Everyday Dinners

Sunday Dinner Chicken
My Aunt Tillie had a house at the beach and when we would go and visit her, she would always make chicken and macaroni.  I loved to watch Aunt Tillie cook.  Her love for family was expressed in how she would be delighted to have them visit and to serve them a meal.
Later, after my brother and I were married, my dad started to make the chicken for us on Sundays when we came to visit just like Aunt Tillie’s.  The key to the chicken was to baste it often.  Aunt Tillie would take the pan out of the oven and tilt it to pour the drippings into a measuring cup and pour it over the top of the chicken.  I still do it that way today.  This meal still reminds me of Sunday dinner together with family, and you can’t beat that.
  1. In a large baking pan, add oil to coat the bottom.
  2. Peel and slice one onion and scatter to cover the bottom.
  3. Peel and cut 4-5 potatoes into about ½ slices, enough to cover the bottom of the pan in one layer.
  4. Rinse 2-3 lbs of chicken pieces, place on top in one layer.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of water, ¼ cup of lemon juice, salt, pepper, minced garlic or powder, and basil.  Whisk together.  Pour over chicken.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Remove pan from over, uncover and baste chicken.  Return to the oven uncovered.
  8. Continue to bake for at least 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Pasta and Broccoli
Along with the chicken, dad would serve tortellini and broccoli.  This dish also works well with other types of pasta, such as bow ties or medium shells.
  1. In a large pot, heat water for pasta.
  2. Add a handful of salt
  3. When the water comes to a boil, add 1lb frozen cheese tortellini.
  4. Cook and stir.
  5. Meanwhile, rinse and cut 3-4 large heads of broccoli into pieces. 
  6. When pasta is almost done, add the broccoli.
  7. Cook and stir until broccoli is tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  8. Drain well and pour into large serving bowl.
  9. Pour olive oil on top, circling the bowl once, and stir, coating pasta/broccoli with oil. 
  10. Add salt, pepper, garlic power, basil, oregano, grated cheese to taste and stir until blended. Add more oil or seasonings to taste.
  11. Serve hot or allow to cool to almost room temperature. Can be served hot or cold.

Hotdogs, Potatoes, Peppers and Onions
This is my husband’s signature dish. You can also make this with sausage.  If using sausages, make sure to cook them in a separate pan whole, then slice and brown more.  Sausages should be cooked through before adding to the rest of the ingredients.
  1. Scrub 4-5 potatoes well.   Fork a few holes in each.  Microwave until almost fork tender.  Set aside to cool enough to handle.
  2. Cut the potatoes into pieces. 
  3. Heat a cast iron pan, coat with cooking spray.
  4. Place potatoes on the pan surface to brown. 
  5. Spray top side of potatoes with cooking spray. Sprinkle potatoes with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 
  6. Flip when golden, spray other side and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Remove with browned on both sides, set aside. 
  7. Rinse and slice 2 peppers, removing seeds in the center. Sauté in a 12 inch non-stick pan, coated with oil. 
  8. Peel and slice 2 onions into about ¼ inch pieces and add to pan.  Stir and cover.
  9. Cut hotdogs, add to pan.  Sauté and stir covered until peppers are tender.
  10. Add potatoes.  Stir to combine flavors and cook a few more minutes until all heated through. 
  11. Serve with rolls.

Chicken in Cheese/Cream Sauce
Ok, I stole this one from a book but then made it my own.  It is easy and tastes great.  Serve it with rice or noodles. 
  1. In a large baking pan, place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in one layer.  It is important to use the right size pan for the amount of breasts you have, so they fit in one layer without much extra room.
  2. Cover breasts with sliced yellow cheese.  I use the package individually wrapped cheese.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and ½ cup lemon juice.  Mix until smooth. Pour over chicken and cheese, to cover all.
  4. In a small measuring glass, melt 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter. Using the microwave, this should take 15-20 seconds.
  5. Mix bread crumbs into the melted margarine.  Start with 3-4 tablespoons and add more stirring until mixture is barely moist and crumby.
  6. Add the bread crumbs to the top of the chicken.
  7. This part can be made ahead and then refrigerated until ready to cook.
  8. Bake for hour or less at 350 degrees until chicken is done, hot and bubbly.
  9. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Chicken Marsala
  1. Start with thin boneless skinless chicken breasts.  If the breasts are thick, slice them thinner.
  2. In a low medium bowl, mix flour with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 
  3. Push chicken breast in flour mixture one at a time, coating both sides well with flour.
  4. Heat oil in a 12 inch non-stick pan.  When oil is hot, add chicken breasts in one layer.
  5. Cook until just barely golden on one side, then turn to cook other side.  Remove when cooked on both sides.  Continue until all chicken is cooked.
  6. Wash 10 oz of mushrooms well and slice. 
  7. Add mushrooms to cook after all the chicken is removed.   Cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally until mushrooms start to get tender and shrink from cooking. 
  8. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and add to the mushrooms and stir. 
  9. Add about a tablespoon of flour left from the chicken into the pot and stir into the pan drippings.  Cook stirring 1 minute. 
  10. Add 1 cup of Marsala wine and about ¼ cup of water, stir and cook 2-3 minutes until wine bubbles and starts to change color. 
  11. Add chicken back to the pan.  Spoon sauce over chicken.  Cook on low, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes or so. 

