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One-Pan Fudge Cake

Baked

You’ll have to use your imaginations here …

RING … RINNNGGGGGG …

Me: Hello?

SS: Hi! Whatcha doing for dinner tonight. I know the Dear One is away and you’re home alone. Come over for dinner and a movie. Just me and he kids. This way I won’t have to rescue you after you’ve done something I Love Lucy-esque.

Me: Okay. That’s great.

SS: Well, not just  me and the kids … 4 or 5 other people as well.

Me: Oh? (Wishing I hadn’t answered the phone now) Sure. What can I bring? (when will I learn NOT to ask that question!?)

SS: How about dessert?

Me: Okay. What time?

SS: How about an hour?

Me: See you then.

SS: Andrea? Don’t lock the door when you leave!

AN HOUR? Come up with and make dessert and drive into town IN AN HOUR!? Now what am I going to do?

Suddenly inspiration! I remembered seeing a recipe on Relish.com for a One-Pan Fudge Cake taken from the Junior League of Nashville cookbook.

Simple ingredients. One pan. Quick to throw together. Cools in the pan. Baked in 30 minutes. I.AM.SAVED!

Fudgey and dense, chocolatey without being too sweet, this cake is the answer to any last minute guests or dinner invitations!

Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is great on top of this cake.

  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Powdered sugar

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 8-inch square cake pan.

Melt butter, sugar and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, add flour, salt and baking powder. Stir well. Add eggs, vanilla and pecans, if using.

Pouring into pan

 

Stir well and pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into squares while hot. Let cool in pan.

Sprinkling sugar

When cool, dust top with powdered sugar.

 

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Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

Ready to serve

After what seemed like forever, I left New York (again) and went home to Maine (again). The next days were filled with errands, getting the house settled before the Dear One’s return, and breakfast and giggling with my girlfriends.

But in the evening, I was home alone, and then suddenly you realize just how big the house is and how empty, and you want to have people around you, so then the conversations went something like this …

Thank you so much for watching the house and picking me up and picking up the mail and packages and turning up the heat. Wanna come for dinner? Sure, but I have a house guest. Bring him. The more the merrier.

Hey, I’m back in town. Wanna come over for dinner? Sure!

Okay, dinner for 2 is now dinner for 4. I can do that. Same recipe, just no leftovers.

Uh, oh, the phone is ringing … we’re going out for dinner, do you want to come. Sorry, can’t, company coming. Oh, well, I’d much rather come to your house. Sure, come on over. GREAT! But I have a house guest. Bring her along.

Dinner for 2 turned into dinner for 4 and then into dinner for 6. Yipes! Now what!? I trolled through the recipes I have been dying to try and found this recipe that I had first seen in Relish Magazine and then in  Y’all Come Over by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. One skillet. Perfect. Lots of great ingredients. Fab! Seriously simple and quick to make. Even better! Turned out to be really easy to double, just switching from a 10″ cast iron skillet to a 15″ cast iron skillet.

(Heard around the dinner table … hmmm, yum, this is so good. So glad you’re back home. We missed you. Does M know you’re having 4 men over for dinner while he’s away? Answers: thank you, I am too, and me you, and OF COURSE he knows. HEAVY SIGH!)

As it turns out it was a good thing I fed them all BEFORE the insanity started! See, it seems I live my life like Lucy Riccardo. No, really. Stop giggling, please, I have so little dignity left.

This group of fellows and my dear friend Lisa were my saviors for the week and a half I was home alone. There were locked doors and dog doors (and snow) and pterodactyls (and snow) and more locked doors and broken windows that needed to be removed and replaced (and snow) and lost spare tires and snow and cancelled flights because of snow and more cancelled flights (can you believe more snow in Maine) and yet more cancelled flights (you know the word that fits here) and a wee bit of emotional upheaval.

While I realize I have kept them all VERY entertained (when one of them now hears my voice on the phone, he laughs, asks if I’m okay, and then ‘so what did you do’), they kept me very entertained and feeling loved and cared for during my first time home alone trial by fire.

