clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Amazin’ Avenue Recommends: Recipes to cook

We continue to recommend ways to pass the time at home. This time, 100% more delicious distractions!

Cooking Class in Bologna Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images

Today, we continue with recommendations of things to do while you’re staying at home with some recipes to cook when your favorite restaurant is too busy to make your order. We’ve all picked dishes that don’t require expensive ingredients or advanced techniques, so anyone should be able to try these! or And if you’ve missed the other posts in the series, here they are:

Allison McCague

Slow cooker meat sauce: When you’re cooped up at home and need to limit the number of times you’re venturing out to the grocery store, cooking in bulk is a must. And there is no better way to do that than by utilizing a slow cooker. If you can manage to snag some ground beef, which seems to be in short supply these days, this meat sauce can feed you for at least a week; it freezes incredibly well so you can stash the leftovers as long as you need them. Plus, cooking with wine always has the added perk of indulging while you prep. This recipe has you sauté the vegetables and brown the beef before adding to the slow cooker and trust me, that step is worth it to really bring out those flavors.

Full recipe here:

(Some) Irish food is great. No joke Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Slow cooker Guinness beef stew: This stew is so hearty and delicious. It is my favorite thing to make in the cold weather months. And the slow cooker really does do all the work. All you have to do is chop the vegetables, brown the beef, throw it all in the slow cooker, and let it work its magic. Not to mention that any excuse to buy some Guinness is a good one. They’ve designated the liquor stores as essential, right?

Full recipe here:

Shakshuka: This Middle Eastern dish can be eaten for breakfast or dinner. It’s a deliciously satisfying flavor bomb loaded with spice that will take your eggs and toast to the next level. You start by sautéing peppers and onions with cumin and paprika. Then, you complete the sauce by adding canned tomatoes and allowing those flavors to simmer for a bit and thicken. Finally, you add the cheese, crack the eggs over the sauce, stick your pan in the oven, and you have a delicious concoction that can be served over your bread product of choice. I personally make a few adaptations to the New York Times recipe linked below. Namely, I omit the cayenne (because I am a huge baby when it comes to spicy food, but it adds a really nice kick for those who enjoy that) and use goat cheese instead of feta, which is just a personal preference; any crumbly cheese will do.

Full recipe here:

Dill pasta with chicken/shrimp: These final two are family recipes, so no links to anywhere on the internet. This is my favorite pasta dish my mother makes because it’s so damn easy. It was perfect for those late nights coming home from the lab in grad school when I didn’t have the energy to cook something fancy, but I also didn’t want to just be heating up canned soup for the third time that week. It is equally good with chicken or shrimp or a combination of both, so just go with your preference.


6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 ½ pounds Chicken (cut into chunks) and/or Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Teaspoon Dill
1 Teaspoon Salt
Pepper to taste
1 Pound (box) of your favorite pasta


Cook the pasta. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet on a medium-high flame. Add the chicken and the garlic and cook until chicken is no longer pink. If you are using shrimp, add the shrimp to the skillet about 5 or 6 minutes before the pasta is done and cook until the shrimp turn pink. Drain pasta and put it back in the pot. Add the chicken/shrimp mixture, parmesan cheese, dill, salt and pepper to the pot and toss to mix.

“Shrimp snacks”: All of my recommendations up until this point have been full meals, so I figured I’d shake it up a bit and include my favorite family appetizer recipe. (I’m not much of a baker, so I’ll leave the dessert recommendations to others.) These little nuggets of goodness are served at pretty much every family gathering and have been a huge hit when I’ve brought them to potlucks in the past. They’re easy to make and use canned shrimp rather than fresh, so don’t worry about the ingredients staying fresh after you’ve stocked up and hunkered down inside. These also freeze well, so while social distancing you can prep them, freeze them, and pop a few in the oven/toaster oven at a time as you want to eat them.


1 jar Kraft Old English Sharp Cheddar spread
1 stick margarine, softened
1 can small shrimp
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
6 English muffins, halved


Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well until completely blended. Spread evenly on muffin halves and cut into quarters. Place on large baking sheet or broiler pan and broil 5-10 minutes until bubbly (and the top is slightly brown).