Chicken and Broccoli
  1. Rinse fresh broccoli, about 2-3 large heads, and cut into small florets.  Frozen broccoli or mixed frozen vegetables can also be used.  Be careful not to overcook.
  2. In 12 inch non-stick pan, cook broccoli in about ¼ cup of water, stirring occasionally.
  3. When broccoli is almost tender, add other items if you have them available: frozen chopped spinach, chopped red pepper, thinly sliced carrots (peel carrot then, continue to use peeler to slice into the pan), canned or fresh sliced mushrooms.
  4. Add minced garlic and about a tablespoon of oil.  Stir and cook about a minute. 
  5. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  6. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. 
  7. Put favorite sauce in the pan – Teriyaki or sesame ginger – about a ½ a bottle and ¼ cup of water.  Begin low heat.
  8. Add chicken and stir to coat chicken in sauce. 
  9. Cover, stirring occasionally, and cook on low heat about 15 minutes until cooked through and tender.
  10. Add vegetables on top and stir to blend flavors.  Cook one more minute.
  11. Serve with rice or pasta. 

Fish and Vegetables over Pasta
  1. Peel and thinly slice 1 onion. 
  2. In a 12 inch non-stick pan, add oil to cover the bottom.  Add the sliced onion and cook covered on low heat.  Stir occasionally and allow to cook while you wash the zucchini.
  3. Scrub 2-3 medium size zucchini.  Slice in half long ways, and then slice in ½ inch slices. After the onions have begun to get translucent, add the zucchini.  Stir to coat with the oil.  Cover and continue to cook on low.
  4. When the zucchini has begun to soften, add frozen chopped spinach and minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Add more oil if needed. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add about 1 lb imitation crab meat, broken up.  Cook and stir until fish is hot and flavors are blended.
  6. Serve over angel hair pasta.

As the children grew up, I changed how I cooked.  When they were young and I was home more, I would prepare dinner during nap time, and refrigerate it until later, than bake.  Later, as I began to work, I used the microwave more.  Here is the meat loaf, both ways.  Both are good, depending on what you are doing that day. My mother-in-law made a wonderful meat loaf in the oven, surrounding the meat with cut up potatoes and sliced onions, all covered with tomato sauce.
  1. In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs (one egg for each pound of chop meat). 
  2. Add a big squirt of ketchup and 3 sprinkles of soy sauce.  Mix well.
  3. Add 1 small chopped onion.  Make sure to chop the onion fine.
  4. Add ½ cup of oat meal. 
  5. Add ½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs and mix well.  Continue to add bread crumbs, mixing until the mixture is resembles a paste, not very wet.
  6. Add 2 lbs of chop meat (beef/veal/pork mix is best, but what’s on sale this week will work), a little at a time, mixing well with your hands until it is all combined.
For cooking in the microwave:
  1. Press into a glass bundt pan – or form into a ring in a round glass pie pan. 
  2. Microwave on high for 12 minutes.  The entire meatloaf should turn a brownish color so you can see it is cooked.  If it is not cooked through, microwave another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour over meat loaf 8 oz tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and basil. 
  4. Microwave another 2 minutes until sauce is hot.
For cooking in the oven:
  1. In a large baking pan, form meat loaf into a loaf shape in center of the pan.
  2. Peel and slice 3-4 potatoes Place around meat loaf.
  3. Peel and slice 1 onion.  Place on top of potatoes.
  4. Cover with foil and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from oven.  Pour 8 oz tomato sauce over all.  Sprinkle with basil and garlic powder. 
  6. Cover again and cook ½ hour.

