Summer is still here, but the fall routine is on cooks'minds

August 5, 2013 

I don't need a calendar to tell me summer is coming to a close; I can tell by the conversations I have with readers. In May, it was all about barbecue and salads and eating outdoors. In August, easy weeknight dinners are back on home cooks' minds as school routines come back into play.

Karen, who lives in Lebanon, told me about a recipe she'd found in a Taste of Home magazine, then lost. It was a casserole dish she said her two sons really liked and took her very little time to put together after a day at work. Sloppy joes and hash brown potatoes were involved.

I found this recipe, which I'm pretty sure is what Karen needs.

Potato Sloppy-Joe Bake

1 pound ground beef

1 can (15 1/2 ounces) sloppy joe sauce

1 can condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted

1 package (32 ounces) frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add sloppy joe sauce and soup.

Place hash browns in dish. Top with beef mixture.

Cover and bake 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer, or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese.

Yield: 8 (1-cup) servings, each with 290 calories, 11 grams fat, 47 mg cholesterol, 763 mg sodium, 30 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 18 grams protein.

Taste of Home's Quick Cooking, September/October 2001

I am definitely smitten with the White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese on the menu at the St. Louis Bread Co. (Parent company is Panera Bread.) Even with the addition of other pastas to the lineup, I still crave the classic kids comfort food. I try to eat just a half-serving with a salad, to downplay the many calories that come with the rich and creamy dish.

When "CopyKat.com's Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2" by Stephanie Manley (Ulysses Press, $14.95) landed on my desk, I rifled through it looking for any of my favorite chain restaurant food recipes. That's when I came across the recipe for Panera Bread's mac and cheese. I haven't made it yet, but it's on my list. I'll really enjoy this taste-testing. Note: Check out Stephanie's website, copykat.com. She started it in 1995.

Macaroni and Cheese

16-ounce box small shell pasta

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups half and half

3 ounces White American cheese

6 ounces aged White Cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the flour; stir anc cook 2 to 3 minutes. The flour mixture should begin to smell like pie crust.

Raise the heat to medium-high and slowly add the half and half, stirring vigorously as you do. The half and half should thicken.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheeses, stirring until they melt completely. Stir in the mustards, salt and hot sauce.

Transfer the drained pasta to a bowl and pour the cheese over it. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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