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Family favorites can become even more appealing with an unexpected twist at dinner time, thanks to these four modern renditions on classic dishes that still provide essential nutrition and flavor for you and your loved ones.

Classic comfort foods reflect who we are as people and can be found across the South.

Baked Ziti Casserole

Italian fans in your family will delight in this baked ziti recipe, an Italian comfort food without all of the effort involved in creating it – tender noodles with delicious meat sauce covered by a creamy ricotta cheese mixture are baked until golden-brown in minutes, perfect for quick weeknight dinners or potluck meals that everyone will rave about and perfect leftovers too!

A key ingredient of an excellent baked ziti lies in its sauce. Many recipes call for store-bought marinara sauce as an easy pasta casserole option; however, homemade Bolognese (meat) sauce boasting plenty of onion, carrots and celery flavor, along with robust Italian seasonings is what really takes the cake; but canned spaghetti sauce works just as well if time is short!

Cook ziti until just shy of al dente, about seven minutes, drain and set aside. While your pasta is cooking, use a large skillet on medium-high heat to add ground sausage to the pan, breaking it up as you go and cooking until any pink hue has dissipated and the meat has turned lightly golden in color.

Combine ricotta cheese, sour cream, egg, basil and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until well mixed, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. When the pasta is finished cooking, mix in sausage and marinara sauce before layering half in an oven-safe baking dish with dollops of the ricotta mixture and mozzarella and Parmesan cheese before repeating layers in another baking dish until bubbly and golden-brown in colour, approximately 30 minutes later.

Serve this pasta casserole with fresh basil as desired and freeze extra portions to use later or give as gifts to new moms or those recovering from illness. It makes an ideal way to double up on dinner for another busy night – simply double it and enjoy one tonight while using one portion in the future as needed or to give as gifts!

Ziti is the classic short pasta to use here, though other shorter shapes such as penne or even spaghetti would work just as well. Just ensure to use high-quality Parmesan – aged varieties will have richer, nuttier flavors than younger less expensive varieties.

Black-Eyed Pea Casserole

Black eyed peas have long been enjoyed as part of a delicious casserole using various combinations of salt pork, ham hock, bacon grease or simply salt and pepper to give them their signature texture. Here, however, this traditional combination has been updated by using chicken broth with smoked paprika for an irresistibly flavorful and hearty dish!

For large gatherings or those with hearty appetites, this meal can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator until baking time comes around. Plus, any leftovers reheat well in the oven!

Black eyed peas are an integral component of African American cuisine and make an irresistibly satisfying addition to any meal. Their earthy flavor pairs beautifully with other dishes ranging from soupy dishes like Hoppin’ John to bean salads; black eyed peas can be enjoyed in all sorts of tasty ways!

This recipe for Black-Eyed Peas features black eyed beans cooked in chicken broth and bacon fat seasoned with salt and pepper for an irresistibly delicious dish. Once finished cooking, they are then layered with slices of meatloaf before being baked until tender for an irresistibly comforting meal.

If you don’t have access to black eyed peas, other cowpea varieties such as pinkeye purple hull peas or Southern pink lady peas can be substituted as long as the flavor and tenderness remain comparable – this recipe works best when served over rice for an complete and satisfying meal!

Black eyed peas and meatloaf is an evergreen classic dish that never disappoints, providing a comforting meal on any special occasion. Meatloaf provides rich, decadent flavors while black eyed peas add hearty comforting flavors that enhance its rich, decadent taste; when served together it creates a delectable meal perfect for any special event or just on its own! Enjoy it on its own or with potatoes as sides; adding smoked ham hock to give this dish its overall comforting character; other smoked meats such as steak, bacon or turkey breast can also be added in for extra kick.

Chicken Pot Pie

Comfort food recipes are timeless classics, but adding modern twists can keep the nostalgia going strong. Elevating classic mac and cheese by using gourmet cheeses transforms it into gourmet dining experience; and pot pies don’t escape this trend either; try this Chicken Pot Pie Recipe as an easy weeknight dinner filled with warm, cozy goodness.

This recipe is quick and easy, using frozen peas and carrots along with refrigerated Pillsbury(tm) Pie Crusts from your refrigerator. With their buttery crusts and velvety filling, this dish makes an irresistibly satisfying dinner that’s ideal for any night of the week – plus certain components can even be prepared ahead of time to help make cooking on busy weeknights seem less daunting!

This recipe for chicken pot pie requires one 12-oz bag of frozen peas and carrots, one package of Pillsbury(tm) pie crusts, 1 and 3/4 cup milk, 3 cups chicken broth, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. To begin, dice an onion and roughly chop some carrots and celery into small pieces before placing all these into a saucepan with some butter over medium heat to become tender before stirring in flour to create a roux and slowly adding milk until desired thickness and bubbliness has formed. Finally add in chicken, peas & carrots before seasoning to taste before setting aside.

Filling for chicken pot pie can be prepared up to two days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; or frozen as desired. When it’s time to assemble the dish, simply preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and bake until both crust and filling have reached golden brown coloration and become bubbly and hot.

Serve this chicken pot pie alongside a side salad and veggies for a hearty yet nutritious meal, and don’t forget to finish off with a slice of pie for dessert!

Chicken Tetrazzini

On nights when you want a cozy dinner without all of the fussiness, this classic casserole is an easy solution. Packed with pasta, chicken and mushrooms in a creamy sauce, it takes no time at all to put together and bakes in one dish; bonus points if it can even be frozen ahead for later use! Serve this with fresh rolls for an irresistibly comforting dinner that everyone will adore!

Make this chicken tetrazzini your own by changing up its ingredients or adding your own flare! For instance, this recipe calls for chicken breast but you could easily swap in thighs or tenderloin. Or substitute mushrooms for other veggies such as green peas, red bell pepper or celery; plus this casserole is an ideal way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken!

This simple chicken tetrazzini recipe can be prepared and baked in less than an hour, saving both time and effort! To save even more time, cook both pasta and chicken while the oven heats before assembling the casserole in the refrigerator before refrigerating until ready to bake. If doubling this recipe, prepare both sets of noodles before freezing the extras in airtight containers for up to 2 months; simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding as directed!

Creamy chicken tetrazzini is an easy and comforting family dinner dish perfect for cold weather, featuring rich flavors such as rich meat sauces. Pair this comfort food with fresh vegetables like steamed or roasted asparagus spears, as well as salad for extra nutrition and fiber content.