When it comes to convenience, Darlene Brenden has dinner in the bag. The Salem, Oregon cook measures dry noodles and a mixture of spices into separate plastic bags, then stores them in a paper bag with canned stewed tomatoes. This "pantry kit" gives her family a head start on a hearty meal. "Since I work late occasionally," she says, "they just have to brown ground beef, and soon dinner is simmering."
Shepherd's Pie takes a testy twist with this version. Between the fluffy mashed potato topping and the savory ground beef base is a bed of tender, green asparagus. Even my kids ask for big helpings.
—Steve Rowland, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Convenient prebaked crust makes this tasty taco pizza as easy as can be. It's a great recipe, especially if you have teenagers. I keep the ingredients on hand so that we can whip up this filling meal anytime. —Mary Cass, Baltimore, Maryland
“We love to cook and experiment with new dishes,” writes Brenda Joyner of Pateros, Washington. “We found this recipe online but were missing a few of the ingredients, so we improvised. We like the results.”
This is one of those recipes you always come back to. A flavorful tomato sauce and mildly spiced meatballs make a hearty sandwich filling, or they can be served over pasta. I broil the meatballs first to quickly brown them. —Jean Glacken, Elkton, Maryland
Flavored with Italian sausage and dotted with tender meatballs, the savory from-scratch sauce made this dish one of my mom's most-requested. We five kids were always thrilled to hear it was on the menu.
-Grace Yaskovic, Branchville, New Jersey
For an old-fashioned stick-to-your-ribs meal, try this economical entree that's just 89¢ a helping. "As a newlywed, I was so grateful to my mom for sharing this easy recipe," notes Sandy McKenzie of Braham, Minnesota. "My husband enjoys this no matter how often I serve it."
Sometimes we don’t even bother with a bun for these moist, flavorful burgers. Smoked cheese, grilled onions and a special sauce make them out of the ordinary!—Christie Gardiner, Pleasant Grove, Utah
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