Waiting for dried beans to soak overnight can be a real pain (especially if you’re hungry). You can, of course, buy them in cans, but the canned beans often have extra salt and/or preservatives in them.
Luckily, there is a way to speed up the process, which cuts the time from eight hours to only one and change. Much better!
Quick Soaking Beans
Here’s all you have to do. Just measure out the amount of beans you need. Put them in a large saucepan and cover them with water (about an inch or two over the top of the beans). Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Let the beans boil for two minutes.
Turn off the heat, and allow them to rest for an hour.
Lamb is one of my favorite foods and this lamb breast recipe for one is a great meal for a lazy, cold winter weekend. It cooks slowly and heats up the house nicely. It’s mostly set it and forget it, so you can do other things while dinner cooks (and your home fills with the fragrance of lamb).There’s very little fussing.
I’ve updated and changed the recipe since I first posted this. The original version called for boiling the lamb first, and then roasting it. Great for tenderizing, but it meant an extra pot to clean. And boy, that pot sure got greasy. However, you can then add the bones back, some barley, and veggies and make Scotch broth if you want.
If not, do it the easier way! Yeah easy!
Lamb breast is generally a cheaper cut of meat than lamb chops or a roast. I spotted it on sale at the local supermarket for a mere $3.99 a pound, so I pounced!
This dish was inspired by a Jacques Pepin recipe, but naturally, even with a master chef as a guide, I felt compelled to change it a bit. The original recipe called for vegetable oil, parsley, and bread crumbs.
I’m not a big fan of vegetable oil (olive oil has more flavor, and it fits the dish better, I think). I never have parsley around, but I do have a pot of fresh rosemary, so I used that instead. I didn’t want to bother with fresh bread crumbs, so I used panko.
And, of course, I reduced the original amounts to make it for one person (although, the recipe is so good, you may want to make extra and save it for dinner another day).
One Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Lamb breast provencale for one
Three or four ribs from a lamb breast
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C panko crumbs*
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, peeled, and minced
1 T olive oil
Heat the oven to 225 degrees.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper and place in shallow roasting pan.
Put the pan in the oven, and cook for two hours.
While the lamb is roasting, mix the panko, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil in a small bowl.
After two hours, open the oven, take out the lamb, and spread the panko mixture over the top of the ribs with a spoon or basting brush.
Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the bread crumbs turn a light golden color.
You can use oatmeal (ground up or quick cooking) instead of the panko, if you prefer.
Also, if you can't find lamb breast, this will work with lamb chops too. Use a basting brush to coat the lamb chop in the bread crumb mixture. Then heat some olive oil in a skillet. Add the chop and cook two or three minutes per side. Remove the lamb chop and let it rest for five minutes before serving.
It’s much easier to lift the lamb out of the saucepan and remove it from the roasting pan with these tongs. They lock in place for storage, clean easily, and grip tightly. The ends are covered in nylon so they won’t scratch your pans if they’re nonstick.
I just bought this pan to replace one that gave up the ghost. It’s nonstick, not too heavy, and fairly wide and shallow. It’s the perfect size for the lamb breast or several pieces of chicken. The handles do get hot, but with potholders, it’s easy to transfer from the stove to the oven. I also like that it comes with a clear glass lid. I haven’t used it for the pan yet, but it’s great for covering my large frying pan.
Sometimes, there are nights when you’ve been working hard all day, and you open the fridge and wonder, “Where’s the magic instant food fairy?” You’re hungry, you want food, and you want it now. But you also want something you’ll enjoy eating. Chicken florentine sounds fancy, but it’s really easy to put together. It also cooks quickly. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare, from start to finish.
All you have to do is do a little bit of chopping, a quick sauté, and toss a few ingredients in a frying pan. Ta dah! Dinner is ready.
I served this with a simple side dish of spaghetti tossed with olive oil and butter, and topped with grated parmesan cheese.
Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Pour the flour into a small bowl, and lightly coat both sides of the chicken breast.
Take a medium size skillet and melt 2 teaspoons of the butter (on medium heat). Add the chicken breast and cook until it's lightly browned, about 5 minutes or so on each side (depending on the thickness of the breast).
Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer it to a plate. Cover it with foil, or the top of a handy pan to keep it warm while you make the rest of the recipe.
Melt another 2 teaspoons of the butter in the same pan you used for the chicken. add the garlic and the onion and saute a minute or so. Scrape any bits that may be clinging to the pan. Add the chicken broth.
Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Let the broth mixture cook down until it is reduced by half. This should take around 3 minutes.
Add some of the liquid to the yogurt/milk mixture and slowly add the combined liquid back to the pan. Bring it to a boil and let it cook until the liquid is about half what it was.
