Two Sisters Cook
Hot summer days are winding down. Cool autumn days will soon be bringing red and yellow leaves to the trees, football games, and often the beginning of potluck dinners. The change in seasons brings a change in the recipes that we choose to cook.
Linda: This is the time of year I start searching for some new casserole recipes. It’s the time of year that many activities resume, and a simple one dish meal can save the day. When the temperatures drop and the skies are grey, a casserole baking in the oven makes the kitchen seem cozy.
Lucy: I remember when my children were young, PTA’s and Scouts often held potluck dinners. I was always looking for something delectable and easy to make. After focusing on salads all summer, fall is time for a warm, hearty dish. Italian style casseroles are always tempting. My Tampa friend, Pat, shared a recipe that features ravioli called Cheesy Beef and Spinach Ravioli.
Linda: Mexican style casseroles are also popular. They can be spicy or mild depending on the type of sauce you use. If you like spicy, look for a sauce labeled “hot”. “Mild” will cool things down. I found a recipe called Chicken Enchilada Skillet Casserole. This simplified take on cheesy chicken enchiladas only requires one pan for cooking and eliminates the need to stuff and roll corn tortillas.
Lucy: I love enchiladas but sometimes filling and rolling the tortilla can be difficult. A favorite that I classify as comfort food is Chicken A La King. An easy version is called Dump-and-Bake Chicken A La King. It can be made in advance and baked when you’re going to serve it. It uses Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup for the sauce.
Linda: I think these are exactly the kind of recipes that our readers will love as September 22, the first day of fall approaches. Let’s get our recipes together so everyone can put them on their menu.
Lucy: And let’s thank our followers who visited us at the Landrum Farmers Market this summer and let us know they enjoy the column. The market continues through the end of October so there’s still time to stop by and say “hello”.
Cheesy Beef and Spinach Ravioli
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (from 3 medium garlic cloves)
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (20-oz.) pkg. refrigerated four-cheese ravioli (such as Buitoni)
1 (5-oz.) pkg. baby spinach
4 ounces pre-shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella (about 1 cup)
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1⁄2 cup)
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to broil with rack 9 inches from heat. Place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on stove-top over medium-high. Add beef; cook, stirring often, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove beef; drain and set aside. Wipe skillet clean.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high; add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, stock, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and ravioli. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer until ravioli are tender, about 8 minutes. Uncover and return cooked beef to skillet. Stir in half of spinach, and cook just until wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan.
Broil in preheated oven until cheese is melted and golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from oven, and garnish with fresh basil.
Chicken Enchilada Skillet Casserole
Charring the veggies in a cast-iron skillet adds depth of flavor. Don’t worry if you don’t have one, because you can use any oven-safe skillet instead.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
½ cup diced green bell pepper
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced onion
1 5-ounce package baby spinach
2 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 8-ounce pouch red or green enchilada sauce, such as Frontera
1 ¼ cups prepared fresh salsa
8 5- or 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch-thick strips
1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped grape tomatoes (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet, such as cast-iron. Add corn, green and red peppers, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Gradually add spinach in batches; cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, enchilada sauce, and salsa until combined. Gently stir in tortilla strips. Sprinkle with cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes. If desired, top the casserole with tomatoes
Dump-and-Bake Chicken a la King
Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup (NOT diluted)
½ cup milk or cream
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
1-2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
½ green bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 ounce jar diced pimientos, drained
1 teaspoon sherry (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional for serving: biscuits, rice or pasta
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a medium (about 1 ½ quart) casserole dish with cooking spray.
In the prepared dish, whisk together condensed soup and milk. Stir in uncooked chicken, mushrooms, bell pepper, and pimientos. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven when the dish is hot and bubbly and the chicken is cooked through. Serve over hot biscuits, cooked rice, or pasta.
You can assemble the casserole a few hours in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it.