Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Bars from Better Homes and Gardens. These are a dangerous combination: easy to make and addictive. They taste like a combination of the Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars by Nature Valley and the classic Quaker kind. In fact, I think next time I make them I’ll throw in some peanuts. Broken pretzel bits are what make these a little salty. Don’t be intimidated by the word “granola.” If you can make Rice Krispies treats you can make these. Ignore the extra step in the recipe involving foil. Just grease or spray a glass casserole dish and the bars will pop right out after they’ve cooled.
Chicken Breast with Pancetta Cream and Peas from Cooking Light. This is my kind of meal: sounds and tastes fancy but it’s easy and cheap to prepare. The pancetta can be bacon (as it was for us) and the mascarpone could be sour cream or crème fraîche if that’s what you have on hand. The sauce was velvety and very thick; smoky from the bacon and sweet from the peas. The chicken was juicy. We had this with risotto, and though it was calorically reasonable it was very very filling.
Venison Potstickers from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. OH. MY. GAWD. I put this recipe off for weeks, despite having all the ingredients on hand – including the ground venison – because I was intimidated by the very idea of potstickers. So many folks online whinge about the impossibility of working the dough, making the pleats, doing the steaming . . . and either they all suck or I have a superpower, because I found it all pretty straightforward. This is one of those recipes that seems difficult because it is very involved. There is a lot of hands-on time but nothing about it is difficult, at least in my experience. Hank Shaw, the recipe’s inventor, uses a tortilla press to make his potsticker wrappers. I used the pasta attachment of my beloved KitchenAid. If you have access to an Asian market you can buy them pre-made. (Wonton and egg roll wrappers are too thin and crispy. They will not give you the toothy, doughy, dumpling effect that is essential to gyoza.) Once filled and pleated they scorch (yes) and steam in a plain old lidded skillet on the stove top – no bamboo basket required. But all that matters is the result: uuuuuuuuuuughhhh. I made about 30 potstickers. We ate them all in one sitting. They are de-li-cious. And I mean fancy-restaurant-you-only-go-to-once-a-year delicious. The filling is savory and the wrappers pleasantly gummy (though caramelized on the bottom) and the dipping sauce is tangy and so packed with raw garlic and ginger that its zing is almost spicy. If you don’t have venison on hand Mr. Shaw says any dark meat – including duck – will work. I will try bison next time!