Healthy and fun recipes for two

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another school year is underway. School buses will be making the usual stops along the streets, school activities will begin and the college students will be rolling back into town.

Back to school can be an exciting time, not only for the parents and students, but for grandparents and family as well.

Our son is entering the junior high school and will begin band. The exciting news is that he will be playing his Grandpa Jerry's trumpet.

Through a freakish chain of events, we found Jerry's trumpet in the basement of a Jackson couple's home and after a pretty extensive visit with Shivelbine's Music Store, the trumpet is headed to junior high and the band.

It was a wonderful find, and Grandpa and my son, Ross, are both excited about this great adventure. Cooking for two people can be a challenge at times but now there are books and even recipe magazines for cooking for two.

I received several recipes from a reader all on cooking for two.

They all sound good, but I pulled out a few to pass along that I thought sounded especially good.

Peppered Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa

1/2 pound dark, sweet cherries, pitted and chopped (about 1 cup)

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped, seeded fresh jalape--o chili (wear rubber gloves)

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh coriander

3/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat

2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, stir together cherries, lime juice, zest, onion, jalape--o and coriander. Set aside to serve with pork. Season pork with salt and press peppercorns into it. In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides. Transfer pork to a shallow baking dish and roast in oven until a meat thermometer registers 155 degrees, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Slice pork into 1/2-inch thick medallions and serve with salsa. Serves 2.

Pacific Halibut Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed

1/3 cup thinly sliced celery

1 (1-pound) can tomatoes

1 (14-ounce) can regular strength chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning or 1/4 teaspoon each oregano leaves and dry basil

2 tablespoons rice

1 cup frozen cut green beans, thawed

1/2 to 3/4 pound halibut, thawed if frozen

Salt and pepper

Chopped parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oil in a heavy 4-quart pan over medium heat; add onion, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring, until onion is limp. Stir in tomatoes (break up with a spoon) and their liquid, broth, Italian herbs and rice. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add green beans and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until rice and beans are tender to bite. Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from fish and cut into about 1-inch pieces. Add to soup and simmer just until fish flakes readily when prodded with a fork (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle individual servings with parsley and pass Parmesan cheese to spoon over each serving, if you wish.

Sautˇed Sugar Snap Peas

1 teaspoon olive oil

3/4 pound sugar snap peas

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Lemon wedges

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add peas; stir-fry 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle with basil and next 3 ingredients; stir-fry 1 minute. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Yield: 2 servings.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

Hearty Chicken Pie

A meat pie with a hearty flavor is a welcome dish on a cool evening. This recipe is easy to customize for whatever vegetables and cream soup you have on hand. It makes a whole 9-inch pie, which makes for leftovers for two.

2 prepared 9-inch pie crusts

1 (10.5-ounce) can of cream of broccoli soup

1 (10-ounce) can chunked chicken

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the frozen, canned or fresh vegetables to the skillet and cook until crisp tender. Next, add the meat, soup and spices. Mix well and warm thoroughly. While the mixture warms, place one of the crusts in the pie dish and trim to fit. Place the pie dish with bottom crust in the oven for 10 minutes. This ensures the bottom crust is not soggy. Remove from oven and spoon the warm meat mixture into the dish and cover with the other pie crust. Seal and trim the top crust and pierce the center to allow steam to escape while baking. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top crust is golden.

Serving Suggestions:

Reduce fat by using white meat only, and reduced fat soup.

Make this a vegetarian dish by using a 15 ounce can of cooked beans in place of the chicken. I suggest butter beans, pinto beans or lentils. Rinse the beans well before using.

Cream of celery or cream of mushroom soups are good substitutions for the cream of broccoli. For a less hearty flavor, use just 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme.

Other vegetables can be substituted in equal amounts for those listed. However, I suggest using a variety of colors (one green, one orange or yellow and one white) to give the dish a visual appeal. Other mixes are green beans, sweet potato and new potato. Or use 3 cups of your favorite frozen mix.

Hamburger Soup

1/2 pound ground beef

3 cups water

1 cup tomato juice

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1 cup diced potatoes

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons uncooked rice

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Brown beef in skillet, chopping into bite size pieces as it browns. Drain and add to 3 cups boiling water in sauce pan. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Chicken Breasts Stroganoff Style

2 large (4- to 6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast

2/3 of a green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed

2/3 cup of sliced and/or diced onion

1 small can (4-ounce) mushroom pieces and stems

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup white wine

Sautˇ the onion and mushrooms in butter until the onion is nearly transparent. Cut the chicken breast and the bell pepper into thin slices and add along with the nutmeg and salt. When the chicken turns white and the peppers become limp, add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium heat until the chicken is completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve over cooked rice or pasta. Serves 2.

Mini Apple Crisp

2 medium apples, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

4 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoon butter or margarine

4 tablespoons quick-cooking oats

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream, optional

Place apple slices in a small greased baking dish. In a small bowl, combine flour and brown sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add oats and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apple slices. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Serve with cream if desired. Yield: 2 servings.

I am out of room so will leave you with wishes for a great week and until next time, happy cooking.

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