Give this dish a whirl … you will be making it for company again and again!

  • 1/4 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 1/2 t salt, divided
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced onion
  • 1 can (14-oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 t crushed red pepper
  • 2 cans (15-oz) Great Northern beans, drained

NOTE: I sort of increased this to 1 1/2 of the original above recipe, but using 3 cans of beans and two cans of the tomatoes and 4 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bacon

Place the bacon drippings in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

NOTE: I made the bacon in the skillet I used to make the whole dish and just left the drippings in the skillet.

Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Brown the chicken in the bacon drippings, turning once, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and stir in the onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.

Adding tomatoes

Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the juices are thickened. Add the reserved bacon and the beans. Top with the browned chicken pieces, skin side up. Place skillet in the oven and bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.

Some bread to sop up the sauce, a salad, and you are done!

Basque Chicken

Ready

I am loving the recipes from Relish Magazine more and more all the time. I wanted something to use as a main dish with the Baked Orzo with Vegetables. You know, something with similar ingredients and flavors so the meal sort of melded, but also so that ingredients for three recipes could be chopped once and spread across all the dishes. This worked perfectly!

I must admit that at first I was a little concerned about the smoked paprika! Rather, the amount of smoked paprika – especially after it went up my nose! But the smoked paprika really mellowed in the oven and was delicious with the roasted peppers and tomatoes.

This was really easy to put together and makes a simple, go to company dish. Add to it a salad, some roasted potatoes or orzo, and bread and you have a feast on your hands!

When I added more chicken the second night, I started it in a pan on top of the stove. I think I liked this better and will do this in the future. It keeps the skin a  little crisper, which I prefer. Though, due to so many dishes being cooked at the same time and at varying degrees of temperature, the correct, higher temp may have been enough to crisp the skin up. We may need to try this again to be sure.

  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 pounds chicken breasts, with bone and skin
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T Spanish smoked paprika
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, sliced or 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1 C reduced-sodium chicken broth

NOTE: I did not peel the tomatoes, nope, wasn’t gonna do it. I did take the seeds out. There was enough liquid in the dish without adding more. I also used only chicken thighs.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Garlic and onions

Spread onions and garlic evenly in the bottom of a large shallow roasting pan. Cut each chicken breast in half. Sprinkle chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper. Place chicken, skin side up, in pan.

NOTE: We had people over two nights in a row. Same dinner, twice (how easy is that). I did want more chicken to add into all the saucy goodness from the night before, so sprinkled salt and pepper and smoked paprika over the chicken and added the chicken to a cast iron skillet, with some onion and garlic, skin side down, until skin was nice and brown, flipped them over and plunged them into the oven for 40 minutes, let the new chicken cool a bit and the old chicken come to room temperature, and then added the old chicken, the new chicken and all the sauce into a baking dish to warm up.

Ready to bake

Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20 minutes.

Add tomatoes, red peppers and broth. Continue baking 35 to 40 minutes, basting chicken occasionally, until chicken juices run clear.

Bourbon Apple Pork Chops

So … today’s posting is a tale of woe …

(It’s always something, isn’t it!?)

I normally do my grocery shopping for the week on Sunday. I pick my recipes, see what’s on sale, clip my coupons, gather my bags, and toddle off. I don’t give much thought to what I am going to cook on what night.

UNTIL …

Yesterday, I turn on the oven to bake some lovely orange roughy … Everything ready to go into my preheated oven … that is STONE COLD. Open the oven, thought of sticking my head in, but that wouldn’t really be a solution, where’s the pilot light, the pilot light … no pilot light. Some sort of new fangled electronic ignition that, according to my Google search, breaks constantly.

No oven. F*^K.

The fish was easy. The recipe for the pork chops, not so easy.

And along came my friends at Relish Magazine and Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen. One pot, on the stove, fabulous and quick! All my favorite things! Served with egg noodles and green beans, dinner was ready before anyone could complain they were hungry!

