All posts by LynnHoll

About LynnHoll

I have been an artist and designer all my life incorporating graphic design for websites, gardens, publications, fabrics, interior design and cooking. I am now retired from my professional job, but still create artistic visions in all forms on a daily basis.

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Here’s a perfect solution to celebrating a traditional St. Patrick’s day dinner without the usual long process. It’s an easy express route that uses your pressure cooker/Instant Pot. Even this method takes over two hours, so plan ahead.

When it comes to the meat itself, we prefer a thicker brisket as opposed to the flatter ones. Mix up the sour cream, whole-grain mustard and horseradish into one condiment adjusting the taste to suit your personal preferences. In our case, that means a lot of horseradish!

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. pickling spice
  • 4 lbs. corned beef brisket, (one piece), rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, cleaned and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 small head green cabbage, core intact, cut into thick wedges
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Sour cream, prepared horseradish and whole-grain mustard, for serving


  1. Put the onion, thyme, garlic, pickling spice, brisket and 6 cups water into an Instant Pot®. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for locking the lid and preparing to cook.
  2. Seal and cook on high pressure for 85 minutes. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for quick release, then remove the meat and set aside.
  3. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and return 2 cups back to the Instant Pot® along with the butter.
  4. Add the rutabaga, leeks, carrots and cabbage to the Instant Pot®. Seal and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release the steam.
  5. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain and transfer to a serving platter. Arrange the vegetables around the meat, sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the sour cream, horseradish and mustard on the side.

Adapted from a recipe by Food Network

Baked Salmon with Vegetables and Feta

This one-pan dinner is ready in no time, and you’ll love the bold Greek vibes in this dish. A perfect weeknight meal, this easy, “fancy” salmon recipe with vegetables and feta is brimming with healthy ingredients and enlivened Mediterranean flavors.

A couple of suggestions so that your salmon won’t dry out. Bring the fish closer to room temperature before baking. About 15 minutes before you start cooking, set the salmon on the counter to get it as close to room temperature as possible. Allowing the salmon fillets to return to room temperature helps them cook more evenly.

And, cover with foil to bake. Covering the pan with foil will trap the moisture and help cook the fish so that it is perfectly tender, moist, and flaky. Here, you’ll also par-cook the vegetables briefly before adding the salmon in.

The original recipe indicated to first cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes before adding the salmon. We did not feel they were ready at that point and cooked them an additional 5 minutes, totaling 15 altogether. Since our fish was one slab, we let it sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Plus, due to the size and thickness, it took double the time at 20 minutes to cook to medium, 130°F after adding it atop the vegetables, covered with foil.

So we had to bide our time a little longer, but it was sooo worth the wait!

Baked Salmon with Vegetables and Feta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, cored and sliced into thin sticks
  • 5 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
  • 4 to 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 to 6 oz. feta cheese block, cut into large chunks
  • 6 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 6-oz. portions salmon fillet
  • 1 to 2 large lemons, halved, for serving


  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, sumac, and cumin.
  3. In a baking dish or sheet-pan, arrange the tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, and 4 to 5 whole garlic cloves. Nestle the chunks of feta in between. Sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of the spice mixture and a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Place the sheet pan in the heated oven on the center rack. Bake for 15 minutes until the veggies start to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, pat the fish dry and season on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper and the remainder of the spice mixture.
  6. Carefully remove the sheet pan/baking dish from the oven and add the fish in with the veggies and feta.
  7. Cover the sheet pan/baking dish with foil and return to the center rack of the heated oven. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. (As one thick slab, ours took 20 minutes to reach the preferred 130°F.)
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately squeeze lemon juice onto the fish.

Adapted from a recipe from Suzy Karadheh

Vegetable Fried Rice

Similar to it’s meat cousin, Pork-Fried Rice, this vegetable version with simple seasonings and a balance of mix-ins makes for a frugal and incredibly satisfying meal—or side dish. Typically you use day old rice, but if you cook rice like pasta, in other words in a lot of water with salt for 10 minutes then drain and cool it, you don’t have to make it ahead of time. Plus cooking it like pasta rids the raw grains of any surface starch so that it readily breaks apart into individual grains.

