It’s the holiday season. Usually this means holiday gatherings and covered dish dinners, but in 2020 … not so much. Yet I am always gathering ideas and recipes for easy, make-ahead mealsfor a crowd or a few.
Today I made one I call Philly-Cheese Casserole. You can modify this versatile dish in many ways to suit your tastes. Just follow the basics: Layer potatoes, ground meat, aromatic vegetables, and top with cheese. Bake covered at 350°F for 70-75 minutes.
1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4”
1 pound ground Chuck*
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pepper, thinly sliced
1 large can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Optional: parsley for garnish
*Don’t go too lean on the ground meat. The fat contentworks to flavor the casserole. There is no added fat or liquid in this dish.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a casserole dishlayer potato slices on the bottom. Salt and pepper.
Add the ground Chuck. Salt and pepper.
Layer peppers and onions atop the meat. Salt and pepper.
Spread the canned diced tomatoes.
Top casserole with the shredded cheese.
Cover and bake for 75 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Remove casserole from oven, uncover, and allow it to cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Casseroles like this one canbe made ahead a day or even frozen. Just give an extra 5 minutes baking time.
If you aren’t a seafood eater, you may want to skip this post. Although I joke about the joys of eating bacon, the reality is seafood is my favorite “meat.” Love, love, love fish–and for good reason. It’s healthful. It’s tasty. And it takes only minutes to cook, making it the star of Hasty Tasty Meals recipes.
For example, we picked up fresh tilapia (farm raised in South America) at the seafood counter. In less time than it would’ve taken us to go to a restaurant and order, I had dinner on the table. My secret? Cook everything else first. Fish last. Fish cooks quickly and tastes best when not overcooked. Unlike poultry, pork, or beef, it doesn’t require a thermometer to determine when it’s safely cooked. It turns from pink to pale in minutes and you’re done!
For what I call “Bimini Style” fish, I slice sweet peppers and onion. I season the tilapia fillets with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
I saute the peppers and onions in a preheated skillet (sprayed with Pam®) over medium/low heat.
After all my side dishes are underway (Today it’s fresh organic green beans and carrots in the pressure cooker for 9 minutes), I nestle the fish in with the peppers and onions. Low heat will cook the fish in minutes. Soon as I see the edges turn color, I carefully flip the fish using a long spatula.
By the time my sides cook, the fish is done, too. I serve with the peppers and onions piled on top. No fancy rubs or sauces needed. This is delicious food!
Don’t be intimidated by fish. Just follow these hints and you’ll be the star of your own seafood cooking show!
Some of my fondest memories of my father are of our runs together. One day, a couple of years before he died, we stopped near the end of our run at a neighborhood produce stand. Dad bought an assortment of fresh vegetables grown right there in the man’s backyard. I promised to cook whatever he bought. He spent about six bucks, total, and my family sat and ate as if it was Thanksgiving dinner.
We love vegetables, especially locally grown, fresh produce. Our favorite summer dinner is a fresh-from-the-garden vegetable plate. If you haven’t taken advantage of the produce grown in your area, now is the time to indulge.
Don’t restrict your menu. Plan your meals around what looks good and fresh, even if you have two or three green veggies. Corn on the cob, Squash, potatoes, beans, broccoli, tomatoes…it’s all better when fresh-picked. Steam, grill, roast, sauté, or all the above. It’s healthy, tasty, and good for the local economy.
Green beans, roasted potatoes, and vegetable medley with a whole wheat roll.
KITCHEN TIP: Add a little bit of butter for flavor. A tiny amount goes a long way. I freeze butter and use a hand grater to add it to cooked vegetables. Isn’t that a grate idea? 😉