an old favorite

chicken and nice riceI have been making this dish for many decades. My first wife Ruth, who died suddenly in 1989, introduced me to the basic concept. In fact, I think that I requested she make it so often that it sometimes irked her. But she made it anyway. How closely what she made resembled what I make today I can’t really say after all these years. But her dish was the basis of and inspiration for my current version. I make this dish on a regular basis, varying the spices and the form of bread crumbs that I use. Whatever the variation, Terry always seems to enjoy it.

Fried Breaded Chicken Breast


  • boneless chicken breasts
  • wheat germ
  • bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • spices: granulated onion, granulated garlic, cayenne or chili powder, Italian herbs, freshly ground black pepper


  1. If the chicken breasts are thick, slice horizontally and pound thin. Or buy thin chicken breasts.
  2. Mix the wheat germ and bread crumbs in a large plastic bag. If I have an old loaf of sourdough I like to dry out a slice and granulate it.
  3. Add the spices to the mixture and mix well.
  4. Add the chicken. Shake and coat.
  5. Add olive oil to a frying pan and heat.
  6. Cook the chicken on both sides until done.

Serve with Nice Rice (aka Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild, original recipe).

pressure cooker pot roast

pressure cooker pot roastTerry and I enjoy having pot roast on a Sunday every once in a while, as it brings back pleasant childhood memories for both of us. While we grew up with pot roast in the oven, making pot roast in the pressure cooker is simple and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

Everyone who belongs to Pressure Cooker Recipes on Yahoo! Groups knows about group owner Ray Knapp’s 3 Envelope Pot Roast recipe. It involves 1 packet each of Italian salad dressing mix, ranch salad dressing mix, and brown gravy mix. That combination kicks the sodium level up pretty high, but Ray’s instructions for liquid and timing are spot on. My version follows those instructions.


  • 2 ½ (or so) pound chuck roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cooking port or red wine
  • Your favorite meat rub


  1. Cut the roast if necessary to fit into the pressure cooker.
  2. Rub the roast with the meat rub.
  3. Place the rack in the pressure cooker.
  4. Add the water and port or red wine.
  5. Put the roast in the pressure cooker allowing ample room for the steam to rise.
  6. Seal the pressure cooker and set to High for 70 minutes.
  7. Use natural pressure release and serve.

There are dozens of meat rubs out there, and I use different ones at different times. I especially enjoy Jeff Mauro’s Mega Meat Rub, though I tend to dial back on the salt on this one.


pressure cooker pulled pork

This is so incredibly simple that I’m almost ashamed to share it. But sometimes we’re busy and need something extremely simple to fix for dinner. This recipe is for an electric pressure cooker, but could easily be adapted for a stove-top.


  • 1 lb pork loin
  • barbecue sauce, your favorite brand, ⅓ bottle
  • water or broth


  1. Cut the pork loin so the pieces fit into your pressure cooker in a single layer.
  2. Coat the pork with half of the barbecue sauce.
  3. Put the rack in your pressure cooker and add water or broth up to the bottom of the rack. Put the pork on the rack. Leave ample room around the sides for the steam to rise.
  4. Cook for 75 minutes on high after coming up to pressure.
  5. Use natural pressure release.
  6. Take the pork out of the pressure cooker and shred it using two forks.
  7. Set the pressure cooker to sauté, put the pork back into the pressure cooker, add the rest of the barbecue sauce, and stir.
  8. Serve.

The original recipe called for 4 lbs of pork and specified so little liquid that I wasn’t sure how it could come up to pressure. My version turned out very nicely.

pulled pork

file photo: Pixabay

enchilada sauce

enchilada sauce canSomehow my cooking repertoire never included recipes that contained enchilada sauce. That’s not to say that I don’t like enchiladas. I do. When we go out for Mexican food my meal frequently includes an enchilada. Terry makes a marvelous enchilada which I absolutely love. She follows the recipe to make her own enchilada sauce from scratch, and it is superb.

But buy a can of enchilada sauce? I don’t believe that I have. Or if I have it’s been decades. Until recently. In January I made two recipes that called for a can of enchilada sauce.

The first was a spiralizer recipe. It was Spiralized Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole. It turned out great and was delicious.

The second was a one-skillet meal. That was Chicken Black Bean Enchilada Skillet. Again, excellent.

I guess I’m going to have to add enchilada sauce as a pantry item in our kitchen.

healthier snacking

roasted almonds I have this habit of trying to clean up my act (at least somewhat) in advance of my annual blood work. So I have, for the time being at least, sworn off bags of fun size Snickers in favor of roasted almonds. I used to make them all the time up in Gilroy and I thought I needed to get back to that. Healthy. Good for cholesterol.

It’s really easy.


  • Raw almonds from the bulk section of the grocery store
  • Olive oil
  • Your favorite seasoning (preferably salt-free)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Put enough olive oil in a bowl to cover the almonds.
  3. Add your favorite salt-free seasoning.
  4. Toss the almonds in the mixture
  5. Spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for ten minutes.
  7. Let the almonds cool off and then store in an air-tight container.

Voila! A tasty, healthy snack!

roasted almonds

Mike’s Smoked Paprika Polenta Chicken

polenta paprika chickenI first created this recipe back in 2009. It’s simple and tasty. The nice thing is that you can make it in whatever quantity you need.

Mike’s Smoked Paprika Polenta Chicken


boneless chicken breast
smoked paprika
spaghetti sauce
provolone cheese (or shredded mozzarella)


  1. Make your favorite polenta recipe. If you don’t have one, I recommend Ina Garten’s.
  2. Cut the chicken breast into pieces. Season it with smoked paprika.
  3. Cook the chicken in a skillet seasoned with olive oil.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the spaghetti sauce.
  5. Put the polenta on a plate. Cover it with the spaghetti sauce. Add the chicken. Cover with a slice of provolone or shredded mozzarella.
  6. Microwave 45 seconds to melt the cheese. Serve.

my take on a taco bowl

taco bowlAs you know I’m hooked on the cooking programs on Food Network and the Cooking Channel. Now that we’re past the holidays those shows are back in full force. Last week I saw Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, make a taco skillet. I decided to do my own version, which I’m calling a taco bowl.

Mike’s Taco Bowl
serves 2

½ lb lean ground beef
Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning, to taste
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can no-salt-added chopped tomatoes, drained
1 chipotle pepper and a dash of adobo sauce
½ jar salsa
4 corn tortillas
toppings as desired (shredded cheese, sliced black olives, chopped chili peppers, guacamole, etc.)


  1. Brown the beef and season with the taco seasoning. Break up into pieces.
  2. Add the next four ingredients. Stir and mix.
  3. Lightly char the tortillas on a burner, tear into small pieces and add to mixture.
  4. Spoon into soup mugs and serve with toppings on the side.

Ree’s version used turkey rather than beef, the seasonings were different, and she had tomato as a topping rather than as part of the main dish. Her version yields 4 to 6 servings. My version serves 2. Here is her Lighter Taco Skillet recipe. On the television show she treated the tortillas as I do here. The recipe on the web site specifies serving the mixture on top of the tortillas.

In any case, I was very happy with my version. Terry really loved it. And it was an excuse for me to buy a package of guacamole. That’s always a Good Thing.