Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Recipes My Family Can't Survive Without

5 Recipes My Family Can't Survive Without

Brought to you by guest blogger Jennifer Williams

Do you remember those meals as a kid that you just loved and begged your mom for every time dinner rolled around? Those meals that you'd tell your friends about the next day – “Oh yeah? My mom made the best X last night!” We have a few of those recipes in my family as well.

These five recipes are tried and true favorites that are loved by all members of our family. And, they're all easy to make, so they're a great choice for busy families. Plus, they all work well as leftovers so you can package them up and enjoy them for lunch throughout the whole week!

Mexican Chicken Casserole

This healthy casserole proves that eating well shouldn't be boring. It combines chicken, veggies, black beans and more for a dish that will quickly become a family favorite.

4 servings

¾ lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 green pepper, chopped

1-1/2 cups salsa

2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) neufchatel cheese, cubed

1 can (15 oz.) no-salt-added black beans, rinsed

1 tomato, chopped

2 whole wheat tortillas (6 inch)

½ cup shredded cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cook and stir chicken and cumin in nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat 2 min. Add peppers; cook 2 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in salsa; cook 2 min. Add neufchatel; cook 2 min. or until melted. Stir in beans and tomatoes.

Spoon 1/3 chicken mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with 1 tortilla and half each of the remaining chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Top with remaining tortilla and chicken mixture; cover.

Bake 20 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

Grilled Spinach Alfredo Pizza

This California-style pie will be a winner in your household from the minute your kids take a bite. Serve the whole pizza for dinner, or cut it into small pieces to use as an appetizer for your next dinner party.

8 servings

1 cup Alfredo sauce

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 lb. refrigerated pizza dough, at room temperature

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 boneless skinless chicken breast (4 oz.), cooked, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled

Heat grill to medium heat.

Cook and stir Alfredo sauce in medium saucepan on medium heat 4 to 5 min. or until heated through. Stir in spinach and crushed pepper. Keep warm.

Divide pizza dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into 12-inch round on lightly floured surface. Brush evenly with half the oil. Place, oiled-sides down, on grill grate. Grill 5 min. or until bottoms are golden brown and lightly charred. Brush with remaining oil; turn.

Top with spinach mixture, cheese, chicken and bacon; cover grill with lid. Grill 5 to 7 min. or until bottoms of crusts are golden brown and cheese is melted.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

The Best Meatballs

Who doesn't love a hearty Italian meal? Check out this recipe for a quick and easy way to make an Italian favorite that pairs well with your favorite kind of pasta and a green salad.

8 servings

2 lb. ground beef

1 pkg. (6 oz.) stuffing mix

1-1/4 cups water

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Line 2 (15x10x1-inch) pans with foil; spray with cooking spray. Mix ingredients until blended; shape into 32 (1-1/2-inch) balls, using 1/4 cup for each.

Place 16 meatballs in each prepared pan. Bake 16 to 18 min. or until done (160ºF).

Combine half the meatballs with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce or Creamy Brown Gravy. (Recipes below.) Cool remaining meatballs; freeze for later use.


Mix 1 jar (14 oz.) spaghetti sauce, 2 oz. cubed cream cheese and 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil in large skillet; cook on medium-low heat 3 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 16 hot meatballs; stir to evenly coat. Sprinkle with ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese before serving.


Mix 1 jar (12 oz.) beef gravy, 1/2 cup sour cream and 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley in large skillet; cook on medium-low heat 3 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 16 hot meatballs; stir to evenly coat.

Triple-Cheese Spinach Manicotti

This Italian favorite can be stuffed with your favorite meat or veggies – and is an easy dish to freeze if you want to make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven when you need a quick and easy meal.

6 servings

12 manicotti shells, uncooked

4 slices bacon, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef

1 pkg. (8 oz.) neufchatel cheese, softened

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ tsp. each dried basil and oregano leaves

1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce

½ cup water

½ cup shaved parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet on medium heat 4 to 5 min or until crisp. Use slotted spoon to remove bacon from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onions and garlic to drippings; cook and stir 2 min. Add ground beef; cook and stir 6 to 7 min. or until no longer pink. Stir in bacon, Neufchatel, spinach, mozzarella and herbs.

Drain shells; fill with meat mixture. Pour 1 cup sauce into bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish; top with shells. Add water to spaghetti sauce jar. Cover with lid and shake jar. Pour water over shells; cover with foil.

Bake 45 min. or until heated through, uncovering after 35 min. Top with parmesan.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

Easy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

This mac & cheese is an easy hit in any household with children. The casserole-like dish can be made with your favorite kind of pasta and for an added kick, throw in a bit of pepper jack cheese or spicy jalapeno peppers.

6 servings

2 eggs

1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

¼ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)

2 cups (8 oz.) elbow macaroni, cooked

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk eggs and milk in large bowl until blended. Add shredded cheese, butter and red pepper; mix well. Stir in macaroni.

Pour into 1-1/2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 20 min. or until lightly browned and heated through.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

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