Most of the time, I'm not the person who encourages you to open a bunch of cans and call it cooking. Today, I'm that person. Some regional ingredients, like the enchilada sauce and roasted green chiles in this chicken tortilla casserole, are hard to find in my part of the world in any other form, and if that's your situation, you have my permission to reach for your can opener. Although I call this a tortilla casserole, the recipe only calls for two tortillas -- oat bran tortillas, which are low in calories and carbs. Swap in your favorite whole grain tortillas, but don't omit them; they keep everything else from collapsing before the casserole cooks through. For an easy worknight dinner, use a rotisserie chicken or any leftover cooked chicken. You can prep the chicken-and-bean filling a few days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Then, when you're ready to serve the casserole, assemble the layers with tortillas and cheese, and bake. Serve with traditional tortilla toppings like chunks of avocado and sour cream on the side.
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Just when I thought I'd made every turkey meatball under the sun, I spied a few strips of leftover cooked bacon from a spinach salad, and voila! BLT turkey meatballs. The essential components of a classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich are all here: bacon, of course; sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes; parsley standing in for the lettuce; mayonnaise; and bread (crumbs). Form the meatballs small, and serve them as an appetizer. Or, make them large, and stuff a pita with lettuce, tomatoes and turkey meatballs -- a BLT inside a BLT. Turkey meatballs freeze well, so if you have time, cook a double batch. You can reheat them in the microwave for sandwiches, or add to pasta for a quick worknight dinner.
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Sometimes -- very lucky times, indeed -- you find yourself with a house full of kids and grandkids having so much fun playing in the snow that afternoon turns into evening and, while wet jackets and mittens and shoes bang around in the clothes dryer, everyone decides to stay for dinner. If that happens, and you have nothing prepared, you'll be glad you stored this recipe for baked three-cheese bow-tie pasta in your recipe box. It's a mac and cheese made easy, combining low-fat ricotta and cottage cheese with just enough nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano and a buttery bread crumb topping. Toss together a side salad for the adults; then, with dinner under control, get out of the kitchen and have fun with the kids.
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To get to the trains in Boston's Back Bay Station, you navigate between two of those famous Northeast donut shops and a vendor selling Jamaican meat patties from his cart. On most days I can resist the temptation of lattes and chocolate glazed doughnuts, but the aroma of curry wafting from that cart pulls me in. The last time I walked through the station, I promised I would make Jamaican meat patties for you. Though I prefer mine with extra-lean ground beef, you can substitute freely with ground chicken or turkey, pork or even goat, which is a Caribbean favorite. The filling comes together quickly from ingredients you already have in your pantry, and to make it even easier, use store-bought discos (empanada dough), another pantry staple, for the wrapping. If you have time, make a double or triple batch. Freeze them after they're baked, and reheat in a warm oven whenever you're ready to serve. These tasty little hand pies make a great take-to-work lunch, and a popular party appetizer.
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