We have, indeed, had our fair share of of mood-dampening, humid, rainy and gloomy days and nights. But I urge you all not to let the weather get you down. As we're expecting cooler weather, you may want to a break and enjoyed one or all of these three easy, comforting dishes that are simple to prepare, yet bursting with incredible flavor - and each takes no more than an hour from start to finish. Hint: For those of you who do not eat beef, you may substitute it in the casserole by using ground turkey. Please try these as a treat for your taste buds and your body.

Beefy tomato, corn, onion casserole

2 cups corkscrew macaroni that has been cooked, rinsed, drained

2 pounds ground chuck

1 cup Vidalia onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped

8-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 can white, tender corn, drained

1 cup grated mild or sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown the ground chuck. Drain excess fat and return to the pan. Add the chopped onions, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Brown these ingredients on medium heat, tossing continually, for about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and hot sauce. Stir until well combined. Stir in the macaroni and corn. Pour this mixture into a large, lightly buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese over the top evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. This recipe makes eight servings.

Easy, healthful turkey chili

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound ground turkey

1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

Salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth

(Shredded cheddar, sour cream and tortilla chips for serving.)

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until barely softened, about 3 minutes. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin and chipotle powder and season with salt. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon, until the liquid has evaporated and the turkey is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and then the tomato paste. Add the stock and corn and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with cheddar, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Heart warming apple crisp

(You may use any fruit for this "crisp" recipe.)

5 tablespoons cold butter, plus more for greasing the pan

6 cups pitted, sliced apples (2 to 3 pounds)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2/3 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional

1 cup vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 F. Cut the 5 tablespoons butter into 1/4-inch bits and put in the fridge or freezer. Lightly butter a square baking pan. Toss the peaches with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar in a large bowl, and spread them out in the prepared pan.

Combine the chilled pieces of butter with the remaining brown sugar, the oats, the flour, the salt and the nuts if you're using them in a food processor and pulse a few times, then process a few seconds more, until everything is combined but not too finely ground. (To mix this by hand, mash the mixture together between your fingers.)

Crumble the topping over the peaches and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the topping is browned and the peaches are tender and bubbling. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with ice cream if you like. This recipe makes six to eight delicious servings.

Contact writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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