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Drop-Off Dinners

Erin Renouf Mylroie - March 16, 2009

Whether you’ve just had surgery, experienced a personal time of need, or had a new baby, there’s nothing better than hearing the doorbell ring and knowing that a home-cooked meal is minutes from the table. But with rising food prices, busy schedules, and diverse tastes, making the right dinner for others can be a challenge. Never fear—with these simple, tasty recipes, you can sign that clipboard circulating in Relief Society with confidence.

Cowboy Barbecued Beef and Cheesy Potato Shepherd's Pie

Serves 8-10

Prep Time: 30 minutes

* For a veggie version, substitute 4 (15-ounce) cans of drained pinto or black beans for the ground meat.

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup smoky barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions or cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place potatoes in a large pot of cold water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer. Cook potatoes for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain potatoes and mash with milk and butter; add salt and pepper and set aside briefly.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook meat with onions and garlic, breaking up with the back of a spoon until meat is just cooked through. Stir in barbecue sauce, mustard, and brown sugar. Transfer meat mixture to prepared casserole dish. Top with corn, scattering evenly over the top. Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 F for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are nicely browned and meat mixture is bubbling. Cool completely and wrap tightly to refrigerate or freeze. Reheat thawed casserole at 350 F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions or cilantro just before serving.

Homemade No-Knead Wheat Rolls with Cold Cuts and Cheese

Yield: 24 rolls

Active Prep Time: 40 minutes, plus rising and baking time

Package up deli meats, sliced cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and condiments, and even the pickiest eaters will be satisfied. If you're short on time, pick up some soft rolls at your favorite bakery.

  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 100F)
  • 1 packet instant yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter, plus more for the pans
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Combine water, yeast, and honey in a small bowl. Let stand for five minutes, or until yeast has dissolved and mixture is rising.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and salt. Pour hot milk over the top and stir until butter is melted. Let stand until mixture is lukewarm. Add yeast mixture and egg to same large bowl. Stir in both flours, 1 cup at a time to form soft dough; there is no need to knead the dough. Turn dough into a greased bowl, cover with a greased sheet of saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Coat 24 muffin cups with butter. Divide dough into 24 balls, and place in muffin cups. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. Bake rolls at 425 F until browned, about 20 minutes.

Layered Cheese Ravioli "Lasagna"

Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

For busy nights, this super-fast lasagna knock-off will be ready to deliver in ten minutes. Include a loaf of French bread and instructions for baking.

*For a meaty version, use purchased tomato and sausage pasta sauce.

  • 2 (24-ounce) bottle purchased tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (27.5-ounce) bag of frozen cheese ravioli, unthawed
  • optional: 1 (10-ounce) box frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped fine
  • 2 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese

Coat a 9x13-inch casserole dish with no-stick cooking spray. Pour half of the pasta sauce into dish (about 2 cups). Layer half of the ravioli and half of the spinach, if using. Repeat with 2 cups of sauce, remaining ravioli, remaining spinach, and remaining 2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Top with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde and Green Chile Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

This southwest classic can be prepared up to two days in advance. Store the crock pot in the refrigerator and plug it in a few hours before meal time.

*For a veggie version, swap the chicken for 1 cup each roasted red peppers and sliced zucchini.

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 5 corn tortillas (5-6 inches in diameter)
  • 1 (10-ounce) can green enchilada sauce, or 1 1/4 cups green salsa
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups fully cooked, shredded chicken (use leftover, rotisserie, or canned)
  • 2 cups shredded jack or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies

For easy clean-up, brush halfway up inside and bottom of slow cooker with cooking oil. Brush tortillas on both sides with remaining oil; place on sheet of waxed paper briefly. In a medium bowl, combine green enchilada sauce and sour cream. Place 1/4 cup sour cream mixture into crock pot. Top with tortilla, 1/2 cup chicken, 1/3 cup cheese, 1 tablespoon green chilies, and 1/4 cup sour cream mixture. Repeat process three more times, ending with the last tortilla. Cover with remaining sauce, chilies, and cheese. Place in refrigerator, uncooked, for up to two days.

Cook on slow cooker setting high for 3 hours or on slow cooker setting low for 6 hours.

Fresh and Easy Salsa Picante

Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Drop off the enchilada casserole with a bag of tortilla chips and this easy salsa, which will keep for five days, refrigerated.

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Layer ingredients in blender in order listed; process until smooth. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until serving time.

24-Hour Side Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6-8

This refreshing salad is fast and cheap to make. To make it hearty enough for a main course, add chopped hard boiled eggs, canned beans, and/or shredded meat. Don't be tempted to use a different kind of lettuce; the sturdier varieties will stay crisp and green for 24 hours.

  • 4-6 cups baby spinach, spring mix, or iceberg lettuce, roughly torn
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (low-fat works well)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or cheddar, or crumbled blue cheese
  • optional: 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, or 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews

Place lettuce in large salad bowl or 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Layer bell pepper, carrot, and onion on top. Sprinkle with peas, if desired. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sugar. Spread dressing over the salad. Sprinkle top of dressing with cheese of choice. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. If desired, sprinkle with bacon or cashews before serving.

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Fudge Brownies

Active Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 16

These brownies are sweet-sharing perfection, since they taste even better the day after they are made. If you don't have time to bake up some brownies, consider packaged microwave popcorn and licorice, vanilla ice cream and root beer, or a tube of bake-it-yourself cookie dough.

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, divided use
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips or semisweet chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. In a large microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate and butter on high at one minute intervals, stirring often to avoid scorching. When chocolate mixture is melted and smooth, add sugar and salt. Stir in eggs, one a time, and then buttermilk and vanilla. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well.

In a small separate bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup flour and chocolate chips. Pour chips and any flour from bowl into brownies. Stir until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

Bake for about 28-32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few fudgy crumbs. Do not over bake. Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Store brownies in same baking dish, uncut until serving.


For more delicious, budget-friendly recipes, check out prudencepennywise.blogspot.com.

© LDS Living, Mar/Apr 2009; Picture by Nathalie Dulex
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