  • 4  (8-ounce) bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
  • 2  teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • 1  tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1  shallot, minced (1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1  tart apple, such as Granny Smith, Braeburn or Pippin, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2  cup applesauce
  • 1  cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 T Bourbon (optional)

Rinse, pat dry and sprinkle both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon thyme, pressing lightly so seasonings adhere.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add meat and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, turning only once, to brown. Transfer to a platter and cover loosely to keep warm.

Add butter to pan and heat until foamy. Add shallot and thyme and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes.Add apple, applesauce, broth and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to skillet scraping up browned bits. Cook, stirring, until apple is tender and sauce reduces slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.

NOTE: While they suggest to add a glug or so of Bourbon, they didn’t say where, so I punted and added it here!

Return meat, along with any juices that have collected at the bottom of the plate, to pan and cook just until thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve warm with sauce and apples spooned over the chops.

NOTE: This was really simple to pull together and really yummy. I thought there would be too much liquid, so I let it bubble away a little bit longer to reduce it more and thicken up.

Vidalia Onion & Bacon Pie

One of my favorite features of the Sunday New York Daily News is Relish Magazine. The cooking sections in the New York area papers have become seriously lacking, so when Relish came along a number of years ago, it was a welcome addition.

I don’t remember if I saw this recipe on their website or in the magazine, but I knew instantly that this was something that needed to be made.

It’s a little preparation bogged down, but the end result is certainly worth the time. A friend of mine made this as well, but the bacon on only half as there is a vegetarian in the house. Though my non-red meat eating sister will tell you bacon doesn’t count. It is its own food group.

I have already been thinking of different twists on this and know I will come back to it again and again.

Crust:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  C cornmeal
  • 1/2  C all-purpose flour
  • 1  t baking powder
  • 1/2  t salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2  T butter
  • 2 to 4  T ice water

NOTE: The crust needed something more. Maybe a little more salt. Maybe a little sugar. Oh, maybe a kick of cayenne. But the cornmeal crust was wonderful. Perfect for filling with tomatoes and mozzarella and basil.

Filling:

  • 1  T butter
  • 3  medium Vidalia or sweet onions, slivered
  • 2  eggs
  • 1/2  C half-and-half
  • 1/2  t salt
  • 1/4  t freshly ground black pepper, plus more for top
  • 1  C (4-ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2  C corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 4  slices thick, smoky-style bacon, cooked and chopped

NOTE: FOUR? Only FOUR? Now, you know that would never do! I cheated, I used a a couple more.  I silvered the onions by cutting each in half and the thinly slicing them. Cutting through the pie, the slivers are too long and difficult to cut while slicing and eating. Next time maybe the slivers need to be cut a bit – most likely AFTER caramelizing them.

To prepare crust, coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray

Place cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a pastry cutter blade; pulse to combine. Add egg and butter; pulse until mixed. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough ball forms. This will form a sticky mass of dough. Press into pan. If the dough is too sticky, add a little cornmeal.

NOTE:  I used nearly 2 tablespoons of water to form a ball. But when I took it out of the food processor it was really sticky. Instead of putting the blade back in and getting the sticky mess back into the bowl, I sprinkled cornmeal over the top and that kept the dough from sticking to my hands.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To prepare filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain if necessary.

NOTE: And – purely with an eye toward waste not want not  – I cooked the onions in the bacon fat.  I did still add the butter in – can you have enough butter or bacon? I don’t think so either!

Combine eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk well. On bottom of pie, sprinkle half the shredded cheese. Top with corn kernels,  onions and bacon.

Pour egg mixture over top. Top with remaining cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake 40 minutes, until top is set and browned.

NOTES: Before baking, I sprinkled the top with chopped scallions. Be careful not to over bake. The cheese gets a little too dense if it gets too brown. I think this would be nice with leeks as well.

This is great as a side dish for grilled chicken, alone with a big salad … or just by itself because you cannot stop eating it and are VERY impressed with your own creation!