Column: Susan McClanahan: Recipes for when it’s just the two of you (9/9/21)

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I was visiting with a gentleman at church a couple of weeks ago, and he suggested I share a few recipes for cooking for two and smaller serving sized recipes. Our discussion made me realize how I have had to adjust to cooking for two over the past couple of years. It is very different cooking such small quantities and a hard habit to break.

I went to the Taste of Home magazine Cooking for Two section and found so many recipes that I think are fairly easy to prepare and sound good. I hope you find these recipes interesting and worthy of trying. Enjoy!

Tropical BBQ Chicken

This is an easy slow-cooker recipe that has a delicious, slightly spicy sauce will win you over, too!

* 2 chicken leg quarters (8 ounces each), skin removed

* 3 tablespoons ketchup

* 2 tablespoons orange juice

* 1 tablespoon brown sugar

* 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

* 1 tablespoon olive oil

* 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

* 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

* 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

* 1/8 teaspoon pepper

* 2 teaspoons cornstarch

* 1 tablespoon cold water

With a sharp knife, cut leg quarters at the joints if desired; place in a 1 1/2-quart slow cooker.

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, oil, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and pepper; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.

Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer 1/2 cup to a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve with chicken. If desired, top with additional fresh parsley.


Spicy Chicken Enchiladas

Cooked chicken strips and canned enchilada sauce hurry along this zesty entree. It’s a delicious dinner for two that’s easy to double for company.

* 1 package (6 ounces) ready-to-use Southwestern chicken strips

* 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

* 1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce, divided

* 1 cup refried beans

* 4 flour tortillas (7 inches), warmed

* 1 can (2-1/2 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained

* Optional toppings: chopped tomato and shredded lettuce

In a large bowl, combine chicken, 1 cup cheese and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Spread 1/4 cup refried beans down the center of each tortilla. Top with chicken mixture; roll up.

Place in 2 ungreased small baking dishes. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese; sprinkle with olives.

Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. If desired, top with tomato and lettuce.


Stuffed Peppers for Two

This recipe is perfect for two bell pepper servings and not have any leftovers. It helps to use a small casserole dish so the peppers won’t tip over while they bake. For color, serve steamed carrots to round out the meal perfectly.

* 2 medium green peppers

* 1/2 pound ground beef

* 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce, divided

* 1/4 cup uncooked instant rice

* 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese, divided

* 1 tablespoon chopped onion

* 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* 1 large egg, beaten

Cut tops off peppers and discard; remove seeds. Blanch peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.

In a bowl, combine beef, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, rice, 2 tablespoons cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and egg; mix well. Stuff the peppers; place in an ungreased 1-1/2-quart baking dish or a loaf pan. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over peppers. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and peppers are tender.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese; return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Lazy Lasagna for 2

When you are craving lasagna and don’t want to eat leftovers for a week, this is the perfect recipe for two servings to ease the craving.

* 1 cup spaghetti sauce

* 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

* 1/2 cup 4% cottage cheese

* 1 1/2 cups cooked wide egg noodles

* 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

* Chopped fresh parsley, optional

Warm the spaghetti sauce; stir in mozzarella and cottage cheeses. Fold in noodles. Pour into 2 greased 2-cup baking dishes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees until bubbly, about 20 minutes. If desired, top with parsley.


Little Cheddar Meat Loaves

These cheesy meat loaf minis are perfect when you’re craving meat loaf but don’t want to wait a long time for a full-size one to bake. These are good served with au gratin or fried potatoes.

* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

* 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

* 2 tablespoons ketchup

* 1 tablespoon dried minced onion

* 1/2 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)


* 4 teaspoons ketchup

* 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine the egg, oats, ketchup and onion. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Coat 4 muffin cups with cooking spray; fill three-fourths full with meat mixture. Spread ketchup over loaves.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until no pink remains and a thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing from muffin cups.


Ground Beef Taco Salad

When you are looking for something light and refreshing for your dinner menu, this salad is a great solution.

* 1/2 pound ground beef

* 1/3 cup bean dip

* 1 teaspoon chili powder

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 cup canned diced tomatoes plus 2 tablespoons liquid

* 2 cups chopped lettuce

* 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

* 2 green onions, sliced

* 2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives

* 1/2 cup corn chips

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; crumble meat; drain. Stir in the bean dip, chili powder, salt and tomato liquid. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, onions and olives. Add beef mixture; toss to coat. Top with chips. Serve immediately.


Deviled Chicken Thighs

This recipe is just enough for the two servings. The tasty chicken is tender and moist with a bit of crunch from the cashews.

* 1 teaspoon butter, softened

* 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

* 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

* 1 teaspoon paprika

* Dash pepper

* 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound)

* 3 tablespoons soft bread crumbs

* 2 tablespoons chopped cashews

In a large bowl, combine the butter, vinegar, mustard, paprika and pepper. Spread over chicken thighs. Place in a greased 11×7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the cashews. Bake until chicken juices run clear and topping is golden brown, 7-12 minutes longer.