In another small skillet, melt the rest of the butter, add the spinach, and cook a minute or so. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken back to the first pan (with the yogurt/milk/garlic mixture and spoon the sauce over both sides.
Once the spinach is cooked, transfer it to a plate. Top the spinach with the chicken and the sauce.
Chicken Florentine for One Substitutions and Variations
• If you don’t have cream, try using sour cream or Greek yogurt, thinned with a little milk • Replace the onions with shallots • Use white wine instead of chicken broth • Add a squeeze of lemon juice (instead of the wine or the broth); this will add a bit of acidity and brighten the flavor
This single serving chicken recipe flavored with tarragon and mushrooms will make you think you’ve gone to a fine French restaurant (without the big bill at the end of the meal).
I adapted the recipe from Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet cookbook. Its official name translates to Fricassé of Chicken with Tarragon. My friends and family used to call it “cholesterol chicken.”
The original recipe called for three tablespoons of butter and an entire cup of cream! Much as I love butter and cream, that’s a bit…much.
So, I decided to make it a bit lighter, while also adapting the recipe to make it a single serving chicken recipe instead of the original four. I reduced the amount of butter and used canola oil instead. Then, I replaced the cream with a mixture of Greek yogurt and milk.
It’s still a quick and easy chicken recipe and it still tastes great (though it’s certainly not low fat) and I haven’t sacrificed one bit of flavor.
Let’s call it Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms for One Person instead.
I made a larger recipe for my parents recently, with a few variations, since mom had different ingredients and onions bother dad’s stomach. I used “better than bullion” concentrate, garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, and dried shiitake mushrooms. My dad is not a big fan of chicken, but he certainly liked this recipe. He licked his plate clean! Mom insisted that I write down exactly what I did so I could repeat it.
Single Serving Chicken Recipe with Tarragon and Mushrooms
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chicken fricasee with tarragon and mushrooms, cooked with with butter, Greek yogurt, and milk. Or, indulge yourself and use cream instead.
1 chicken thigh, bone-in
1T canola oil
1 tsp butter
1/2 C onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp dried tarragon
1 C mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp flour
1/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C mixture of Greek yogurt and milk (use two thirds yogurt and one third milk; the idea is to get the consistency of cream); or just go for it and use the cream
Wash the chicken and pat dry. Season it with salt and pepper.
Get a medium skillet and heat on a medium flame. Add the oil. Then add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the chicken. Cook the chicken, turning it every once in a while, for about 5 minutes total. Add the onion, garlic, and tarragon
Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and mushroom mixture, and stir it all around to make sure it's spread evenly around the pan.
Add the chicken broth and the mushrooms to the pan. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size of the piece of chicken).
Remove the chicken from the pan with tongs and put it on your plate while you finish making the rest of the sauce. Cover the chicken with the lid of the pot to keep it warm.
Cook the sauce, and keep stirring it, for 5 minutes.
Add the cream (or yogurt mixture). If you use the yogurt, spoon some of the sauce from the pan into the yogurt and mix it together before adding it to the pan. This will keep it from separating.
Simmer for three minutes. Then, put the chicken back in the pan and spoon the sauce over it.
Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms Recipe Substitutions and Variations
If you don’t have the yogurt/milk use the cream, or mix butter and milk together and melt it before adding it to the sauce (since butter is essentially solidified cream)
The original recipe called for fresh tarragon. I bought some and found it tasted like licorice. Since I don’t particularly like licorice, I wasn’t too happy about that! On the other hand, if you do like licorice, or fresh tarragon, use one small sprig.
Try using wild mushrooms, like shiitake or chanterelle instead of white button mushrooms; this also works well with dried mushrooms (reconstitute them with hot water to cover and let them sit for five or ten minutes)
Here’s the 60 minute gourmet cookbook I got the recipe from. My copy is battered, beat up, and has been loved to pieces. The meals are all fairly easy to make and fast. In addition to the chicken, I recommend the chicken in red wine sauce, the chicken scarpariello, shrimp in creole sauce, broiled lamb patties, london broil with sauce chasseur, and the tongue in dill mustard sauce (which is both tasty and super-easy to make).
More from Pierre Franey; these recipes were published in his newspaper column but hadn’t been collected in a cookbook. There are plenty of chicken dinners here too, such as baked chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta and herbs, Indonesian chicken breast, chicken with spicy mango barbecue sauce, shrimp with snow peas, and fettucine with goat cheese and asparagus.
Every cook loves kitchen gadgets. Hey, that’s part of what makes cooking fun. These are the top kitchen gadgets I own – the essential tools and utensils I can’t live without.
