner kit in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1½ minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring once. Set aside.

2. Sauté bell pepper in hot oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, remaining taco seasoning mix, remaining ½ cup salsa, and ½ cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

3. Heat taco shells and tortillas according to package directions.

4. Spread about 2 tablespoons refried bean mixture over 1 side of each flour tortilla, leaving a ½-inch border. Place 1 taco shell in center of each tortilla, and press sides of tortilla up and onto sides of taco shell. Fill taco shells evenly with chicken mixture, tomato, and cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Burritos

Prep: 25 min., Cook: 15 min.

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (1¼-ounce) envelope taco seasoning mix

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

6 (8-inch) flour tortillas

1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

3 plum tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, diced

Salsa verde or salsa

1. Place chicken and seasoning mix in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal and shake to coat.

2. Spread refried beans evenly down center of flour tortillas. Top with chicken, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and diced onion; roll up. Wrap each burrito in foil.

3. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Serve with salsa verde. Makes 4 servings.

Creamy Poblano Chicken

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 25 min.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

8 skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 (10¾-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

½ cup chicken broth

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, poblanos, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add chicken, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in soup, broth, and sour cream. Add cheese; cook 7 to 8 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Easy Enchilada Casserole

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 30 min.

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (19-ounce) can enchilada sauce

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 (8-ounce) can Mexican-style corn, drained

1 teaspoon fajita seasoning or chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (10-ounce) package 6-inch corn tortillas

3 cups chopped cooked chicken (see note)

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Mexican four-cheese blend

1. Sauté onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until tender. Stir in enchilada sauce and next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

2. Spoon one-third of sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer with one-third of tortillas, half of chicken, and 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers with one-third each of sauce mixture and tortillas, remaining chicken, and 1 cup cheese. Top with remaining sauce mixture, tortillas, and 1 cup cheese.

3. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Makes 8 servings.

Note: 2 pounds lean ground beef, cooked and drained, may be substituted.

Spicy Chicken Salad

Prep: 21 min., Cook: 16 min.

3 cups chopped tomato

¾ cup diced yellow bell pepper

¼ cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

4 skinned and boned chicken breasts

3 tablespoons Spicy Seasoning

1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed

8 cups torn romaine lettuce

1. Toss together first 7 ingredients in a bowl; cover tomato mixture, and chill.

2. Whisk together 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey in a large bowl; cover and chill.

3. Rub chicken with Spicy Seasoning.

4. Cook chicken in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat 7 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from skillet, and cool. Cut chicken into thin strips, and set aside.

5. Arrange sugar snap peas in a steamer basket over boiling water; cover and steam 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process, and drain. Toss peas and lettuce with mustard mixture. Top each serving evenly with tomato mixture and chicken strips. Makes 4 servings.

Spicy Seasoning

Use this flavorful rub to season fish, poultry, and meats.

Prep: 5 min.

2½ tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon ground red pepper

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1. Stir together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Makes about ½ cup.

Greek Chicken Salad

Stuff leftovers in a pita pocket for a light lunch on the go!

20 minutes or less

Prep: 15 min.

3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (about 3 breast halves)

2 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced

1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

1 (2¼-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 garlic cloves, minced

Spinach or lettuce leaves

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients; stir mixture well. Stir mayonnaise mixture into chicken mixture, tossing gently to coat; cover and chill salad until ready to serve. Serve over spinach leaves. Makes 5 servings.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

This recipe makes great use of broken tortilla chips that often get left in the bottom of the bag. Enjoy them sprinkled over this main-dish salad.

Prep: 5 min., Other: 30 min.

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (8-ounce) package shredded Mexican four-cheese blend

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 small tomato, chopped

1 (2¼-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 (8-ounce) package shredded iceberg lettuce

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

½ cup picante sauce

Tortilla chips, crumbled

1. Combine first 5 ingredients; cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Divide lettuce evenly among 8 salad plates. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over lettuce; top with sour cream, picante sauce, and crumbled tortilla chips. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken-Black Bean Salad

For a milder degree of heat, remove the seeds from the jalapeño peppers before chopping.

30 minutes or less

Prep: 30 min.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalapeño peppers, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed

1 large tomato, diced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

6 taco salad shells

6 to 8 cups shredded lettuce

Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

1. Whisk together first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken and next 4 ingredients, tossing to coat. Cover and chill, if desired.

2. Heat taco shells according to package directions. Fill shells with shredded lettuce; top evenly with chicken mixture. Garnish, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Fruity Chicken Salad

It’s best to chill dressing for at least an hour to let flavors fully blend.

20 minutes or less

Prep: 20 min.

¾ cup sugar

⅓ cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon grated onion

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

6 cups torn fresh spinach

1 quart strawberries, sliced

3 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Process first 5 ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.

2. Turn blender on high; add oil in a slow, steady stream. Pour mixture into a serving bowl, and stir in poppy seeds, if desired. Toss together chicken and dressing; chill until ready to serve.

3. Place spinach on individual serving plates; top with fruit, chicken mixture, and almonds. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Fish and Vegetable Dinner

30 minutes or less

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 15 min.

4 (6-ounce) orange roughy fillets

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup buttermilk dressing

2 cups broccoli florets

1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1 small onion, cut into strips

1. Place fish in an 11- x 7-inch baking dish; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Spread 2 tablespoons dressing over each fillet. Arrange broccoli, pepper strips, and onion evenly over fish.

2. Cover with heavy-duty plastic wrap; fold back a small corner to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 13 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, giving dish a half-turn after 7 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Tuna-and-White Bean Salad

Prep: 20 min., Other: 2 hr.

1 small sweet onion, diced

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon garlic salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 (15½-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (12-ounce) can solid white tuna in spring water, drained and broken into chunks

 

Provides quick and easy recipes for appetizers, meals, and desserts, including cheesy chicken casserole, pinto beans with ham, and chocolate cookie pudding.

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