This is one of those meals where everything gets cooked in the same pot. So get out your largest non-stick frying pan and lets startcooking!
This recipe is from my friend Cristen Jones, a registered dietitian from the Boston area. I’ve adapted the recipe just a bit for the startcooking crowd.
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 1 can (15 ounces) of Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups of beef broth
- 2 cups of bow tie pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- 2 cups of broccoli
The beef, onion and broccoli are the only fresh ingredients you need for this recipe. Buy the rest of the ingredients in advance and just stick them in your food cupboard. Then when you are stuck thinking about what to make for dinner, you can have that “Ah Ha” moment and just pick up some ground beef, broccoli, and an onion!
Get all your ingredients prepared and measured in advance.
1. Rinse and drain the beans
2. Chop the onion
3. Wash and cut the broccoli into bite size pieces also known as florets
4. Measure out the spices
5. Reconstitute the bullion cubes-you will need 2 cups of broth
With the stove set to medium, add the beef and the onions to the pan. (If you froze your ground beef when you got home from the grocery store, you can defrost the beef really quickly in the microwave.)
Brown the meat until the beef is no longer pink-about 6-8 minutes.
Be sure to drain off any excess fat. I used VERY lean beef for this recipe so there really was very little fat to drain off.
Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the broccoli.
Mix everything together.
Cover the pot and turn the heat up to medium high. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer. And cover the pot.
Simmer everything for about 10-12 minutes.
Lay the broccoli on top and re-cover the pot.
In about 3-5 minutes your broccoli will be nice and tender. Be sure not to over cook the broccoli as it will turn a nasty shade of green if you do!
Give it a taste. You may want to add more salt and some freshly ground pepper. You could also add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like.
As this dish sits, almost all of the liquid gets absorbed.
If you are making recipe the day before you plan on eating it, be sure to steam the broccoli just before you serve it.
I’m always on the look-out for quick and tasty ways to cook chicken. Today’s recipe is based on coating boneless chicken breasts with French-fried onions from a can and then the chicken is baked in the oven.
Many of you may well have tried the classic green bean recipe made with these onions. I’m going to use these fried onions to coat boneless, skinless chicken breasts. What I need is some sort of “glue” to make the fried onions stick to the chicken.
For the fun of it, I tested 4 different possible “glues”:
Melted butter, mustard, mayonnaise, and a beaten egg all work beautifully. You get to choose which one to use depending on what you have in your kitchen! (I’ll tell you my preference at the end!)
I put just one chicken breast in each of different “glues”, making sure to coat both sides.
Now for the onion coating. The recipe on the box of fried onions calls for one egg, 4 chicken breasts and 1 1/3 cup of onions. There is no possible way you can cover four chicken breasts with that amount of coating and have it end up looking like the photo! I used 2 cups of crushed onions and that worked just fine.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Be sure to throw away any leftover “glue”. The egg (or butter, or mayonnaise, or mustard) has been contaminated with bacteria from the raw chicken and cannot be re-used.
The onions do need to get crushed into crumbs. The easiest way to do this is to put them in a baggie, seal it, and then just crush the onions with your hands.
You could then just add the raw chicken breasts to the bag and pat on the coating. Because I used four different “glues” I put the crushed onions in a shallow dish with sides.
From there I patted on the onion crumbs to both sides of the chicken breasts.
Next, I put the chicken into an ungreased baking pan.
Be sure to place the chicken, with what was the shiny side, up. This way looks better once it is cooked.
This is what the chicken will look like when it is ready to go in the oven. No one “glue” looks different from the other. They all look the same at this point.
Bake the chicken in a 400-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until it is no longer pink on the inside. (The chicken breasts I used each weighed 5 ½ ounces.)
Oven Baked for 20 Minutes
The mustard-dipped chicken on the far right came out of the oven slightly less browned than the others. That makes sense as there is no fat in mustard to help in the browning process.
Now for the official taste test! (That means my husband and I took a bite of each piece of chicken to see which one we like the best.)
The mustard coating had a really tangy flavor which was our least favorite. The mustard overpowered the flavor of the onion coating.
The remaining three all tasted pretty much the same, but the butter and the mayonnaise coating made the chicken breasts seriously moist.
(But you are adding extra calories with all that added fat!)
The egg coating was good but not quite as moist as the butter and mayonnaise coating.
My conclusion is to use the egg coating but for company try the butter or mayonnaise coating.
Chicken Cutlets show below…
and Chicken Parmesan are two more great ways to cook up boneless chicken breasts.
This is a very basic (and quick!) tomato sauce that takes very little time to cook and can be made ahead of time and frozen. It can be used with any pasta dish or in lasagna.
You will need the following ingredients to make this Marinara Sauce recipe:
Be sure to get both the onion and garlic chopped before you turn on the stove.
You’ll need about 1 cup of finely chopped onions for this recipe. Two small or one medium onion should do the trick.
Peel and mince 4 cloves of garlic. That’s a lot of garlic, but it does get cooked, so it’s not going to be too strong.
Fresh basil is essential for this recipe. Nowadays, most grocery store carry fresh basil year-round. You can wash it the same way you wash lettuce. Pull the leaves off the stem and throw the stems away.
Put the basil and the canned tomatoes, with their juice, in a blender and puree everything until almost smooth. Set the tomato-basil puree aside.
(As I filled the blender I thought, YIKES, this is way too full! With my hand pressed firmly on the lid of the blender I pressed the puree button. I was very lucky that my kitchen did not end up covered in tomato sauce. Next time I would puree this mixture in two batches!)
Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
That does sound like a ton of oil, but believe me it works. It gives the sauce a full, rich flavor.
Add the onions and garlic and cook until very tender, about 12 minutes.
The onions should not get browned. This is what they should look like after 12 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and basil that you pureed in the blender and 1 teaspoon of oregano plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. (Don’t skip the sugar. It helps balance the acid in the tomatoes.)
Bring the sauce to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes.
Give the sauce a taste. You may need to add about ½ -1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.
The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. If you are storing it for future use, cool the sauce, then cover and refrigerate it. Gently re-heat sauce over medium heat before using it.
If you are going to be freezing this sauce, use small containers that would be enough for 1-2 serving.
Be sure to spray your plastic containers with cooking spray first so they don’t get stained by the tomato sauce.
(For more basic pasta sauce recipes, be sure to check out my Tomato Sauce Video or my Turkey Sausage Sauce photo-tutorial.)