One-Pot Drumsticks and Rice with Vegetables (Stove Top)

Have fresh tomatoes that need using? Chop 2 cups to replace the can of diced tomatoes.

Last week, while working on my post “Cheep Eats” (sic), I got on a roll cooking chicken drumsticks, my very favorite part of chicken. I kept thinking about a big baked casserole of whole chicken pieces and rice I often made when feeding our family of six. Occasionally I’d swap in pork chops for the chicken. And while I still have that recipe in my now worn BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK (I don’t see the exact one on the internet despite looking), I knew it needed a big update. I no longer cook with dry soup mixes very often and CURSES! my oven had died, so a new version had to work on top of the stove. I wanted bunches of vegetables included to make dinner a breeze. Is there anyone who doesn’t like a one-pot, whole meal dinner? What I had in mind was a chicken-rich, herby rice pilaf full of those veggies and with plenty of room for herb or cheese garnishes at the end. I know it’s not quite fall, but I’m in the mood for cozy food and this hit the spot!

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Cheep Eats

I’m a kid at heart; drumsticks are still my favorite.

No matter where you live or what your food budget, you’ve been affected by the sweeping rise in costs at the grocery stores. In the U.S., the basic increase is at about 10% over the last year — somewhat less for produce and somewhat more for meat. To make it through the check-out line without crying, folks have resorted to all sorts of strategies, many of which include reducing meat purchases much of the time. (I’m a constant store cart snooper and am both amazed and saddened by by what shoppers have resorted to in order to feed their families.) While I’ve got the cash to feed our small family of two plus doggies, I, too, have been forced to cut back or at least look at the best buys to keep us fed. Chicken is always a hugely popular dinner yet the ubiquitous boneless breasts many people (not me) have lived on are now sometimes simply out of sight. I did just hear their prices seem to be beginning to drop; thank goodness. What’s available for a song (Why is a song cheap?), however, are the drumstick portions of chicken legs and how wonderful, how easy, and how delectable they are. Chicken legs are not just for kids any longer!! I’ve got a few ways to show you to cook and serve them, including the simplest way, which is to only brown them stove top and finish them in the oven. Sure there are sauces or rubs and great sides like grilled corn or a filling vegetable salad (see above) and only you know exactly how YOU’d want to eat them.

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Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches for Picnic Time

Being known as a cook within your varied social circles has its distinct advantages. You get to bring what you like ( or make best) to the neighborhood potluck, the family birthday, or the church funeral lunch. Not terribly long before Covid (Are we saying that now?), I catered a funeral meal. The family involved was generous about letting me know their much-loved patriarch LOVED things like ham salad, chicken salad, etc. To keep the buffet interesting, I included CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICHES. One lady — someone I’d trust — approached me to allow that my CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD was better than a top-shelf local restaurant’s version. I didn’t forget that. Who would, huh?

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Tuscan Chicken Stew (Revisited)

It might seem an odd thing to blog hot soup on the 31st of May, but let’s remember I live in Colorado where we had a foot of snow a week ago, enjoyed a temperature of 40 degrees F when I drank my morning coffee this morning, and are still peering out to see if the thermometer has risen above 60 F this afternoon. (It has not.) The sun is lovely; I’ll give you that. The wind, however, is once more a ________. Let’s just say we call her Mariah and let it go at that. But we Rocky Mountain folk are a long way from the cold food weeks of the year when it’s salad, chilled soup, or sandwich time unless we’re grilling or ordering takeout. That means it’s still hot soup weather for me. (Truth in blogging, you know I’ll make soup anytime.) My Tuscan Chicken Stew Revisited, featured this week, is from my now 8-year old soup book, but somehow never made it on to the blog and needs to be here — if only because it’s a steady visitor in my kitchen and is a delicious easy-fast meal. Over the years of making it for us for dinner, ferrying pots to sick friends, or stirring up a double or triple batch for families experiencing homelessness in our city, it’s morphed in more than one sweet direction. Still often the filling, whole-meal chicken minestrone sort of soup, I’ve sometimes added Italian sausage and other times skipped meat entirely, tipping in extra beans and some tiny pasta at the end. Additional vegetables find their way in when available and it’s not unheard of to see a few croutons perching on top if bread needs using. After Thanksgiving, it’s been made bass-ackwards with leftover shredded turkey stirred in at the end. I’ve even made it with ground chicken, one of my favorite unsung ingredient heroes.

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One-Pan Bacon-Chicken Legs with Cabbage, Potatoes, and Apples: Your Fall into Cooking Dinner!

This simple Oktoberfest braise will be a happy addition to dinner rotation. Leftovers are great!