From a microplane grater to a garlic peeler, to an Oxo can opener, these gadgets make cooking much easier and faster.
Most of these are under $20. And, since they’re pretty cheap, you don’t have to feel guilty about treating yourself. They’d also make great gifts for your favorite cook.
Plus, I’ve added some helpful tips to give you more inspiration on how to use them.
Zak Garlic Peeler If you’ve ever struggled trying to laboriously peel the skin off a clove of garlic, you know what a pain it is. It’s thin, it’s crinkly, and removing it is really hard.
Well, those days are done. Put a clove of garlic inside the tube, roll it around on your counter, and voila! It’s so easy, you may find that you just can’t stop using it. Just be mindful of the neighbors and your friends after you eat all that garlic!
The microplane started its life in woodworking, as a rasp, and moved over to food. You can do lots of things with it. Use it to shave chocolate over a hot cup of cocoa or a freshly-baked cake. It’s also handy for grating hard cheese easily or zesting lemons. It also grates ginger (which is really hard to cut or chop with a knife).
The only tricky part for me is cleaning it (but that’s because I don’t have a dishwasher). It is dishwasher safe, so you can just toss it in and not worry about it.
It’s Sharp! One thing about this zester, is that it is very, very sharp! Be careful when you use it, and make sure to keep it in the holder so you don’t scrape your hands when you pull it out of a drawer or gadget holder.
These are great for tossing pasta, grilling fish, or transferring cutlets from egg to bread crumbs. The locking mechanism keeps them from getting stuck to other gadgets in your kitchen drawer. Like all Oxo products, they’re ergonomically designed so they’re easy to hold. I have the 12″ model, which is probably the best size for kitchen use. However, the longer ones (16″) would probably work well for a barbecue (when you need to be further away from the source of heat).
I love this potato peeler! My old peeler wasn’t very sharp and it hurt my hand. The good grips peeler really lives up to its name. It’s much easier to hold, my hand doesn’t hurt, and I could peel a whole peck of potatoes with this one and not mind.
And it doesn’t just stop with potatoes. It even peels butternut squash easily. I bought one and peeled it in seconds (without straining or hurting myself)! Wow!
Lots of soup recipes call for you to make the soup, puree it in small batches, and then return it to the pot. You have to get the big blender out, pour small amounts of soup in, puree it, then get another pot to put it in, and keep repeating over and over. You end up with 2 dirty pots and a dirty blender to clean.
With the immersion blender, you just prepare your soup, turn off the heat, stick the hand blender into the pot and whir away. It’s the best immersion blender I’ve tried. And, it snaps apart when you push a button, so you can just wash the shaft with the blade, and put the motor half to the side (where it won’t get wet).
Soup Cooking Tip With this blender, you don’t have to bother pureeing soup in batches in your regular blender. Just take the pot off the heat, stick the blender right in the pot, and whirr away. It’s a lot faster and easier to clean.
Drinking wine with dinner is great, but when you’re one person, there’s always some left over. I used to stick it in the fridge, and then forget it was there. Two or three days later, I’d end up with a half bottle of really expensive vinegar. Not good.
My mom gave me a wine saver as a gift for the holidays one year and it’s great. All you have to do is pop on a stopper and vacuum the air out of the bottle with the little pump. The wine will stay fresh for nearly two weeks: no waste, and no vinegar.
This little gadget is great for mincing and chopping, without having to haul out (or clean) your big food processor. Use it to chop onions, bread crumbs, grind nuts, and mince fresh herbs. It’s easier to clean than a blender, and comes with a mini spatula to scrape down the sides.
Since it’s so small, you can keep it out on your kitchen counter, where it’s handy, rather than having to drag it down out of a cupboard.
Lots of recipes call for adding spices, such as bay leaves or cloves, in cheesecloth so they can be removed later.
I’ve never seen cheesecloth in a store, and since I have a small kitchen, I don’t want to keep it around if I do find it. So, I use the tea ball instead. Rather than fishing out the bay leaves, cloves, or the peppercorns one by one (my dad does this!), I put them in the tea ball.
This way the flavor spreads into the soup, without making a mess. Pull the tea ball out with a spoon when you’re done. Pretty simple.
I’ve got about 30 (maybe more) kitchen gadgets (trimming this page down to just a few top gadgets was hard!). My old gadget holder was looking pretty grim. So, I decided to treat myself to this sleek new one from Oxo.
It’s got three sections, so I can sort everything by type – spoons in one section, spatulas in the second, and everything else in the third. I wasn’t quite sure it would hold all my gadgets – but it does. It’s got an elliptical shape, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space (another plus, as space in my kitchen is at a premium).
