Chef Charles Mattocks shares his recipes for simple, cost-effective and healthy family-style dinners.
Turkey UpsideDown Casserole
This is one of those standbys that kids seem to love because it gets turned upside-down. If you have hamburger meat and a few staples in the kitchen, you can put it together in a flash.
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup sliced onion
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 10.5-oz can tomato puree
1 (11.5-oz) can refrigerator biscuits
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the meat and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until browned. Pour in the tomato puree, add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce, and stir well. Scrape the contents of the skillet into a 2-quart baking dish. Place the refrigerator biscuits side by side over the top of the meat mixture. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the biscuits are browned. To serve, put a serving dish on top of the casserole and invert it, so that the biscuits are on the bottom.
Penne Pasta with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
This is a rich-tasting but fairly light pasta dish, because it lets the cheese make its own sauce. With any interesting sauce, we like to use tube pasta, such as penne or ziti, which lets the sauce get inside. A ridged pasta such as rigatoni holds sauce well but might be too big and chewy for this subtle sauce. Honestly, in a pinch any pasta will do.
For the blue cheese, your best choices are Danish blue, Maytag blue, Roquefort, or Gorgonzola. If you use either of the latter two, make sure they're young and firm, since they get stronger as they age, and heating makes flavors stronger still; you don't want this dish to be overwhelmingly pungent.
To make this pasta go further, or if you're feeding an especially hungry crowd, you can saute some spinach and/or chicken in a little garlicky oil and toss it in at the end.
8 ounces penne pasta
2 tbsps olive oil, plus extra for the pasta
12 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and toss with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together, and cover to keep warm. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the cheese. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Pour the melted cheese over the pasta, sprinkle with the walnuts and basil, and toss well. Serve immediately.