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.
As warm weather returns, so do the salads. A delicious salad topped with protein (boiled egg, grilled chicken meat, cheese) makes a filling meal that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. But salads are time consuming to make. Here are my shortcuts for hasty tasty salads.
Chop, wash, and spin a big bowl of your greens. I usually buy Romaine because it keeps longer than other varieties of lettuce, but buy what you like.
Make carrot ribbons from 2 carrots using a spiral vegetable slicer or a peeler. Toss with the greens.
Chop 3 ribs of celery and mix with the lettuce and carrot ribbons. Seal and refrigerate.
Boil 5-6 eggs, peel, and refrigerate.
Cook 2-3 chicken breasts (I use the pressure cooker, but use whatever method works for you), chop, and store in a sealed container. Refrigerate. Or keep deli meats handy in the refrigerator.Your choice.
Make a cruet of your favorite homemade dressing. I prefer a simple vinaigrette, but even mixing up a Good Seasons mix is better than buying a bottled brand because you choose your ingredients. Refrigerate.
Grate a wedge of your favorite hard cheese (I like Parmesan) and store in the fridge.Already shredded cheese is fine, but freshly grated has better flavor.
Wash several tomatoes and store in a basket in a cool, dry place in your kitchen. Do not refrigerate unless tomatoes get too ripe.
Congratulations! You now have the makings of at least 5 chef salads you can pull together within minutes.
This is my salad, but you may use any variety of ingredients in yours. The secret to hasty tasty salad meals is advance preparation. Assembling the prepped ingredients into a tasty salad takes mere minutes. Enjoy!
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? 😉
I’ve posted in the past about making salsa in my Vitamix. Today I have a special guest who offers a flavorful twist to salsa. As soon as I pick up a fresh bunch of cilantro, I’m making this recipe. I grow my own jalapeño peppers and herbs but fail miserably at keeping cilantro alive. 😦
Today’s recipe is a guest post by Kristin, a writer for PAM and other ConAgra brands. She resides in Chicago, IL and enjoys trying new recipes on the weekends. Her favorite dishes include poached eggs in the morning, throw-whatever-is-in-the-fridge salads for lunch, and vegetable-heavy stir fries for dinner. She’s always on the hunt for unexpected yet delicious food combinations. Please welcome food blogger Kristin Kruk:
August is the Sunday of summer. Friends and family are making the most out of their last few weeks of sunshine and blue skies before fall kicks in. When you get an invitation to that last minute summer barbeque, come prepared with a zesty appetizer to surprise everyone’s taste buds. Bring a bowl of grilled tomato salsa with a bag of your favorite tortilla chips as an appetizer to the party.
On a time crunch? Don’t worry about grilling outside. A cast iron pan will do the trick because it gets hot and retains heat.
Reduce the heat to medium-low once the pan gets hot.
Now you’re on your way to a quick grilled tomato salsa!
PAM Grilling Spray
1½-2 pounds of tomatoes (try an assortment), sliced in half
1 jalapeño , sliced in half
5 green (or red) onions, chopped
¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Optional ingredients: ½ can of black beans or corn kernels
In a medium bowl, mix cumin, garlic salt, onions and cilantro. If optional ingredients were used, combine as well. Set aside.
See “How to grill inside” instructions above.
Once the burner is set to medium-low, grill tomato and jalapeño slices.
Rotate so each side is grilled for 3 minutes. When each side is slightly blackened, remove from grill.
Chop tomato and jalapeño slices into cubes. Dump into the medium bowl (Step 1).
Refrigerate until ready for use.
This quick and simple appetizer complements any picnic or outdoor outing at the end of summer. Enjoy!
(Cheryl note: I do all my indoor grilling on a Lodge cast iron grill pan (sprayed with PAM). It’s affordable, retains heat, and leaves nice grill marks on food–just like an outdoor grill but without the mess!)