Ask Bob what he'd like for dinner on a cool night and he's likely to say "Chicken Pot Pie" followed by "please!" because his mama raised him right. He lights up at the thought of that comforting classic loaded with white-meat chicken and healthy veggies in a luscious cream sauce. Ahhh!
It layers beef hot dogs in a spicy tomato-and-bean sauce, crunchy French fried onions, and canned biscuits with oodles of cheesy goodness. So you get an oh-so-delicious chili cheese dog taste that'll remind you of summer at the ballpark in the convenience of a casserole dish.
I like keeping all the ingredients on hand, especially since everyone in our neighborhood craves biscuits when it's cold. At least that's true for those who shop at Tar-jay like me because a freeze warning means the dairy case will be stripped clean of those quick little breads in no time.
Filling enough for weeknights but fun enough for game day, this comforting, one-dish meal comes together in under an hour and most of that time is hands off. You get six, hearty servings that kids of all ages adore. When you have an empty nest like us that means enough for several meals. I freeze the leftovers because the only thing easier than making this casserole is just warming it up!
After a relaxing Thanksgiving break, Bob and I returned home to a ton of to-dos. Work, bills and bank statements had piled up while we were out of town. Christmas cards, shopping and wrapping had to be juggled with all my regular chores. And I was scrambling because my sweet mother was about to have back surgery and I might be needed in east Texas anytime.
I was tempted to forget cooking until I stumbled on this quick-and-easy Chicken Chili Macaroni recipe in Rose Murray's 125 Best Chicken Recipes (Robert Rose Inc., Feb. 28, 2014, $19.95). Got half an hour? That's seriously all you need to get this one-pot delight on the table.
You just brown ground chicken and garlic in a skillet. Drain any liquid. Then stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, Mexican spices, macaroni, and fresh or frozen green beans. I couldn't find Mexican stewed tomatoes as recommended so I substituted Hot Mexican Chili Powder for the regular version and added 2 tablespoons green chilies to up the heat factor.
There's no chopping involved other than dicing the canned tomatoes. Plus, everything cooks in one big pot so cleanup is simple. Make that super simple if you pull out something non-stick like Kyocera's Kyo Glaze Ceramic Fry Pan. With this sleek skillet (thanks for the free tester Kyocera!), you can use metal utensils without fear of scratching the interior and food slides right off. It works both on top of the stove and in the oven (up to 400o F) and has a great stainless steel handle. Hand washing is recommended but that's no biggie because even Bob, who wants to put everything in the dishwasher, noticed how easy this slick pan cleans up. (12" fry pan $64.95 at KyoceraAdvancedCeramics.com)
It takes some juggling to please everyone at our holiday table. Our son Cole's not crazy about cranberry sauce. My stepfather Ken doesn't eat broccoli or almonds. My mom Patsy's not keen on pumpkin. Then there's Ashley. Let's just say the list of what my precious niece likes is MUCH shorter than what she avoids.
But this Easy Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole is one side they all adore. I guess that's why it's been part of our holiday celebrations for almost 40 years. My mom made it for many a family gathering when I was a teenager. Then when I married Bob, his mother Jo taught me a yummy variation. Her secret was using frozen Potatoes O'Brien with onions and peppers already mixed in instead of the plain Jane version. That's a great way to cut chopping time!
Bob and I often crave chicken enchiladas. One of our all-time favorites, this lasagna-like dish offers that creamy chicken, cheese and corn tortilla taste we adore without a lot of work.
I usually use grilled chicken breast that Bob has made ahead. (Don't you just love a man who cooks?!) But you can opt for boiled or deli white meat.
Once you've shredded (our choice) or chopped the chicken, you can forget slicing and dicing. The oh, so flavorful sauce includes cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, more green chiles, four spices and Tabasco for an extra kick. Talk about easy! Making it is as simple as opening cans and adding spices.
Bob and I discovered Asiago cheese while crusin' the Mediterranean earlier this year. Many nights on ship, we snacked on that to-die-for Italian classic, crunchy breadsticks, a Dirty Martini (Bob) and Prosecco (me) before dinner. What a way to live!
