First–an update on DROP IN AND DECORATE:

You can see I had some great help over the past couple of days and am much closer to being ready for DROP IN AND DECORATE, coming up at my house on Monday afternoon, December 14, 4-7pm. If you haven’t heard about it yet, DROP IN is a nation-wide program to bring people together decorating cookies for nursing homes, group homes and so on. You can check out the last blog on this site for complete details and a little history of the eight-year program.

My lovely young helpers worked all day Saturday making dough, cutting out cookies and baking them in my wondrous oven with three racks. We kept the music coming for hours and took a great break at Poor Richard’s on Tejon for pizza midday. Many thanks to Heather and Joshua, who are already excellent bakers thanks to their Mom and Grandma. We even had enough cookies for me to take a tray to a party last night. Can’t wait to see you with bells on, ready to sling some icing and red and green sugar around the kitchen, while playing and singing (or listening to) heart-warming homemade Christmas music from students and friends.
Apologies for photos; my camera died. These are from my cell.
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Meantime, a girl has to eat. This week, I cooked up another single pan dinner luscious for one or two people. I’ve had a couple of friends ask me lately about cooking for one and realize that most folks, even if they are cooks, do not like the idea of cooking for themselves. If you don’t believe this, think about the number of pre-made meals now available in grocery stores everywhere. Think about the shopping carts you’ve seen fairly full of frozen, microwave dinners. EEck. The pre-made meals are expensive and really, are they young or old? I mean, who knows? And who knows what’s in them? The microwave low-calorie meals are cheap, but they taste like microwave, low-calorie meals. Why not cook a little? You really don’t have to cook much. You do have to take the time to shop for yourself, but could go twice a week and make do. You’re worth it. And, you surely could always invite a friend or neighbor if you don’t like eating alone. (I’ve come to enjoy it and savor the time to listen to music or read quietly.)

I have a number of simple meals for singles or duos on the blog, but need to go back and make sure I’ve tagged all of them appropriately. The category is called Cooking for One or Two, which can also be for one with leftovers, of course. With this post, I also will begin tagging meals Gluten-Free thanks to a lovely young woman I re-met at a party last night. I cook and post Gluten-Free often, but have not been awake and aware enough to create a tag until now.

On to the Lemon Chard Chicken. While this sounds like fine summer fare, I ate it one night when it was about ten degrees. (It’s 17 degrees F and snowing right now.) It’s light, refreshing and the chicken makes for great sandwiches next day. The recipe makes enough for leftovers and sandwiches for one or just plenty for two people. Do not forget to eat the sauteed lemons; they are sweet and succulent and nothing like raw lemons. Yes, you, too, can put a “smile” of lemon in your mouth and suck on it. Really.

Cook’s Note: Set table, light candles and pour wine first; this cooks very quickly.
Wine: I had an open bottle of Joel Gott Zinfandel, which paired nicely. A light Chardonnay would also be tasty. Perhaps even a Sauvignon Blanc. On a cold winter’s night, stick to the zin, my friends.

Dessert: Well, at my house there are plenty of cookies right now. Why not bake some for sharing? Ok, get a roll of refrigerator sugar cookies from the grocery if you don’t want to bake. Why not?

LEMON CHARD CHICKEN

1T olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1/2 lemon, cut into 1/4s
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
3-4 skinned boneless chicken breasts
Large bunch Swiss Chard, big stems removed, sliced 1/2″ thick
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half (save 1/4 c for garnish)


In a large (12 or 14″ diameter) skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery and saute for 10-12 minutes until nearly tender. Meantime, wipe down chicken breasts with paper towel and season well with salt and pepper. Moving vegetables to the sides of the pan, add chicken and lemons. Brown chicken well on one side and turn over. Add chard on top of other vegetables and stir gently. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. As chard wilts, after 2-3 minutes, add half of the cherry tomatoes. Cook until chicken is just cooked through and chard is nicely wilted. Plate and top chard with rest of fresh tomatoes. (Don’t forget the lemon!)

Stay warm and well on your walk to the stable this year, if that is your tradition. Hear all the music you can. Remember to take a few cds to your car or download some great holiday tunes to your I-pod. Find time to sit and watch the “Christmas” trees full of snow out your window. Bundle up and walk, taking part in what Barbara Brown Taylor calls “the spiritual practice of putting one foot in front of another…” Take a friend to lunch, meet another for coffee, smile at the tired store clerks and thank them warmly with your great smile. Go to free concerts. Make “fast fudge” and eat some. Where’s that recipe of your grandmother’s that you’ve been going to make forever? This is the year. Don’t wait. Weren’t you finally going to try baking some yeast bread? Today. New cookies from a December magazine? Is this the year you’ll take a day off to cook a couple of holiday meals and put them in the freezer?
Sing a new carol; bake a new something______; light your eyes, loved ones,
Alyce