What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets? And do you have any unconventional ways to use them?
I wanted homemade pizza one day and was feeling too lazy (and too hungry) to take the time to make dough and wait for yeast to rise. Usually, I’d use pita bread for this, but I didn’t have any. I didn’t have any of the usual substitutes either, (not even an English muffin). Necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to create another “base” for my pizza.
It turned out that a homemade tortilla made a perfect crust for my pizza. I didn’t roll it out that much, but left it fairly thick (so it would be more like pita bread).
And, while I was low on pizza base substitutes, I did have sausage, fresh eggplant, and plenty of tomato sauce.
I made a quick tortilla crust, chopped up the veggies, put it all together, and baked it. It made a great, fairly easy lunch.
I had been making do with a tiny, carved rolling pin my grandma gave me. It was pretty (and rolled out cookies or crackers with designs), but really too small to do much good. So, I went and got this rolling pin instead. It rolls the dough more easily, and with much less pressure required.
Every year after the holidays are over, we all end up with lots of leftover turkey. Lots and lots of it. I’ve made a lot of the “standard” leftover turkey soup, with potatoes and carrots and broccoli. This time I wanted something with more zip. I had some turkey (naturally), some tomatoes, lime, and of course spices, so I decided to go for a south of the border flavor. So, spicy leftover turkey soup was born.
Ironically, a friend (who translates books from English to Spanish) once told me there are no turkeys in South America, which made her job rather difficult when she had to translate some turkey recipes.
I suppose that makes this not strictly authentic Mexican food. Authentic or not, the tangy lime, the spicy cayenne, and the cool sour cream make the soup flavorful, rich, and satisfying.
A great way to use up leftover turkey after the holidays. This isn't your usual leftover turkey soup. It's got lime, cayenne, and sour cream for a south of the border flavor.
2 T vegetable oil, or enough to cover the bottom of a medium saucepan
1 small onion, chopped (or about a quarter of a large one)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 C beans
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 juice lime
salt and pepper
3 C water
1/4 turkey carcass (if it's not after Thanksgiving, use a turkey thigh)
1/4C mild shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 T sour cream or Greek yogurt
Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan.
Add the onions and saute for a few minutes until slightly softened.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
Once that's softened, add the remaining ingredients (except for the toppings). Simmer one hour and then remove the turkey carcass. Let it cool for a minute or two (so you can handle it). Pick off any remaining meat and discard the bones.
Pour into a bowl and top with sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and cheese.
This makes about three or four servings, depending how hungry you are. Eat one and freeze the rest in individual containers.
Quick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup Substitutions and Variations
Since recipes are often meant to be guidelines, and since we don’t always have the exact ingredients handy, here are some substitutions:
If you don’t have a turkey carcass, use turkey thighs, depending on size, one or two should do it.
I used navy beans for the soup, you could use white kidney beans or pinto beans
Replace the diced tomatoes with 1/2 C peeled tomatoes (and smush them up)
Add a handful of frozen corn
Top with crumbled tortilla chips, or cut up some tortillas, fry them, and sprinkle them on top of the soup for extra crunch.
This easy leftover turkey soup recipe is great for a chilly spring or fall day.
It’s also a good way to use up cooked turkey after a holiday (just add the turkey during the final cooking stage).
Note: You’ll need a Dutch oven for this (since the pot has to go first on the stove, and then in the oven). If you don’t have one, use a soup pot and make the whole thing on the stove.
If you don’t have any leftover turkey handy, use turkey thighs instead.
I had seen some boneless turkey thighs in the store, and bought them without really having a plan in mind for what to do with them.
I went searching on the internet for turkey soup and found a recipe for turkey stew, but that wasn’t quite what I wanted. Plus, I didn’t have all the ingredients (since I hadn’t known I was going to make it!)
The original recipe called for celery, turnips, and rutabaga (I’ve never met a rutabaga), none of which I had on hand.
So, I figured I would improvise and use what I did have to make soup.
A quick look in the pantry and fridge, turned up some potatoes, plus the turkey, a package of frozen veggies, and an open bottle of Riesling. The original recipe also called for Herbs de Provence, which I didn’t have either, so I threw together some basil, tarragon, and thyme.
It came out really well! And, as a bonus, it warmed up my apartment beautifully.
This is a small batch recipe, and makes about 4-6 portions. Eat one and freeze the rest. Or, keep eating it all week (so you don’t have to cook again).
1 quart chicken broth (you can replace some of this with white wine, which is what I did)
2-3 cups mixed frozen vegetables (I used broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower)
3 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon dried herbs (thyme, basil, and tarragon)
freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Cut the turkey thighs (I used boneless), into smaller pieces and sprinkle them with salt.