But, if you have leftover rice here’s the deal. Day-old jasmine rice works best; the varietal is loaded with a popcorn-y aromatic compound that perfumes the fried rice with gorgeous fragrance, and when stir-fried, the hard, dry clumps relax into tender-firm, distinct grains. All rice should be roughly room temperature when you stir-fry. 

To make fluffy, tender pockets of scrambled eggs, pour the raw beaten eggs into oil that is just smoking (not merely shimmering); the eggs will puff as their water rapidly turns to steam and their proteins set.

There’s no garlic or ginger to mince, no spices or curry paste to bloom, and no sauce to mix up, which keeps the prep work minimal and the backdrop neutral, not plain, simply highlighting the namesake ingredient: rice. However, you may want to serve with soy sauce on the side for those who wish a bit more flavor.

In case you are curious why this is labeled vegetarian, since they are not technically animal flesh, eggs are usually thought of as vegetarian. Eggs that have been fertilized and therefore have the potential to become an animal may not be considered vegetarian.

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup frozen peas


  1. Beat eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
  2. Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until very little liquid egg remains, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to the large plate.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plate with eggs.
  4. Add scallion whites and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir until combined. (It’s OK if some clumps of rice remain.) Spread into even layer. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on rice with spatula to break up clumps, until grains are separate and heated through, 2 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Add peas, egg and mushroom mixture, and scallion greens and cook, stirring frequently and using edge of spatula to break eggs into small pieces, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.

Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

This cold-weather salad from chef Carla Hall hits all the notes: sweet, savory, spicy, and salty—with a bit of crunch from the squash seeds. Here, Hall uses her Country Ham Potlikker as an umami-rich base for a spicy vinaigrette that gets its silky texture from blended cannellini beans. 

But the thing is, most people are not going to have this potlikker broth on hand. We had some leftover from our Smothered Pork Chops dinner in which you had to pre-make the Country Ham Potlikker. Our suggestion is to use a mix of oil and vinegar instead, you won’t have that smoky ham flavor, but you will be keeping the meal vegetarian.

*We decided to roast our fennel slices since I didn’t shave them thin enough. Basically, place the fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle with salt and pepper, rub it all together with your hands, then roast for about 30-35 minutes in a 400° oven. This can be done ahead of time, simply cover the roasted fennel with foil until ready to mix in with the other ingredients.

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chilled Country Ham Potlikker
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed, divided
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal, or 1 1/4 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium delicata squash, halved, seeds removed and reserved, sliced crosswise 1/2″ thick
  • 3 extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large sweet-tart apple, (such as Honeycrisp), cored, quartered, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered, shaved in very thin slices (*See note above for roasting option)
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


  1. Blend vinegar, potlikker (or substitute), mustard, and ¼ cup cannellini beans in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, stream in vegetable oil; blend until emulsified. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  2. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Divide sliced squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets; drizzle 2 Tbsp. olive oil over. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt; season with pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse squash seeds and pat dry. Toss seeds with cayenne and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small bowl; season with salt.
  4. Sprinkle seeds over squash. Continue to roast until squash is golden brown and tender, 13–15 minutes more.
  5. Combine squash and seeds, apple, fennel, kidney beans, and remaining cannellini beans in a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette if needed. Add parsley, season with salt, and toss again.
  6. Transfer salad to a platter; serve any remaining vinaigrette alongside.

Recipe from Carla Hall for Bon Appétit

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora Revisited

Did you know that Umbria, in central Italy, is home to a tomato-free version of Chicken alla Cacciatora? Rather, the rustic braise gets it character from lemon, olives, garlic and herbs. Capers also are customary, but this version uses pancetta instead to build rich, savory depth. Finally, alternatively to cutting up a whole chicken, which is what we usually do, here we substitute bone-in, skin-on thighs.

