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Meet the winner of our contest for quick, healthy recipes

You might be taking your mom out to eat on Mother's Day, but chances are that on most of the other days of the year, she's the head chef at home.

Often, finding quick, healthy recipes to feed a family can be a chore.

We asked readers of to contribute their best easy recipes for a chance to win my cookbook, Flavors of Kentucky, and a $100 gift certificate from Kroger.

The winner is Hillary McEwen of Lexington, an emergency-room nurse at University of Kentucky Hospital. Her recipe is called awesome chicken.

"I am a mom-to-be. My husband and I are expecting our first, a little girl, in a couple months," McEwen said. "I love cooking, and it is nice to have some recipes you can make quickly after a long day working at the hospital. Sometimes it would be easier to eat out or pop in a frozen pizza, but that is not always best when you are on a budget, plus pregnant and trying to eat healthy.

"I love this recipe. I came up with it by copying and adding a few ingredients to something my mom used to make, which was chicken crusted in Parmesan cheese and crushed saltines. This is a lot more flavorful, I think. I usually just use a little of this and that. This recipe makes it moist, tender and flavorful."


Awesome chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 to 2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash garlic herb seasoning

4 to 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise (just enough to moisten the above mixture)

Place chicken breasts between sheets of wax paper and pound to even thickness. Place chicken in shallow baking pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Top each chicken breast with 1/4 of topping mixture. Bake in 350-degree oven until chicken juices run clear and middle is no longer pink (about 20 minutes; do not overcook). You might want to broil for 2 more minutes to get topping more brown.

Dana East of Lexington said her children play sports, and "sometimes we do not get home until 9:30 or 10 p.m. This recipe tastes good and is very easy to do. I normally use leftover chicken from other dinners to make this dish. If I do not have leftover chicken and I'm in a hurry, I substitute with Tyson pre-cooked chicken with the southwest seasoning.

"Trying to cook and manage busy schedules with work, school and sports has led me to look for easy recipes, and I came across this one years ago. It's a dish the whole family will eat."

Chicken enchiladas

8 ounces cream cheese (can be low fat)

8-ounce jar salsa

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or chopped

8 6-inch flour tortillas

12 ounces Velveeta processed cheese spread, sliced (reduced fat variety can be used)

1/4 cup milk (can be skim)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, melt cream cheese with salsa. Add chicken. Spread mixture, about 1⁄3 cup, onto a tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down in baking dish.

In a saucepan, melt processed cheese with milk. Pour over tortillas. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Kat Wright of Lexington said she and her husband love to prepare eggs when they want a quick, easy, healthy meal.

"We enjoy quiche and wanted to change things up a bit. We brought home avocados, black beans and salsa to put a Mexican spin on the dish. We forgot to purchase the crust, so we decided to make it with what we had," she said.

The couple ended up with this frittata. It also makes great leftovers.

Black bean and avocado frittata

1 medium onion, chopped

15-ounce can black beans

2 avocados, chopped

10 eggs

1/4 cup sour cream (can be light)

1/2 cup milk (can be skim)

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, sauté onion for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in black beans and avocados. Pour mixture into a greased pie dish. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and add sour cream, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over ingredients. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Tandy Hubbard of Lexington shares her favorite dinnertime recipe.

Billy's favorite chicken pita pizzas

1 package pita flatbread

1 jar pizza sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 pound cooked chicken, chopped (baked, boiled or rotisserie)

Chopped onion and peppers of your choice

2 Roma tomatoes sliced thinly

4 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Assemble pizzas in the following order: pita, sauce (you will not need the entire jar), small amount of cheese, chicken, onions, peppers, tomatoes, remaining cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Bake about 20 minutes or until browned.

Makes 5 servings.

Wendy O'Connor of Richmond said ground pork or turkey can be substituted for the ground beef in her sloppy joe casserole. Also, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese can be used in place of the sloppy joe sauce and cheddar cheese, she said. "Sloppy joe casserole was a favorite in our family growing up," O'Connor said. My mom would make it on nights when she needed something quick and hearty and everyone would be eating at different times. It is also the only casserole that my sister and I would eat. We were extremely picky. The casserole holds well, reheats, and freezes well."

Sloppy joe casserole

1 pound ground beef (look for lean)

1 can sloppy joe sauce (Manwich)

2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups biscuit mix (can be low fat mix)

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Stir in sloppy joe sauce. Spoon into ungreased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. In a bowl, stir together biscuit mix, milk and eggs until blended. Pour over beef mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 25 to 27 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.This recipe is from Karen Butler of Nicholasville.

Sausage quiche

1 pound bulk sausage

3 whole eggs

1 cup sour cream (can be low-fat)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

1 unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Crumble sausage into a skillet, and cook until no longer pink. Drain well on paper towels. Beat eggs and add sour cream, salt, cheese and sausage. Pour into pie crust. Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then decrease heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until set.

Terri True of Lexington shares this recipe.

Eleanor's chicken

4 chicken breasts

8-ounce package sliced mozzarella cheese

1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup (can be low fat)

1⁄3 cup dry white wine

Potato chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts in dish. Cover each piece with a slice of cheese. In a small bowl, mix together soup and white wine. Pour over chicken, and top with crushed potato chips. Cover and bake for 1 hour.

This quick dish is from Tom Blackman of Lexington.

Tuna pasta

1 pound box tri-colored pasta

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup milk

Garlic salt, to taste

2 cans tuna, drained

1 small can mushrooms

Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large saucepan, melt butter and add milk, garlic salt, tuna and mushrooms. Add cooked pasta and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Karen Bailey of Paris makes salmon rolls when she's in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

Salmon rolls

1 can salmon

1 egg, beaten

1 small onion, diced

2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls (16 rolls)

Slices of Velveeta cheese, cut in half

Drain salmon and place in a bowl. With a fork, break apart the pieces. Add egg and onion, and stir to combine. Place crescent rolls on a baking sheet. Spoon salmon mixture on the wide ends of the crescents and add a piece of cheese. Roll up crescents and bake according to package directions.

This recipe is from Tonia Carr of Lexington.


8 ounces pasta (elbows or shells)

1½ pounds ground beef (lean is best)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small onion, coarsely diced

1 green pepper, coarsely diced

2 can whole tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

Salt and pepper

Tabasco, to taste

Sour cream, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a skillet, brown ground beef with garlic, onions and green pepper. Drain fat from beef, and add tomatoes and paste. Stir in cooked pasta. Simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper and Tabasco or a dab of sour cream to taste. Serve with biscuits or sourdough bread and butter. The leftovers the next day are even better.

Audrey Blevins of Lexington said her go-to recipe is Polish bean soup. "If I'm in a terrible hurry, I use frozen diced potatoes (hash browns) and frozen diced onions. A few dashes of my favorite hot sauce in my bowl of bean soup, and I'm good to go," Blevins said.

Polish bean soup

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

2 cans great northern beans

1 package Polish sausage, sliced

Place onion and potatoes in a stock pot and add enough water to cover. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until potatoes are tender. Reduce heat and add beans and sausage, and continue to cook until heated through.