The holiday season is here and that means busy days and nights. If you're looking for quick and easy dinners, stop right here. Three entrees that depend on cheese, fill the bill to fill your family's tummy. The first is cheesy broccoli and rice. Even children who don't like broccoli like this dish. The second is a spicy enchilada casserole and the third a gourmet take on mac and cheese. All three dishes are vegetarian which means they save you money.
Start off with a preparing a silky cheese sauce.
Combine 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of flour until smooth. Heat in the saucepan until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Add 1/2 cup of your favorite shredded cheese. You'll need one cup of this sauce for every two servings. Since the ingredients below make dishes that serve four, make 2 cups.
Cook 2 cups of broccoli in the microwave until it's softened but still crisp. The broccoli will finish cooking in the oven. Combine with 2 cups of cooked rice. Or use instant rice with water as the directions specify. Add 2 cups of the cheese sauce. Stir well.
Top with an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Either freeze this in an air tight container for a dinner you only have to bake later or bake in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes until the dish is bubbly and the cheese melted.
If you can layer you can make this dish. You won't be using the cheese sauce for this dish. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to two 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce. Add more cayenne pepper for a hotter kick or add several chopped jalapeno peppers.
Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Layer in five or six corn tortillas. Add another 1/2 cup of sauce and spread over the tortillas.
Slice one medium onion and layer over the tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over the onions. Finish with 1/2 cup of sauce and another layer of tortillas. Spread the remaining sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 F oven.
Gourmet Mac and Cheese
Butter the bottom of a casserole dish. Combine 4 cups of cooked macaroni with 2 cups of cheese sauce and 2 cups of frozen defrosted peas. You don't have to cook the peas. Place in the casserole dish. Cover with a layer of breadcrumbs -- about 1 to 1/2 cups and an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Heat at 350 F until the breadcrumbs are brown and the cheese topping melted. This is oh so much better than the boxed stuff.
If going vegetarian isn't your thing. Add 1 cup of chopped chicken to the rice and broccoli, 1 cup of chopped turkey, cooked ground beef or cooked diced pork to the enchilada casserole and 1 cup of cubed ham to the mac and cheese.
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. Her hobbies include gardening and cooking healthy dinner recipes, and sharing her grilling tips. She lives with an Irish Setter and an English Springer Spaniel.