Brown the pieces gently in the oil. Once they've browned, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the onions, and cook on low heat for about five minutes or so, until they become translucent. Then put the turkey back in the pot.
Add the salt to the pot, half of the chicken broth, and the wine (if using). Bring the mixture to a simmer. Once it's hot, cover it, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook it for an hour and 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven, and add the potatoes, the dried herbs, and the remaining chicken stock.
Note: If you're using leftover, cooked turkey add it to the pot now.
Put the pot back in the oven and cook another 30 minutes or so.
Add the frozen veggies, and cook another 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Chicken noodle, spiced lentil, chickpea and chorizo, plus 497 other options. The clear instructions give you the option of making your own broth or stock from scratch, or using bullion or store-bought stock. The Daily Soup Cookbook
Sadly, the Daily Soup is gone, but you can still feast on their Yucatan Chicken Lime soup, chicken barley, and Moroccan chicken curry. If you want to venture beyond chicken, there’s always Lamb, Rosemary, and Artichoke stew.
Chicken noodle soup, chicken soup with tortillas and avocado, and my favorite kind of non-chicken soup: french onion. There’s a famous story in our family about onion soup. The first time my brother and I tried it at a restaurant we each demanded a full bowl. Mom said we could have it— after dinner. So, we had soup for dessert. Two bowls.
This spinach and feta cheese omelette has salty feta, tender spinach, and a mild oniony bite from scallions. I had a craving for spanakopitas (spinach and feta triangles, wrapped in phyllo dough), but unfortunately, I had no phyllo dough handy.
I suppose I could have gone out to get some, but believe me, when you have to go up and down (or maybe down and up) all those steps, all 56 of them, you think twice before running out to the store for just one ingredient!
So, I decided to improvise.While I didn’t have phyllo dough, I did have the other ingredients, and plenty of eggs.
I figured with the eggs, the spinach, some feta cheese, some scallions, and a little creativity, I could get a similar flavor in an omelette without any phyllo dough. It was delicious! And, I admit it was also a lot easier to prepare than spanikopitas! The spanakopitas take quite a bit of time and effort to make (all that dough rolling). Unlike spanakopitas, this spinach and feta cheese omelette is ready in about fifteen minutes, which is much faster (and easier) gratification!
You can make it for breakfast on a weekday (since it doesn’t take long to prepare), or have it for a weekend brunch or quick lunch. Just add some fruit or a chunk of crusty bread.
1 T olive oil (or enough to coat the bottom of a small skillet)
2 large eggs
1 tsp water
1/4 C chopped spinach
salt and pepper to taste (the feta is salty, so you might want to use a bit less than usual)
1/4 C feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp dill
1/2 scallion, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the water. Beat the egg and water mixture thoroughly.
Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium heat.
Add the eggs to the pan and add salt and pepper. Hold the pan over the heat and move it forward and backward (towards you and then away from you).
Meanwhile, take a fork in your other hand and use it to swirl the eggs gently in a circular motion. Keep the fork flat, and don't scrape it against the bottom of the pan. This will add layers to the omelette and keep it from sticking to the pan.
Let the omelette cook for a minute, until it sets along the outside. You'll be able to move it around the pan in one piece, but the top will still be liquid.
When the eggs are set on the bottom, but not yet cooked through, add the rest of the ingredients on one side of the omelette. Let cook for a minute or two.
Hold the pan in one hand, at an angle of about 45 degrees. Gently roll the empty side of the omelette with your fork, pushing it over to the side with the spinach filling. The end result will be a half-moon shape.
Turn the omelette onto a plate and garnish with scallions.
Omelette Cooking Tips
Omelette making can seem a bit intimidating, but it’s not that hard to master. And, while you’re practicing, you still get to eat the results (even if they don’t look perfect, they will still taste good).
I’ve explained this in more detail in the recipe, but the idea is to coat the pan with the oil first. There’s a lot of talk about using seasoned cast iron pans, but an ordinary frying pan is just fine. Then add the eggs, and tilt the pan to spread the egg mixture evenly over the bottom. Use a fork (or a spatula) to move the uncooked (and still liquid) eggs around in the pan. Then, once the edges firm up (and are no longer liquid), add the filling on one side. Flip the empty half over the filling, cook it, and then slide (or flip) the omelette onto your plate.
Since it’s a bit easier to explain omelette preparation with video and pictures, rather than words (and because I can’t hold the pan, the fork, and the camera all at once), here’s a video from the BBC that demonstrates the basic technique for making a plain omelette.