Convenience, taste, and available ingredients hold the key


When it comes to cooking, I am all about convenience, common ingredients, speed, and taste. Before I retired from 35+ years of teaching, it was all about getting meals ready fast which didn’t always mean healthy. While I do not always consider “healthy”, I do worry about it more nowadays. 

I am a little like my precious late momma, who could pour over cookbooks for hours thinking about recipes she would like to try. For me, it’s more like thumb through some interesting recipes, see them on Facebook, do they look tasty, are they easy, and will my husband, Austin, like them? He has over the last 35 years discovered that casseroles can be okay and never asks what ingredients have been used in their preparation. 

When I realized, we were going to have an out-of-town guest last weekend, I pulled some of my new favorites out of my recipe book. Again, for me, it’s about “in the pantry now” ingredients, easy and quick preparation, and I have discovered the convenience of putting “dishes” together that can be cooked later . 



7 slices of bread crust removed 

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter softened 

1 pound of sausage 

2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese 

6 large eggs 

1 teaspoon of salt 

Black pepper to taste 

1 teaspoon of dry mustard 

2 cups of milk 

Lightly butter each slice of bread and then cut slices in half. Arrange the bread slices in a 9x13” pan Brown the sausage—drain and pat dry. Sprinkle the sausage over the bread. Top the sausage with the shredded cheese Mix the eggs, salt, pepper, dry mustard, and the milk until well blended. Pour egg mixture over bread, sausage, and cheese Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight Remove the casserole from the fridge (the next morning) and let stand at room temp for about 20 minutes Preheat oven to 350 degrees Remove the foil from pan and bake the casserole for 45 minutes or until it is bubbly around the edges and lightly browned on top. It might take a bit longer if its cold. A butter knife inserted into the center should come out clean when it’s done Remove the breakfast casserole to a rack and let it stand for 15-20 minutes. 



2 tablespoons butter 

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken) 

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

Salt/pepper to taste 

2 ½ cups chicken broth 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 ¼ white long grain rice, uncooked 

2 cups fresh broccoli florets, uncooked 

10.5 oz can of cream of chicken soup 

½ cup milk 

½ cup sour cream 

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, separated Optional seasonings 

1 teaspoon dried thyme 

½ teaspoon garlic powder 

Casserole Topping: 

1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed 

2 tablespoons melted butter 


Note: This recipe is designed to allow you to prepare all the casserole ingredients in one pot before transferring to a casserole dish for baking. Before you begin, refer to your rice package for liquid (this recipe uses chicken broth) and cooking time. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with Italian seasoning and desired amount of salt and pepper Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until melted. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. 

Add the chicken broth, olive oil, and rice to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer Cover tightly and cook for 7 minutes Add the broccoli and replace cover. Cook for 8 minutes, do not stir Turn off heat and leave the cover on. Let the rice stand for 10 minutes, do not stir Add the cooked chicken, soup, milk, sour cream, optional seasonings, and half of cheddar cheese Put into a lightly greased 9x13” casserole dish and top with remaining cheese Cover and bake for 15 minutes. 

The topping: 

Melt the butter and crumble up the crackers. Combine to form the topping Top the casserole with the cracker topping and bake uncovered for 10 additional minutes Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes prior to serving ****This casserole can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated up to 2 days prior to baking. Let it sit out for 30 minutes prior to baking or add 10 minutes to baking. The topping should be added at the end of baking just as previously mentioned. 


For the crust: 

1 box yellow cake mix 

1/3 cup soft margarine 

1 egg 

For the filling: 

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 

1 cup chopped pecans 

½ cup milk chocolate English Toffee bits 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13” baking pan with nonstick spray Mix the cake mix, margarine, and egg. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan Pour filling ingredients over the base and bake 25-30 minutes Let cool before cutting 



2 pound of ground beef 

1 large onion, chopped 

1 can pinto beans 

1 can kidney beans 

1 can chili beans 

1 can whole kernel corn, drained 

1 can stewed tomatoes—Mexican style 

1 can Rotel tomatoes 

1 package taco seasoning mix 

1 package dry ranch dressing 

2 ½ cups water or more, to make soup broth Preparation Brown ground beef and onions in a large pan, drain off fat. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for an hour or so (I leave in the crockpot for several hours—it’s better the longer it simmers). We like to serve our soup over corn chips with sour cream and cheese on top. 

If you would like to submit a story with your favorite recipes, please email Austin Bishop at along with a picture that you would like to share. 

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