Chris Strohmaier

Austin Pumpkin Bread: Whenever I wind up in a city or country I’ve never been before, I always try to grab a cookbook. It’s an easy souvenir, and one you can actually use rather than collecting dust in a cabinet somewhere. This fantastic pumpkin bread recipe comes from Paula Forbes’ The Austin Cookbook, which aggregates some terrific recipes from one of America’s best food towns. As a Tex-Mex lover, I couldn’t resist picking this book up, and this has become one of my favorites from it. The book recommends you can use this recipe to make french toast, and I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure it would be incredible. The trick with this is to let it completely cool with the tin foil on top.

Makes 1 9x5 loaf.

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, and oil until smooth.
  4. In thirds, add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, whisking until there are no lumps. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times and remix.
  5. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, cover with aluminum foil. Let the bread cool completely - this may take several hours.
  7. Serve in slices, either as french toast or on its own.
‘Cuisinart- Electric slow cooker’ at PanHandler, Prince’s Building, Central. 30 August 2006. Photo by Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Slow Cooker Enchiladas: These are a staple in my house, because they can feed a crowd and are relatively easy to make. How you season the pork shoulder is completely up to you, but I’ll give you my preferred rub. This makes between 12 and 16 enchiladas depending on how much you stuff the tortilla. I tend to overstuff, so it’s usually 12 for me. You can make your own enchilada sauce as well, which will likely be better than whatever Old El Paso is slinging.

  • 3 lb Pork Shoulder
  • Sixteen pack of 8” Corn Tortillas
  • Two 19 oz. cans of Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 16 oz. Mexican blend cheese
  • Medium White Onion, sliced
  • Medium Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • Two medium Jalapeno peppers (optional), sliced

For the rub

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dutch cocoa
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • Juice of 1 lime (optional)
  1. Mix rub in prep bowl and apply to pork shoulder. You can mix in lime juice here, but the dry rub will stick to the pork shoulder without it.
  2. In a slow cooker, pour in one can of enchilada sauce. Setting aside about a quarter.
  3. Place pork shoulder in slow cooker, fat side up. Surround with onions, bell and jalapeno peppers. Pour remainder of enchilada sauce on top of pork shoulder.
  4. Cook on low for 6 hours, or until completely tender. If liquid reduces too much, or isn’t covering the pork, add more enchilada sauce, water, or vegetable broth.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with a fork.
  6. In a glass baking dish, pour the other can enchilada sauce until it completely covers the bottom.
  7. Place pork in tortillas, barely pinching the tortilla so it creates a seam. Place the tortillas seam side down in the baking dish, one by one, until the tortillas are completely touching and the dish is full.
  8. Evenly spread cheese over the top of the tortillas.
  9. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and partially browned.
  10. Let stand until sauce has stopped bubbling, then serve with scallions, sour cream, and cilantro, or as preferred.

Pineapple Breakfast Bake: One of my favorite breakfasts of all time is an insanely easy bake. We have this every Easter, and it’s even crept into our summer weekend repertoire. The terrific sweet and savory blend will remind you of a great bread pudding or upside down cakeIt’s a great quarantine dish because it needs few ingredients, most of which you presumably have in stock. I like to use a thicker white bread for this, it seems to make for a nicer bite

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 slices white bread, torn
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Add bread and crushed pineapple into the mixture. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until bubbly and lightly browned, about 60 minutes.

Irish Spice Cake - A few years ago while checking out a bookstore in Cork, a classic Irish cookbook called All in the Cooking caught my eye. It has a lot of old time standards, and I’ve made the similar Christmas Cake from that book before, but I don’t think it’s nearly as good as this version I found from Culinary Hill. It’s become a St. Patrick’s Day staple of recent vintage, and it’s a very forgiving recipe if you’re focusing on the corned beef. The original version I found used a vanilla glaze, but I much prefer an orange one for this, which is a pretty simple change. You can also do this in a 9”x13” pan or a bundt, but I prefer the bundt for aesthetics.

