I try to cook with fresh ingredients. Usually. But sometimes–you know those times when you’ve been working and suddenly you’re faced with a hungry family without a dinner plan–you’re tempted to order pizza. Again. Been there, my friend. So without apology, I present the emergency one-dish meal using (gasp!) canned condensed cream of whatever soup.
All you need in addition to the soup is pasta or rice, some leftover (or canned) meat and/or vegetables, and cheese. There are endless combinations, and any combo produces a reasonably healthy meal in a short time. If you make it in one pot, cleanup isn’t overwhelming, either. One-pot meals are a great use-up of leftovers, too, like that one serving of green beans or that half cup of corn kernels you just couldn’t bear to put down the disposal.
I use a pressure cooker, but I’ve also made this dish in an electric skillet. Whatever works best for you.
Here’s an example, but feel free to substitute ingredients you have available.
Chicken and Mushroom Pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken
- 1 10½ oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 10 oz. chicken broth or water
- 1 cup dried cavatappi or similar size pasta
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup fresh asparagus, sliced in 2″ pieces
- ½ cup mushrooms
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- (optional) fresh basil, chopped
- Layer the cooked chicken in the bottom of the pot of a pressure cooker. Spread pasta on top the chicken.
- Pour the soup and broth or water over so that all pasta is submerged in liquid. Scatter the minced garlic on top.
- Close lid, bring to pressure, and cook 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat (or hit Cancel on electric models) and release pressure. Carefully open lid and stir in the vegetables.
- Cover and let the vegetables cook in the residual heat. There’s no need to return to heat.
- After about 10 minutes, open and sprinkle cheeses over the top. Cover for another 3-5 minutes or until cheeses have melted.
- Serve garnished with optional fresh basil.
via The Origins of the Mysterious Green Bean Casserole – Hungry History.
So will green bean casserole be on your Thanksgiving dinner menu?
My healthy version of King Ranch Chicken posted three years ago is still my favorite, but I wondered if I could make it “hasty” without sacrificing the “tasty” part of the meal.
I consulted my good friend Betty (as in Betty Crocker) and her version takes shortcuts I decided to try. The biggest difference in my version and hers is my casserole soaks in the refrigerator for several hours before baking. Mine also has more ingredients. So if you’d like to make this casserole for your next covered dish dinner and you’re short on time, try Betty Crocker’s version. It’s tasty enough for my family, and a bit less work for me, although I still have to have my fresh cilantro garnish at the end. 😉
Remove from oven and top with chopped cilantro.
Here’s a quick and easy skillet dinner. Although I make my own sauce and grate my own cheese, you can use a jarred sauce and shredded cheese. I cook the dish in 25 minutes using my Kitchen Craft Electric Skillet, but you can adapt the recipe for baking in the oven.
Sausage Farfalle Skillet Dinner
- 1 package chicken sausage (Italian Style)
- 2 cups dried farfalle pasta (Bowties) or your choice
- 16 oz. low sodium tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 yellow onion, quartered
- 1 tsp. dried Italian seasonings
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 cups shredded Italian cheese (or Parmesan, Mozzarella mix)
- Preheat electric skillet to 225°
- Slice sausages into 1/4″ slices.
- In a blender (I use a Vitamix) combine all other ingredients except the pasta and cheese. Puree into a sauce.
- Cover bottom of skillet with sliced sausage. Layer farfalle pasta on top the sausage. Then pour the sauce over the layers, completely covering the pasta.
- Cover and cook 20 minutes.
- Lift lid, stir layers, then cover with the shredded cheeses. Cover and reduce heat to its lowest setting.
- Cook an additional 5 minutes then serve.
After making a chicken dinner for my husband and me, I had a cup of leftover gravy and about 12 ounces of leftover chicken meat. What to do for dinner the next day? Easy. I pulled out a 15 ounce can of no-salt-added Veg-All and a roll of frozen puff pastry. A half cup of milk thinned my gravy to make 12 ounces of sauce and I had all I needed. (but if you don’t have gravy, a can of condensed cream of chicken soup works well, too.)
Vary or season to your own tastes. Here’s how I put my easy potpie together:
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine drained vegetables with shredded cooked chicken in a baking dish.
Roll out thawed pastry dough to fit baking dish.
Crimp crust and poke vent holes using the tines of a fork.
Brush egg wash over puff pastry. Bake one hour.
Remove from oven. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4. Enjoy!
In a perfect world, we cook everything from fresh and make our own sauces, etc. But real life often challenges us with unexpected company or a rushed schedule. There’s no need to resort to take-out, not when you can fake out. Take a little help from the store and keep a few cheat items in your pantry and freezer. Here’s a favorite emergency dish I make in twenty minutes. I read labels and shop as wisely as possible to ensure my fake out is as healthful as possible.
Few ingredients needed for this recipe.
Add cooked pasta to gently heated sauce.
Fresh herbs make this jar sauce a star sauce!
Penne Alfredo Fake-out
• 2 cups whole-wheat penne pasta
• 1 jar reduced fat Alfredo sauce
• 1 cup frozen vegetables
• ½ pound medium shrimp, with veins and tails removed
• ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Cook penne pasta according to package instructions in salted, boiling water.
2. In a 2 quart covered saucepan, gently heat shrimp and vegetables over medium-low heat until shrimp turns pink and sauce is bubbly (approximately 10 minutes)
3. Drain cooked penne and toss with the shrimp sauce mixture.
4. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley and shredded cheese, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings
Variations: Chill leftovers for a tasty pasta salad.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a South Texas favorite because it travels well, freezes, and tastes great. The best part for me is that it’s made in advance , which makes it a great time-saver, especially when you’re expecting company. I thank my Houston friend, Bonnie Clyburn, for introducing me to this delicious dish. I’ve downsized and lightened the original recipe. Feel free to double the recipe for a crowd.
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
7 6” corn tortillas, cut into large strips
2 Tbsp. real butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic
1 4-oz. can green chilies, rinsed and drained
1 14½-oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 can low sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can low sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup
½ cup light sour cream
2 cups grated 2% Colby-Jack cheese (I use my Vitamix to grate cheese)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) for garnish
Spray a 9″ X 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of dish with half the tortilla strips.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté onions, garlic, and green chilies until softened (about 3 minutes).
Add tomatoes and green chilies to the skillet and reduce heat. Simmer until liquid evaporates.
Stir in the salt, pepper, and cooked chicken. Remove from heat.
Spread half of this mixture over the tortilla strips covering the bottom of the baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the soup and sour cream. Spread half of the soup mixture over the layer of chicken and tomato mixture in the casserole.
Sprinkle half of the cheese over the casserole.
Create another layer with the tortilla strips, chicken mixture, remaining soup mixture, and remaining cheese.
Pour the chicken broth over the casserole. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, preheat oven to 325° and remove casserole from the refrigerator to sit (at least 15 minutes, up to an hour).
Bake the casserole (uncovered) 1 hour, or until cheese browns and casserole bubbles.
Remove casserole from oven and allow it to cool at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro (optional) and serve.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings.