Short and savory: Dinner and a dessert out of a box, can, package, bottle ...

News-DemocratMarch 31, 2014 

Nobody said we had to be culinary geniuses to get dinner on the table every night.

So, there will be no excuses for the lack of special spices, sauces or exotic ingredients in the follow recipes.

These seven supper dishes and one dessert are bare bones and use all the stuff the chefs and foodies tells us we should ban from our cabinets: Canned soup, white rice, ground meat, bottled sauces (think teriyaki and soy), boxed stuffing mix, refrigerated dough, packaged pepperoni -- you get the idea.

Sometimes, expediency rules. Sometimes, you've got a kid who will eat only one color food. Sometimes, creativity has been long-gone since early in the day. Sometimes, you have to mix low-fat with homemade fast food: Use sodium-reduced or lower-fat canned soups, sour cream, milk and ground meat. That said, there is nothing you can do to make boxed stuffing, pepperoni or Tater Tots better for you!

So, the best you can do to is make sure you serve these meals with a vegetable or a salad. Or both.

Go ahead, try this unusual combination of tomatoes and peanut butter that makes a flavorful sauce for chicken.

Spicy-nutty CHICKEN WITH Rice

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 small onion, chopped

1 can (16 ounces) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained

2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter, preferably crunchy

1 cup rice*

1. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil in a large (10- to 12-inch) skillet set over medium-high heat.

2. Season chicken breasts with salt and freshly cracked pepper. When oil is hot, place breasts and onion in pan. Brown both sides of chicken breasts.

3. While chicken is browning, make rice.

4. Combine diced tomatoes and peanut butter. Add to pan.

5. Cover and cook on medium-low heat 15 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken.

*Can substitute pasta.


2 skinless chicken breast halves

Dash of garlic powder

1/3 can cream of mushroom soup

3 tablespoons skim milk

3 tablespoons light sour cream

Salt and pepper

1/3 of can mushroom stems and pieces, drained


Place chicken breasts in greased baking pan so they do not overlap. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Mix soup, milk, sour cream, sherry, and drained mushrooms to make a sauce. Spread over chicken. Sprinkle paprika lightly over top. Bake in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Serve with noodles or rice. Serves 2.


4 to 6 pork chops

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chili sauce

1 tablespoons brown sugar

1 clove garlic, minced or garlic powder, to taste

Place pork chops in a glass baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine marinade ingredients and coat chops on all sides. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Marinate overnight in refrigerator, turning occasionally. Grill or bake chops about 3/4 hour.


2 pounds lean ground beef

1 package (6 ounces) stuffing mix for chicken

1 cup water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 cup salsa, divided

3/4 cup Mexican-style shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients except 1/4 cup of the salsa and the cheese.

Shape into oval loaf in 13-by-9-inch baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup salsa.

Bake 1 hour, or until cooked through (160 degrees).

Sprinkle evenly with the cheese; continue baking 5 minute or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minute before cutting into eight slices to serve.

Kraft Kitchens


4 ounces pepperoni slices

1 green pepper, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup zesty Italian dressing

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 package (13.4 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine pepperoni, peppers, onions, tomatoes and dressing and pour into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheese.

Unroll pizza dough; cut into 2-inch squares with sharp knife or kitchen shears. Place evenly over cheese.

Bake 30 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Invert onto platter; carefully remove dish. Makes 6 servings.

Serving suggestions: Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping and your favorite hot steamed vegetable to round out the meal

Kraft Kitchens

Easy Tator Tot Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

2 cans cream soup, such as mushroom, potato, celery or chicken


1 (32-ounce) bag Tator Tots

Optional: Chopped onion, pepper, paprika garlic powder, parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is preheating, brown meat (and onion, if desired); drain.

2. Grease a 9-by-13 inch-baking pan. Transfer cooked meat to pan.

3. In a large bowl, combine cream soups (undiluted), cheese (and, garlic salt and black pepper, if desired). Once thoroughly combined, toss in Tater Tots and coat evenly.

4. Spread on top of meat.

5. Bake about 45 minutes or until the top begins to brown slightly.

6. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley, if desired.

This is a very easy and simple recipe to make and very hearty and tasty as well.


1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice

1 2/3 cups water

1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak (3/4 inch thick)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 (14-ounce) can beef broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4 cups fresh broccoli florets

1. In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, slice beef into very thin strips.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, sugar and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly.

4. In a large skillet, over medium/high heat, saute the beef strips until browned and juices evaporate.

5. Stir broccoli and cornstarch mixture into meat. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring frequently. Serve over the cooked rice. Serves 4.

Yum, the kids will love this colorful dessert. They can even help put it together and personalize it with their favorite fruit and gelatin flavors.


16-ounce tub Cool Whip, thawed

1 (6-ounce) package dry Jell-O, any flavor

2 (16-ounce) cans fruit with juice

Chopped nuts (optional)

2 cups or more miniature marshmallows (optional)

Stir dry Jell-O into Cool Whip. Fold in fruit and juice.

Add marshmallows, if desired. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Chill several hours or overnight before serving.

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