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Feeding a family while safer at home
Many of us are now at home due to business shutdowns, kids out of schools, cancelled meetings, etc. in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. That means having to feed a family three meals a day at home for many days. The good news is that often there are items in your pantry or freezer that can be pulled together to create meals to feed families when we can’t get to the grocery store every day.
Soups are a good example of a dish to help stretch resources and use staple items. Try a chicken noodle soup with canned chicken and whatever pasta you have on hand. A handy item to keep stocked is jarred soup base or bouillon that stays in the refrigerator or on the shelf and allows you to make up as much broth as you need. Vegetable soup is another easy one with canned tomatoes, beef broth and whatever canned or frozen vegetables you have stashed away. It is a good way to use up just a few peas or a little bit of corn that are left in the bag from making other dishes. You can add some chili powder or canned beans to make it southwestern in flavor or add some Italian herbs for a more traditional vegetable soup.
Casseroles are also a great way to feed a crowd from the pantry. With a base of grains like rice or pasta or stuffing mix or tortillas, casseroles can stretch limited meat resources and extend a can of chicken or a few slices of ham into a dish that will feed the family. Mix your grain base with some vegetables and or canned meat or browned ground beef and top with a can of creamed soup or make a white sauce (cook 2 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons butter for a minute and then whisk in 1 cup milk and cook until thickened, season with some salt and pepper). Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.
Pasta dishes are hearty and can use a few simple canned items from the shelf. From just an easy macaroni and canned tomatoes or spaghetti with a jarred marinara sauce to a more hearty baked pasta, there are many options.
Eggs keep for a long time in the refrigerator and are an inexpensive source of protein. Fill omelets, frittatas and egg casseroles with canned or frozen (thawed) vegetables or canned beans or canned meat and some cheese – whatever you have on hand for a filling breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Whatever you make, be sure to wash your hands often, especially before eating and cooking, and stay well.
Visit the Bedford County Extension website for more recipes and information about seasonal eating and family meals (bedford.tennessee.edu).
Quick Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
1 (12 1/2-ounce) can reduced sodium chicken, drained (or cooked fresh or frozen chicken, shredded, about 1 cup)
1 (15-ounce) can mixed vegetables, drained (or whatever canned or frozen vegetables you have on hand to equal 1 ½ cups)
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can cream of chicken soup (or cream of celery or cream of mushroom)
1 (7 1/2-ounce) package biscuit mix (or make up biscuit dough from baking mix or from scratch)
Mix together the chicken, vegetables and soup. Pour into a 7”x11” baking dish. Mix together the biscuit mix with water listed on package. Spoon small dollops of dough on top of the soup mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and cooked through.
Red Potato and Avocado Salad
2 lbs. red potatoes, cut in cubes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 small shallots, peeled and chopped
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled and chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Place the potatoes in a large pot of boiling water and cook 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the oil, cilantro, lime juice, salt, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to emulsify.
When the potatoes have cooled, transfer to a serving bowl and add the shallots, garlic and avocados. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 45 minutes. Toss with the red bell peppers just before serving.
Yield: 8 servings
Sorghum Cinnamon Rings
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. sugar, divided
1 C. unsalted butter, diced
1/4 C. sorghum syrup
2 Tbsp. cold water
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the flour and 1/4 cup of the sugar. On medium speed, blend in the butter until the dough forms small pellets. Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in the sorghum and water, mixing only until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough into a rectangle roughly 10 x 15-inches and 1/8-inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Starting with the smaller side, tightly roll the dough jellyroll style. Dampen the edge with water and seal. Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap each roll in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut 1/4-inch slices from each roll and place on ungreased baking sheets 1-inch apart. Bake 16 to 17 minutes or until light brown. Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yield: 4 dozen cookies