Strips of lemon zest are simmered into the sauce to infuse the dish with subtle citrusy notes. For easiest results, use a sharp vegetable peeler to plane off wide strips of zest from the fruit; each piece should be roughly 2 to 3 inches long. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe skillet for this recipe, our 3-quart Le Creuset “Baby Blue” enameled cast-iron pot was perfect.

Fantastic! The combination of flavors had so much depth, we wanted to lick our plates clean. I know we loved the previous version using an entire chicken and capers, but this riff may have raised the bar to another level…

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup pitted green or black olives or a combination, drained and halved
  • 4 strips lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook without disturbing until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a large plate.
  3. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet and set the pan over medium. Add the pancetta and onion, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine, bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, olives and lemon zest. Return the chicken skin up to the skillet and pour in the accumulated juices. Transfer to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175°F, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven; the handle will be hot. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a serving platter, then remove and discard the rosemary and lemon zest. Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce around the chicken.

Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street

Crispy Parmesan Potatoes

Tasty spuds are always a welcome side dish at our table. Here, melted parmesan cheese takes these roasted potatoes to a whole new level. They’re foolproof and taste delicious with just about everything.

If there was such a thing as a Potato Olympics, these babies would be sure to medal. Just make them, you’ll be glad you did…

Crispy Parmesan Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, about 30 potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Place in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to combine. Arrange the potatoes in single layer cut-side down.
  3. Roast until the bottoms are starting to turn golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 lightly packed cup). Pick the leaves from 5 to 6 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop until you have about 2 tablespoons.
  5. Carefully flip over each potato with tongs or a thin metal spatula so they are now cut-side up. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potatoes. (It’s OK if some fall onto the pan.) Roast until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese is crisp and golden-brown, about 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Recipe from

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

According to chef/author Suzy Karadheh, this is hands-down the BEST mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Rich and velvety with loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a little parmesan, and a lighter silky-smooth sauce.

An easy recipe, it has two main components: the pasta and the mushroom sauce. Once you cook the pasta and sauté the mushrooms, everything will come together with a light sauce in one pan.

A typical pasta with mushrooms usually involves a heavy cream-based sauce that you would likely cook separately and then spoon over the pasta. Making a hearty garlic mushroom pasta without cream or too much butter is fairly simple. The science behind this is using a little of the starchy pasta water.

Walnuts were in the original list of ingredients, but you know how The Hubs detests those little nuggets, claiming they taste like soap. I personally love them, but to keep the peace they went by the wayside. And the dish didn’t seem to suffer without them!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 8 oz. dry pasta, such as orecchiette, campanelle or farfalle
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup packed parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste, optional


  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling salted water according to box instructions. Keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive and butter over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook, tossing regularly for 2 to 3 minutes (manage the heat so that the garlic does not burn).
  3. Add all the mushrooms and toss them around in the pan for a couple of minutes, adding another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary. Cook the mushrooms for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they turn color and release their juices.
  4. Add the tomato paste, wine and about ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes (this becomes your mushroom pasta sauce).
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the mushroom sauce. Toss to combine. If needed add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadheh

Spanish Beef, Red Pepper and Paprika Stew

In Milk Street’s Fast and Slow Instant Pot cookbook, they explain Chilindrón, a hearty stew from Aragon in northeastern Spain, gets savory, meaty flavor from jamón serrano (dry-cured Spanish ham) balanced by subtly sweet tomato and red bell peppers; while paprika adds earthy flavor as well as a rich, brick-red color. Chicken, lamb or game sometimes are used, but here the succulence of a beef chuck roast is preferred.

In place of jamón serrano, the recipe uses easier-to-find Italian prosciutto, which has a similar texture and salty, nutty flavor. Pancetta, a fattier cut, works in a pinch, though it lacks some complexity. We served ours with garlicky mashed potatoes, but you could also pair with roasted potatoes or warm, crusty bread.

