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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Summer Vegetable Tart

If you’re lucky enough to spend a little summertime in Europe, and particularly in France, you might see quite a stunning visual array of savory tarts, quiche, pizza, pissaladiére, Flammkuchen, Zwiebelkuchen, and many other pastries in bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. The pastry or crust fillings may include a little bacon or anchovy here and there, but often as not vegetables and/or cheese are the superstars. Baked before the day gets hot or in a blissful outdoor oven, these tasty light meals are the perfect hot weather treats served warm or at room temperature on their own or with a crisp green salad on the side. A little white wine? But of course.

Here in the states, we’re typically more into pizza across the board (a few quiches, too, I’ll admit) but lately I’ve been spying — and maybe you have, too –quite a few Tomato Pies showing up here, there, and everywhere while the ruby red tomatoes are coming in hot and heavy. (I will have to make one as they feature tomatoes and mayo–one of my warm weather favorite combos.) My tomatoes here in Colorado are still just barely ripening — and they’re all of the cherry or grape variety given our short growing season. But a slew of sweet Camparis on my counter found me searching for a French-style tomato tart I remembered seeing somewhere. But where? A little google mining brought me to Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa website and a reminder about Anna’s Tomato Tart, which is in Ina’s COOKING FOR JEFFREY book — right on my own shelf! Now I didn’t particularly want a tomato-ONLY tart, but rather had in mind something with a sort Provençal feel that included olives, fennel, mushrooms, peppers, and more. Anna’s tart would definitely serve as my springboard. Scroll down to read up on the late cook-caterer-writer, Anna Pump and her great store on Long Island– Loaves and Fishes. Links to other savory tart recipes included there, too.

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Bruschetta for Dinner

Who said dinner couldn’t be fun?!

Bruschetta (broo-SKET-ta), the incomparably attractive Italian appetizer, is simply too big of a starter come the dog days of summer. I mean, it’s like eating pizza for hors d’oeuvres before Thanksgiving dinner when the temps are 95 F in the shade–like today. Typically grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with chopped silky ruby-ripe tomatoes and a scatter of fresh basil slivers, I like to instead offer it up with a variety of toppings for an al fresco dinner and let everyone make themselves happy. And while I thought I was being somewhat imaginative this July, when I dug out some of my Italian cookbooks to get a little background, I of course discovered that while not everyone, certainly certain someones have been there before me. (Curses, foiled again.) Folks like one of my favorite food writers, Lynne Rosetto Kasper.

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Oven-Roasted Rosemary Halibut with Fresh Tomato-Zucchini Sauce

Shown here with white beans.

It’s easy to avoid cooking fish or to cook it as simply as we can possibly figure because we’re unsure of our fish-cooking abilities. Or maybe fresh fish isn’t so available and feels expensive — especially in a land-locked state. Perhaps there’s a fear factor involved or we wonder, “Is fish really good for us?” How fast does it go bad? When is it done? How do I not overcook it? So we go with grilled wild salmon once a month in good weather. Salt, pepper, lemon. Air Fried fish and chips might be a step up. A pound of shrimp for Christmas Eve. Truth to tell, fish is good for us, is readily available nationwide (even if frozen), and is the original fast –and easy — food. Lots of people order fish from restaurant menus, but hesitate to cook much at home. Want to change that at your house?

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Grilled Patty Pan and Yellow Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce: Appetizer, Side, or Main

It’s not unusual for a friend, student, family member, or neighbor to ask me to cook something — happens on a fairly regular basis. I’m known to oblige whether it’s food for a funeral lunch or a favorite pie they’d like for dessert. Occasionally there’s a request to figure out how to cook a certain dish or food. It might take me a while, but I’m typically up for the challenge. Not long ago, old friend Helen Brockman (at left) asked if I could come up with a new way to cook patty pan squash. She’d even bring some over. “Sure,” I said; “why not?”

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Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce on Salad

If you’re a longtime More Time reader, you’ll have seen more than your share of caprese salads on the blog. While I’m not as addicted as it might appear, I’ll admit I make several during the warm months and…they are definitely photogenic. I mean. Red. Green. White. The colors are made to go together and not just in the garden or at the table. For instance, how many countries boast flags in those colors? Ok, I checked. Here they are (scroll down a while!). You have to admit, though, that this is actually a salmon salad; it just happens to be nestled into asparagus, greens, and yes, ok … caprese around the edges.