Once home, we stocked up on our new addiction. So naturally, we couldn't wait to try this Asiago-laced casserole from Donna-Marie Pye's Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes (Robert Rose Inc., June 26, 2014, $24.95). This simple, crockpot delight features cooked chicken, artichoke hearts, green onions and red pepper in a cheesy Alfredo sauce with a crunchy-crouton topping.
Things have been pretty peachy in Colleywood lately. Regular trips to the farmer's market have kept our fridge full of some of the most flavorful Texas beauties ever! We've also picked up some wonderful fresh blueberries there. So last week, I decided to combine these two faves in a delicious new dessert.
Like most Texans, Bob and I need a regular barbecue fix. Make it chopped beef or pulled pork sandwiches with baked beans and a spicy sauce (extra for me, please!) and we're happy campers.
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My slow cooker gets a workout on Tuesdays. That's the night I meet eight of my best girlfriends for book club and, if we're busy like always, Bob and I eat afterwards.
This enchilada stack recipe is perfect for those nights. Besides answering our constant craving for Tex-Mex, this slow-cooker sensation gives us a hot meal that's ready as soon as I hit the door.
It includes tasty, homemade chili con carne sauce, flour tortillas and plenty of cheesy goodness. I like using fresh flour tortillas from Rosa's Café, our favorite for fast Tex-Mex, especially since Bob often volunteers to pick them up! But soft-taco size (eight-inch) tortillas from the grocery store also work well here.
Many weekends, Bob and I live on Italian food (pizza, pizza!). We're also wild about hot sandwiches and anything quick and easy.
So it was love-at-first-bite with these great grilled subs from Tiffany Collins' 200 Best Panini Recipes (Robert Rose Inc., Oct. 15, 2013, $24.95).
Growing up in Texas, I ate fried chicken regularly. It was a favorite at family get-togethers and a special treat when served by my working mom during the week. She'd buy a whole bird, cut it into pieces (a trick I've yet to master) and always save the wish bone for the pickiest eater (woops, that was me!)
These days, frying is off the table at our house most of the time because Bob and I have to think about our waistlines. But every now and then, I like to give my iron skillet a workout. That's one reason I wanted to fix this lightly battered delight from Junior's Home Cooking (Taunton Press, October 2013, $24.95).
Bob has always had a weakness for Chicken Pot Pies. In college, he practically lived on 'em because, besides being satisfying, frozen ones were cheap (would you believe 5 for $1?!) and easy to fix.
Bob, our son Cole and I love our holiday traditions. We spend Thanksgiving at the beach in Alabama where it's usually just the three of us; Christmas at home in Texas with the rest of the family. But, wherever we are, you can count on lunch at 1 p.m. starring turkey and dressing.
Since he's all about the main event, Bob takes charge of the turkey, cooking it slow and easy until we have a wonderfully moist and flavorful bird. Meanwhile, I focus on dressing, sides and desserts. I like serving a variety of vegetables and sweets so everyone can point to a favorite. Only problem is, I have to do quite a dance popping things in and out of the oven since space is limited.
That's why I was thrilled to discover this delicious dressing a few years ago. You can bake the cornbread one or two days ahead of time. Then cook this comforting creation in a large crockpot leaving the oven free for scalloped potatoes, spinach casserole, sweet potatoes and other goodies.
Bob and I grew up eating boxed macaroni and cheese. It was a much-loved favorite our working moms relied on to save time and please everyone in the family.
But I never thought about using this store-bought shortcut as a springboard to scrumptious meals until we received Kristen Kuchar's Mac N' Cheese to the Rescue cookbook (Ulysses Press, April 2013, $12.95). She's come up with 101 delectable dishes that start with a box of cheesy goodness, including this yummy Chicken Parm Mac.
When Bob and I crave comfort food, I know I can count on this quick-and-easy Chicken n' Dumplings recipe to fill the bill.