We used sweet smoked paprika (pimentón dulce). Spanish pimentón can be spicy, sweet, or smoky, but it’s almost always better than the regular grocery store paprika which is usually machine-dried and lacks the smoky, sweet depth of pimentón. It is essential to Spanish cooking, flavoring such national dishes as chorizo and paella. Whereas paprika from the U.S. usually comes from red bell peppers, Spanish pimentón comes from a wide variety of local peppers with differing levels of sweetness and spice.

Don’t use bacon in place of the prosciutto or pancetta. Its sweetness and intense smokiness will overpower the other ingredients. Similarly, don’t use deli ham, which is wet-cured and typically has an overly assertive artificial smoke flavor.

Spanish Beef, Red Pepper and Paprika Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 plum tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 4 oz. prosciutto or pancetta, chopped
  • 4 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


  1. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, shallot, tomato, roasted peppers and prosciutto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is very soft and the tomatoes have broken down, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in 3 teaspoons of rosemary and the paprika. Add the beef and stir to combine, then distribute in an even layer.
  3. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 35 minutes.
  4. When pressure cooking is complete, let the pressure reduce naturally for 15 minutes, then quick-release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  5. Drain the contents of the pot in a sieve over a large bowl. Pour the liquid in a fat separator, keeping the juices and discarding the fat. Put the meat mixture back into the pot.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 6 tablespoons of the cooking liquid until smooth, then stir the mixture into the pot with the meat along with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary.
  7. Select Less/Low Sauté. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Press Cancel to turn off the pot. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Adapted from a recipe by Julia Rackow for Milk Street

Orzo with Shrimp: Two Recipes

Does a Mediterranean diet appeal to you? Then these two recipes might be worth a try. The first from Cook’s Country, Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon dish will grab your attention. Cooking the orzo pilaf-style gives it extra flavor and allows you to control the slightly creamy consistency.

To keep this meatless, use seafood/shellfish stock as opposed to chicken broth. Also, if the broth you use is on the bland side, use 4 cups of the stock and omit the water. If, like our homemade shellfish stock, it is intense, dilute it with two cups of water.

Adjust the amounts of olives and feta to suit your own preferences. One version of the recipe indicated only a half cup of Kalamatas and only 2 ounces of feta, while the list below indicates double of each.

Because we cooked our meal in a 10-inch-wide nonstick pan, the shrimp took an extra two minutes to become opaque. Keep that in mind if using less than a 12-inch skillet.

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 cups seafood (or chicken) broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped coarse
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Mix lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and toss with lemon-salt mixture to coat; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until orzo is coated with oil and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add broth and water, bring to boil, and cook, uncovered, until orzo is al dente, about 6 minutes.
  6. Stir in olives, 1/2 cup feta, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, nestle shrimp into orzo, cover, and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup feta over top and drizzle with extra oil. Serve.

The second recipe, Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes, is another Mediterranean-inspired shrimp dish similar to the Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon above, however this version gets started on the cooktop and then baked in the oven. It only calls for 1 pound of shrimp but we had 1 1⁄2 pounds and decided to use it all. The 12-inch skillet was brimming full. Our other change was incorporating homemade shellfish stock for the chicken broth.

To build in plenty of Mediterranean flavor, start by sautéing chopped onion and red bell pepper, to soften them before adding in minced garlic and oregano. To guarantee perfectly cooked shrimp and pasta, sauté the orzo in the aromatics to unlock its toasty notes. The crumbled saffron threads, though not traditional, introduce a sunny hue and warm, complex flavor.

Chicken (or shellfish) broth and the drained juice from a can of diced tomatoes are then stirred in; as the orzo cooks to al dente, its releases starch (similar to a risotto) creating a sauce with a subtly creamy texture. To prevent the shrimp from overcooking, stir them right into the orzo, along with the reserved tomatoes and frozen peas, and transfer the skillet to the oven to cook through gently. A sprinkling of feta before baking reinforces the dish’s Greek flavors and promises an appealing browned, cheesy crust.