Cranberry Short Ribs

* 1 1/2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs

* 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

* 1 tablespoon brown sugar

* 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard

* Dash ground cloves

* 3/4 cup water

* 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

* 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

* 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

* 1/2 teaspoon browning sauce, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ribs in a greased 8-inch square baking dish; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Bake, covered, until tender, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours.

In a small saucepan, combine flour, brown sugar, mustard, cloves and remaining salt; gradually whisk in water and vinegar until smooth. Stir in cranberries, lemon zest and, if desired, browning sauce; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Drain ribs. Pour cranberry mixture over ribs. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes longer.


Salmon Dill Soup

This delicious soup may surprise you as it features salmon as the key ingredient. The fresh dill added at serving time adds a layer of flavor that you are sure to enjoy.

* 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces

* 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

* 1 1/2 cups water

* 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

* 5 medium fresh mushrooms, halved

* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

* 1/4 cup reduced-fat evaporated milk

* 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

* 1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* 1/8 teaspoon salt

* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Place the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Add mushrooms. In a small bowl, mix flour and milk until smooth; stir into soup. Return to a boil; cook and stir until mushrooms are tender. Reduce heat to medium; stir in cheese until melted.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add salmon; cook, uncovered, until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, 3-4 minutes. Stir in pepper and salt. Sprinkle with dill.


Saucy Beef with Broccoli

When you’re looking for a fast entree, turn to this beef and broccoli stir-fry. It features a tantalizing sauce made with garlic and ginger.

* 1 tablespoon cornstarch

* 1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth

* 1/4 cup sherry or additional beef broth

* 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

* 1 tablespoon brown sugar

* 1 garlic clove, minced

* 1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot

* 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

* 1/2 pound beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips

* 2 cups fresh small broccoli florets

* 8 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Mix the first 7 ingredients. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat; stir-fry beef until browned, 1-3 minutes. Remove from pan.

Stir-fry broccoli in remaining oil until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Add green onions; cook just until tender, 1-2 minutes. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until sauce is thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add beef and heat through.


Asparagus ‘n’ Shrimp with Angel Hair

We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so this shrimp asparagus pasta with angel hair is one dish you might like to serve. It’s easy on the budget and turns out perfectly for two.

* 3 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta

* 1/2 pound uncooked shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

* 8 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

* 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

* 1/4 cup chopped seeded tomato, peeled

* 4 garlic cloves, minced

* 2 teaspoons chopped green onion

* 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth

* 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil

* 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano

* 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

* 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

* Lemon wedges

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper flakes. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; stir-fry until pink, 2-3 minutes. Remove; keep warm.

In same skillet, stir-fry the next 5 ingredients in remaining oil until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine and seasonings. Return shrimp to pan.

Drain pasta; add to shrimp mixture and toss gently. Cook and stir until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with lemon wedges.


Honey-Pecan Chicken Breasts

If you love to entertain, this recipe may be a new favorite ‘special’ recipe to welcome dinner guests. The nuts add an elegant touch, and it fills the house with a great aroma.

* 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1/8 teaspoon pepper

* 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

* 1 tablespoon butter

* 3 tablespoons honey

* 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

Pound chicken with a meat mallet to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle with seasonings.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium heat; brown chicken on both sides. Cook, covered, until chicken is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes, turning once. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pecans. Cook, covered, until chicken is glazed, 2-3 minutes.

Serve with a nice green salad with very thinly sliced apple slices and bleu cheese to round out the meal.


Tangy Glazed Chicken

A flavorful sauce with a hint of orange and sweet apple jelly is perfect over bone-in chicken breasts. Serve with potatoes or rice and a salad.

* 2 bone-in chicken breast halves (8 ounces each)

* 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

* 4-1/2 teaspoons butter

* 1 small onion, thinly sliced

* 1 celery rib, thinly sliced

* 1/2 cup chicken broth

* 1/2 cup apple jelly

* 3 tablespoons orange juice

* 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Sprinkle chicken with salt if desired. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; brown chicken on all sides. Remove and keep warm.

In the pan drippings, saute onion and celery until tender. Add the remaining ingredients; cook and stir until jelly is melted. Return chicken to pan. Cook, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until a thermometer reads 170 degrees. Remove skin if desired. Top chicken with onion mixture.


Quick Crab Melts

Two types of cheese on top of a savory crab mixture make these open-faced sandwiches ooey-gooey good! I usually serve them for dinner, but they also make a great appetizer when cut in half.

* 1 can (6 ounces) crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed

* 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

* 5 teaspoons finely chopped celery

* 1 tablespoon minced green onion

* 2 English muffins, split

* 4 slices tomato

* 4 thin slices cheddar cheese

* 4 thin slices Monterey Jack cheese

* Paprika

Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, mix crab, mayonnaise, celery and green onion until blended. Place muffin halves on an ungreased baking sheet.

Broil 4-6 inches from heat until toasted.

Spread with crab mixture. Top with tomato and cheeses; sprinkle with paprika. Broil until bubbly.


Have a great week, and unit next time, happy cooking.

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