Monday, January 12, 2015

Five Easy One-Pot Winter Meals

Five Easy One-Pot Winter Meals

Winter isn't my favorite season. In my neck of the woods, January is cold, dark, and grim. Just last week, the temperature hovered around zero, prompting me to check the gauge on the propane tank every morning. But the horrid weather gives me an excuse to sit next to a crackling fire and read about the Wars of the Roses.  As the British say, I'm getting ready to "move house," so I've been packing dishes and books, and I can't spend hours in the kitchen (which I normally love to do every January). At the end of the day, I crave a warm, comforting supper, one that preferably cooks itself.  The answer is a one-pot meal. 

A one-pot meal is the busy cook's best friend. Not only does it offer an entree and side-dishes, you only have one pan to wash. Add a loaf of French bread (or something gorgeous and crusty from the local bakery or supermarket deli), a salad, and dessert, and you've got an appealing, effortless meal. Candlelight and wine will take your meal over the moon.

Five Easy One-Pot Winter Meals

Chicken and Dressing

Deli chicken or leftover turkey/chicken
Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
Artesian bread cubes (deli leftovers)
chopped onions, bell peppers, green onions, celery
chicken stock
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large eggs
salt, pepper, Tabasco (if desired)
Place stuffing (start with 1/2 bag) into a large bowl. Debone chicken and place on top of stuffing. In a large skillet, sautee vegetables in 1 stick unsalted butter. Pour over the stuffing and chicken. Pour chicken stock over stuffing/chicken mixture ("eyeball the amount of stock," as Rachel Ray says, aiming for a collected texture--if you can make a loose ball out of the mixture, you're good to go; it the "ball" is too firm, add stock). Ditto for the stuffing. Cool the mixture, then add beaten eggs. Season with salt, pepper, Tabasco. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 6 

Pork Roast with Dark Cherry-Balsamic Sauce

1 Boston butt (4 to 6 servings)
1  (15-ounce) can dark sweet pitted cherries in heavy syrup.
1 (13 oz) jar Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves
paprika, salt, pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons beef consomme'
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter (to sear pork)

12 - 24 fingerling potatoes
6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
fresh chives,  snipped [1 - 3 tablespoons]
Pour canned cherries, including the juice, into a heavy saucepan.
Add 1 jar of cherry preserves, 3 tablespoons beef consomme',
vinegar, sugar, butter, and onion salt.
Stir well, until jam and preserves are blended.
Cook on low flame and reduce the liquid.
(I tend to burn everything, so I always use a flame tamer.)

Meanwhile, prepare the roast. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Season the roast with salt, pepper, and paprika.
Sear the meat in 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
Brown on all sides, and remove meat to a baking dish.
Add carrots, potatoes, and remainder of beef consomme'.
Cover meat with foil and bake 2 hours or until done.

While the meat cooks, stir the sauce.
It should reduce in about 30 minutes. Remove from the flame.

Fifteen minutes before the roast is done,
remove foil and drizzle cherry-balsamic sauce over the roast and vegetables.

Pour sauce into a gravy boat.
Remove roast from oven and let it "collect" itself.
Drizzle with more sauce, if desired.
Garnish with snipped chives.

Mushroom Tart
  • Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets -- 2 (3 if you want to get fancy)
  • mushrooms (shitake, etc) I used mushrooms leftover from another meal. 1 box shitakes, 1 box button mushrooms.
  • shredded swiss cheese -- 1 c, more if you like it cheesier
  • rosemary -- sprigs for garnishing and 2 sprigs (cut with scissors) to scatter over the tart
  • chopped onions 1/4 c.
  • leftover vegetables (I used green peas) 1/2 c
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While puff pastry sheets defrost, sautee onions in butter. Add mushrooms to the pan, plus a little red wine (1 T) . Fold in green peas. When mushrooms have cooked, remove from heat and set aside. Grease a rectangular baking sheet (make sure it has sides, such as a jelly roll pan). Using a rolling pin, roll out 1 thawed puff pastry sheet and line bottom of pan. Spoon the cooked mushroom/pea mixture over the pastry. Sprinkle cheese over the mushrooms. Roll out the 2nd sheet of puff pastry and place it on top of the cheese/mushroom mixture. (I used mushrooms leftover from the night before and added a handful of shitakes.) Crimp together edges of the pastry. Wash the top of the pastry with 1 egg plus a little water (whip with fork). Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top pastry layer . If you have leftover pastry, roll it out and make a design (cookie cutters work perfectly); set it on the top crust, and dab it with egg wash. You can chill the pastry, if you like, for 20 minutes or so. Place tart in the oven and bake 20 minutes (or until the top crust is brown). Remove from oven and cool slightly. Sprinkle with rosemary--make sure the crust isn't too hot or the rosemary will turn brown and hard--and sea salt.


Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pie

1 pre-cooked turkey or 2 small deli chickens (deboned and chopped)
green peas, pre-cooked
glazed carrots, pre-cooked 
sauteed mushrooms
finely chopped onions and celery (sauteed)
unsalted butter
chicken stock (quantity depends on how much turkey/chicken/vegetables you use and the size of your casserole). 
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 can cream of chicken soup
Whisk until smooth. Remove pan from burner and set aside.

Prepare the Pastry:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (my oven balks if I raise the temp over 400)

Thaw 1 package puff pastry.
Gather Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, gray French sea salt

Make the (easy) cream sauce:
Find a large frying pan. Saute onions and celery in butter. Add mushrooms. Keep cooking until all of the icky water from the mushrooms evaporates. Remove pan from heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl. Rinse the saute pan. Melt butter (I used 1/2 stick) and a glob (I used 2 T.) of all purpose flour. Blend well.
Slowly add chicken stock and bouillon to pan. Whisk. Aim for the filling to have the consistency of a store-bought pot pie--not too thick, not runny.Set aside.

Sprinkle flour over puff pastry sheets (there are only 2 sheets in a package) and roll out to the desired thickness. Place 1 sheet into the bottom of a greased (Pam is fine) baking dish. Trim the edges of puff pastry and set aside. (You can roll these out and cut them with a cookie cutter for a cute "topper" on the crust.)
Sprinkle the meat/veg mixture over the bottom layer of the puff pastry. Pour cream sauce over the leftovers and blend. Add a bit more sauce, if you like (depending on the consistency you want). Stir.
Top the veggie/turkey mixture with the second puff pastry sheet. Trim the edges, crimp (or fold), and score the top layer with a knife.
Garnish the top with leftover pastry, if desired.
Beat one egg, add a dribble of ice water, and brush mixture over the crust.
Chill mixture for 15 minutes (at least).
Place pie in oven and bake 25 minutes or until crust is puffy and brown.
Top with gray French sea salt (we found it at Publix in the spice aisle).
(Technically, this is a 2-pot meal.)


Farmhouse Linguini with Organic Tomato Sauce


extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
organic tomato sauce
fresh mozzarella or your favorite Italian cheese
fresh Buitoni pasta or your favorite brand


1 shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cook for 3 minutes until translucent/clear. Salt and pepper.
Add three cloves of garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add 1 -15 ounce can of organic tomato sauce (no salt added--add your own sea salt to taste)
Roll 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves into a log and slice (or chop). This method helps prevent the basil from turning dark. Add to sauce.
In a separate pan, bring salted water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Toss in 1 package of Buitoni fresh linguini.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain pasta and add to sauce.
Add finely chopped, fresh mozzarella or your favorite cheese.
Garnish with more basil.



  1. yumO!!!! as Rachel Ray would also say. These not only look pretty I know must be scrumptious tooo. Glad your packing and enjoying it, I'm excited to be along for this new adventure.

  2. Wow girl. You out did yourself with these easy and wonderful recipes. I will be trying each one. Thanks.

  3. I love that quote from Nora Ephron - it is so true!

  4. oh how i wish someone would cook for me... i am craving a home cooked meal... i just want some time off! they all make me salivate :-(

  5. Your photo of the linguini caught my eye Michael Lee, it looks divine on the Villa della Luna plate surrounded by big fat red tomatoes! I would love to have a bite or 3 of the puff pastry mushroom tart and I am so glad to know that you would make a dish with Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, my favorite! Have a cozy week and thanks for the drools...

  6. Don't you love the Villa della Luna dishes? Hope you are staying warm!

  7. What wonderful recipes! I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite because they all look and sound so delicious!

    I am shivering thinking about Zero degrees, but that fire sounds perfect! And so does the reading material.

    Thanks so much for sharing all these recipes with us. I am going to bookmark this post!


    Sheila :-)

  8. They all look delicious! When do you think you will be moving into the Ranchburger? I can't wait to see the final transformation.

  9. One Pot Meals are the best! These all look delicious.

  10. Love that quote! The recipes look delicious. Thank for the recipes :)


  11. I have to say you certainly know how to brighten up a cold and dark January with beautiful food ML. Love that quote. We all need a sure thing now and then. Snuggle up with Zap and you'll get through January..

  12. Ooh I could go for any of those wonderful, comforting meals, Michael Lee. Just think, next January you'll be in your new home, cooking and baking away, while looking out at your gorgeous views.

  13. Not hovering around zero, but it is wet, cold, and I'm chilled to the bone if I step outside. I've been housebound all day. No cooking, but I've been munching on anything I can find in the pantry. Not a good sign! '-)
    I need to fix one of these beautiful, healthy meals instead. When is the move date?

    1. I'm overly eager to move, so that will jinx the remodel, no doubt. I'm hesitant to guess a moving date. I've just approved a final revision of the cabinets, and I think it'll take 4 to 6 weeks for Jimmy (cabinet guy) to make them. The doors (and door windows) will arrive in 2 or 3 weeks, provided there's no delay.