Make sure that the orzo is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite; otherwise it may overcook in the oven. If using smaller or larger shrimp, the cooking times may vary accordingly. You can leave the shrimp tails on, if desired. The small amount of saffron makes a big difference to the flavor and look of the dish, so be sure to include it. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet for this recipe.

Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) orzo
  • Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • 3 cups chicken or shellfish broth
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • Lemon wedges


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in orzo and saffron and cook, stirring often, until orzo is lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in broth and reserved tomato juice, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until orzo is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in shrimp, tomatoes, and peas, then sprinkle feta evenly over top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until shrimp are cooked through and feta is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from oven (skillet handle will be hot). Sprinkle scallions over top and serve with lemon wedges.

Adapted from a recipe from More Mediterranean by America’s Test Kitchen

Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Bone-In Pork Chops

Can’t get much simpler than this. Few ingredients, three steps, main dish done. Achieving deeply browned, juicy bone-in pork chops starts with choosing the right chop: Use 1½-inch-thick rib chops, which are thick enough to build up a browned exterior before cooking through.

Start the chops in a cold (not preheated) nonstick skillet (we used our well-seasoned carbon steel skillet) over high heat and flip them every 2 minutes so that the meat’s temperature increases gradually, allowing a crust to build up on the outside without overcooking the interior. Starting the chops in a cold pan helps the meat heat up slowly and evenly, and using a nonstick pan means that no oil is necessary.

If you have time, salt the chops for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before cooking: Sprinkle each chop with 1½ teaspoons of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (if using Morton, which is denser, use only 1⅛ teaspoons), refrigerate them, and pat them dry with paper towels before cooking. If the pork is enhanced (injected with a salt solution), do not salt the chops ahead. Make sure to include the bones when serving; they’re great for nibbling—it might be a battle as to who of the four diners get them though… 

Yes, quite simple. However, every 2 minutes for about 25 minutes, you’ll need to flip the meat. But it resulted in perfectly cooked pork chops without much effort or other ingredients. Our sides included Beer Braised Cabbage and Braised Red Potatoes with Miso and Scallions. Since there was only the two of us, the chops were served whole—but there was plenty of leftovers for another meal.

Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Bone-In Pork Chops

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • (14- to 16-oz.) bone-in pork rib chops, 1½ inches thick, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper


  1. Pat chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with pepper. Place chops 1 inch apart in cold 12-inch nonstick or carbon-steel skillet, arranging so narrow part of 1 chop is opposite wider part of second. Place skillet over high heat and cook chops for 2 minutes. Flip chops and cook on second side for 2 minutes. (Neither side of chops will be browned at this point.)
  2. Flip chops; reduce heat to medium; and continue to cook, flipping chops every 2 minutes, until exterior is well browned and meat registers 140 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer. (Chops should be sizzling; if not, increase heat slightly. Reduce heat if skillet starts to smoke.)
  3. Transfer chops to carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve meat from bone and slice ½ inch thick. (When carving chops, meat at tapered end near bone may retain slightly pink hue despite being cooked.) Season meat with coarse or flake sea salt to taste. Serve with bones.

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Saffron Bulgur with Fennel and Turkey Sausage

This bright, bold, hearty bulgur dish radiates hues of golden saffron. Turkey sausage lends deep savor and dinnertime heft to the floral bulgur, and is given the golden treatment with a saffron-infused pomegranate vinaigrette.

And if that isn’t enough, efflorescent caramelized fennel deepens the savory notes, and dried apricots add contrasting texture and pleasant sweetness. Topping it all is Manchego cheese which provides divergent sharpness and saltiness. I errantly shredded the cheese instead of shaving it, but the flavor was still the same.

Very good, and very filling!

