A DECEMBER HOLIDAY DINNER FOR 2 – FROM START TO FINISH

I served this dinner for Thanksgiving, and my husband gave 5 out of 5 stars and asked for a repeat the next night. . .

MENU:

–chicken tenders with garlic – herb breadcrumbs (cooked as though it were turkey)

–whipped sweet potatoes with pecan chips

–asparagus casserole with mushrooms and Parmesan

–herb dressing with parsley, mushrooms, and onion in chicken bone broth

–cranberry – pear chutney

INGREDIENTS ON HAND:

–extra virgin olive oil

–salt and pepper

–milk

–cinnamon spice

–dried parsley

GROCERY LIST:

–chicken tenderloins

–garlic – herb breadcrumbs (Progresso brand)

–sweet potatoes (frozen; in small pieces)

–pecan chips (packaged)

–asparagus (frozen; I use Pictsweet signature)

–mushrooms (button type from a small jar)

–Parmesan cheese (shredded, packaged)

–herb dressing (stuffing; I use Pepperidge Farm)

–onion (frozen, chopped)

–bone broth (chicken, low sodium, non-fat)

–cranberries (1 can, with berries)

–pears (1 can, sliced)

–banana peppers (in a jar)

–raisins (golden, packaged)

–brown sugar (packaged)

–lime juice

PREPARING DINNER:

You can make the preparations early and store the dishes in the refrigerator, or, if in the afternoon, store at room temperature.  Then just cook for the last half hour before dinner is to be served.

1 – Cranberry – pear chutney:

(Can be prepared a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerated.) 

–Place one-half can of cranberry sauce in a small, covered baking dish. 

–Add one-half can of drained pears cut into bite-sized pieces. 

–Add one-half cup of brown sugar.

–Place 3 or 4 rings of banana peppers in the dish, and one-quarter cup of golden raisins. 

–Add 2 tablespoons of lime juice. 

–Stir gently. 

–Microwave on high for 4 minutes. 

–Stir again. 

–Refrigerate for a couple of hours before dinner.

2 – Whipped sweet potatoes:

–Place the frozen sweet potatoes in a covered baking dish. 

–Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon (1 tablespoon), and extra virgin olive oil. 

–Microwave on high for 5 minutes. 

–Let cool. 

–Place in a food processor. 

–Add one-quarter cup of warm milk (microwave for 1 minute on high; warm milk improves the consistency) and pulse. 

–Add more warm milk if needed to reach desired consistency. 

–Place in a baking dish.  Refrigerate or keep at room temperature.

–Just before dinner, sprinkle one-quarter cup of pecan chips on top, and then microwave on high for 4 minutes if refrigerated, or 3 minutes if room temperature.

3 – Asparagus casserole:

–Place frozen asparagus in a covered baking dish. 

–Add button mushrooms (one-half cup) with their liquid to the dish. 

–Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. 

–Sprinkle one-quarter cup of shredded Parmesan cheese on top. 

–Refrigerate or keep at room temperature. 

–When ready to prepare for dinner, microwave on high for 5 minutes.

4 – Herb dressing:

–Place one-third cup of drained mushrooms in a covered baking dish. 

–Add one-quarter cup of frozen chopped onions. 

–Then add 2 tablespoons of dried parsley. 

–Season with salt and pepper. 

–Microwave on high for 2 minutes. 

–Add 1 cup of herb breadcrumbs to the dish. 

–Fold all ingredients. 

–Finish with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. 

–Refrigerate or keep at room temperature. 

–When ready to serve for dinner, microwave on high for 2 minutes.

5 – Chicken tenders:

–Place 3 chicken tenders in a covered baking dish. 

–Add one-eighth cup of chicken bone broth. 

–Season with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. 

–Sprinkle garlic – herb breadcrumbs, one-eighth cup, on top. 

–Refrigerate or keep at room temperature. 

–When ready to prepare for dinner, microwave on high for 5 minutes if coming from the refrigerator, or 4 minutes if room temperature. 

–Before serving, cut into the center piece to check for doneness.  If not cooked, return to the microwave for 1 minute more.

6 – Serve the dinner hot, except for chilled cranberry chutney.

–cranberry chutney adapted from Real Simple magazine; dressing adapted from To a King’s Taste (New Orleans Colonial Dames cookbook); asparagus casserole from my mother-in-law’s recipe; chicken and whipped sweet potatoes original.

A Holiday Dinner for 2:  BACON – FLAVORED CORNISH HENS WITH MUSHROOMS & ONION IN BROTH / PARSLEYED DRESSING WITH MINCED MUSHROOMS & ONIONS / WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES WITH CINNAMON / ASPARAGUS IN PARMESAN WHITE SAUCE / BUTTER LETTUCE WITH GREEN GRAPES – FETA CHEESE – TOASTED WALNUTS IN BALSAMIC VINEGAR & EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Note:  Allow 90 minutes of preparation time for this dinner, even if you are an experienced cook.

