Slow cooker ragu uses canned ingredients such as beef broth and crushed tomatoes to maximize its flavor.
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Slow cooker ragu uses canned ingredients such as beef broth and crushed tomatoes to maximize its flavor.

Canned ingredients ensure tasty cooking

Family Features

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Whether you’re preparing a quick breakfast for the family, feeding a crowd at dinner or looking for a light lunch for yourself, the key to a delicious, nutritious homemade meal is just minutes away thanks to the canned foods in your pantry.

“Canned fruits and vegetables are a must in my pantry. They are picked and canned at the peak of ripeness, hours after they’re harvested, locking in their flavor, freshness and nutrition,” said Kelsey Nixon, host of “Kelsey’s Essentials” on Cooking Channel and Food Network. “Having canned fruits and vegetables on hand means a healthy snack, meal or side dish is achievable anytime.”

In addition to nutrient-rich staples such as tomatoes, corn and beans, Nixon recommended stocking up on ingredients such as canned olives, tuna, artichokes, pumpkin and chiles. These canned foods can elevate the flavors of a dish and breathe new life into some of your favorite recipes.

Her other tips include:

  • Keeping a well-stocked pantry helps you avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store after a long day.
  • Tomato-based canned ingredients such as diced tomatoes and tomato sauce are the most versatile when it comes to making a wide variety of recipes like chili, salsa, marinara sauce, soups or casseroles.
  • Canned fruits add an unexpected twist to savory dishes, and can transform recipes in exciting ways. Just add canned peaches to homemade barbecue sauce or canned pineapple to curries and stir-fry recipes for a healthy and flavorful upgrade.

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Chicken Pozole

1 1/2 cups of chicken, shredded from a store bought (3- to 4-pound) rotisserie chicken

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon oregano

3 teaspoons ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

4.5-ounce can chopped green chiles

1/2 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

7-ounce can salsa verde

2 15-ounce cans hominy, drained

2 14-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Garnishes (optional)

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges

1/2 cup cream or sour cream

Crushed tortilla chips

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Thinly sliced radishes

1 avocado, diced

Remove meat from chicken and shred into 1-inch pieces; discard skin and bones. Set aside about 11/2 cups of meat for soup; reserve remaining chicken for another use.

In large Dutch oven or saucepot set over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook until translucent and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Add oregano, coriander and cumin, and cook until slightly darkened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add green chiles, chopped tomatoes, salsa verde and cook until it just comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add hominy and chicken broth and return to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Season with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and cook until heated through, 3 minutes.

To serve, divide among 4 bowls.

Yields four servings.



Artichoke And Bean Salad With Tuna

15-ounce can (about 2 cups) white northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1 rib celery, finely diced

2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

6-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Kosher salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently and refrigerate 45 minutes before serving. Serve salad on bed of mixed greens with crusty bread. Or alternatively, serve salad scooped onto hero roll with arugula.

Yields four servings.



Crustless Quiche

4 large eggs

1 1/3 cups milk

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1/2 cup chopped scallions

4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, thoroughly drained

1/2 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, well drained

1/2 cup diced honey-baked or deli ham

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups plain croutons

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs together with milk, cornstarch and mustard. Stir in scallions, drained mushrooms, tomatoes and ham. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture to 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish. Top with shredded cheese and croutons. Bake until center is set 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields eight servings.



Slow Cooker Ragu

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1/4 cup canned tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth (canned)

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef sirloin

14.5-ounce can sliced carrots, drained

4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained

Cooked pasta, such as spaghetti, for serving

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and saute for 1 minute just to soften. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper, cooking for about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and thyme and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Slowly add beef broth to deglaze bottom of pan, stirring with wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully transfer mixture to slow cooker. Stir in canned tomatoes. Mix pork and sirloin together in separate bowl, using your hands, until combined. Stir meat into slow cooker, spreading out evenly and avoiding any large clumps.

Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours. During last two hours of cooking, add canned carrots and mushrooms to ragu.

Skim accumulated grease from top before serving. Serve over pasta with crusty bread for soaking up sauce.

Yields eight to 10 servings.



Peaches And Cream Cheesecake Bars

1 cup almonds, finely chopped

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

8.75-ounce can peaches, drained

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray. In mixing bowl combine almonds, graham cracker crumbs and butter with fork until combined. Press into bottom of pan.

Using handheld or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain. While mixing, add sweetened condensed milk, eggs, lemon juice, almond extract and flour. Mix until fully combined. Pour over crust.

In food processor or blender, puree peaches. Stir in a pinch of salt. Using tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of peach puree over top of cream cheese mixture. Using knife, gently swirl peaches through filling to create marbled look.

Bake for 30 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before transferring to refrigerator to chill throughout.

Cut bars and serve chilled.

Yields 36 bars.