Last weekend’s dinner was one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy to make when you don’t feel much like cooking. This recipe requires that you have several basics on hand, but it’s called a “surprise” because that’s exactly what’s in it. You are using whatever foods you have in your pantry or refrigerator that you wish to use up.
I started out by cooking a package of whole wheat angel hair pasta that we had in stock. You can use any kind of pasta or rice that you have on hand. Ditto for the veggies. Canned or frozen vegetables will work. I used canned chicken, but you could also substitute canned tuna. Any kind of shredded cheese or grated Parmesan will do. My husband wanted tomato sauce, but you could use Healthy Choice Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Cream of Chicken Soup, or Cream of Celery Soup instead. Oh, and I threw in some fresh chopped basil and chopped onions. Other items I might add are a small jar of pimento or sliced water chestnuts for crunch. A can of diced tomatoes might be another addition, especially if you are using a soup for moisture instead of a tomato-based sauce. A splash of white wine could also provide moisture.
16 oz. package whole wheat angel hair pasta, cooked and drained 1 can chicken breast, drained and flaked 1 large can corn 1 large can peas and carrots 1 jar tomato basil sauce Shredded cheddar cheese Fresh chopped basil Fresh chopped onions Sliced almonds
What’s in your kitchen that you could mix into a casserole?
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into half-inch slices
2 cups tomato basil sauce
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
In a microwave-safe dish, lay out eggplant. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes until pliable. Transfer to plate and drain liquid from baking dish. Pat eggplant slices dry. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, egg, and minced garlic. Mix together.
Starting at the wide end of each eggplant slice, spread a teaspoon or so of the cheese mixture. Roll up each piece and lay seam-side down in greased microwave-safe baking dish. Pour sauce over all. Cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Microwave until cheese melts, about 2 more minutes. Optional: sprinkle on oregano or chopped basil leaves before cooking. Serves 4.
18-1/4 oz. spice cake mix
21 oz. can apple pie filling
¾ cup light sour cream
¼ cup rum
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. reduced fat milk
Set aside 1 Tbsp. cake mix and 1-1/2 cup pie filling. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, rum, canola oil, almond extract, remaining cake mix and pie filling. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour half the batter into a greased fluted baking pan coated with nonstick spray. In a separate small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, reserved cake mix, and remaining pie filling. Spoon over batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool on rack before turning over onto plate. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk. Dribble glaze over cake and serve. Serves 10-12.
Coming home from Bouchercon, we took the western route as I-95 hadn’t fully reopened after the flooding in South Carolina. This gave us some lovely hilly vistas before we descended to the lowlands with their cotton fields and other crops.
I got to shop for pecans along route I-75. I use pecan meal to coat tilapia, after dipping the fish into egg substitute, and then pan fry or bake it. The ground pecans are healthier than bread crumbs and give it a nice, crisp flavor. You can’t buy this in Florida, so it’s only on trips through Georgia or South Carolina that I can get them. I put the bags into my freezer until use.
We were lucky to spot a southern country buffet along the way. I stuffed myself with the bounteous feast that included a salad bar, soups, breads, fried chicken, nut-crusted mashed sweet potatoes, veggies, and I forgot what else I ate but it was mostly comfort food. And the dessert bar had peach cobbler plus many more sweet choices. This meal probably accounted for the extra weight I gained.
Doesn’t this make you hungry? Then stayed tuned for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Coming Next!
1 pound package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetable blend
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
4-1/2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ of a 16 oz. package all-purpose pasta or egg roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
1 jar of plum sauce
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, combine ½ package chopped, defrosted vegetables, chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil and spices. Place 1/4 cup mixture into the center of each wrapper. Fold bottom corner over filling then fold two sides toward the center. Moisten flap of remaining corner with beaten egg and seal. Place egg rolls seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Spray tops of wrappers with nonstick cooking spray or brush with beaten egg.
Bake in 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browned. Makes 8 servings. Recipe may be doubled. Serve warm with plum sauce.
Toast walnuts over medium heat for a few minutes then chop into smaller pieces. Cut croissants in half. Lay brie cheese on one side of croissant and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Melt in microwave for 12-15 seconds. Spread jam on top. Cut croissant halves into bite size pieces and serve warm.
1 large, firm eggplant
½ large sweet onion, peeled
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
Microwave eggplant until tender (about 5 minutes), let cool, and then scoop out pulp. Discard peel. In a food processor, chop onions. Add eggplant and puree with onions. Stir in olive oil and salt to taste. Serve as a dip with crackers.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together mushrooms, garlic, olive oil and thyme, and spread in greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook couscous in chicken broth according to package directions. Stir mushroom mixture and Worcestershire sauce into couscous and mix to blend. Add salt to taste.