–Cornish hen (thawed from frozen)

–Bac’n pieces

–mushrooms (divided, baby bellas, 6 to 8)

–onion (divided, three quarters of a medium onion)

–chicken broth (non-fat, low sodium)

–Stovetop stuffing mix (boxed, chicken flavor)

–parsley (fresh if possible)

–sweet potatoes (2, medium)

–cinnamon (bottled)

–asparagus (steamable in microwave; I use PicSweet)

–flour

–milk (dairy or almond; soy doesn’t work well in microwave)

–Parmesan cheese

–butter lettuce (one-half package)

–green grapes (seedless, about a dozen, split)

–feta cheese (half a small container)

–toasted walnuts (toast in microwave, 1 handful)

–balsamic vinegar

–extra virgin olive oil

1 – Place one-half package of butter lettuce in a mixing bowl.  Add a dozen grapes, each cut into two pieces.  Add half a small container of feta cheese.  Add 1 handful of toasted walnuts.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in refrigerator until just before dinner.

2 – Slice 6 baby bella mushrooms into fine strips.  Add to a large, covered baking dish.  Slice one-half onion, and add to the dish.  Add a small amount of chicken broth.  Season with salt, pepper, Bac’n pieces, and olive oil.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes. 

3 – Using a sharp butcher knife and a fork, cut the Cornish hen in half.  Lay each half on its side, atop the mushrooms and onion.  Season with salt, pepper, Bac’n pieces, and olive oil.  Set aside.

4 – Scrub the sweet potatoes, and then pierce all around with a fork.  Place on a microwaveable dish.  Microwave for 7 minutes; then turn over, and microwave for 8 minutes more.  Test sweet potatoes during cooking to see when they are soft to the touch.  (Be careful; potatoes will be very hot.)  Let cool briefly before handling.

5 – Mince 2 mushrooms (baby bellas) and one-quarter onion.  Place in individual microwaveable bowls with a little chicken broth.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Set aside.

6 – Place one-half cup of milk in a microwaveable cup.  In a separate cup, place one level tablespoon of flour.  Microwave the milk for 45 seconds.  Slowly add the milk to the flour, beating briskly.  Pour the milk and flour into a covered baking dish.  Sprinkle a generous amount of Parmesan cheese on top.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes. 

7 – Cut open the sweet potatoes, and then cut crossways to make chunks.  Add to a food processor.  Add milk (dairy or almond) to the food processor.  Pulse until smooth, adding milk to desired consistency.  Place the whipped sweet potatoes in a microwaveable baking dish for reheating later, before dinner.

8 – Microwave the steamable package of asparagus for 3 and one-half minutes.  Add the asparagus to the Parmesan white sauce.  Keep covered to preserve warmth.

9 – Microwave the Cornish hen for 5 minutes.  Then turn over, sprinkle more Bac’n pieces on top, and microwave for 5 minutes more.

10 – Microwave the whipped sweet potatoes for 2 minutes on high.

11 – Add Stovetop dressing to the individual microwaveable bowls with the minced mushrooms and onion.  Stir.  Add chopped parsley to the top.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.

12 – Add balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to the salad.  Fold gently.

13 – Serve the salad as a first course.  Then serve the Cornish hen, one half to each person, with the dressing, sweet potatoes and asparagus as sides.

–dressing adapted from my mother-in-law’s recipe, from To the Taste of a King; other recipes original.

THYME CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & ONION / GREEN BEANS WITH ALMONDS / WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES

–4 chicken tenderloins or breast strips

–thyme

–mushrooms (sliced baby bellas, a handful)

–onion (one-half, medium)

–chicken broth (non-fat, low sodium)

–milk (preferably vanilla – flavored soy)

–green beans (frozen, 2 handfuls)

–almonds (sliced, half a package)

–sweet potatoes (2, medium)

–salt and pepper

–olive oil

1 – Scrub the skins of the sweet potatoes, and place on a dish for the microwave.  Microwave on high for 7 minutes.  Then turn over, and microwave for 7 minutes more.  Set aside to cool a few minutes before whipping.

2 – Slice the onion and place in a covered baking dish.  Add the sliced mushrooms with a little chicken broth.  Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.  When finished, nestle the chicken amid the onion and mushrooms.  Season with salt, pepper, thyme, and olive oil.  Set aside.

3 – Place the green beans in a covered baking dish with a little water.  Sprinkle the almonds on top.  Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes.