You know how you just love those meals where you toss everything into one pan and slide it into the oven? Here’s another to add to your list of easy favorites that also makes the house smell like someone special is coming to dinner. They are and it’s you! My very fall-ish one-pan chicken braise is simple to grasp, fun to make, and will fill you up happily this very week. (Sorry I’m a little late to the Oktoberfest party… but it couldn’t be helped.) Chicken and apples, much like pork and apples, are a lip-smacking and quintessential autumn pairing. If you like this dish, it can go into your regular dinner rotation and — hey — you’ve got something different to eat! Leftovers are luscious for small households and the recipe can be decreased or increased. Look through the photos, read the instructions, and put the inexpensive and healthy ingredients on your shopping list, though you might have some of them already. Check under TIPS to see about how to change it up to suit your tastes. Here you go…

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Ham and Blue Cheese Spread for Game Day

One day it’s brats and beers on the sweltering deck. The next you’re turning on the heat along with the tv and searching for game day snacks. (Which still could be brats and beers.) It doesn’t seem as if that would be possible, but in Colorado, it often is. We could see just such a weather change several times over the course of any September. But there’s always one metamorphic day when our whole world definitely changes from summer to fall and that’s when “the mountain” (better known to the rest of the world as Pike’s Peak) looks like Brigadoon from my front yard:

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Green Chile-Chicken Cheeseburgers

My good friend Sue has a little something simple but memorable she’s been saying for just about as long as I’ve known her, which is way over 40 years now. It’s this:

“Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger.

And it’s true, isn’t it? Even if you’re way past the age of running through drive-throughs late at night with your friends or have stopped putting burgers on your summer menus once a week because the kids are all gone now and fish is trending at your house. There are still days when nothing else will do except a cheeseburger. After you’re done reading and cooking here, I’m hoping it may be Alyce’s Green Chile-Chicken Cheeseburger you’re jonesing for if only because it’s chile time in the southwest –and hence nationwide, my friends. Whether you’re a local Pueblo, Colorado chile fan (these are actually Mosco Mirasol chiles) or a New Mexico Hatch chile aficionado (Hatch chiles are like spicy anaheims, though there are milder varieties), you’ll be happy you found a new use for your favorite late summer peppers roasted up to perfection.

17th Annual Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival: September 24-26, 2021/Union Avenue Historic District

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A typical summer blue cheeseburger at our house.
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Grilled Golden Beet and Chicken Salad with Crispy Goat Cheese

I’ll admit that when I grabbed a bunch of organic golden beets at our local grocery, King Soopers, the other day, I hadn’t a clue what I’d do with them except my main squeeze loves beets and I was bringing them home no matter. They looked all gorgeous, fresh and brightly colored with crisp whole greens attached, despite the healthy dirt around the edges. So whatever happened in that kitchen with those beets, it was going to make him happy. When folks say, “Food is love,” there’s something to it. More on that at the end. Because I regularly make goat cheese spread for our summer appetizers or even lunches while our herbs are plentiful, I always have a big log or two of chèvre (the plain white fresh goat cheese sold in nearly any grocery store) in the fridge. I had no problem considering a riff on the quintessential beet and goat cheese salad made by lots of cooks and in many restaurants worldwide. (Is that something you make or order if it’s on the menu?) What I didn’t like the idea of was turning on the oven for the hour it takes to roast those beets. Boiling them sounded worse, messy, and way too steamy for July. Why couldn’t I grill them in a grill pan on the stove? I thought about grilling them whole or in quarters, but that would take just way too long. Do people grill sliced beets? It seems they do according to google and I thought I’d just do it, too. A quick look-see into the fridge showed a bunch of fresh greens; radishes, scallions, red bell peppers and a single, lonely leftover roasted chicken breast I soon shredded within an inch of its life (always tastier than chopped — try it and see). Soon we were about to feast on one more whole meal salad outdoors. Thank you, summer!

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Clean Out the Fridge Chicken Pasta–Don’t Look for This Dish in Italy

Over the years, I’ve taught a number of Italian cooking classes, one more enjoyable than the last and no doubt I’ve learned as much as anyone in the groups. A few minutes are always spent discussing the basic courses of an Italian meal while listening to a stellar Italian opera aria or two, though we rarely have time to make them all, more’s the pity. Having traveled to Italy a number of times, I learned it was no secret Italians themselves only have time for such luxurious repasts during special family get-togethers, Sundays, or holidays — much like Americans. In Naples, a tour guide confided to me, “We love just pasta for lunch; it’s a favorite. Or pizza!” It was cool hearing that.

Here in the states, pasta is rarely a first course (“primi”), which it is for that special Italian meal:

Primo / Primi or primo piatto / primi piatti – first plate/s, usually pasta or risotto; you could also have a “bis di primi” or “tris di primi”, where they give you a small portion of two or three different types of pasta so you can sample.

ITALY Magazine

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BAKE A HAM FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY

Super Bowl LV week has arrived in all its glory and, despite the American national religion of watching football not being one of my favorite ways to worship, I’m thinking this year might be different. During the nearly year of Covid-Life, we’ve missed a lot of our regular activities and that’s hurt; we’re shell-shocked across the board. But Super Bowl, the game’s yearly high holiday, will be mostly like it always has been. Not much has changed, hmmm? We’ll be at home gathered around the altar of the BIG TV. Cases of communion beer will be bought and stored in a cold garage; chili or pulled pork could be bubbling in the slow cooker to feed all who come; and tall bags of chips with deep vats of dips might triumphantly work to knock last month’s healthy New Year’s resolutions right into the gutter. There will, as always, be Monday morning hangovers for the Monday morning quarterbacks and, hard as it is to imagine, we’ll then soon be on to March Madness. But in the meantime, it’s life as usual and thank goodness! Even for the unenthused like me, it’s time to get ready for the game, prepare for the halftime show, and plan SUPER BOWL FOOD— everything from endless apps to favorite mains and football-shaped desserts! This year, I might even have a little bit different plan for that meal:

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