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Delicious dinners and versatile desserts

It’s Cinco de Mayo, baby! But you can make this anytime of the year.

Taco casserole

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 jalapeno minced

1 packet taco seasoning or homemade

1/4 cup water

2 ounces cream cheese softened

1/4 cup salsa

4 eggs

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with non-stick spray.

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno to the beef and cook until onion is translucent. Drain any grease.

Stir in the taco seasoning and water and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and salsa and stir to combine.

Crack the eggs in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together with the hot sauce and heavy cream.

Pour the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the egg mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until eggs are set.

Cool 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Hint: This can be a gluten free recipe, just make sure to check your pre-bought taco seasoning if you are not using homemade. I substitute green chillies for the jalapeno to cut some of the heat. I also double the amount of cream cheese to make it a little more saucy. This is a simple weeknight dinner served with a salad.

-Pam Rolley

This Potato Leek Soup recipe is rich and velvety, it’s low fat without any cheese or cream! Most importantly, you won’t believe how deeply satisfying, cozy and comforting it is.

Potato leek soup

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 large leeks

2 medium carrots diced

2 stalks celery diced

4-6 cloves garlic minced

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes peeled, chopped (about 1/4-inch)

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

1-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoons EACH dried thyme, dried oregano, rosemary

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Slice the roots off of the leaks then chop off the top dark green stalks; discard. Slice the remaining white/light green stalks in half lengthwise, then in half lengthwise. Add sliced leeks to a bowl of cold water and stir them around to separate them from each other and to dislodge any dirt. Scoop them out with a fine mesh sieve, dry, thinly slice and set aside.

Melt the butter in the olive oil over medium-low heat in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add the leeks, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.

Add the potatoes, broth, chicken bouillon and all remaining seasonings. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Discard bay leaves.

For a smooth soup, puree all of the soup; for a chunkier soup, don’t puree all of the soup. Blend until very smooth, being careful to let steam escape the blender or it will explode. You can do this by leaving the blender cap open and covering with a paper towel or loose dish towel. You may also use an immersion blender.

Pour pureed soup back into the pot and stir in lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Use Yukon gold potatoes and NOT Russets as your soup will not be as creamy if you use Russets.

-Karen Sick

This next recipe can be for breakfast or dessert. These bites are like potato chips – you can’t eat just one.

Blueberry pancake bites

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated cane sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of fine salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup plus 1 to 2 teaspoons whole milk

Grated lemon or orange zest

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup, warmed, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray doughnut hole pan liberally with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the flour, cane sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium owl. In a second bowl, whisk the butter, vanilla and egg until smooth; then whisk in the 1/2 cup milk and the lemon or orange zest until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until the batter just comes together. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Fill the molds of the prepared doughnut hole pan two thirds of the way with batter, press a few blueberries into each.

Bake until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 3-4 minutes.

Mix together 1/2 cup of the confectionary sugar and the remaining 1-2 teaspoons of milk to make a glaze. Toss some of the pancake bites in the remaining confectioners sugar.

Serve drizzled with the glaze, or serve with warm maple syrup for dipping.

Hint: This can be a gluten-free recipe by substituting the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour. If you don’t have a doughnut hole pan, you can use mini muffin pans.

-Pam Rolley

For another breakfast option that also can be considered dessert, check out these muffins.

Rhubarb muffins with Greek yogurt

Servings: 12 muffins

2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup 2% Greek yogurt or sour cream, light or regular

8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch diced rhubarb

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Lightly stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together; do not overmix. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb. This is a thick batter.

Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups. The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle a generous 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each muffin. Use your fingers to gently pat the topping into the tops of the muffins.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before moving them out of the pan to cool on a wire rack. Best served warm.

-Karen Sick

The Recipe Gals, Pam Rolley and Karen Sick, together have more than 60 years’ experience as nutritionists in the public school and university settings. You’ll find their delicious offerings every other week in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s section, The Taste.

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