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Dining In: Cold weather, warm food

recipes November is a great time for easy, hot casseroles and soups to combat the cold, the rain, and the wind outside.

Penne with Roasted Peppers, Mushrooms, and Sausage
   6 red bell peppers, quartered, seeds and stems discarded
   2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
   Salt and freshly ground pepper
   1 package (14 oz.) large white mushrooms, halved and sliced into 1/4- inch-thick pieces
   1/2 c. packed Italian (flat leaf) parsley leaves
   1 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
   1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, stripped from the stems
   2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
   1 lb. penne or other tubular pasta shape
   4 oz. Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings, browned in skillet (optional)
   1/4 c. reserved pasta cooking liquid
   Grated Romano cheese, to taste

   Heat oven to 400 F. Cut red pepper quarters into 1/2-inch-thick diagonal pieces. Place in large (13x9-inch) baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil; add salt and pepper to taste. Bake until peppers are charred on edges and tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven.
   Meanwhile, finely chop parsley, oregano, thyme, and garlic all together; set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, over medium high heat until tender and golden brown. Add chopped herb and garlic mixture; saute, stirring, 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer to a side dish. Wipe skillet clean.
   Crumble sausage into skillet and cook, stirring, until browned and cooked through; drain off any fat. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender. Ladle out 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid; reserve. Drain pasta.
   In a large deep platter, combine pasta, red pepper mixture, mushrooms, and sausage. Add the pasta cooking liquid to moisten the pasta, as needed. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Spicy Turkey Noodle Soup
   6 cans (10 1/2-oz. each) low sodium chicken broth
   1 Tbsp. original blend seasoning
   1/2 package (6-oz.) "no-yolk" egg noodles
   1 pkg. (16-oz.) frozen fiesta-blend vegetables
   1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
   1/4 lb. cooked turkey meat, cut into 1/2 pieces
   1 tsp. Tabasco

   In Dutch oven, bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add original blend seasoning and noodles. Cook for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add vegetables, cilantro, turkey meat, and Tabasco. Simmer 5 minutes.

Wild Rice and Turkey Casserole
   1 can (10 3/4-oz.) lowfat cream of celery soup, undiluted
   2 1/2 c. water
   1 c. uncooked wild rice mixture
   1 Tbsp. onion & herb seasoning
   1/4 lb. cooked turkey meat, shredded

   Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Empty soup into casserole. Add water slowly into the soup while stirring. Add rice, onion, and herb seasoning and turkey. Stir well. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove and stir again. Bake for another 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Crescent-Topped Beef Pot Pie
(from the Beef Industry Council)
   1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 3/4-inch thick (approx. 1 lb.)
   Vegetable cooking spray
   1/4 tsp. pepper
   1 pkg. (16-oz.) frozen potato, green bean, onion, and red pepper mixture
   2 Tbsp. water
   1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
   1 jar (12-oz.) mushroom gravy
   1 can (8-oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

   Heat oven to 375 F. Trim fat from beef; cut steak lengthwise into two or three strips and then crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Spray 10-inch ovenproof skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef (1/2-inch at a time) and stir-fry 1 minute. Remove from skillet; season with pepper. Set aside.
   In same skillet, combine vegetables, water, and thyme; cook and stir 3 minutes or until vegetables are defrosted. Stir in gravy; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; return beef to skillet.
   Separate crescent rolls into 8 triangles. Starting from wide ends, roll up halfway; arrange over beef mixture so pointed ends are directed toward center. Bake in 375 F oven 17 to 19 minutes or until crescent rolls are deep golden brown.

Herbed Broccoli and Chicken over Noodles
   1 pkg. (12-oz.) noodles
   2 c. chopped broccoli
   2/3 c. finely chopped carrots
   1 can (10 3/4-oz.) cream of chicken soup
   2/3 c. lowfat 1% milk
   1/8 tsp. basil
   1/8 tsp. pepper
   1/2 tsp. onion powder
   2 c. cubed cooked chicken

   Cook noodles according to package directions; rinse, drain well, and keep warm. While noodles cook, steam broccoli and carrots in a small amount of water until tender. Drain. In a large saucepan or skillet, heat soup, milk, and spices, blending until smooth. Add chicken and vegetables and heat through. Serve over cooked noodles.

Family Taco Casserole
   6 c. (about 6 oz.) tortilla chips
   1 lb. lean ground beef
   1/4 c. chopped onion
   1 can (8-oz.) tomato sauce
   1/2 c. water
   1 envelope (1 1/4-oz) taco seasoning mix
   1 c. light sour cream
   1 c. lowfat, shredded mozzarella cheese
   Shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes

   Crush tortilla chips to coarse crumbs. Set aside.
   Crumble ground beef into medium-size glass bowl. Add onion. Microwave at HIGH (100%) for 5 minutes, stirring 3 times. Drain fat. Stir in tomato sauce, water and seasoning mix. Microwave at HIGH (100%) until boiling (about 3 minutes).
   In 1 1/2 quart microwaveable casserole, layer ingredients in this order: half the crushed tortilla chips, all the ground beef mixture, sour cream, mozzarella cheese, remaining tortilla chips. Microwave at HIGH (100%) for 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated, rotating casserole a half turn after 3 minutes. Serve topped with let-tuce and tomatoes, if desired.