501 Life Magazine | One-dish wonders
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By Tiffany Block
Food…it’s everywhere you look – at home, in the office and at every conceivable celebration. Oftentimes, it’s the focal point at any particular event. If the food was scrumptious, everyone will know. If the food was unpleasant, everyone will know.

Food…it’s everywhere you look – at home, in the office and at every conceivable celebration.  Oftentimes, it’s the focal point at any particular event. If the food was scrumptious, everyone will know. If the food was unpleasant, everyone will know.  

I’ve found that when I am preparing foods for an event/celebration or when trying to put a satisfying meal on the table for my family, one way that I can rarely go wrong is to make a one dish meal. 

Quite honestly, they are a timesaver. Let’s face it; free time is a luxury for most of us. The last thing we want to do is spend it in the kitchen over a hot stove. I can usually satisfy everybody’s craving by preparing one of these versatile dishes. 

While one-pot meals come in various forms, they all have the common concept of putting a variety of ingredients into a single vessel and cooking them all together. A few basic kitchen ingredients and VOILA – dinner is ready! 

I have also discovered that many one dish wonders can also be classified as comfort foods. Comfort food is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated and easy to prepare. Many people turn to comfort food for familiarity, emotional security or as a special reward. The reasons a dish becomes a comfort food are diverse but often include pleasant associations of childhood.  Comfort food has always been the staple of informal restaurants, as well as home cooking.

Some of my favorite winter meals/comfort foods are soups and stews. I usually take a trip to the grocery store. From there, I see which meats are priced just right for my budget on that particular day. And that is what determines which soup or stew I will make.  

Whether it’s a hearty beef stew or a pot of white bean chicken chili, it’s all quick, easy and delicious! 

One-dish meals include everything from light stir-fry and hearty skillet meals to heavy casseroles made with cans of soup. Enjoy!


Hearty Beef Stew

2 lbs. cubed stew meat
¼ cup flour
1 package of stew meat seasonings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups water
5 cups of vegetables (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, etc.)

Coat cubed stew meat with flour. Brown in vegetable oil in large pot or dutch oven. Drain excess fat. Stir in water and 1 package of stew meat seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender.
Add vegetables and simmer 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.


Macaroni and Cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
9 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces cubed processed cheese food
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain well and return to cooking pot.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter; stir into the macaroni.
In a large bowl, combine the Muenster cheese, mild and sharp Cheddar cheeses, and Monterey Jack cheese; mix well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Add the half and half, 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture, cubed processed cheese food, and eggs to macaroni; mix together and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a lightly greased deep 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon of butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges.


Chicken Spaghetti

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
1 pound processed cheese food
1 jar/can of mushrooms (drained)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch garlic powder

Boil chicken in a large pot of salted water. When chicken is done, remove from pot, keeping water/broth at a boil. Shred chicken and set aside. Put spaghetti in boiling chicken broth and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. When done, drain broth.
Return pot with cooked spaghetti to stove, put over low heat. Add shredded chicken, mushrooms, soup, diced tomatoes and cheese. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
When cheese is melted, dinner is ready!