3-Ingredient Comfort Foods
The trick to making a deeply flavored chili without having to raid your spice cabinet is in a can of "chili beans," which are just pinto beans in chili sauce. You stir them into a pound of ground beef that you've cooked (and drained), along with a can of diced tomatoes (use "chili-ready," if you can find them). Simmer for about 30 minutes and you've got a surprisingly rich supper.
Pork and apples go so well together, and you don't need much else to turn them into a delicious supper. Season two chops with salt and pepper, heat a spoonful of olive oil in a skillet and sear the meat on both sides, about five minutes per side. Move the chops to a plate and add half of a sliced onion and an apple that's been cored and sliced. When the chops are soft, return the chops to the pan, after pouring in a splash of water; cook for another five to 10 minutes, until the pork is cooked through (the internal temperature should be 145°F).
Homemade mac and cheese is tastier and healthier than boxed—plus, you can make it as cheesy as you like. Boil a pound of regular, or whole wheat, pasta in salted water, drain it and return it to the pan with about three tablespoons of butter. Grate a fist-size pile of sharp cheddar; and, while the pasta is still hot, mix the cheese into the pasta until it melts. Slowly add a little milk (start with a half-cup) and stir until the sauce is smooth. Season with black pepper.
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Here's proof that a whole chicken is the gift that keeps on giving: with some seriously basic ingredients (and a couple of hours' brining time), you can have a twist on chicken pot pie that rivals a from-scratch version. Start by mixing 3/4 cup kosher salt with a quart of cold water. Place a three- to four-pound chicken in a large bowl and pour the brine over it. Cover and refrigerate for four hours, then remove the chicken from the brine, pat it dry with paper towels and roast it in a 400-degree oven for one to one-and-a-half hours (the internal temperature should be 165). Let the chicken cool, then pull off the meat, shred it with two forks and combine it with two cups of chicken stock in a casserole dish. Lay biscuit-dough rounds on top, and bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, until biscuits are done.
These sweet and nutty bites are a snap to make with a few pantry staples. Just stir one cup each of peanut butter and white sugar with an egg until smooth. Drop tablespoon-size balls of the dough (you should be able to make 12) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and use a fork to make a crosshatch pattern on each. Bake at 350°F for six to eight minutes.