Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Family Favorite Dinners

I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock. –Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

It is the age-old question. What is for dinner? Some days that question is enough to send me over the edge. Because, really. What is for dinner? What can I feed them that the big people will like and the little people won't totally hate and will satisfy at least one nutritional requirement for the day? It's a completely loaded question.

I'm always looking for new ways to feed my family. I like to try out new recipes and mix it up, but there are certain favorites that I always come back to. These are recipes that are easy to make, don't require lots of exotic ingredients and always get rave reviews {from Mr. Bug, at least. As for the Little Bugs, it completely depends on their moods :rolleyes:}. So, I thought I'd share them with you, just in case you haven't got a ready answer for, what is for dinner?

Tuna Noodle Casserole
{This meal could really use some watermelon chunks}
1 {8 oz.} package rotini pasta
1 {10¾ oz.} can cream of chicken soup
1¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 {5 oz.} can chunk tuna
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup potato chip or cracker crumbs

• Heat oven to 350˚. Cook pasta according to package directions.
• In a 2-quart casserole dish, combine soup, milk, garlic salt, pepper, drained tuna and cheddar cheese. Stir in noodles. Top with mozzarella cheese; sprinkle with potato chip crumbs.
• Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

• Make sure to salt the water for the noodles. ½ teaspoon should do it.
• Cream of chicken soup with tuna fish? Yep. It works. But you could also use cream of celery or cream of mushroom. Campbell's has something for every taste.
• Do you have to use garlic salt? No. But it makes it extra special.
• Tri-color rotini noodles also make it extra special.
• My favorite chips to use on top of this are Ruffles Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream.

Tin Foil Dinner Casserole
2 medium-large potatoes, sliced and soft cooked
3 carrots, sliced and soft cooked
1 {15 oz.} can corn
1 {15 oz.} can cut green beans
1 lb. lean ground beef
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 {10¾ oz.} can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

• To soft cook potatoes, place them in a covered, vented, microwave-safe dish, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper, add ¼ cup water and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
• To soft cook carrots, place them in a covered, vented, microwave-safe dish, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, add ¼ cup water and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
• Heat oven to 375˚. Layer corn, green beans, potatoes and carrots in a 9x9 baking dish.
• In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic, salt and pepper; mix until well combined. Place beef mixture over vegetables. Cover with cream of mushroom soup and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil.
• Bake, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes, until meat is completely cooked and vegetables are tender.

Serves 6

• This is the perfect dinner if you hate camping but love tin foil dinners.
• It is a little bit of extra work, but soft cooking the carrots and potatoes saves baking time in the end.

Chicken Pot Pie
{Headed for the oven}
2 chicken breasts {about ¾ lb.}, cooked and cubed
1 {10¾ oz.} can cream of chicken soup
¾ cup milk
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 cups country style hash browns, thawed
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup shortening
8 tablespoons cold water

• Heat oven to 350˚. Place chicken in a baking dish, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, cover and bake for 35 minutes. When chicken has finished baking, wrap in foil and refrigerate until completely cooled. Cube chicken.
• In a large mixing bowl combine soup and milk and mix until smooth. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper; mix well. Add hash browns, vegetables and chicken stir until all ingredients are well combined.
• Heat oven to 375˚. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry blender {or a fork} cut shortening into flour until pea-sized lumps form. Using a fork, mix cold water into flour mixture one tablespoon at a time until a soft dough forms. When all of the water has been added, work dough a little to get a nice consistency. It shouldn't be too sticky or too dry.
• On a floured board, roll ⅔ of the dough out into a 12" circle. Line a 9" pie plate with the dough. Trim away excess dough about ¼" beyond the edge of the pie plate. Pour prepared filling into lined pie plate.
• Roll the remaining ⅓ of the dough into a circle slightly larger than the pie place. Place on top of filling and trim away excess dough about ½" beyond the edge of the pie plate. Tuck the top pastry under the bottom pastry and seal edges. Cut slits in the top pastry to allow steam to escape. Cover edges of pie with foil. Bake for 1 hour, removing foil for the last 30 minutes.

Serves 6

• When making the pie crust, you don't have to add all the water. It really depends on the weather how much water you need. And that is the tricky part to making pie – getting the crust right. Too much water and it is tough; not enough water and it falls apart before you can get it into the plate. If you don't feel like braving it, just buy a refrigerated crust. That really is easy as pie :lol:.
• If you didn't remember to measure and put your frozen vegetables in the fridge overnight, put them in the microwave {separately} for 5 minutes on power level 1 {the lowest power setting}, stirring after 2½ minutes. They don't have to be completely thawed, just not rock solid.
• The vegetable mix I like to use has carrots, peas, corn and green beans. Sometimes you can find it with lima beans, which Mr. Bug loves and I tolerate because it is disguised with a nice cream sauce.
• You could, of course, use fresh vegetables, if you like. Let me know how that turns out.


Shay said...

Tin Foil Dinner Casserole? Chicken Pot Pie? Sounds interesting....

Wanda said...

Definitely going to try all three of those as they are each a bit different than mine. I'm tired of mine, but we still love those dishes as they are definitely comfort food! Thank you for sharing. This made me remember how when I was a kid and my mom would make tuna casserole and then I'd go over to a friends house and they would serve tuna casserole and somehow it was better! Smiles!

Jennifer Lovell said...

Those look super delicious. I often reflect on what a good cook you are, and still remember the world's tastiest macaroni and cheese that I ate at your house once. Ah, those were the good old days (when I got to sample your culinary talents).

Paulette said...

These are great recipes. Your tuna casserole is very similar to mine from a few years back. I was never so happy as when I finally found a great gluten-free and dairy-free tuna casserole recipe last year. It was one thing I really missed. It's not the same as the original, but close enough for rock 'n roll. But who only puts 1/4 cup of potato chips on top?! That's the best part, IMO, and I probably use a good 1 or 1-1/2 cups! :)