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Simple, easy, healthy: Happy New Year!


Last updated 1/3/2008 at Noon

While your holidays may have been as calm and quiet as falling snow, other of us experienced a wee bit of shortened nights, present-wrapping marathons and other forms of holiday celebrating.

Antidote: rest!

That means super simplicity in the kitchen. For starters I’d recommend this usually easy and satisfying soup. It came about as a holiday effort to make dinner and use up some leftover cooked ravioli. Here’s the recipe…with lots of options that might include items in your pantry or freezer.

Super Simple Soup

2 qt. beef or chicken stock

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

½ lb. mushrooms

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups frozen chopped spinach

½ lb. cooked peeled shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab or tuna

8 cooked ravioli or 1 cup cooked pasta

Few drops chili oil

¼ tsp. sesame seed oil

Bring stock to a boil. Add frozen vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.

Meantime, sauté mushrooms in olive oil. Add to broth. Add spinach. Cook 2 minutes. Add shrimp and ravioli.

Heat just to serving temperature. Season with chili oil and sesame seed oil.

Serves 6 to 8 persons.

Baked pork chops are about as simple a main dish as can be. Well seasoned with sage, salt and pepper then teamed with sautéed apples and you’ve a dinner done.

Add a prepared salad, a roll and holiday cookies and your stress-less meal is deliciously served.

Sage Baked Pork Chops

6 bone-in pork chops, ¾- 1-inch thick

1 tbsp. olive oil



1 tsp. finely chopped sage

2 firm-crisp apples (Gala, Granny Smith, etc.)

1 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. sugar

1 tbsp. dry vermouth or chicken stock

Dab pork chops with paper toweling to remove any moisture.

Rub or brush both sides of all chops with olive oil. Season both sides generously with salt, pepper and sage.

Place chops on a rack in a shallow baking pan or dish. Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until done (meat will begin to separate from the bone and an instant-read meat thermometer will register 150 degrees). Set in a warm place.

Core apples and cut each into eighths. Sauté in butter for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar. Sauté until almost tender and lightly browned. Add vermouth or chicken stock.

Serve pork chops with sautéed apples.

Serves 6.

This is one of my favorite “sneaky” casseroles. It’s sneaky only in that many people think they don’t like turnips. So, when apple and ham – two favorites – are teamed with turnips…the casserole is often the hit of the evening.

Ham, Apple and Turnip Casserole

1 ½ cups diced ham

2 tbsp. butter

3-4 medium turnips or parsnips

2 medium red-skinned cooking apples

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. butter

Sauté ham in butter and set aside.

Scrub and peel turnips or parsnips. Cut into slices. Cook in 1/3-cup boiling salted water just until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.

Quarter apples. Core and cut into slices. Drop into small amount of water with 1 tbsp. lemon juice.

Place half of the apple slices and half of the turnip slices in a 1 ½ qt. casserole. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. brown sugar. Add ham. Drizzle with 1 ½ tbsp. lemon juice.

For second layer, alternate turnips and apples in concentric circles. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and drizzle with 2 tbsp. melted butter.

Bake in a 350-degree oven about 30 minutes or until heated through.

There isn’t an easier way to make a pot roast than this one…about 10 minutes to brown, then cook at simmer or in the oven until tender.

Add veggies or salad, bread and dinner is a done deal. Yummy, too.

Simplest Pot Roast

3 tbsp. shortening

3-4 lb. pot roast

1 pkg. dry onion soup mix

1 cup water

Pepper, optional

Melt shortening in a casserole. Add pot roast and brown well on both sides. Sprinkle with onion soup mix. Add water. Cover and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Continue to cook over low heat until tender, about 2 ½ hours. Or, bake in a 325 degree oven until tender.

Serves 6-8.

Pink shrimp, green broccoli and pasta….what a beautiful and delicious trio! So quick, so simple and so tasty.

Shrimp and Broccoli Sauté

1 lb. uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 tbsp. cooking oil

½ cup chicken broth

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger

3 tbsp. soy sauce

Few drops chili oil

1 (16-oz.,) pkg. broccoli florets

1 cup cooked pasta

Heat oil. Add shrimp and sauté 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth, brown sugar, ginger and soy sauce. Add broccoli. Cook, stirring, until broccoli is crisp-tender. Add pasta and cook only to heat through.

Serves 4.

Comfort food is often a good remedy to stress. Few combinations are as universally loved as chicken and noodles.

Here is one that has a slight variation: curry with optional raisins.

Chicken and Noodle Casserole

4 oz. medium noodles

½ cup finely chopped onions

4 large mushrooms, sliced

3 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. flour

1 ½ tsp. curry

1 cup light cream

1 cup chicken broth

1 ½ cups cooked chicken or turkey

1 cup cooked mixed vegetables

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. chopped peanuts or cashews

2 tbsp. raisins

Cook noodles until barely tender. Drain, then rinse in cold water.

Cook onion and mushrooms in butter until onion is transparent. Add flour and curry and blend.

Add cream and broth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Add chicken vegetables, peanuts and raisins. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Fold in cooked noodles. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 6-8.


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