By Ann Cipperly
While many churches are now open for the congregation to sit in a service, many of us are still watching services online. Sunday is traditionally a quiet day with family. It is a good time to prepare a special supper to gather the family around the table to talk about the coming week before everyone heads to work or school on Monday.
After church services, pull out the slow cooker or Dutch oven and prepare a pasta sauce or roast to simmer all afternoon, filling the house with tantalizing aromas.
I treasure wonderful memories of growing up sitting around the table on Sunday nights as well as memories at the table with our children. Now that my parents are gone and our children are grown, living in various places across the country, Sunday nights are quieter with Don and me, but no less special.
During the coronavirus pandemic we have been reminded that every day is a gift. I think of friends who have been in the hospital for weeks with the virus and a few who didn’t recover. The virus has caused us to cherish time with our family more than ever, as we miss big gatherings with loved ones.
This week I have been especially thankful since it is the 10th anniversary of my surgery at UAB. I am forever thankful to God for a miracle from a rare stage four cancer. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of this gift from the time I get up until I go bed, trying to make the best of every day.
As we all try daily to do our best in these uncertain times, spending time with family around the table is important. Over a meal, tell the stories of meaningful events in your life, and let the children share their hopes and dreams.
While the food is always secondary, serve comfort foods that have been family favorites and try new recipes. Let children help prepare the meal.
It has been a tradition for Becky Stillwell to have her daughter and family for a meal on Sundays. Becky relies on recipes that can be assembled quickly and sometimes uses a slow cooker.
When Ruby Worthington was 88 years old, she was still cooking Sunday meals for her family. She would start preparing the meals on Saturdays. Ruby is now 97 years old and savors those sweet memories. The Sunday Roast and Sunday Baked Chicken are two of her favorite dishes.
On weekends, Linda Letlow will prepare Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola when she doesn’t feel like cooking but still wants to serve good food. The special pasta sauce simmers in the oven for an hour and a half. Two of Linda’s other delectable dishes are Lemon Chicken and Pork Chops with Dijon Cream Sauce.
Nancy Loper’s Chicken Stuffed with Prosciutto and Fontina with Balsamic Grape Tomato Sauce makes an attractive dish. It is easier to prepare than it sounds. Prosciutto and cheese are placed on the chicken breasts or thighs and rolled up, then baked. The sauce is made by quickly sautéing grape tomatoes and green onions enhanced with balsamic vinegar.
If Mac and Cheese is favorite comfort food at your house, try Leigh Whatley’s recipe. You don’t have to make a white sauce. Cheeses and cream are combined with cooked pasta and baked.
Children will also enjoy Laura Hartley’s Salsa Chicken. The Corn Salsa served on the side is optional.
Look over the following recipes and plan a special Sunday supper this weekend. Be sure the television is turned off and no one has a cell phone at the table. Enjoy the food and linger at the table, sharing stories and creating new memories to treasure.
Chicken Stuffed with Prosciutto and Fontina with Balsamic Grape Tomato Sauce
4 (6 oz.) boneless chicken breast halves or thighs
4 thin slices prosciutto (about 1 oz.), trimmed of visible fat
4 slices Fontina or Swiss cheese
4 basil leaves, optional
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 1/2 -2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup or more chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken cut side up on cutting board; salt and pepper both sides. Place a piece of clear plastic wrap over or put in a baggie to make it easier to handle. Working from the center out, pound lightly with a meat mallet. Remove wrap.
Place a slice of prosciutto on each piece of chicken and cover with cheese. Top with basil leaves, if desired. Tuck in sides; roll up jelly-roll style, pressing to seal well.
Place chicken breasts into baking dish. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. olive oil over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Add remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet along with green onions and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add tomatoes and cook, tossing until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and cook until nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer until slightly reduced for about 2 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.
To make ahead: assemble chicken and store in refrigerator until ready to bake. Prepare grape tomato sauce ahead and reheat before pouring over chicken.
Sunday Roast Beef with Carrots and Potatoes
½ bottle red wine vinegar salad dressing
½ cup lemon juice
One chuck roast (5 or 6 lb.)
2 tsp. garlic pepper
2 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. tenderizer (optional)
2 Tbsp. bacon grease or canola oil
3 large Vidalia onions, quartered
1½ lb. carrots, cut in small pieces
8 small potatoes, cut in half
In a small bowl mix red wine vinegar salad dressing and lemon juice. Place roast in zip lock bag, pour marinade over roast and refrigerate overnight. Turn bag several times to make sure roast is completely covered.
Remove roast from bag, dry well. Mix and rub seasonings on all sides of roast.
Place in Dutch oven of choice (I use iron cookware). Coat inside of pan with nonstick spray. Put 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings or canola oil in roaster. Heat to medium heat on top of stove. Braise all sides of the roast in the pan on top of stove until slightly brown on all sides. Add two cloves of garlic and two bay leaves.
Turn heat higher on burner; pour 1½ cups water into pan over roast. Place top on roaster and place in a 375-degree oven for 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven; add potatoes, carrots and Vidalia onions; season vegetables with salt and pepper. Return to oven and bake for approximately 1½ hours or until fork tender.
Sunday Roast Beef
1 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp. A-1 Steak Sauce
Place roast in foil on a pan. Spread heated soup mixture over roast; seal foil loosely. Bake at 325 degrees for 3½ hours. Makes its own gravy for serving over rice or mashed potatoes.