Saffron Bulgur with Fennel and Turkey Sausage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1⁄2 cups medium-grind bulgur (do not use cracked wheat)
  • 1⁄4 tsp. table salt, divided, plus more for cooking the bulgur
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. Italian Turkey sausage
  • 2 fennel bulbs, 1⁄4 cup fronds, minced, stalks discarded, bulbs halved, cored and sliced 1⁄4 inch thick
  • 1⁄2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp. pepper, divided
  • 1⁄4 tsp. saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 oz. Manchego cheese, shaved


  1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in bulgur and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides and registers 160°, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest. Slice sausage 1/2-inch thick on the diagonal just before serving.
  3. Pour off all but 2 teaspoons fat from skillet (or add oil to equal 2 teaspoons). Add sliced fennel, apricots, 1⁄2 cup water, 1⁄8 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, cover, and cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
  4. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is spotty brown, 2 to 4 minutes; set aside until ready to serve. (This step took 8 minutes for the fennel to start browning.)
  5. Combine saffron with 2 teaspoons water in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1⁄8 teaspoon salt, 114 teaspoon pepper, pomegranate molasses and lemon zest, then stir in bulgur to coat.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among individual bowls, then top with fennel mixture and sausage slices. Sprinkle with fennel fronds and Manchego cheese shavings. Serve.

Recipe from “More Mediterranean” by America’s Test Kitchen

Braised Red Potatoes with Miso and Scallions

For a simple, one-pot potato side dish that features the benefits of both boiling and roasting, Cook’s Illustrated got creative. They combined halved small red potatoes, butter, and salted water in a 12-inch skillet and simmered this mixture until the potatoes turned creamy and the water fully evaporated.

In the then-dry skillet, the potatoes and butter were left alone to fry and develop great flavor and color. Finally, subtle aromatics like thyme and garlic balance well with last-minute additions like miso, Dijon or lemon juice.

Our only issue was that the miso mixture wasn’t loose enough to spread with the hot potatoes. We suggest removing the potatoes to a bowl when done. *Put the miso-garlic mixture in the hot skillet and add two tablespoons of water. Using a wooden spatula, combine the mixture and water while scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When fully combined, pour the sauce over the potatoes, add scallions, and toss gently before serving.

NOTE: We had to use a 14-inch regular skillet because it was the only pan large enough to fit all of the potatoes in one layer, plus it had a lid. This dilemma prompted us to purchase an adjustable lid to fit our two larger nonstick skillets.

Braised Red Potatoes with Miso and Scallions

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled, halved
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. red miso, Dijon or lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup minced scallions


  1. Arrange potatoes in single layer, cut side down, in 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add water, butter, garlic, thyme, and salt and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove lid and use slotted spoon to transfer garlic to cutting board; discard thyme. Increase heat to medium-high and vigorously simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until water evaporates and butter starts to sizzle, 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, mince garlic to paste. Transfer paste to bowl and stir in lemon juice and pepper.
  3. Continue to cook potatoes, swirling pan frequently, until butter browns and cut sides of potatoes turn spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes longer. Off heat, add garlic mixture and chives and toss to thoroughly coat. (*See note above about alternative way to coat potatoes with miso mixture.) Serve immediately.

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated


Curious? We certainly were. Let me put your mind at ease. Potlikker, or Pot Liquor, a Southern tradition, is the brothy liquid gold left behind after boiling greens and beans. However, here potlikker is made from scratch and used as an ultra-concentrated broth—often the first step in imbuing a dish with layers of meaty flavor. The potlikker is made with dry-cured country ham, but if you can’t find it, get smoked ham hocks which will bring similar intensity.

The juicy seared pork chops get smothered in a rich brown gravy made with the savory Country Ham Potlikker for layer upon layer of Southern comfort. Making the broth is a crucial first step, so be sure to read through the recipe before you begin to make the Smothered Pork Chops dinner. We actually made the potlikker the day before, which saved a lot of time on dinner day.

We served our chops over hot buttered egg noodles with a wedge of braised cabbage.

*After the simmering was done, we deemed the sauce too thin. The pork chops were removed to a platter and covered with foil, while we reduced the sauce by boiling it over medium-high heat for an extra 10 minutes. When ready, remove the foil from the meat and pour the thicker sauce over the chops, sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve.