For the Spice Cake

  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs beaten

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In medium sauce pan, combine raisins, sugar, water, butter, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to a boil; remove from heat and cool completely, at least one hour. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously grease 12-inch bundt pan (or 9x13 cake pan). In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. Whisk eggs into cooled spice mixture until uniformly combined. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, whisking well after each addition.
  4. Pour batter in to prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.
  5. To make the glaze, in a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies - If you love chocolate - like really love chocolate - Dorie Greenspan’s classic recipe will have you in cocoa heaven. The blend of chocolate and salt in these cookies is so irresistible, you’ll find yourself craving them at all times, unable to stop thinking about life before you had them. They’re a great party or Christmas Cookie recipe, and are sure to be a crowd pleaser. The dough can be finicky and requires some cooldown, but have some patience, but the payoff is well worth it. The recipe, in Dorie’s own words, since I won’t be able to do it justice:

Brian Salvatore

With one exception, all of the recipes I’m sharing having been adapted from their original sources, either due to ease, laziness, the food tastes of my wife, or inconvenient ingredients. All of these are just as good, if not better, reheated, so save those leftover! Cooking is improvisation, so feel free to adapt these to your particular tastes as well.

“Fast Pasta” - This is a dish that (I think?) I came up with one night based purely on what was available in our pantry/refrigerator, but has become a weeknight staple for us. The entire recipe can be cooked and ready to eat in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta, hence its name.


  • Four cloves of garlic, minced
  • cup of grape tomatoes
  • large bunch of arugula
  • 6-8 slices of salami
  • 6-slices of peperoni
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • fresh ground pepper
  • grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • one pound of farfalle pasta

Boil water, adding salt just before boiling, and cook farfalle to instructions found on the box.

While water is boiling, mince your garlic and half your tomatoes. Quarter the pieces of salami and pepperoni.

Once the pasta is in the water, wait about three minutes and then begin the next part. If you start it too early, you’ll either burn it or have to pull it off the heat.

In a large frying pan or dutch oven, drizzle enough olive oil to coat the pan over medium heat. Once hot, crack the black pepper over the pot and add the red pepper flakes; swirl with a wooden spoon to prevent from burning. Add in the pepperoni and salami, heating until the edges are getting a little crispy.

Drop in the tomatoes; let them begin to release a little water, and then stir, combining with the meat. After a minute or two, add in the garlic, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.

When the pasta is done, using a slotted spoon, move the pasta into the pan with the other ingredients. You want a little bit of the pasta water to get in there, to help bind everything together. After the pasta is in, add your bunch of arugula, and combine everything together.

Before serving, juice a lemon on top of the pan and mix one last time. After plating, grate some cheese over top and crack some additional black pepper. Serve with a dry white wine. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Burn Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Instant Pot Orange Chicken: Dickey bless the inventor of the pressure cooker, which makes it so much easier to have great meals ready quickly for us working folks. My recommendation for this excellent recipe is to add a little extra chili garlic sauce as well as a little extra sesame oil, but again, feel free to go light on either if that sounds better to you. No fascism in cooking!

I typically also sauté some green beans and garlic for a side dish. (Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add green beans and cook until heated through, but still crispy. Add minced garlic in last 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper) The recipe calls for zucchini noodles as well, but if time is an issue (and when isn’t it?), white rice can work as well.

Serve with a hoppy beer.

See the recipe at Pressure Cooking Today.

“Chorizo Dinner:” This meal was adapted from a recipe on a package of a Goya product that I have since forgotten. I remember removing the ham hocks from the recipe, as it seemed excessive with chorizo already present. This requires fresh Mexican chorizo, not the dried Spanish variety. This is my favorite cold, rainy night dinner and, again, can be made quickly after work. (Notice a pattern?)


  • One package of fresh Mexican chorizo, chopped into half inch pieces
  • One green pepper, diced
  • One yellow onion, diced
  • Six cloves of garlic, minced
  • One can of chickpeas, drained and rinced
  • 12 oz tomato sauce
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Basmati rice

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, until onions have sweated out and are beginning to lightly caramelize. Add in the diced pepper and heat thoroughly.

Add chorizo, and stir to combine, allowing the chorizo to cook on all sides, mixing throughout. Add chickpeas and stir to combine. Add tomato sauce and lower to simmer. Cover for 20-30 minutes until chickpeas are softened and chorizo cooked through.

As the dish simmers, prepare rice. Serve over rice, preferably with a Jarritos Mexican soda.