This recipe is from the famous restaurant in the Hamptons called Nick and Toni’s. It’s so easy to make. I often make it on a weekend when I am not in the mood to cook, but I want good food! It is important to use good canned tomatoes. All of the grocery stores carry San Marzano tomatoes, which are imported and have an especially good flavor.
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1½ tsp. dried oregano
1 cup vodka
Two 28 oz. cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained
Kosher salt and pepper
¾ lb. penne pasta
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 cup heavy cream
½ freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.
Add red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 more minute. Add vodka and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half.
Using clean hands, crush each tomato into pan. Do not add liquid from can. Add 2 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Cover pan, place in oven, and bake for 1½ hours.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 Tbsp. salt to water. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Puree tomato mixture either with an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth. Return tomato mixture to sauté pan. Be careful because the handle is hot! Add fresh oregano, cream, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. Add pasta to sauce and cook for 2 more minutes.
Stir in ½ cup Parmesan cheese and serve hot with extra Parmesan sprinkled over top.
This is a great chicken dish that is quick and easy! Serve it with rice and a green vegetable.
¼ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced garlic (a lot of garlic, but trust me, this is good!)
1/3 cup white wine
1 Tbsp. lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried thyme
Kosher salt and pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on
Warm olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so until it is fragrant, but don’t allow garlic to brown or it will become bitter.
Off the heat add wine, lemon zest, oregano and thyme, and 1 tsp. of salt. Pour into a 9 x 12 baking dish. Place chicken skin side up over the mixture. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I often make this early in the day and refrigerate chicken until time to bake it.
When ready to bake, cut a lemon into wedges and place lemon around chicken. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees until top is browned. Cover and rest for about 10 minutes. Serve with rice and pour sauce over chicken and rice.
Pork Chops in Dijon Cream Sauce
Pork chops are convenient, which is probably why I remember my mother serving them so often growing up. The chops were thinner and almost always bone-in. These days we get thicker chops, and although we prefer bone-in, it just depends on what’s available at the market that day. The Dijon Cream Sauce is just lovely with the pork. Great served with new potatoes.
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 center-cut rib or loin pork chops, boneless or bone-in (whatever you prefer), about 1 1/4 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped shallots or green onions
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
Pat pork chops dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Stir in butter. As soon as butter has melted, add pork chops to pan and sear, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat slightly if chops brown too quickly.
Remove chops from pan and pour off most of the fat. Add green onions or shallots and cook on medium high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of wine and bring to a boil, deglazing pan by scraping brown bits from bottom.
Stir in stock and return chops to pan. Bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook until chops are cooked through (145 degrees internal), about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove chops to warm platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Add remaining half-cup wine. Increase heat to high to boil pan juices. Reduce juices by half, about 3 minutes. Add heavy cream and boil 3 minutes more, until sauce reduces and thickens, and scraping pan with a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat; whisk in mustard and parsley. Add more mustard if desired. Place chops on a bed of sauce and serve.
Mac and Cheese
8 oz. grated Monterey jack cheese
8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. Parmesan
1 quart cream
1 box rigatoni pasta, cooked
Mix all together. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Our family serves the chicken over rice and tops it with remaining sauce, shredded cheese and Corn Salsa (recipe follows).
4 chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning or chili powder to taste
1 jar salsa (I use a can of Rotel)
12-16 oz. sour cream
Place chicken breasts in casserole dish and season with taco seasoning or chili powder. (I do not use entire packet of taco seasoning, just to taste.) Cover seasoned chicken with entire jar of salsa.
Bake uncovered for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove casserole from oven, and set aside chicken from salsa. Stir sour cream into salsa until well blended. Return chicken to casserole dish and spoon sauce over chicken.
It’s also good to skip the chicken and just enjoy this refreshing salsa with corn or tortilla chips!
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 jalapeno finely chopped (I cheat and use 10-15 slices of pickled jalapeno slices from a jar. Much quicker!)
1 1/3 purple onion, finely diced
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (I just use a can of Rotel, well drained.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley or cilantro to taste, optional
Mix all ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour.
Sunday Baked Chicken
8 to 10 boneless chicken breasts
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 can cream of chicken soup
1½ soup cans milk
Breadcrumbs to cover chicken
Rinse and dry chicken breasts. In small bowl mix salt, pepper, seasoning and mayonnaise together. Coat chicken well with mixture. Mix milk with soup, blend well.
Line large baking dish with foil. Spread soup mix over bottom, place chicken in dish on top of soup mix. Spread breadcrumbs over the top of chicken, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake approximately 1 hour at 375 degrees or until fork tender. Chicken and crumbs will brown during baking.
Serving suggestion: Serve with carrots and green beans.
Crock-Pot Barbecue Boston Butt
1 can regular Coca Cola (cannot be diet)
1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
Pour can of cola in crock-pot. Place Boston butt that has been salted into pot. Cover with a bottle of barbecue sauce. Cook on low about 12 hours.
Chicken and Yellow Rice
3 or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and deboned
2 small bags Mahatma Yellow Rice
2 or 3 cans cream of mushroom soup
Grated cheddar cheese
Cook rice as directed on package. Place rice in greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place chicken on top of rice. Slightly dilute cream of mushroom soup; spread over chicken. Top with grated cheese and buttered breadcrumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.