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IN THE KITCHEN with Family Features

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Having a couple of fast and tasty dishes in your personal recipe file is the perfect solution for dinner on a day that didn't go too well and you have tried every takeout dish in town -- two or three times.

With common pantry and freezer staples, a warm, satisfying dish is not that complicated.

The dish that saved the day

As summer turns into fall, family dinners, family reunions and other special times for family and friends to gather move inside. When company is coming, we all need one great dish that will fit any occasion.

How about a satisfying and delicious Hash Brown Casserole? Home cooks across the country have given this dish a 5-star rating for its crowd-pleasing flavor and ease of preparation.

This versatile casserole is great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, potluck suppers or casual dinners. Just stir it together and pop it in the oven.

Even with lower fat ingredients, Hash Brown Casserole still has a rich, creamy and hearty flavor.

The reason? Evaporated milk. This pantry staple works a special magic in recipes. Made by gently heating milk to remove about half the water, canned evaporated milk has more richness than refrigerated milk.

You can substitute regular, low-fat or fat-free evaporated milk in recipes that call for adding refrigerated milk for richness with twice the calcium and protein. You can also use evaporated milk in place of half-and-half for a creamy taste without all the fat.

Hash Brown Casserole

Makes 12 servings

3 (4-ounce) cartons cholesterol-free egg product, or 6 large eggs, well beaten

1 (12-ounce) can Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Fat-Free Milk, or Nestlé

Carnation Evaporated Milk

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

10 slices turkey bacon, cooked and chopped, or 1 cup diced ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Combine egg product or eggs, evaporated milk, salt and black pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes, cheese, onion, bell pepper and turkey bacon; mix well. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until set.

Nutritional information per serving: 210 Calories; 90 Calories from Fat; 10g Fat; 5g Saturated Fat; 30mg Cholesterol; 370mg Sodium; 17g Carbohydrates; 1g Fiber; 4g Sugars; 14g Protein; 8 percent Vitamin A; 20 percent Vitamin C; 25 percent Calcium; 10 percent Iron.

For more 5-star recipes and tips, check out VeryBestBaking.com.

All materials courtesy of Nestlé Carnation Milk

Get a jump on dinner

Avoid the last-minute dinner crunch by keeping your pantry and freezer stocked with the makings of easy and delicious meals.

This time of year many moms find themselves wondering, "Why does back-to-school time translate into back-to-the-kitchen time?"

This fall, as always, busy families are even busier, with serving up super-fast, before-school breakfasts, doing assembly-line lunch packing late at night and rushing to prepare a healthy dinner between the end of the school day and the evening's activities.

However, multiple solutions to the daily dinner dilemma lie right inside your cupboard door. By keeping a variety of convenience items on hand, you can head off the suppertime crunch.

"Stock your pantry with essentials like dried pastas and rice, canned beans and a good selection of nonperishable condiments and simple seasonings, such as spices and bouillon cubes," suggests Jeff Wagers, Heinz Corporate Chef.

These pantry staples -- and a freezer stocked with frozen meats, such as chicken breasts, ground beef or pork chops -- result in quick, easy, last-minute meals, says Wagers.

"You don't need to plan a week's worth of meals or head to the grocery store several times a week if you have a well-stocked pantry and freezer," he notes. "The great thing about having key ingredients on hand is that you can transform something like instant rice, bouillon cubes and chicken into a fast and delicious family meal."

Stovetop Chicken with Mushrooms

Makes four servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

3/4 cup dry white wine or water

2 Wyler's Chicken-Flavor Bouillon Cubes or 2 teaspoons Wyler's Chicken-Flavor Bouillon Granules

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

2 cups cooked rice

In medium skillet, cook chicken in hot oil until golden brown. Add wine (or water) and bouillon cubes. Cook at high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until bouillon cubes dissolve and liquid is reduced. Add mushrooms. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken in fully cooked. Serve with hot rice.

All materials courtesy of Wyler's

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