Stew is another meal that moved to the crock pot as my life got busier.  The ingredients are the same but the method is so different.  It is important to cut the meat into small pieces because they get tenderer and are easier to eat.  Through the years, I have tried different kinds of meat, usually because of sales: Bottom round roasts, rump roasts, London broil, veal cubes and chuck roast.  All are good.  I prefer to cut the meat after purchase, before I freeze it.  The recipe works for about 2 lbs of meat cubes.
On the stove:
1.    Peel and chop an onion into medium size chunks.  Sauté in oil in a large heavy pot.  Cook and stir until onions are tender.
2.    Add 2 lb cubed meat.  Salt and pepper meat.  Cook and stir until browned.
3.    Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. Add to pot and stir until just fragrant.
4.    Add 8 oz tomato sauce and 1 can of water.  Add more water to cover the meat. Add basil and stir over low heat.
5.    Cover and to cook for about 15 minutes.
6.    Peel and slice 3-4 carrots.  Add to the pot and stir.
7.    Cover and cook 10 minutes.
8.    Peel and cut 3-4 potatoes into bit-size squares, not larger than 1 inch.  Add to the pot.  Add more water if needed.
9.    Cover and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
10. Add one can drained peas and/or green beans. 
11. Add a generous sprinkle of Wondra flour to thicken the gravy.
12. Stir and heat until hot.

In the Crock Pot:
1.    Peel and chop an onion into small pieces. Sprinkle on the bottom of the crock pot.
2.    Peel and slice 3-4 carrots.  Sprinkle on top of the onions.
3.    Peel and cut 3 potatoes into bit-size squares, not larger than 1 inch.  Sprinkle evenly on top of the carrots.
4.    Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
5.    Add 2 lbs cubed meat evenly on top of the potatoes, press down.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil.
6.    Add 8 oz tomato sauce and 1 can of water.  Add more water to cover the meat.
7.    Turn on crock pot to high.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours. 
8.    Add one can drained peas and/or green beans and stir the pot. 
9.    If desired, add Wondra flour and stir until blended to thicken sauce. 

Pot Roast
There just isn’t a better way to cook pot roast than in the crock pot.
  1. Using a cast iron or heavy stainless steel pan, quickly brown the rump or bottom round roast in hot oil on one side. 
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop 2-3 carrots.
  3. Flip roast when browned on one side.  Scatter carrots around the edge and stir them to coat in the oil and meat drippings.
  4. Peel and chop 1 onion.  Scatter onion on the edges with the carrots and stir. Lower the heat if necessary to avoid burning carrots and onions.
  5. When browned on both sides, remove roast from the pan to the crock pot.
  6. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.  Add to the pan and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of beef broth granules (or cubes), salt and pepper. Continue to heat on low, stir and scrape bottom of the pan until it comes to a boil.
  8. Pour all over roast in crock pot, adding more water if necessary to cover the roast.
  9. Cover and cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours.  If you want to cook it on the stove, cook on very low heat for at least 1 hour.  The longer it cooks, the more tender it gets.

Crock Pot Pork Roast
When they are on sale, purchase a pork loin.  They are sold in plastic, about 2-2 ½ feet long.  When you bring it home, cut into 3-4 equal pieces, freeze separately in heavy freezer bags.  Defrost meat before cooking.
  1. Peel and slice 1 onion, scatter on the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Place pork loin on top.
  3. Cover with barbeque, teriyaki or sesame ginger bottled sauce (about half a bottle)
  4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Crock Pot Chicken
In desperation to get dinner on the table as soon as possible, I rediscovered my crock pot.  This is my favorite recipe because it is so easy.
  1. Rinse well 6-10 pieces of chicken thighs, or thighs and legs.
  2. Place evenly in the bottom of the crock pot.
  3. Cover with your favorite bottled sauce (about ½ a bottle): Barbeque, Teriyaki, Sesame Ginger, mushroom gravy, or the lemon dressing used with broccoli (see below) are my favorites.
  4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.  Serve with rice or noodles.

Chicken and Peppers
  1. Rinse well and remove the fat and skin from 6-10 chicken thighs (Legs and breasts with bones are also good.
  2. Place evenly in the bottom of the crock pot. 
  3. In a skillet, saute chopped onion and peppers. One green and one red or yellow are best.
  4. When almost soft, add 4-5 chopped cloves of garlic, cook briefly until fragrant.
  5. Add to chicken: generous sprinkle of hot sauce to all the pieces, Adobe seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper.
  6. Pour onions and peppers over all evenly.
  7. Cook on low 8-10 hours. 

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