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Table Talk: One-pot dinner wonders

Chris Dorst
The chicken, carrots, celery and pasta in Buffalo Chicken Pasta are dressed in a Buffalo-wing red pepper sauce and tossed with blue cheese and green onions.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I recently received a phone message from Carl Wagonner, who said he lives alone and cooks for himself. He likes to eat well, but doesn't like complicated recipes that dirty a lot of pans.

He described his method for preparing full meals in a single skillet. He simultaneously cooks different items in separate sections of the skillet. He puts the meat and potatoes, which usually takes more time to cook, on opposite sides of the pan, then moves them aside to make room for fresh vegetables that require less cooking time.

"I know it's probably not a new idea, but maybe some people who live alone haven't thought of it," he said. "I just thought I would pass the idea along in case it would help somebody."

Carl's method works well for single servings because there's plenty of room in a single skillet to cook for one person.

The idea of recipes that require only one pot or skillet has universal appeal, even for people cooking for large families or gatherings. I searched for one-pot meals, with an emphasis on healthy ingredients and minimal processed foods.

I probably could have written the whole article based on the recipes from "Eat More of What You Love," a cookbook written by Marlene Koch. A contributor to various healthy eating publications and a registered dietitian, Koch features healthy recipes, many imitations of restaurant favorites that are high in calories and fat.

Her 300-calorie version of P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef knocks out the restaurant's entrée, which clocks in at 1,011-calories and 45 grams of fat. The Cheesecake Factory's version of Chicken Madeira, served with mashed potatoes, is 1,420 calories. Koch's version has just 330 calories.

Technically, Koch's Buffalo Chicken Pasta isn't a one-pot wonder because the pasta is cooked in a separate pot, but it looked too good not to include.

Reach Julie Robinson at or 304-348-1230.


Buffalo Chicken Pasta

8                ounces dry penne pasta

2                teaspoons canola oil

1/2             medium onion, diced

2                medium carrots, diced

3                ribs celery, diced

2                large garlic cloves, minced

1                pound skinless boneless chicken breast

2                teaspoons paprika

2                teaspoons all-purpose flour

2                tablespoons hot sauce

1                14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1                cup reduced sodium chicken broth

2                teaspoons butter

1/2             cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4             cup sliced green onions, including green tops

COOK pasta according to package directions while preparing the sauce. Set aside

HEAT oil in very large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and chicken and sauté for 4 to 5 more minutes or until chicken is almost cooked.

SPRINKLE paprika and flour over the mixture and stir to coat. Add hot sauce, tomatoes and chicken broth, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through. Swirl the butter into the sauce.

PLACE pasta in a large serving dish. Pour sauce on top and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle blue cheese and scallions over the pasta and serve.

Nutrition information: Calories 290, Carbohydrate 35g, Total Fat 7g, Protein 25g, Fiber 6g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 540.

Reprinted from "Eat More of What You Love" by Marlene Koch.  Published by Running Press.

Cheesecake Factory-Style Chicken Madeira

4                boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound

1/4             teaspoon, plus 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2             teaspoon black pepper, divided

1                tablespoon canola oil, divided

1                8-ounce package sliced mushrooms

1/2             cup red onion, finely diced

1                cup Madeira wine

3/4             cup reduced sodium beef broth, divided

2                teaspoons cornstarch

2                teaspoons honey or brown sugar

1                teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1                teaspoon butter

2                slices part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut in half

COVER the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and gently pound flat to 1/2-inch thickness. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

HEAT 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until well browned. Turn the chicken and cook for 3 more minutes or until barely cooked through. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

REDUCE the heat to medium. Add the remaining teaspoon of oil and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 3 more minutes or until softened. Add the wine and 1/2 cup broth and simmer until three-quarters of the liquid evaporates.

WHISK together the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl and add to the skillet with the honey, Italian seasoning, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer for 1 minute or until thickened. Swirl in the butter, add the chicken back to the pan and top each breast with cheese. Turn the heat to low and cover skillet for 2 to 3 minutes to melt cheese. Place chicken on plates and top with sauce.

Nutrition information: Calories 330, Carbohydrate 16g, Total Fat 10g, Protein 28g, Fiber 1g, Cholesterol 85mg, Sodium 550.