The meal was outstanding! We practically became plate-lickers of the potlikker sauce left on the dinnerware… The Bon Appétit article had a few more potlikker broths and companion recipes, so I’m sure this won’t be the last. For instance, Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives and Herbs to go with a smoked paprika and sun-dried tomato potlikker… my mouth is watering already…

Country Ham Potlikker Gravy

  • Servings: Yields 2 1⁄2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1½-oz. piece country ham or one 12-oz. smoked ham hock
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt


  1. Bring ham, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and 1 quart water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming foam from surface as needed, 1 hour.
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. Pick out ham and reserve for another use; discard remaining solids.

Do Ahead: Potlikker can be made 5 days ahead. Let cool. Transfer to an airtight container and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Smothered Pork Chops in Potlikker Gravy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1½ cups (or more) Country Ham Potlikker
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 1″–1½”-thick bone-in pork chops
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 6–8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped marjoram
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 1½ tsp. finely chopped thyme, plus leaves for serving


  1. Whisk together potlikker, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, allspice, molasses, and 1 cup water in a medium bowl; set potlikker mixture aside.
  2. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Pat pork chops dry; season with salt and pepper. Dredge chops in flour, shaking off excess, and transfer to a platter. Set remaining flour in bowl aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Working in 2 batches, cook pork chops until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle reserved flour evenly over; cook, stirring often and scraping up any browned bits, until onions are beginning to brown, 6–8 minutes.
  5. Add reserved potlikker mixture; whisk until incorporated and lump-free. Bring to a boil, then add marjoram, rosemary, and 1½ tsp. thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pork chops and any accumulated juices to pot. Cover and simmer until pork chops are tender, 70–80 minutes. If gravy looks too thick, thin with more potlikker or water. (*If it’s too thick, reduce the sauce, see above.) Taste gravy and season with more salt as needed.
  6. Transfer pork chops to a platter; top with thyme leaves.

Adapted from a recipe by Carla Hall for Bon Appétit

Individual Beef Wellington

The back story. This elegant staple of 1960s dinner parties derives its name from The Duke of Wellington, the nineteenth century English statesman and military officer. The name is not due to his gourmet tastes, however, but because the final dish is said to resemble the shiny dark military boots he wore.

Boots aside, it was Valentine’s and we wanted to treat ourselves at home as opposed to dining out. Initially our plan was a surf and turf riff of some sort, but then The Hubs ran across these individual “wellies” from NY Times Cooking, and we never looked back. The dinner, with a fantastic bottle of rioja wine, red salad, red baby bliss potatoes and the most mouth-watering tender braised leeks was a moment in Heaven, sigh.

Beef Wellington traditionally is a 2 to 4 pound beef tenderloin topped with mushroom duxelles and foie gras pate, and then encased in puff pastry. The preparation is simplified by instead wrapping individual beef filets. The Hubs had the romantic idea of adding heart embellishments with the leftover puff pastry and I whole”heart”edly jumped on that idea ❤

The filets need to be cut about 1 1/2-inches thick to ensure that the meat doesn’t dry out or become overcooked while roasting in the oven. If the meat is cut thinner, reduce the oven cooking time appropriately. And if your filets are greater than six ounces, the puff pastry may need to be cut into a larger square in order to envelop the meat completely. Ours were over 6 ounces, yet I managed with just the one sheet.

Also, the cooking plus resting time, is for meat that’s served medium-rare. If you like your meat more done, increase the initial cooking time in the skillet by another minute or two, and monitor the doneness of the meat from the oven with an instant-read thermometer. This recipe makes 2 servings, but it easily can be doubled.

