Sheet pan dinners have earned their popular place in the kitchen over the last several years and love them I do. But for couples and singles, that’s a lot of food — even if you’re a leftovers type person. Back in December of 2022, I promised you a few more quarter-sheet pan meals and because I make good on my promises, here’s post #3. The quarter-sheet pan, at just 9″x 13″, is the baby bear of the sheet pan group and is perfect for smaller recipes–like today’s nearly effortless Salsa Chicken Dinner for Two with Cheesy Potatoes and Broccoli.Continue reading
TOP TEN POSTS OF 2022: #1 Barely Lemon Shortbread. #2 Summer Vegetable Tart. #3 Greek Salmon Pasta Salad. #4 Apple-Cheddar Corn Muffins #5 Double (GF) or Triple Chocolate Cheesecake #6 Mushroom and Leek Lentil-Chickpea Soup #7 KIDS BAKE MOTHER’S DAY: Apple-Pecan Coffeecake #8 Pizza Egg Bake #9 Tuscan Chicken Stew (Revisited) #10 Ham and Broccoli Quiche (Cleaning Out the Christmas Kitchen) As we begin a new year of blogging, my most loving thanks goes to the sous chef of my life, my husband Dave, who shops for me; chops for me; grills for me; keeps me laughing, and shares my table nightly. He’s always been my best taste-tester and for that, I’m infinitely grateful.
The greatest number of people read the now 14-year blog on March 10, 2020, though the post was published two days before that: FRIDAY FISH: Oyster Po’ Boy with Horseradish Blue Cheese Sauce.
In December, I promised you I’d have a few more Quarter-Sheet Pan Dinners and, right on time a month later, here’s the next! If you’re like me, you’re ready to put the holidays in the rear view window and have something different to eat after those big meals and all of those leftovers. (Do you have cookies in the freezer?! I do. Ok; we’re good. And you’ll guess our tree is up until Epiphany.) This week’s quarter-sheet pan meal features a simply seasoned pair of thick, bone-in pork chops paired with some fresh beans, thyme, red onions and thinly sliced sweet potato. A fast searing of the chops on the stovetop and the whole shebang slides into the oven for all of 20 minutes while you pour the wine, chat with a friend, or watch a little bit of the new, fab PBS News Hour. (I’m going to miss Judy Woodruff so!) With hardly any work — isn’t that what the oven’s for?–you have a gorgeous, real-deal dinner quick like a bunny. And, wink-wink, this doesn’t feed 4, 6, or 8; it makes just a couple of servings. Exactly what you or someone you know needed.Continue reading
I always forget about Cornish hens and then when I make them, I can’t believe I let so much time go by without putting these festive little birds on the menu. They’re quick, inexpensive, and versatile — especially when you’re cooking for one or two for Thanksgiving. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of a bunch of side dishes, you can even cook your potatoes and vegetables such as carrots, onions, halved Brussels sprouts, chunks of zucchini, or diced butternut squash right in the pan with them. I include directions for the easy carrots and spinach from the photo in the printable recipe. And even cooler is the simple pan sauce stirred up in the roasting pan while the hens rest and you pour the wine. No Good Gravy! worries. While a one-pan Thanksgiving always sounds nigh unto impossible, you can actually do it if that’s your druthers. That’s an easy clean up, too. On your own this year? I’d still advise cooking two Cornish hens … you want leftovers, right? I mean, the best part of Thanksgiving is the I-don’t-have-to-cook next day sandwich with mayo on white bread. Right after the pumpkin pie for breakfast, that is. Don’t skip the whipped cream.
Check out Perdue Farms’ THE ULTIMATE GUIDE/How to Cook Cornish Hens if you’d like to grill, slow cook, fry, smoke or…your birds.Continue reading
I may have enjoyed my Christmas a little too much. Maybe you did, too? Even so, there’s still time to add to that merriment because…Continue reading
Some of us cook for one every day and every night; some of us only on the rare occasion. If you’re a parent who’s had to cook for a big family most of your life, cooking for only you might seem like one of the highlights of the year, a cause for celebration. You can cook what you like, for as long as you like. You can set the table exactly as you want or choose a tray and do the previously unthinkable: read or movie your way through dinner. On the other hand, you might be totally mystified and ready to pour a bowl of cereal or order pizza. Take heart.
While the weather holds, I’m still outdoors when evening comes. The candle is lit, the music turned on, and I make sure I’m in a place where I can be grateful and enjoy the beauty of plenty to eat. I mostly like to cook for myself and I cook fish a lot. It’s maybe the fastest and easiest thing to cook for one person. Needless to say, I love fish. I encourage singles to decide you’re worth cooking for. (No more, “Oh, it’s just me.”)
