By Jenny Stauffer

Happy Thanksgiving! Between now and the end of the holidays, all of us moms will be busy visiting relatives, shopping and wrapping, or hosting company of our own. Having a casserole in the freezer or on-hand is a lifesaver when we are frazzled. It is also easy to add a salad and rolls for a quick, hearty meal. I also have easy appetizers and some fun desserts to have on hand for when you may need them. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Sundried Tomato Spread

8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup chopped, drained (I rinse and dry, too) oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
4 green onions, chopped
¼ cup chopped pecans
Hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire to taste Beat cream cheese with a blender until smooth.Add rest of ingredients, stirring to combine.Serve with toasted Baguettes (such as those from the Fresh Market) or wheat thins.

Taste of Home’s Baked Spaghetti

This is yummy. My kids like it and the mushroom soup adds a little creaminess.

1 package (16 ounces) spaghetti
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil (I substitute Italian seasoning, about a tablespoon, for the basil, oregano and marjoram)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (I add more and throw some cheddar on top, as well)

Break spaghetti in half; cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook the beef, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the soups, tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and seasonings.

Drain spaghetti; stir into meat sauce. Add 1/2 cup cheese. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.

Cover (spray the underside of your tin foil so the cheese won’t stick) and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 12 servings.6 tablespoons melted butter, divided

Southern Living’s Chicken Cobbler Casserole

This is special enough to serve to company or take to someone. It bakes up very nice and has a nice presentation with the big chunks of sourdough bread and the color from the peppers.

4 cups cubed sourdough rolls
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 medium-size sweet onions, sliced
1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup white wine
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup drained and chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken Preparation

Toss 4 tablespoons melted butter with next 3 ingredients; set aside.

Sauté onions in remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat 15 minutes or until golden brown. Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes.

Stir in wine and next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until bubbly. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish; top evenly with bread mixture.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden brown

Shrimp with Penne

This is another casserole that is company-friendly and a bit fancier than most.

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ T olive oil
1 c diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup dry white wine
3 T fresh parsley, divided
1 T capers
½ tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp black pepper
Dash crushed red pepper
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 c hot cooked penne pasta
Cooking spray
½ cup feta cheese (you know I use more)

Preheat oven to 450. Drain tomatoes through a sieve into a bowl (reserving tomatoes and ½ cup liquid. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over med. Heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 3 minutes. Add wine and cook 1 min. Add tomatoes, reserved tomato liquid, 1 ½ T parsley, capers, oregano, basil, pepper and red pepper to pan. Cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 2 min. Stir in pasta. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with feta and remaining parsley. Bake for 10 minutes.

Pecan Tarts

Portion controlled and fun!

At room temp, soften a stick of butter or margarine.

Add a small 3 oz package of cream cheese and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Mix with a blender well. Wrap with plastic wrap overnight

¾ c packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 T butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Dash salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Use a mini muffin tin. Make 24 balls of dough. Spray the pan with Pam. Put the dough ball in the tin, and mash up the sides to the top of the tin. Put filling in. Bake 325 for 25 minutes or until brown. Cool 5 minutes and pull out with a knife. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Cheesecake Bars

This is a much more approachable recipe than making an actual cheesecake, and again, it is a nice holiday portion.

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 c flour
2/3 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 T lemon juice
4 T of canned evaporated milk

Combine brown sugar, nuts, and flour. Stir in butter. Mix with hands until crumbly. Measure out 1 cup and set aside. Press remainder in a 9 x 13 pan (sprayed with Pam). Bake 350 12-15 minutes. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs. Beat. Add in lemon juice, milk, and vanilla. Pour over crust. Top with leftover crumbly mixture. Return to oven. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool thoroughly and cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator. (Layer wax paper atop each layer when storing in container).