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One pan, pot or skillet and you’re done

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Last week, we offered you some tasty, quick pasta recipes to get through the busy nights once school starts.

Here’s another idea that’s helpful on school nights, after a long day of work or when you just don’t want to spend a lot of time putting something together.

These recipes can also cut down on the amount of dishes that need to be washed, always a good thing.

Most of them will need something green on the side. Even nutritionists like the idea of a bagged salad. You can buy them with dressing included these days. Any way to get more green in your diet is a good way. If you have favorite dressings, just buy the bag o’ salad and go to town.

Those packages of ready-to-steam vegetables are also a great time saver, and steaming helps many of those veggies retain their nutrients.

For dessert, how about a quick fruit salad. Apples, bananas and peaches make a nice combination. Serve it plain or with a little drizzle of honey, or indulge in a spoonful of sour cream. For fewer calories, a little bit of yogurt on the side can sweeten the dish and make it creamy.

We recently ended up thawing out a pound of ground beef that we didn’t use, so it’s got to be dinner fast. The husband likes those boxed hamburger dishes, but they can have as much as 4,568 mg of sodium per box! That’s 190 percent of your recommended daily value.

So, even though one-pot dishes typically go heavy on the carbs, you can at least control some aspects by creating your own spice mixes and sauces.

We may try this one:

One-pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup diced onion

1 pound lean ground beef

1 Tbsp. taco seasoning

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups salsa

8 ounces dry elbow macaroni

2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese (8 ounces), divided

Lime wedges, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, if desired, for serving.

Heat the oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until beginning to brown and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, taco seasoning and garlic and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and no pink remains, 5-7 minutes.

Add the beans, salsa and macaroni and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack about 6 inches from the broiler (make sure the pot will fit). Heat the broiler to high.

Stir the corn and 1 1/2 cups cheese into the pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top. Broil until the cheese melts and turns golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving with your favorite fixings.

No taco seasoning? Combine 1 tsp. kosher salt, 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. ground cumin and 1 tsp. dried oregano.

Chicken Ramen Noodle Casserole

6 (3 ounce) packages chicken flavored ramen noodles

1 (8 ounce) container scallion cream cheese

4 cups whole milk

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

1 (10.8 ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets

8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Keep one chicken seasoning packet and discard the rest. If you like more seasoning, add two packets.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the ramen squares in a single layer covering the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Whisk together the cream cheese, milk and the reserved flavor packet(s) in a medium bowl. Pour over the ramen. Scatter the shredded chicken on top, then the broccoli. Sprinkle with cheddar. Bake until noodles are cooked through, the cream sauce is bubbly and the cheese melts, 25-30 minutes.

You can also use mixed vegetables, add mushrooms or increase the amount of chicken.

Pork Chops with Apples, Onions and Sweet Potatoes

4 pork chops (boneless)

Salt and pepper

1 medium onion, sliced into rings

2 sweet potatoes, diced

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly grated black pepper

1 tsp. dried thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper, and arrange in an iron skillet or an oven-safe skillet. Top pork chops with onions, sweet potatoes and apples. Top all with brown sugar, salt, pepper and thyme.

Cover and bake 1 hour until sweet potatoes are tender and pork has an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

— allrecipes

Skillet Sausage and Rice

1 (1 lb.) package smoked sausage

1 medium any color bell pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup chicken broth (low-sodium)

2 (3.5 ounce) bags quick-cooking brown rice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Parsley or cilantro for garnish

Cut sausage into 1/2-inch pieces. Sauté in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove sausage, drain on paper towels and reserve 1 Tbsp. drippings in skillet.

Add bell pepper, onion and garlic to skillet, and sauté over medium high heat 4 minutes or until tender. Add chicken broth, stirring to loosen particles in bottom of skillet. Bring to a boil. Remove rice from cooking bag and add rice, sausage, salt and pepper to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 5 minutes or until rice is tender. Serve with garnish.

Can substitute green peas or mixed vegetables if you do not like  bell pepper.

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