Pot pies

Photo: Andrew Purcell

For When You're Hosting a Dinner Party
These pot pies, made with a hearty mix of mushrooms, barley and white beans, have show-stoppingly good looks and are just as delicious as the traditional chicken version. If you haven't yet cooked with phyllo dough, prepare to fall in love: It's a quicker, flakier and lighter alternative to the usual butter-heavy dough (plus, you don't have to make it; just buy it in the freezer aisle).

Get the recipe: Vegetable-Barley Pot Pies
Turkey child

Photo: Thinkstock

For When You Had a Cruddy Day at Work
Nachos—even the homemade kind—don't require a ton of brainpower, and what better way to wipe out work woes than by eating dinner with your hands from one big plate in the middle of the table? Topping them with from-scratch chili, though, is a way to make the snack food feel like a real meal, and this recipe is a keeper; it gets a mysterious, spicy-sweet note from cinnamon (trust us, it works). Once you've made the chili, which takes a half-hour max, all that's left is to spoon it over tortilla chips and melt some shredded cheddar on top.

Get the recipe: Turkey Chili
Pot roast

Photo: Alexandra Rowley

For When You're Nostalgic for Your Favorite Childhood Meal
There's something incredibly soothing and gratifying about spending a Sunday afternoon at home while a pot roast simmers on the stove. And while making this tender beef dish takes time, it's mostly left unattended, so you can catch up on other things until dinner's ready. Bonus: You'll get the meat plus a flavorful tomato sauce you can serve over pasta for another meal.

Get the recipe: Kitchen Workhorse Italian Pot Roast
Baked Eggs in Ham Baskets

Photo: David Kiang

For When Everyone's Coming Over for Brunch
You may have mastered the omelet, but making them for a crowd can be tedious. That's why we adore this four-ingredient, low-stress recipe, which delivers a gorgeous-looking egg dish with a tiny, how-is-this-possible amount of work. You simply line each cup of a muffin pan with a slice of ham, crack an egg into each and drizzle heavy cream on top. Salt, pepper and a sprig of thyme are the only seasonings needed, since the ham has lots of flavor. After about 10 minutes in the oven, each person can enjoy his or her very own edible breakfast basket.

Get the recipe: Baked Eggs in Ham Baskets
Pigs in blankets

Photo: Ditte Isager

For When You Have to Bring an Appetizer
Whether it's book-club night, a Superbowl party or your new neighbor's housewarming, the all-purpose finger food known as pigs in a blanket never disappoints. Here's a reworked version of the classic, with a spoonful of caramelized onions tucked into each piece of puff-pastry dough, adding a sweet counterpoint to the salty hot dogs.

Get the recipe: Pigs in a Blanket
Chicken noodle soup

Photo: Stephanie Frey/iStock/Thinkstock

For When You (or Someone You Love) Is Sick
There are so many reasons to love the elixir that is chicken noodle soup, but one we don't often consider is how uncomplicated it is. This recipe—so basic and so perfect—calls for broth, a chicken, carrots, onions, celery, herbs and egg noodles. That's it.

Get the recipe: Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup