Less than semi-homemade

I used to be able to spend lots of hours cooking and baking in my kitchen — that is, until my health took a nosedive. Now I need to sit down and rest a lot in between tasks, so I’ve been cooking “less than semi-homemade” for quite a while.

No offense to Sandra Lee, whose “semi-homemade” cooking I love, but she puts more effort and time into those lovely dishes (and her tablescapes, I might add!), and these days I can’t even manage that.

So, my definition for “less than semi-homemade” cooking is this: take a box, package or can of something or other, add a few ingredients, and voila! It looks like I spent quite a bit of time over it, and may even taste that way on a good day, but in reality has only taken maybe 15 minutes (minus cooking or baking time).

One of my favorite easy dessert recipes is an apple crostata, which is a fancy name for a rustic apple pie. It involves slicing a few apples and adding a little sugar, flour, and some spices, and literally tossing them together into a refrigerated pie crust. This is especially yummy when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

During the colder months, like right now, I like to use my slow cooker quite often because the end result is a very homey meal with very little effort. My go-to slow cooker dinner is simply to take some frozen chicken breasts and add one can of either cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, a can of sliced mushrooms, a can of sliced potatoes, and a can of sliced carrots. I add some seasoned salt to the cream soup to give it a little zest and pour it over the other ingredients. About 1/2 hour before I’m going to serve dinner, I bake some canned biscuits, and a real comfort dinner is ready for us.

So what’s for dinner tonight? I bought an after-Thanksgiving turkey breast on sale and am going to roast it. Since the oven will be hot, I’ll toss in a couple of potatoes during the last hour to bake at the same time. My green veggie dish will be fresh green beans steamed first and then sauteed with butter, chopped onions, garlic and fresh mushrooms. Oh yeah!

And that apple crostata pictured above? That’s what’s for dessert!

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