4 – Cut open the sweet potatoes.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor.  Add a little milk.  Pulse to desired consistency, being careful to pulse long enough to break apart all of the sweet potato.  Pour into a microwaveable bowl.  Set aside.

5 – Microwave the chicken on high for 5 minutes.

6 – Microwave the whipped sweet potatoes for 1 minute.

7 – Serve the chicken hot, with the green beans and sweet potatoes as sides.

–recipes original.

CHICKEN NATURALLY / WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES / STUFFING WITH CELERY & ONION / KALE WITH MUSHROOMS & ONION

–4 chicken tenderloins or breast strips

–chicken broth (non-fat, low sodium)

–salt and pepper

–olive oil

–sweet potatoes (2, large)

–cornbread stuffing (boxed)

–celery (1 stalk, diced)

–onion (one, medium)

–kale (packaged, fresh)

–mushrooms (sliced, baby bellas, 6 to 8)

–milk (dairy—if not lactose intolerant, soy, or almond)

 

1 – Scrub the sweet potatoes.  Using a fork, pierce the skins all around.  Microwave for 7 minutes; then turn over, and microwave for 7 minutes more.  Let sit for 5 minutes to cool.  Then slice horizontally and then slice the pulp vertically.  Using a couple of spoons, place the sweet potato in a food processor.  Add milk.  Pulse for a few moments.  Check to see if need to add more milk, and possibly do so.  Pulse to desired consistency.  Place in a baking dish.  Set aside.

2 – Place the chicken in a covered baking dish.  Add a little chicken broth.  Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Set aside.

3 – Place one-fourth bag of kale in a large, open-mouthed, covered baking dish.  Slice one-fourth onion and place on top.  Place the mushrooms on top also.  Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.

4 – Dice the celery and one-fourth onion.  Place in 2 separate bowls for cooking.  Add an inch of chicken broth.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Then add stuffing; stir well.  Add more chicken broth.  Set aside.

4 – Microwave the chicken for 5 minutes.

5 – Microwave the sweet potatoes for 2 minutes (to reheat).

6 – Microwave the stuffing for 2 minutes.

7 – Serve the dinner hot.

–recipes original.

THYME – GARLIC CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & ONION IN WHITE WINE SAUCE / WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES WITH MARSHMALLOWS / TARRAGON GREEN PEAS WITH MUSHROOMS & ONION / SPOONBREAD WITH GREEN ONIONS & BROTH     

Note:  This is a holiday dinner for two people.

 

–4 chicken tenderloins or breast strips

–thyme

–garlic powder

–bay leaf (1)

–baby bella mushrooms (divided, half each, 8)

–onion (one-half, medium)

–white wine (cooking wine is fine)

–chicken broth (non-fat, low sodium)

–sweet potatoes (fresh, 3 medium or 2 large)

–marshmallows (6 or 8 large)

–milk (dairy, soy, or almond)

–green peas (frozen)

–tarragon

–cornbread stuffing (boxed)

–green onions (divided, 2 bunches)

 

1 – Cut the mushrooms (4) in one-half pieces.  Chop one-half onion.  Place mushrooms and onion in a covered baking dish.  Just cover with chicken broth and a very small portion of white wine.  Season with thyme, bay leaf, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Cook on high in the microwave for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

2 – Scrub the sweet potatoes thoroughly.  Using a fork, pierce the skins all over.  Place on paper towels in the microwave.  Cook on high for 7 minutes; turn over the potatoes, and cook on high for 8 minutes.  Place on large plates.  Cut the potatoes lengthwise, and then slice through the meat of the potatoes several times, sideways.  Using 2 spoons, transfer to a food processor.  Add 2 inches of milk.  Gently pulse at first, and then pulse thoroughly.  Spoon the potatoes into a covered baking dish.  Set aside.

3 – Place one-half package of green peas in a covered baking dish.  Add one bunch of green onions, chopped, and 4 mushrooms, chopped.  Stir well.  Season with salt, pepper, tarragon, and olive oil.  Cook on high in the microwave for 4 and one-half minutes.

4 – Fill 2 individual, microwaveable bowls with to one-half with stuffing.  Chop 1 bunch of green onions, and place one-half of the bunch on top of the stuffing.  Fill with stuffing, and the remainder of the green onions.  Add chicken broth and a drop of olive oil.  Set aside.

5 – Warm the potatoes in the microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Add the marshmallows on top, spread out, and then microwave for 1 minute.  When finished, keep covered to preserve warmth.

6 – Heat the stuffing for 2 minutes in the microwave on high.  When finished, keep covered to preserve warmth.

 

7 – Cook the chicken on high in the microwave for 5 minutes.

8 – Serve the dinner hot.

–chicken adapted from 60 Minute Gourmet, Pierre Franey, chef; other recipes original.