Quick and easy meals from snack to finish

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Christmas I was fortunate enough to get several new cookbooks as gifts from friends and family. This first book I will share with you is the Gooseberry Patch book "Quick & Easy Family Favorites," which I received from Joan Weeks, a friend and volunteer at the senior center. Joan and I both share a love for cooking and cookbooks, and we talk food whenever we are together. I wanted to select a few recipes from the book to pass along to you. With both of our children playing basketball right now, we find ourselves coming and going to games and practices, so this book will really help with weeknight supper menus.

Tomato Bacon Nibbles

24 to 30 cherry tomatoes

16 ounces bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato and, if desired, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each tomato, so tomatoes will stand upright; scoop out and discard tomato pulp. (A 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon is the perfect size to scoop out the tiny tomatoes for stuffing.) Place tomatoes upside-down on a paper towel to drain for 10 minutes.

Mix bacon and remaining 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Stuff tomatoes. Serve immediately or chill up to 2 hours. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen.

Easy Italian Wedding Soup

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans chicken broth

1 cup water

1 cup medium shell pasta, uncooked

16 frozen meatballs, cooked

2 cups spinach leaves, finely shredded

1 cup pizza sauce

Bring broth and one cup water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add pasta and meatballs. Return to a boil. Cook 7 to 9 minutes or until pasta is done. Do not drain. Reduce heat. Stir in spinach and pizza sauce. Cook one to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Makes 4 servings.

Ham and Egg Casserole

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1/4 cup milk

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup cooked ham, cubed

12-ounce tube of refrigerated biscuits, baked

Combine onion powder, eggs, coup, milk and cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Blend well. Place mixture in a greased 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Spread ham evenly over top. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve over biscuits. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/2-inch thickness

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons chive-and-onion-flavored cream cheese, softened and divided

2 tablespoons chilled butter, divided

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, divided

2 slices bacon

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Spread one tablespoon cream cheese over each chicken breast. Top with one tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon tarragon. Roll up and wrap with one slice bacon. Secure with a toothpick. Place chicken seam-side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Increase temperature to broil. Broil 8 to 10 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Makes 2 servings. If you would like to add a sauce to this finished chicken dish, melt a tablespoon of butter and stir in 3 tablespoons Dijon or honey mustard. Drizzle over baked chicken. This makes a tangy sauce that goes well with the dish.

Salisbury Steak

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/4 cup round buttery crackers, crushed

1 egg, beaten

1 onion, grated

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon horseradish sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons dried parsley

Combine first 4 ingredients. Set aside. Mix together soup, mustard, horseradish sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup soup mixture to the meat mixture. Form meat into 6 patties. Brown both sides of patties in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and drain. Stir water and parsley into the remaining soup mixture. Pour over patties. Cook 20 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Citrus-Grilled Pork Tenderloin

1 (16-ounce) pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2/3 cup orange marmalade

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, minced

Sprinkle pork slices with pepper. Combine marmalade and remaining three ingredients. Stir well. Brush over pork, reserving remaining marmalade mixture. Spray cold grill with nonstick vegetable spray. Preheat grill to medium-high heat, 350 to 400 degrees. Grill pork, covered, 3 minutes per side or until no longer pink. Baste frequently with reserved marmalade mixture. Place remaining marmalade mixture in a saucepan and bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat. Cook one minute. Drizzle over pork. Serves 4.

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

2 pounds boneless beef round steak, cut into 6 serving pieces

1 (1.1-ounce) package beefy onion soup mix

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups onion, sliced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup water

Place steak in a 5-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle soup mix, salt and pepper over steak. Arrange onion slices on top. Top with tomatoes. Cover and cook on high setting one hour. Reduce heat to low setting and cook 6 hours. Remove steak and vegetables from slow cooker, reserving broth. Mix together flour and water. Add to broth in slow cooker, stirring until thickened. Spoon gravy over steak to serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Quick Blueberry Crisp

Substitute your favorite fruit pie filling to create your own quick version of this fruit crisp.

1 (21-ounce) can blueberry pie filling, or flavor of your choice

1/2 cup rolled oats, uncooked

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

Spoon blueberry pie filling into a lightly greased one-quart baking dish. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and nuts in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over pie filling. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Have a wonderful week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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