Friday, October 17, 2014

Quick and Easy Recipes

New cookbook offers recipes for Southern tastes

Quick meals. Gotta love them!

Southern Living has a new compilation of comfort food dishes that can be made in 20 minutes. I’ve already prepared two very good recipes from “Super Fast Southern.”

Inside the book you’ll find the expected categories and recipes that can be made without much fuss or time. For instance, sweet potato soup starts with a can of yams. Shepherd’s pie is made in a skillet with packaged and refrigerated mashed potatoes, and easy Texas chili simmers for just 15 minutes.

The first recipe I tried was an adaptation of Waldorf spinach salad. The ingredients are simple enough and include an apple, celery, cheese and honey cashews. The simple dressing is mixed up in a matter of minutes. I’ve made this recipe twice now: once for a church dinner and once for my husband and me. I did choose Romaine over spinach as a personal preference and used dried cranberries instead of golden raisins, but I’m sure it would be delicious either way.

I also made the super-easy Tetrazzini as well, and I really loved it!

While the pasta cooked, I put together the rest of the non-bake recipe, which was really ready to eat in under 20 minutes. I have another favorite Tetrazzini recipe that I enjoy making as well, but it requires much more time to prepare and is not ideal for an easy, weeknight meal.

The new recipe is creamy, but not overly rich. It is also a good way to use either deli or leftover turkey or chicken (I used chicken). I enjoyed it for dinner the night I made it and as leftovers at lunch the next day.

I plan to pull out the cookbook again soon to prepare Gouda chicken sandwiches.

The cookbook’s list price is $19.95, but it’s less on online sites. I think it’s a good price for a book that’s packed with recipes that will help you bring homecooked food to your table in a reasonable amount of time.

NOTE: A few weeks back, I ran a recipe for salsa in this column. The tomato sauce was omitted from the recipe. I use an 8 oz. can. I’m sorry for any inconvenience. The corrected recipe is at lisabatts.blogspot.com

Waldorf Spinach Salad 

1⁄4 cup honey

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 garlic clove, pressed

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

1 (9-oz.) package fresh spinach, torn*

2 large Gala apples, thinly sliced

4 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, shaved

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup honey-roasted cashews

1⁄2 cup golden raisins 

Whisk together first 7 ingredients in a large serving bowl until well blended. Add spinach and remaining ingredients, tossing gently to coat. Serve immediately.

“Superfast Southern”

* I used Romaine lettuce instead of spinach and dried cranberries instead of raisins.

Turkey Tetrazzini 

11⁄2 cups diced deli turkey breast (about 1⁄2 pound)*

1⁄2 cup onion

Cooking spray

1⁄4 cup milk

1 (103⁄4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup (I use Healthy Request low-sodium, low-fat)

3⁄4 cup (3 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

1 (2-oz) jar diced pimiento, drained (I used chopped red bell pepper) 

Sauté turkey and onion in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until onion is tender. (I added red bell pepper as well.)

Stir in milk, soup and cheese; reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Stir in spaghetti and remaining ingredients; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Diced ham can also be substituted for the turkey.

“Superfast Southern”

* I used leftover chicken instead of deli turkey.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Easy lunchtime pasta

Wednesday, October 01, 2014 8:19 AMEASY LUNCHTIME PASTA
Recreating a favorite restaurant dish

Anna and I went to Ruby Tuesday for lunch several weeks back. It was a very hot day, and we both wanted their very cold salad!

Specifically, Anna wanted the creamy pasta salad with ham and green peas.

We enjoyed our lunch, and several times since then Anna has mentioned that salad and how we should try to make it.

I finally got around to it Sunday afternoon.

I knew it wouldn’t be hard to find a copycat recipe for that salad, and I was right. There are many versions online and most have the same ingredients: rotini pasta, an equal amount of mayonnaise and ranch dressing, diced ham, green peas and seasoned salt. Some recipes also include sour cream and cheddar cheese.

I chose the basic recipe and used low-fat mayonnaise and green peppers. I also bought some seasoned salt. It’s not something I keep in my cabinet, but I decided to buy it for this salad.

This is certainly an easy salad to make. No complicated ingredients, no fancy instructions. Just boil the pasta, cut the ham and peppers and mix it together.

I do think it’s important to make the salad at least several hours in advance of your meal time because it is better cold.

This salad is very good. I especially love the crunch of the green peppers and the flavor of the creamy dressing. My husband and I enjoyed it for lunch yesterday, so did Anna, who prefers her pasta without the ham. Reggie and I like the ham and ate her share as well!

Next time I make it, I will increase the peas (at Anna’s request) from 1 cup to probably 11/2 cups.

Pasta Salad with Ham and Green Peas

1 lb. box rotini pasta, cooked and drained

3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

3/4 cup ranch dressing (reduced fat is fine)

1 1/2 cups green peas, thawed (not cooked)

1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 to 1 1/2 cup chopped ham

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Cook pasta and drain.

In a large mixing bowl combine mayonnaise and dressing. With a spoon, mix in remaining ingredients and stir in pasta.

Chill before serving.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810

Love this mild salsa

Easy recipe, delicious results.


I’ve never liked salsa. Not at all. In fact, when my husband puts salsa on his eggs, I usually go to the other room! 

My daughter enjoys salsa, just like her dad. She had enjoyed a homemade recipe at her boyfriend’s house, and over the last few months has been making her own as well. Anna experimented several times until she came up with a recipe she really likes. And, here’s the kicker, I like it too! 

Anna’s salsa is a combination of canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, an assortment of bell peppers and sweet onion. The only other ingredients are vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. This is a mild salsa and doesn’t contain garlic, chilies or cilantro. I think those ingredients are the ones that most offend me in commercial salsas. 

When Anna makes her salsa, the house smells wonderful as the ingredients simmer for at least 45 minutes. 

There’s nothing complicated about this recipe. If you have a food processor or food chopper, it’s very simple to make. We have a small chopper, and it works just right for this recipe. 

On Sunday, while she worked on a sewing project, her dad and I made the salsa. It only takes a few minutes to put together, and we did it with no problem. 

Once the ingredients had simmered for 20 minutes or so, we spooned a little salsa in a small bowl to cool. Then we tasted it so we could adjust the seasonings. We ended up adding a little more vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Each batch you make will be a little different because the peppers will be a different size and have a different flavor each time. That’s our experience, at least. 

We love keeping bowls of salsa in our refrigerator and eat it with tortilla chips for snack, or even a light lunch. 

My next goal is to incorporate the salsa in to some recipes. I have to be fast, though, before it’s all eaten! 

1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar

8 oz. tomato sauce

Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes until thickened and 
cooked through. 
After the peppers and onions start to soften, taste a cooled sample of salsa and adjust seasonings accordingly. 
Anna Batts 
 | 265-7810