Tag Archives: one pan dish

The Slap-Dash Dinner instead of Eating Crap! (serves 4)

I just had to post this recipe, if for nothing else but to prove the point that you can make dinner without expending an ounce of energy or without dashing off to the supermarket for that missing ingredient!

yummy alternative to eating bad take-out

Yummy alternative to eating bad take-out

Have you ever been too tired to cook, but when you ordered out or drove 10 minutes each way for take-out, OR, stuck a frozen pizza in the oven and ending up being so dissatisfied with what you ate that you wished you had cooked something, or even settled for beans on toast: Of course you have!

The other night when it was time to make dinner my brain had stopped working and I started going through all of the ways I could get out of cooking dinner. Then I snapped out of it, that trap you get yourself into over what to eat and where to get it. If you live in a town as dismally lacking in food choices as I do, then you will have had the experience of settling for something, crossing your fingers it will be good, and then feel like you ate slop for dinner! That is when I figured out if I was going to eat slop, I might as well make it myself; it was bound to be better and I wouldn’t be charged for the pleasure.

It may look "thrown together" but don't let that fool you - it tasted delish!

It may look “thrown together” but don’t let that fool you – it tasted delish!

At that moment I put my trusty pan on the counter and started filling it with whatever came in contact with my hands. This is what we ended up with, a veritable smorgasbord of a feast, one I lapped up with immense satisfaction knowing I hadn’t wasted my money on what was sure to have been another disappointing dining experience.

________________________________________

You will need:

freshly ground pepper

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 chicken breast fillets (or some chicken thighs or drumsticks)

5 Italian sausages (or whatever sausages you happen to have on hand)

6 stripes bacon

4 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed (but saved)

2 celery ribs, chopped or diced

1 cup matchstick, or thinly sliced carrots

6 cloves garlic, with skin on

1 cup chopped cilantro (if you don’t have this and you have flat-leafed parsley, use this instead!

3 tbs capers, rinsed (if you don’t have capers, don’t worry)

3 cups chicken broth OR 1 good quality stock cube and 3 cups water

Method:

Preheat oven 425*

1 – Place all of the prepared veggies in the bottom of a roasting pan or saute pan or low rimmed casserole dish. If you are using a bouillon cube, crumble it over the veggies. Wrap 1 stripe of bacon around each chicken bread and place on top. Place Portobello mushrooms and sausages in pan and put a stripe of rolled bacon on each mushroom. Grind some pepper over entire dish and drizzle with the oil. Place in oven for 25 minutes.

place on ingredients in pan

Place on ingredients in pan

2 – Remove dish from oven and turn the sausages, the bacon on top of mushrooms and the chicken breasts. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

slap-dash dinner is ready to eat!

Slap-Dash dinner is ready to eat!

Serve with whatever you like: pasta, bread, rice or on its own.

Pesto Fried Rice with Bacon & A Story About Carrots (Serves 6)

It was one of those nights when I stood staring at a bunch of fresh vegetables and didn’t know where to start? I had the funniest looking carrots (in the funny peculiar way, that is) and I was dying to use them. I was 100% sure that they would taste delicious, even if they were not the prettiest-looking things in the world.

They reminded me of a job I took when I was about 11 or 12, harvesting carrots for the headmaster of my school one summer. I lived in the country, and the only work available to earn pocket-money was agrarian. This was rural Ireland in the 1970’s and when you were hired to work in some field or other, weeding beet or picking strawberries, it was serious business.

The farmer did not hire the kid to do them a favor, and to teach them responsibility. No one could afford to give those kinds of lessons. Yes, we were cheap labor, but we did learn how to do an honest days work, and the money we received seemed like a fortune.

The headmaster of our country school was the most elegant man I had known as a child.  He always wore a three-piece suit to school and swished a cane by his side when patrolling the yard during break time. There were many days he would arrive to class sporting a pale pink carnation in the buttonhole of his jacket. I haven’t thought about that in years…

Gnarly carrots - a sign of a natural veggie!

He lived in the same village as our family, sent his 5 boys to the same school, and I saw him at the same mass every Sunday, but somehow, I always felt he lived a life apart from the rest of us. His willingness to stand out in a place and time where going for a country stroll after dinner was considered more than a little eccentric, was admirable to me.  This is hard to explain. People worked very hard just to get by, and the thought of going for a walk after putting in a hard day was never contemplated. People were just too darn tired!

mild little peppers from my sister-in-law's garden

I learned more from him in two years than I had in all the previous years combined of my primary education. His unwillingness to tolerate laziness along with the liberal use of his cane probably had something to do with my enthusiasm to learn whatever he dished out!

He owned a couple of fields around his house and must have rented them out to farmers for the most part. One summer however, he asked the class if anyone was willing to work for him harvesting his vegetables. I raised my hand and that weekend found myself standing with a pretty big group of my class mates in a field behind his house.

I was giving a bucket, which I filled with water, and stood out in a drill between rows of planted carrots. My job was to pull the carrots, wash them in my bucket, tie them in bundles, stack them and eventually bring them to a big table when I had to change my bucket of dirty water.

The headmaster would walk the drills, stopping by every child making sure they were doing a good job, and praising work well done.

Pesto Fried Rice with Bacon

As you can imagine, everyone worked very hard, and none more than me. I actually loved pulling the carrots out of the ground, watching the sudden orange of the root appear like a prize from the dirt. These were gnarly carrots indeed! Lots had extra little appendages growing from them, and were twisted and bent like rickety old walking sticks. 

Appearances are certainly misleading, because they were some of the sweetest carrots I have ever tasted. The carrots sitting in front of me this particular evening, so many decades later, reminded me of that day, like it was yesterday.

The old headmaster died some years back now, and I was sorry to hear the news.

______________________________________________

You will need: 1 lb streaky bacon, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 sweet onion, cut in half and then into slices, 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, 3 mild peppers, thinly sliced, 1 yellow squash, diced, 8-12 fresh whole basil leaves, 2 tbs pesto (type pesto in search box in column to the right of my blog for recipe, or use a good quality jarred, or buy from the fresh section of your supermarket), 1/2 cup chicken broth or water, 6 or so cups of cooked basmati rice (2 1/2 cups for stove-top method and 3 cups if using rice-cooker and rice-cooker measure), 6 eggs (optional), sea-salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning.

1 – Put rice on first thing and cook according to instructions. When cooked, set aside.

2 – In a separate pan from the pan you will use to cook the main part of the dish, fry the bacon until getting crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside. When cool enough to handle, chop into bite-sized slices.

fry bacon

3 – While bacon is cooking, put big saute pan on low/medium heat and add oil. When it has warmed, add the onions and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sliced carrots and garlic, and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes.

Fry onions, then carrots and garlic

4 – Add the yellow squash and mild peppers and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the squash begins to soften. Add the basil and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add rest of veggies

5 – Add the pesto, bacon, and broth (or water) and stir everything together. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if you feel it needs it. Add the cooked rice and give everything a good stir to incorporate. Add more water or broth if you want a looser mixture.

6 – If using the eggs; fry according to your taste (soft, medium, hard, sunny-side-up??),  and top each dish with one, and a little hot sauce.

I topped mine with a fried egg and a dash of hot sauce (lovely plate by Shawn Ireland)

Serve in warmed bowls alone, or with hot sauce, or, with fried eggs and hot sauce.