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Comfort food; easy and tastes good

When it is cold and dark when I get home from work like it is at this time of the year, I crave hot comfort food. Some call it hotdish, others call it casseroles, but just the same it is an all-in-one meal that is good eating and doesn’t require a lot of effort. Most of the time, you can crack open a few cans of various food, toss them together in a baking dish, and let it bake while you do something else. Presto, you have a hearty, hot and fresh dinner from the oven.

■ Quick Hotdish supper

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups cubed, cooked ham or chicken

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 cups cooked noodles

1/2 cup shredded cheese

In saucepan, cook onion in butter or margarine until tender; add remaining ingredients except cheese. Pour into shallow 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot; stir. Top with cheese. Bake until cheese melts.

■ Pork Chop and

Potato Casserole

4-6 pork chops

1 can golden mushroom soup,

mixed with 1/2 can water

Sliced potatoes

Sliced onions

Season chops with salt and pepper and brown well. Place chops at bottom of casserole. Top with layer of potatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper and layer of onions. Pour soup mixture over top. Cover and bake at 350 degree oven for one hour. Uncover and bake additional 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

■ Low-Fat Caesar Salad

with Garlic Croutons

1 clove garlic, halved

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

2 teaspoons white wine

Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons each olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups sourdough bread cubes

18 cups romaine lettuce, torn

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated

Drop the garlic halves through the opening of the blender lid with the blender turned on and process until minced. Add the mayonnaise and the next five ingredients; process until well blended. Cover and chill at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the olive oil and minced garlic in a medium microwave safe bowl. Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a baking dish, bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Add dressing, toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese, top with croutons.

GARY’S TIP: For an excellent flavor when cooking vegetables, use canned chicken broth instead of water when cooking.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The surest way to dray a crowd is with two words: “Free food.”