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How To Cook: Cheater Dinners

Updated on December 26, 2016

Cheater Dinners : An Explanation

Have you every looked at a recipe and thought "No, that's just too complicated"? The cooking terms that seem so intimidating, and are often in another language, the fancy appliances and methods...all of these things combine to make even the simplest recipe seem like it is out of reach for people without a background in food. Added to that are the "food snobs" who think everything needs to be homegrown, organic, homemade and using only the most expensive ingredients. Let me tell you, folks...they're wrong. You can make wonderful food for yourself and your family using easily available, cheap ingredients; even frozen, pre-made components to cut time and cost! In most cases, they taste just as good, if not better, than the complicated versions.

Today's post is about "shortcut cooking". Using frozen or pre-made ingredients in your dinners. Two of my favorite of these recipes follow.

Chicken Parmigiana


Package frozen breaded chicken breasts

Bottle spaghetti sauce (whatever flavor makes you happy)

Sliced or shredded mozzarella


One baking sheet

1. Preheat oven per package directions, and find yourself a baking sheet.

2. Place your chicken on the sheet and cook your chicken until it's about five minutes from being done.

3.. This one is entirely up to personal preference. Either spoon a couple spoonfuls of sauce onto the chicken and then add the cheese, or do it the other way around. There is no right or wrong way!

4. Put back in oven and bake for the last five minutes or so...or until the cheese melts.

5. Take out and enjoy!

Serve with potatoes, pasta, a good loaf of bread...whatever you want; it's your dinner!

The Chicken Patties

Chicken Pot Pie


Package frozen noodles and vegetables with chicken (Birdseye has these in the frozen meal section of your local grocery store. I suggest the ones that have ranch or cheese seasoning and nothing too exotic)

Two cans cream of mushroom soup

1 can chicken (or cut up leftover chicken if you have some; skin and bones removed, please)

Package refrigerated pie dough (This comes in a box and needs to be unrolled...NOT the pre-made pie crusts that are ready to fill with pie filling!)


Large mixing bowl

can opener

casserole or cake pan

Spoon to mix with

Preheat oven to 350

1. Personal preference again...I don't like the processed chicken that comes in these mixes, so I pick the pieces out. If you don't mind...leave them.

2. Pour pasta and vegetable mix into the bowl.

3. Pour the cream of mushroom soup into the mix.

4. Drain the liquid from the chicken, and add to the mixing bowl with everything else. Stir until well combined (No streaks of soup left, everything looks to be about evenly covered)

5. Place one round of pie dough into the dish you're going to use, trying to cover as much of the bottom and sides as possible.

6. Pour pasta mixture into the pie crust.

7. Place second round of dough on top, pressing a little around the edges. (If you have dough hanging over the sides, remove it with either scissors, your fingers, or a knife.)

8. Bake for approximately one hour. You will have to check at the end, by pulling a little of the filling out of the middle to make sure it's hot and the vegetables are cooked through.

Pasta Mix

You're Done!!

Ok, my friends; you're done! Simple, easy, inexpensive, and delicious!

As always, above all have fun. If your dinner doesn't look quite right but still tastes good; that's all that matters. If it should happen to be completely for takeout. Enjoy the process without worrying too much about the end result.


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