So yesterday we talked about staple items for your pantry. Items that you should have on hand all the time, to pull from to make a meal. I also think that, there are a couple things you should have on hand at all times (mostly in your freezer) for what I call those "oh no" moments (Oprah has "ah ha" moments....I have "oh no" moments). Moments when you've been detained and have to make a quick meal, you were planning on having tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and you get unexpected company, or moments when you just do NOT feel like cooking a full fledged meal. I rarely use packaged foods, but it doesn't mean I don't use them EVER. I just try to find the best possible quality (and bargain) for myself when I DO have to use them. So these are a couple recommendations from me for items that can rescue you when you're in a "fix"
Pepperidge Farm cake (found in the frozen food aisle, they have several flavors)--a good dessert if you get unexpected company, or just an unexpected occasion to celebrate.
Stouffer's Frozen Lasagna (also found in the frozen food aisle) this is THE best lasagna around. I will very often pull from this if I want lasagna, because they use top notch, quality ingredients, and it's actually cheaper to buy THIS than all the ingredients needed to make it yourself. You can just throw it into the oven and forget it. Tastes great. Makes a great take along dish for potlucks if you don't know what to take. Comes in sizes from individual to party tray size. I usually have either the "family size" or the party tray in my freezer. (good tip: Publix often has the family size on their "buy one, get one free" sale---which makes it an even BETTER bargain!!)
having pastas on hand at all times (ziti, rotini, even elbow macaroni) means you can make a quick meal (provided you don't exhaust your sauce supply like I did yesterday) or even a pasta salad for a quick lunch. This list of things to add to cooked pasta to make a pasta salad is endless; canned chicken or tuna, chopped onions or olives, frozen peas or even halved grapes!
Tonight I'm entertaining, my son and his fiance are coming, and I don't want to spend a lot of time cooking while they are here. So today's recipe is quick, can be made ahead (mine is already made and covered with plastic wrap in the fridge) and best of all--it's DELICIOUS!! You'll notice pantry staples in this recipe as well. Kudos to Marna Ross, an old friend of mine, who provided this basic recipe. Marna is very active in Pampered Chef, and if you need to purchase kitchen items or tools I HIGHLY recommend the Pampered Chef products. I'm sure if you search the Pampered Chef website you can find Marna and perhaps order from her. If not, host a party and get some great stuff! So, here's today's recipe--Cheesy Mostaccioli
(I have made this recipe with ziti, rotini, and even elbow macaroni if I had them on hand)
16 oz box mostaccioli pasta
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 t. pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Jar spaghetti sauce (24-28 oz)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
3 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350. Cook mostaccioli according to package directions, drain. Brown ground beef and drain. Add pepper, Italian seasoning, spaghetti sauce, soup (do NOT dilute) and 1.5 c. of the cheese. Pour into 13x9 casserole and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 40 minutes.
I have added to this chopped onion and finely chopped mushrooms (I cook them in with the ground beef). I also add about 1/4-1/2 c. of grated cheddar cheese to the topping as well.
So the pasta is made and in the fridge. When it's dinner time I can just take it out and pop it into the oven to bake (you might want to add 5-10 minutes of cooking time if you've made it ahead and are refrigerating), add a tossed salad and a Pepperidge Farm cake. Maybe I'll even throw some sourdough bread into the bread machine and we'll have hot bread when dinner time comes! No muss, no fuss and one GREAT dinner.
Today's food quote: "I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them" Nora Ephron, writer