February 3, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.

Warm, satisfying and delicious too!

Warm, satisfying and delicious too!
Warm, satisfying and delicious too!

The weather has been cold, as you all know, and our appetites turn to warm, stick-to-your-ribs foods such as soups, stews, chili and hot dish. Some call it a casserole, I call it a hot dish. A good oven baked hot dish is perfect for cold winter evenings. Based on the simple combination of meat or fish, a starch and cream soup, these comfort foods are warming, satisfying and delicious.

A creamy hot dish takes little preparation time. You can come home from work, mix the ingredients together, put the dish in the oven and you're good to go. You will have about an hour to help your children with their homework, send off e-mails or just relax while the kitchen fills with the wonderful aroma of a home-cooked meal. (Someone is going to raise an eyebrow about the "relax" part of the last sentence.) Most recipes can be adjusted to your family's tastes, or what's available in your cupboard. Veggies may be added or some left out, starches may be substituted and cream soups are interchangeable.

Prepare one tonight for dinner to warm the stomachs of those at the table. A lot of hot dish recipes can be prepared the night before, refrigerated and put in the oven when you get home from wherever you were, giving you more time to do other things.

Without a doubt, it's hot dish recipes today.

CHICKEN ALA KING

HOT DISH

3 c. medium egg noodles, cooked according to pkg. directions

1/2 c. sliced green onions, using part of green

1/3 c. butter or margarine

1/3 c. flour

1/8 t. each, salt and pepper

1-1/2 c. milk

1-14-1/2 oz. can chicken broth - can be made using chicken bouillon

2 c. cubed cooked chicken

1 c. frozen peas

1-4 oz. can mushrooms, drained

1-2 oz. jar diced pimientos*

2-4 T. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and stir onions in margarine for 1 to 2 minutes or until almost tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk and broth. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Take off heat; stir in next 4 ingredients and noodles. Spoon into ungreased 2 qt. casserole.* Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly. *At this point recipe can be prepared, covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until bubbly.

Makes 6 (1c.) servings.

+++++

HAM 'N CORN HOT DISH

1 c. cubed ham

1/2 c. each, diced onion and diced sweet red pepper

1-16 oz. can creamed corn

1-1/2 c. whole kernel corn, or 1-10 oz. pkg. thawed

1/2 c. milk (if using skim milk, add 2 T. powdered milk, stirring until dissolved)

1-8 oz. pkg. seasoned bread cubes

3 T. butter or margarine, melted

1 T. Worcestershire

2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients, transfer to a buttered 2-qt. glass casserole dish. Top with bread cubes. In a small bowl, combine butter and Worcestershire sauce; spoon evenly over bread cubes. Bake, uncovered for 40 minutes. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake about 5 minutes more until cheese is melted.

Makes 4 servings.

+++++

SPAGHETTI 'N CORN

HOT DISH

1 lb. ground beef

1 medium size onion, diced

1-16 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (variety of your choice)

8 oz. spaghetti, cooked to pkg. directions, drained

6 T. Parmesan cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2 t. butter or margarine

1 c. cottage cheese

3/4 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a saucepan, over medium heat, stir and cook beef, onion and pepper until meat is browned; drain fat. Stir in spaghetti sauce, mix well. In a large bowl, combine hot spaghetti, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and butter. Spoon mixture onto bottom of a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Spoon cottage cheese over top. Pour meat sauce mixture over cottage cheese. Sprinkle top evenly with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings.

+++++

BAKED CHILI HOT DISH

1 lb. ground beef

1 c. each, diced onion and green pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1-16 oz. can corn, drained

1 each, 16 oz. can diced tomatoes and chili beans, undrained

1-4 oz. can chopped green chilies

2 t. chili powder (or more if you like it spicy)

1 t. ground cumin

1 c. flour

2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1 c. yellow cornmeal

1/4 c. each, milk and sour cream

1 large egg, beaten

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, stir and cook beef, onions and peppers until meat is no longer pink; drain fat. Add next 7 ingredients, bring to a boil. Lower heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine next 4 ingredients until blended. In another bowl combine last 3 ingredients until blended; add to dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten. Drop by teaspoonfuls on top of hot chili. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until cornbread topping is light golden brown.

Makes 8 servings.

TFD: A good marriage is like a hot dish - only those involved actually knows what goes into it!

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