Reprinted from "Eat More of What You Love" by Marlene Koch.  Published by Running Press.

Louisiana Goulash

3 1/4      cups chopped tomato

3/4         cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices celery

1/2         cup water

1/3         cup chopped onion

1/2         teaspoon paprika

1/2         teaspoon dried thyme

1/2         teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1/4         teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4         teaspoon Cajun seasoning

10          ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1            14-ounce can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1            garlic clove, minced

1 1/4      cups uncooked long-grain brown rice

1/2         pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

COMBINE the first 12 ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil.

STIR in rice; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 245, Calories from fat: 29%, Fat 8g, Saturated fat: 2.8g, Monounsaturated fat 3.3g, Polyunsaturated fat 1.3g, Protein 15.2g, Carbohydrate 28.2g, Fiber 2.3g, Cholesterol 68mg, Iron 2.3mg, Sodium 451mg, Calcium 34mg.


Chicken and White Bean Chili

1           tablespoon olive oil

1 1/3     cups chopped onion

1           large green bell pepper, chopped

6           garlic cloves, chopped

2 1/4     pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 1/2     tablespoons chili powder

2           tablespoons tomato paste

1           tablespoon ground cumin

1           tablespoon dried oregano

2           15- to 16-ounce cans white beans, drained, juices reserved

2           15-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice

1/2        cup chopped fresh cilantro

HEAT oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until chicken is no longer pink outside, about 5 minutes.

MIX in chili powder, tomato paste, cumin, and oregano. Add beans, 1 cup reserved bean juices, and canned tomatoes.

SIMMER until chicken is cooked through and chili is thickened, about 25 minutes. If chili is too thick, add more bean juices by tablespoonfuls to thin. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper.

MIX in cilantro and serve.

Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit, October 2005

Penne Puttanesca

Serves: 4

1                 box whole wheat penne

1                 tablespoon olive oil

3                 cloves garlic, minced

1                14-ounce can peeled tomatoes, chopped with their juices

2                 dozen pitted black or green olives, halved

1/2              teaspoon crushed red pepper

1                 cup parsley, chopped

                  Zest of 1 lemon

2                 tablespoon capers

1                 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated

4                 ounces ricotta cheese

MAKE pasta according to directions and your preference. Strain pasta.

ADD oil to pasta pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, being careful not to burn. Add chopped tomatoes and juices, olives and chili peppers.

ADD pasta back into pot. Add parsley, lemon zest and capers. Stir in Parmesan.

DIVIDE into four bowls. Top with ricotta cheese.


Pepper Avocado Omelet

1          medium poblano or green sweet pepper, roasted (directions below), seeded and chopped

2          tablespoons butter

2          eggs, lightly beaten

1/2       medium avocado, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/4       jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

1/4       cup manchego cheese, shredded

            Crushed red pepper

1          recipe Fresh Tomato Compote, recipe below

ROAST poblano pepper (directions below); set aside. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add eggs; gently swirl to spread eggs to edge of skillet.

WHEN eggs begin to bubble, sprinkle with poblano, avocado and jalapeno.

WHEN omelet is very lightly brown at edges, add cheese. With spatula loosen egg from sides; fold half the omelet over filling. Season with black pepper and crushed red pepper.

SERVE with Fresh Tomato Compote and toast.

Fresh Tomato Compote

1          tablespoon olive oil

1/2       cup thinly sliced onion.

1          cup halved cherry tomatoes

1          tablespoon snipped fresh parsley

1/8       teaspoon salt and ground black pepper

HEAT olive oil in medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add cherry tomatoes, parsley, salt and ground black pepper. Heat through, serve with omelet.

Roasted Poblano Pepper

Makes 2 servings

HEAT oven to 425 degrees.

HALVE pepper lengthwise; remove stems and seeds. Place halves, cut sides down, on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 20 to 25 minutes.

WRAP pepper in foil; let stand 10 minutes. Gently pull off skin in strips, using a sharp knife to help loosen.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 509, Total Fat 37g, Saturated Fat 15g, Monounsaturated Fat 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 262mg, Sodium 703mg, Carbohydrate 3g, Total Sugar 8g Fiber 7g Protein 16g.

Source: McClatchy-Tribune/


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