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Published October 21, 2012, 11:31 PM

Favorite Things: Richards shares her favorite weeknight recipes

I’m not a culinary adventurer. Give me simple recipes that make hearty food for my family, and I’m a happy cook. These dishes are tried and true regulars in my house, especially on weeknights. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and they don’t take more than a half-hour to make.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

I’m not a culinary adventurer. Give me simple recipes that make hearty food for my family, and I’m a happy cook.

These dishes are tried and true regulars in my house, especially on weeknights. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and they don’t take more than a half-hour to make.

Spaghetti alla Ceci

Rachael Ray’s “Express Lane Meals” cookbook includes many recipes that can be made straight from the pantry, including this tasty pasta dish.

1 pound spaghetti

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 14-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained

½ teaspoons dried thyme

Salt and black pepper

½ cup dry white wine or chicken stock

1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook spaghetti until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, red pepper flakes and garlic.

Place chickpeas in food processor and pulse to a fine chop. Add the chickpeas to skillet with garlic and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine or stock and cook down for 30 seconds or so, then stir in tomatoes and adjust seasoning.

Drain pasta and toss with the sauce. Top pasta with chopped parsley and grated cheese.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

This is one of the few recipes I can make off the top of my head. All the ingredients are staples in my pantry or freezer.

1 box stuffing mix

1 pound ground beef

½ cup barbecue sauce

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare stuffing as directed.

Brown meat, drain. Stir in barbecue sauce. Spoon into 2-quart casserole dish. Top with vegetables, cheese and stuffing.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.

Chopstick Tuna Casserole

My mom always kept a bag of chow mein noodles and a can of chicken chow mein on hand for last-minute meals. She recently started using the noodles in this recipe, and it’s become a favorite for my family, too.

Chopstick Tuna Casserole

1 10½-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup water

2 cups chow mein noodles, divided

¼ cup chopped onion

1 cup diced celery

1 can tuna, drained and flaked

Dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine soup and water, 1 cup chow mein noodles, onion, celery, tuna and pepper. Pour mixture into 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup on chow mein noodles over top. Bake 30 minutes.

10-minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

SheSays Designer Erin Crommett shared this recipe with me, and it’s been a meal-saver on many occasions. All you have to do is open cans, stir and simmer.

1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

1 14½-ounce can chicken broth

1 14½-ounce can cream of chicken soup

1 10-ounce can chunk chicken or 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers

Pour ingredients into a large saucepan or stockpot. Simmer over medium heat until heated through. Top with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556

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