I am, however, a tad cautious outside at dinner lately….
(photo courtesy C.P. Perry–right down the street from my house) Continue reading
I once heard a woman say, “You can’t make chili for two people.” As I began to write today, thinking about that conversation did make me do just a little bit of research…because I often make chili for one or two!
Chili is American, isn’t it? That much we think we know, but read on. There’s also the beans or no beans dilemma. “If you know beans about chili, you’ll know there are no beans in chili,” Texans say. Minnesotans go, “Huh?” when you quote the beans line. Then there’s the meat. There’s chili and there’s chili con carne. After a while, you start wondering what is in chili. Today, there are as many variations as there are cook-offs, parties, and so on. Chili is served regularly at Super Bowl, Halloween, and at neighborhood or church gatherings. Here’s an interesting bit of chili lore from whatscookingamerica.net–just for fun:
According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend and tale (several modern writer have documented – or maybe just “passed along”) it is said that the first recipe for chili con carne was put on paper in the 17th century by a beautiful nun, Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain. She was mysteriously known to the Indians of the Southwest United States as “La Dama de Azul,” the lady in blue. Sister Mary would go into trances with her body lifeless for days. When she awoke from these trances, she said her spirit had been to a faraway land where she preached Christianity to savages and counseled them to seek out Spanish missionaries.
It is certain that Sister Mary never physically left Spain, yet Spanish missionaries and King Philip IV of Spain believed that she was the ghostly “La Dama de Azul” or “lady in blue” of Indian Legend. It is said that sister Mary wrote down the recipe for chili which called for venison or antelope meat, onions, tomatoes, and chile peppers. No accounts of this were ever recorded, so who knows?
Whoa! Gives me a chill or two. But what about your chili…just for one or two? I often make Ina Garten’s chicken chili (among others–I love Silver Palate chili for a crowd) from Barefoot Contessa Parties. It’s on page 232 and serves 12. But as I made it last week, it seemed a perfect meal for this blog. To begin with, it’s made with chicken breasts (skin removed after cooking) you’ve either just roasted or have in the frig from yesterday’s dinner–or even the rotisserie chicken from the store– and it also includes vegetables that cook quickly–onions and sweet peppers.
That makes it healthy, wealthy, and wise--and fast for chili. Secondly, it doesn’t have beans so while you have less starch (and that sort of fiber), you also have more vegetables and less calories. I do, truth to tell, often make a pot of beans alongside it… so that we can have beans and cornbread another day.
But you needn’t make beans; it’s great on its own. Or there might be a can of some sort of beans on your pantry shelf (I hope) and you can use those should beans be needed. While I look at the recipe for six (see Food Network link above/below) or twelve (in Ina’s book) and just cut it down by intuition/taste while cooking, I’ve tried to get approximate measurements for a smaller batch here. Do please consider this a guideline only and use your own judgement and tasting abilities. While I think of it: I also often add chopped zucchini and/ or mushrooms. Your frig might contain other wonders you’ll think of adding. But, enough of all this. Let’s stop talking chili and start making it. Here’s the recipe with great thanks to Ina, who’s one of my heroines:
Ina Garten’s Chicken Chili cut down to– two servings
- 1 cup chopped yellow onions
- 1T good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 red bell peppers–or yellow (or a combination) cored, seeded, and large-diced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- Tiny pinch dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Tiny pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for chicken
- 1 28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
- 1/8 c minced fresh basil leaves
- 1 – 1/2 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream (beans optional)
Chicken Breasts: (I do these first)Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, (45 at altitude) until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks.
Meanwhile, begin the chili:
Cook’s notes: If you’re cooking gluten free, check the canned tomatoes and the chili powder for an ingredients list or make your own: chili powder. If using canned beans, the same is true; check your labels or make your beans from a trusted source from scratch.
WINE: My friend Drew Robinson has convinced me that a Syrah (all Syrah–not a blend) drinks well with something like chili. Many folks like a barely sweet-laced beer.
DESSERT: You’ve been so good eating a light chili, I think something warmly chocolate would be lovely. Cinnamon chocolate chip cookies or chocolate-cayenne dipped butter cookies. Maybe just a cup of Mexican hot chocolate topped off with a splash of Kahlua?
Check out Ina’s whole recipe on the Food Network site here.
Watch the video of Ina making this chili here.
ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:
The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe. This month we have Main Courses; next month we’re cooking Dessert!
Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:
*Not all writers will blog Ina every week–there’s work, vacation, family–but take a peek anyway. Some bloggers will post the following day due to time change or work/family commitments.
Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you every month or even once in a while! Email Alyce @ email@example.com to join the group or link in to join us occasionally (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?!
If you like this, you might like…
|Alyce’s Pumpkin-Chicken Chili|
Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself, and if you have time, listen up to a young singer named Jeremy Anderson. You can download his music here. Guy does all his own tracks…sometimes 12. On itunes, too.
( portions published previously on my blog dinnerplace.blogspot.com)
Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. ~Doug Larson
Living on the edge of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, I’ve seen snow every month of the year. Sounds impossible to most folks, but it often warms up for the many false springs (and sometimes summers) we love and then turns stormy bitter overnight. July 4 can bring mountain snow, though probably not down here in the Springs. We once sat through an outdoor July concert in Woodland Park until we couldn’t stand the blowing snow anymore and ran down the hill to McDonald’s for coffee. (Not a lot of choices.) We never put away our jeans and sweatshirts and we keep a coat, a candle with matches, a bottle of water, and a chocolate bar in the car 365 days a year. You’ve heard this tale.
Still, like most Americans, we dream of spring in March, and hey, we sometimes get a little. It was 65 the other day and, inside the house it was above 70. Turned the oven on to bake bread (Irish Soda, of course) and the kitchen was soon 75. Two days later, it snowed all day long and we were building fires, warming up soup, and snuggling our toes inside wool socks. Ah, Colorado: no water and weird weather. Not always a good combination. Praise God for central heat and gas stoves and food trucked in to places where it can’t be grown. I guess?
Friday night, as I set the table and lit the candles, I knew I had a light meal that needed either an appetizer or dessert. As I’m currently cutting my caloric intake by 25% a day in a concerted effort to seek health, I decided on a vegetable appetizer. A pound of asparagus bored to death in the frig had a little bit to do with it; I’ll give that to you. I never tire of grilled asparagus (or as my good friend Sue says, “I’d pay anything for it.”) and, given the time constraints (dinner was almost done and Dave had begun the music), grilled sounded good. I promise I won’t blog asparagus anymore this spring. (Fingers crossed.)
When I shot this pic, I realized I probably didn’t even need to do it. No doubt there were multiple shots of grilled asparagus stored on the computer. Finding them (my photos need organizing pretty badly) was another story. I clicked two times and above you see one of those. Gives you an idea of my skill level.
These were skiiiiiiiiiiiinneee asparagus (doesn’t equate with good or tender), so I knew they wouldn’t take long to grill, and, while I like them almost done, I don’t want them limp. Time to think of a dip, a sauce, a topping, a …whatever. I’m crazy about fresh lemon squeezed over asparagus; it’s one of my favorite things. Kinda old, though, Alyce. What else? Some finely chopped peppered cashews? Hmmm. Getting better. What about salsa? Atypical. What about salsa and Greek yogurt? Hepped up with garlic?
Sounding better all the time and was quick as spit.
Here’s how I did it:
Grilled Asparagus with Tex-Mex Dip
1# fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
1T olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 c plain, non-fat Greek Yogurt (or any plain yogurt will do)
1/3 c best quality salsa (make sure it’s gluten-free)
pinch each table salt and fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, grated or smashed well
Heat grill outdoors or stovetop grill to medium-high. Brush with olive oil and lay asparagus on grill in an even layer. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill, turning once, for 8-10 minutes. Meantime, make dip:
In a small bowl, mix yogurt, salsa, salt and pepper, and garlic. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Place grilled asparagus on serving platter with a bowl of dip and enjoy.
- 2 slices of bacon, diced; 1/4# Canadian bacon, chopped*
- 2 onions (different kinds are nice), chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 3 large pototoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces, optional
- 6-8 cups unsalted chicken broth
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 c Greek yogurt or sour cream
- parsley or dill
- In an 8-10 quart soup kettle, saute bacon until about half-done; add Canadian bacon. Cook until well browned. Remove meats from pot and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Cool and refrigerate until you’re going to serve the soup.
- Pour out all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the pan well. Add onions, garlic and leeks and saute until almost golden, stirring often. Add potatoes, turnip and parsnip and cook 2-3 minutes until hot. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Puree in food processor, with hand-held blender or by hand using potato masher. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a bit of the bacon and ham and a garnish of fresh parsley or dill. Make sure there’s fresh ground pepper at the table.
*You could choose to use all bacon.
- Printable recipe for both soup and bread below the bread recipe.
