Cutting Time In The Kitchen

IN THE KITCHEN

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Ways to cut time in the kitchen during the week are prized by all 9-to-5ers who also must put a meal on the table for dinner at a reasonable hour in the early evening.

Here are a few recipes that result in a meal in less than an hour.

Spaghetti Chicken

1 split, skinless chicken breast with ribs or 2 halves

4 skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 pound crimini or white mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound spaghetti or linguini

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coat a large, non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Set pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken lightly, about 8 minutes, turning pieces occasionally so it browns on all sides. Put chicken on plate.

Heat oil in pan and sauté onions and garlic about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and the liquid from can, add seasonings and return chicken to pan.

Simmer until chicken is white at the bone, about 40 minutes -- turn chicken after 25 minutes in the pan.

Remove chicken and let cool to point where it can be handled, then remove meat from bones, shredding it. Set aside the white meat for a second dish and use dark meat for Chicken Spaghetti.

Cook pasta. Reheat sauce if necessary and add chicken when hot. Spoon over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 4 servings with 378 calories each.

Use leftover white meat in a chicken soup, fajitas or chicken salad.

Cheesy Chicken over Rice Pilaf

Rice Pilaf

1 small onion, chopped to make 1/4 cup

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 2/3 cups boiling water

1 1/3 cups uncooked regular rice

1 tablespoon instant chicken bouillon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup raisins

Cook and stir onion in butter in 2-quart saucepan about 3 minutes or until tender. Stir water, rice, bouillon, salt, bay leaf and raisins into onion. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and cover, allowing to simmer for about 18 minutes.

Cheesy Chicken

1 small onion, chopped to make 1/4 cup

1/4 small green pepper, cut into 1x1/4-inch pieces

2 tablespoons finely chopped celery

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 cups cut-up cooked chicken

1/4 cup diced cooked ham

1 (11-ounce) can condensed Cheddar soup

1/4 cup milk

Cook and stir onion, green pepper and celery in margarine in 10-inch skillet about 4 minutes or until celery is crisp-tender. Stir in chicken, ham, cheese soup and milk. Heat until chicken is hot. Serve over Rice Pilaf.

Makes 6 servings.

Steamed Fish with Yogurt Dill Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried dill, divided

1 1/2 pounds firm-fleshed fish (halibut, cod or salmon), cut in 4 pieces

Salt and white pepper to taste

2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced

2 orange or yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 scallion, finely chopped (green part included)

1 large lemon, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup low-fat, plain yogurt

4 sprigs of fresh dill for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, mix together oil, chives, basil and half the dill. Rub mixture into both sides of fish, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix remaining dried dill and yogurt.

In a large, deep-rimmed serving dish -- large enough to hold fish and broth -- arrange bell peppers and scallions evenly along bottom. Place fish on top. Arrange lemon slices on top of fish. Add broth. Place in microwave and cook at medium power, checking every few minutes, until fish flakes with a fork.

Remove from microwave, garnish with fresh dill and serve with yogurt-dill sauce.

Makes 4 servings with 305 calories each.

Pork and Potato Stacks

1 3/4 cups hot water

1 (5 1/2-ounce) package of hash brown potatoes with onions

6 pork cubed steaks, about 1 1/2 pounds

2 tablespoons shortening

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, about 4 ounces

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

Pour water on potatoes and let stand 10 minutes. Brown pork steaks in shortening, using two 10-inch skillets -- it should take about 7 minutes on each side.

Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Using a 2-quart saucepan, melt cheese over medium heat, stirring constantly, then stir in sour cream, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper and dill. Drain potatoes and stir into cheese mix.

Turn on oven broiler or set oven to 550 degrees. Top each pork steak with 1/2 cup of the potato mixture. Broil three inches from heat until potatoes are light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Creole Beef and Rice

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 medium green pepper, chopped to make 1/2 cup

1 small onion, chopped to make 1/4 cup

2 tablespoons snipped parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper sauce (aka Tobasco)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

Dash of ground thyme

1 1/2 cups water

1 (8-ounce) can whole tomatoes

1 1/2 cups uncooked instant rice

Lightly brown ground beef in a 10-inch skillet and drain. Sprinkle beef with flour and salt, stir in the green pepper, onion, parsley, pepper, pepper sauce, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cook over low heat, stirring, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir water and tomatoes, with liquid, into beef, breaking tomatoes apart with fork. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add rice, remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

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