Individual Beef Wellington

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 (6-oz.) filet mignons, at least 1 1/2″ thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 4 oz. cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • Frozen puff pastry (1 sheet from 17 1/4-oz. package), thawed but still cold
  • 1 large egg


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Generously season the filet mignons with salt and pepper, and sear until the surfaces on the top, bottom and rounded sides are no longer raw, about 2 minutes total. Transfer the steaks to a plate, reserving the oil in the skillet. Brush or spread on the Dijon mustard all over each filet and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned and no longer watery, about 10 to 12 minutes. Be patient: The mushrooms will first release some water; then, once that liquid evaporates, the vegetables will start to brown. If they are starting to stick before they brown, lower the heat or add a little water to the pan.
  3. When the mushrooms are deeply browned, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the herbes de Provence, honey, wine and cream. Let the liquids bubble and reduce until the moisture is thick and jammy, about 2 minutes. transfer to a small dish and refrigerate until cool.
  4. To assemble the Wellingtons, cut the puff pastry sheet in half (it doesn’t matter which direction). Lightly flour your working surface. Use a rolling pin to evenly roll each sheet into an 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Mount a filet mignon-size circle of the chilled mushroom mixture in the center of each rolled-out sheet, evenly dividing the mixture between the 2 sheets. Top each mound of mushrooms with a filet.
  5. Carefully bring the edges of the puff pastry up and over the steaks, stretching the dough if needed to completely cover the meat. Twist the tops of the dough to seal the filling, as if you’re making dumplings. You want an even, uniform layer of pastry, so trim any overlapping dough as you go. When the tops are nicely sealed, flip the Wellingtons over, seam side down, and transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. You can use your hands to gently tighten each Wellington into perfectly smooth spheres. Refrigerate to chill completely before baking, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (ours were refrigerated 6 hours).
  6. Heat the oven to 425°. In a small dish, whisk the egg until homogenous and, using a pastry brush or your fingers, evenly coat the entire outsides of the chilled Wellingtons with the egg, discard the remainder. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 17 to 20 minutes. The internal temperature should read 120° for medium-rare (it will continue to cook as it rests.)
  7. Transfer the Wellingtons to serving plates.Let them rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe from the NYTimes Cooking

Coconut Milk Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Bell Peppers

This Coconut Milk Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Bell Peppers recipe is a wonderful fusion of Thai flavors. It’s the perfect bowl of warming comfort food brimming with color and flavor. Made with chicken thighs, spices, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and creamy coconut milk, it’s cozy, creamy, perfectly spiced and filled with vegetables. Finish each bowl off with steamed rice, herbs, and plenty of lime.

The spice mix on the chicken is key to the flavor. It’s a mix of turmeric, ginger, cumin and black pepper. After tossing the chicken with the spices, if you have the opportunity, let the chicken get happy overnight to take on even more flavor. You don’t have to do this, but even a few hours in the fridge adds more depth to the dish.

When everything is in, just simmer the chicken in the pot and let it slowly cook in the coconut milk. It doesn’t take too long, about 30 minutes or so for thighs (shorter if you’re using breasts.) The coconut milk is obviously creamy and flavorful, but it also prevents the poultry from drying out and creates super tender pieces of chicken.

Coconut Milk Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Bell Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes, or more
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 cans 14 oz. full-fat coconut milk, whisked until creamy
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 2 limes, quartered, for serving
  • Roasted peanuts


  1. Toss the chicken with the turmeric, ginger, cumin, pepper, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon oil. Let sit 5 minutes or up to overnight in the fridge.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 the chicken and sear on both sides until browned, about 2 minutes. Pull the chicken out of the pan, and repeat with remaining half of chicken.
  3. To the pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the peppers, shallots, garlic, and chili flakes, cook 3 minutes, then toss in the sweet potatoes. Reduce the heat to med-low. Pour in the coconut milk and fish sauce. Slide the chicken and any juices on the plate into the milk.
  4. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through ad potatoes are tender. If the sauce becomes too thick, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt.
  5. Meanwhile, make the steamed rice according to package directions.
  6. Divide rice between bowls, then spoon the chicken and sauce over the rice. Top with basil, peanuts, and serve with lime wedges.

Recipe loosely adapted from Half-Baked Harvest