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FRIDAY FISH: Caprese Salmon Burgers

Looking for Easter recipes? Try: Italian-Style Braised Leg of Lamb or Bake a Ham… or Asparagus for Lunch, Asparagus for Dinner or Carrot Cake Cupcakes or How To Make a Quiche out of Anything or Czech Easter Bread.

Come summer and time to cook outside, I stock our freezer with easily and quickly grilled proteins like chicken thighs and legs, bone-in pork chops, and sirloin steak for kebobs. Then all I have to do is talk my husband into firing up the grill, make a salad, and we’re soon ready eat. And while I’m happiest with all kinds of freshly made burgers if it’s a burger night, it’s also nice to have some pre-made frozen ones for those times when desperation is the mother of invention. A resealable bag of salmon burgers is usually at the top of my warm weather grocery list. I even keep whole-wheat skinny buns frozen, too, as they last a few weeks if well-wrapped and thaw in no time at all. What’s cool is you are SUPPOSED to cook these particular salmon burgers frozen–no thawing needed, no thawing allowed. Yes!

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Cod with Arugula-Basil Pesto

Even before Covid-Cooking Time, I for years stocked the garage freezer with everything from extra baguettes to whole chickens to cookies to quarts of chili and chicken broth. Pork chops found on a great sale were purchased in quantity and leftovers suitable for quick lunches had a home. Nights when I was too tired to cook meant I tossed a couple of quarts of stew under the stream of a hot kitchen faucet for few minutes, popped them out into a 4-quart pot, covered them, and set them over low heat until they bubbled up dinner. A frozen half baguette heated beautifully in about 20 minutes in the oven at the same time.

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Chicken Meatloaf Marinara

Stuffed with creamy mozzarella, this meatloaf is a little like pizza in a loaf pan!

If you’re a Meatloaf fan, I’m thinking you’d do anything for love, but… I’m more likely to do anything for meatloaf. Fond memories of my own mom’s meatloaf or even of my own sometimes nudge (read that, shove) me into grabbing the loaf pan soooo fast, simmering and mashing up some root vegetables, and then waltzing around waiting for the, “it’s meatloaf night” aroma sailing all over the house. I know sometimes meatloaf gets a bad rap and…I don’t know why. Does it seem cheap? Old fashioned? Silly? Oh-too-simple? Housewifey? Slow? Fattening? Full of dry oatmeal? I have none of those problems; I’ll eat it every which way. My beef meatloaf is one of those dinners I unapologetically still use a couple of packaged, processed ingredients in and couldn’t care less. (Dried onion soup mix and tomato sauce, in case you’re wondering.) Sometimes I make two to make sure we have plenty for leftovers as there is absolutely nothing like a meatloaf sandwich — something I never had until I was once visiting my old college friend Danny Izzo at lunchtime when he casually asked, “Would you like a meatloaf sandwich?” He had no clue what he was starting, but I’ve never since stopped making them. And I am not a sandwich person. (Don’t forget the mayo, lettuce, and tomato. Maybe a thin slice of red onion. Ok, bacon.) Thanks, Danny.

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Tomato and Basil Omelet — A Good Reason to Garden

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 The blog, Dave, doggies, and I are on vacation for a bit. See you soon!

Omelets are the perfect example of,

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

Only you can eat the sad-looking/happy-tasting evidence over..and over…and over. No matter what, you’ll have breakfast, lunch, or dinner in under a couple of minutes because omelets are perfect for any meal and maybe especially so during hot muggy summer days. They’re also inexpensive, healthy, full of protein, and encourage creative invention.  Leftover chicken and cheese? Stuff that in your omelet. A bit of salsa along with a half piece of grilled zucchini? There you go.  Nothing at all but parsley? You have an herb omelet. Not even a sprig of parsley, but a tablespoon of sticky jam at the bottom of the jar? That, too, makes for a tasty omelet filling.

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