- 4 cups flour
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cup currants or raisins
- 1 1/3 cup buttermilk (+ 2-3 T, if at altitude)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Grease a 2qt round bowl (ovenproof), casserole or deep cake pan. Alternately, line a baking sheet with parchment paper for a free-form loaf.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In food processor, or large mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients and mix well. Cut in with blade attachment or with knives or pastry blender, the butter.
- In a large mixing cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; add the currants and baking soda. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix well to form a very wet dough.
- Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead briefly. Shape into a round loaf. Turn out into the prepared baking bowl or onto baking sheet and bake for about an hour (or a bit more) until bread is very well-browned and firm in the center. A wooden skewer stuck in the middle of the bread should come out clean. You may have to test several times.
- Let this bread sit 15-20 minutes before cutting or it will crumble. Cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil and storing in the refrigerator. Will keep 3-4 days.
- Excellent leftover just as it is, but even better for toast made under the broiler.
Had to have something really fast for dinner two nights ago. Inspired by a super new book I’m reading (buy it: LUNCH IN PARIS by Elizabeth Bard), I decided to make a pasta dish a la Elizabeth’s husband’s non-recipe with what was in the house. I quickly rifled through the small freezer and then through the veg bin. Leftover fresh pasta (enough for me) was in the freezer/big smile. There was, lo and behold, a small package of yummy, thick smoked bacon. The veg bin was a little more confusing. There were a few carrots (not even limp); there were even a few very straight and tall stalks of celery. Good so far. Onions? In the bag under the mudroom sink. Garlic? Shallots? In cappucino cups on the counter with the olive oil. Ok, that’s a start, but we’re missing something that’s going to pull it all together. I then remembered some baby broccoli in a bag on a shelf and, praise, praise, there were three fresh tomatoes needing to be eaten SOON. The skins were already a little crepey. Great for the saucepot.
I got a small stockpot going with water for the pasta and turned on the Olympics. Now, I’m not a huge sports fan, but I like the Olympics as well as the next girl. Especially the winter olympics. I skated quite a bit as a kid (really) on the long-time frozen pond behind our house and the love of the glide and the wind (and the scars-not) is still with me. It just happened that as I made this, ok, it was lovely, pasta, Lindsey swooped down that slope with me holding my breath as I sauteed the onions and celery. I nearly burned the garlic as she hit that one curve, but it all came together in the end as she cried for joy over just having finished the darned run. I would have cried, too. Oh. Maybe I did. Phew. I was so glad for Lindsey, and for me… that it was over..and that dinner was ready. Of course, it was nice that she won that gold medal, too. Go, Lindsey!!! Go, Gwendal!!!
Here’s what I did:
Almost Veg Pasta a la Lindsey Vonn and Elizabeth’s Gwendal
First, set your small (6q) stockpot to boiling with about 4 qts of water and a little salt. Cook your pasta and, while it’s cooking…
In a deep, large sauté pan or skillet, cook until about half-way done
-2-3 strips bacon or 1/4 cup smoked ham, thinly sliced in 1T olive oil (No bacon for you? You can sub 3 -4 tablespoons total olive oil for the bacon and 1 Tablespoon oil)
-1 onion, finely chopped
-2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
-4 stalks celery, finely chopped
-1 bunch baby broccoli, ” ”
(Meantime: check your pasta. If it’s nearly done, drain it, saving a 1/2 c pasta water for sauce.)
Cook until softened and then add
-3-4 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
-1/4 cup mixed chopped fresh parsley and basil (or 1 t each dry oregano and basil)
-fresh ground pepper to taste
-kosher salt to taste
Let the sauce cook down for 3-5 minutes. Dust with a little more ground pepper. If you haven’t drained the pasta yet, do so now, and add the half-cup pasta water to the sauce. Fork up some pasta into your bowl, top with a big ladle of sauce and then add some
-Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
I also like this topped with a few chopped fresh herbs. Parsley and basil are nice.
Gardening note: Neither one of those herbs is growing in my south window right now and I have to buy them. Currently doing quite well through the winter are thyme (three pots), sage (huge pot three years old), rosemary (two smaller pots with slow-growing plants) and almost frozen dead mint.
You won’t win the Olympics with this dish, but you’ll sure be happy, warm and full. You’ll also have all of your veg for the day at one meal. The bacon didn’t hurt a bit. (Thanks, Elizabeth Bard!)
Wine: any red. I liked a Syrah.
Dessert: One square of dark chocolate (Lindt –about 50 calories per) for your health, of course
Sing a new song; win a new medal,
NEWS FROM THE TWO-DOG KITCHEN———or , for now, A THREE DOG NIGHT…..
Gabby and Tuck had the big kid from next door sleep over–Meet Moss!
We know how to share a meal, well…maybe just a bone.