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Dinner doesn’t have to be hard

By By Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Dear Mom’s Corner,
From your articles I know you make a lot of “homemade” dishes. Do you ever “cheat” and use packaged mixes to start with or just jazz up already prepared foods? What are your favorite “cheats?”
L. M.
Dear L. M.,
The answer to your first question is: Yes! Most definitely! Although, I do make quite a few dishes from “scratch,” there are some things package mixes just make easier. For example, muffins. My kids prefer the package mixes to Mom’s homemade, mostly because the mixes are sweeter and have the “jelly dots” instead of real fruit. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, the muffin mixes are much faster than homemade.
Back to “cheats.” One of my family’s favorite cheats is my “homemade” salsa. Here’s the recipe:
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained (I use the generic brand)
1 large can of regular tomatoes drained
Onion (any kind you like)
Hot Peppers
Green Peppers
Vinegar (1-3 tsps)
Salt and Pepper
Garlic (roasted or powder)
I use a food processor and first put in the peppers and onions and chop them just a bit bigger than the size I want in the salsa. Next add the tomatoes and chop again.
Add the remaining ingredients to taste.
I know I didn’t put amounts on several of the ingredients, but it is really up to you and what you and your family enjoy. This is the reason I really like this recipe. I usually divide it up and make half of it a lot spicier than the other. If you do happen to get it a bit on the too hot side, just add more plain canned tomatoes until you get what you desire. You can also use fresh tomatoes and just add green chilies.
Another favorite cheat of mine is honey barbequed chicken.
Chicken chunks (frozen, breaded, pre-cooked)
Oil for deep frying (I know, but in this instance it just works better than baking)
Spicy, honey, barbeque sauce (the thicker one is better, but any kind will work)
Start by frying the chicken chunks, then drain chicken on paper towels and let cool slightly. Next, place chicken in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid and pour honey barbeque sauce over chicken.
Put lid on tightly and shake until chicken is coated. Place chicken in a baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with oil and bake at 400 for about 5-8 minutes or until barbeque coating is just a bit sticky. This is a quick main dish. It is a little expensive considering the cost of the pre-cooked chicken. However, it is still less expensive than eating out.
Do you have a favorite “cheat?” If so, please share it with me at Thanks!!