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There’s an easy recipe in my dinner repertoire that calls for three main ingredients plus fresh thyme, a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

There’s barely any prep, and it takes about a half hour to cook, from start to finish. Yet every time I cook up a batch of Roasted Chicken Thighs with Asparagus (plus cherry tomatoes and thyme) in a cast-iron skillet, my husband can’t stop raving.

Somehow those few ingredients add up to more than the sum of their parts, with the fat-laden juices of the crisp, bone-in chicken pieces seeping into the melted tomatoes, and the sweet juice of the tomatoes glazing the crunchy asparagus underneath.

Other cooks must have similar recipes up their sleeves, don’t they? Stupidly simple slow-cooker, one-pot or sheet-pan dinners that require little prep or clean-up?

To find out, we asked our readers, including home cooks and a few pros, to share a favorite recipe or two for when they need to make something delicious that can be thrown together quickly.

Not surprisingly, cherry tomatoes and chicken popped up frequently, often on a sheet pan. But the one recipe for a whole chicken assumed a surprising position, riding astride a Bundt pan filled with veggies.

Other uncomplicated recipes gathered here include a crustless quiche with ham and cheese, pork chops with apples and onion, a deconstructed stuffed bell pepper casserole, salmon baked in parchment paper and a spicy ramen soup topped with your choice of garnishes, vegetables and leftover proteins.

Here are our top 10 simple suppers, with recipes (or links to recipes online.)

1.) Crustless Quiche — Reader Jeanine Miller of Santa Rosa has fond memories of a quiche that her grandmother and young cousin used serve whenever she came for lunch. So she added it to her own repertoire.

“Today … I have a lot of guests that I whip up this quiche for and serve at anytime of the day,” she said. “Flavor combinations can vary on whatever protein and cheese you have in stock, but my personal favorite is tuna and Swiss.

“The best part is it takes a few minutes to assemble, and while it bakes for 45 minutes I get to visit with my guests.”

Vovó Morisson and Tegan’s Quiche

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 eggs

1/2 cup Bisquick Mix

1/2 cup butter, melted (if using bacon, reduce butter to 1/4 cup)

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Protein options: 1/2 cup ham or 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon or a 4.5 ounce can of drained, deveined shrimp or a can of drained tuna

Cheese options: 1 cup shredded Swiss, cheddar or whatever you have that works best with protein

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a pie pan with Pam or smear with butter. Mix all of the above ingredients and pour into pan.

Bake for 45 minutes and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving with a green salad.


2.) Pork Chops with Apple and Onion — “We eat a lot of pork because it’s fairly inexpensive and tasty,” said Amy Meiers of Santa Rosa, a serious home cook.

Pork chops and applesauce was one of my favorite dinners growing up so this is a more grown-up version of that.”

The sophisticated flavor combination of apples, red onion, cream and vinegar pairs perfectly with the pork, she said.

She often serves the easy dish with green beans and mashed sweet potatoes.

“My husband can even make this dinner,” she said. “He makes it at the fire station now.”

Pork Chops with Apple and Onion

Makes 4 servings

4 bone-in pork chops

— Salt and pepper

— Oil or butter

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 cup cream

— A few dashes of apple cider or red wine vinegar

— Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.

Drizzle a little oil or put some butter into the pan and place the pork chops in. Cook about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the pork chops from the skillet and add the onion, apple, cream and vinegar and stir to combine. Check for salt and add more if needed.

Add the pork chops back into the pan and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the meat temperature registers at 145-150.


3.) Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole — Meiers developed this simple recipe with chopped bell peppers instead of whole peppers, because she found she could refine the stuffing ratio better if she threw all the ingredients into a casserole dish.

That way, she also avoids having to stuff the bell peppers and watching them fall over and spill out.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 box Rice-a-Roni Long Grain and Wild Rice, plus an additional 1/3 cup of white rice and an additional 2/3 cups water

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

3 red bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chilies

— About 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start cooking the rice (prepare as directed on box) adding in the extra rice and water as well.

Brown the ground beef, adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper if desired. Drain the fat from the ground beef and dump the ground beef into a 13x9-inch casserole pan.

Add the chopped onion and bell peppers to the hot ground beef pan and cook a bit to soften, then add the mixture to the casserole pan.

Add the canned tomatoes, cooked rice and 1 cup of cheddar cheese to the casserole pan. Mix to combine all ingredients.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.


4.) Simple Salmon — Marcy Smothers of Santa Rosa has a go-to recipes that she makes whenever she is tired or doesn’t have much time, yet still wants to impress her guests with something delicious and healthy.

Her recipe showcases fresh, wild salmon on lemon slices, surrounded with cherry tomatoes dressed in olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika, all baked in parchment paper in the oven. It only takes her 15 minutes, from start to finish.

“Of course, the quality of the fish is paramount so I shop at Santa Rosa Seafood and Oliver’s,” she said. “It’s super healthy.”

For a complete meal, she suggested serving couscous on the side. This recipe first appeared in her book, “Snacks: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle.”

Simple Salmon

Makes 4 servings

2 cups cherry or toy box tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon paprika

— Salt and pepper

4 sheets parchment paper

8 slices lemon

4 rosemary sprigs

4 (4-ounce) center cut pieces wild salmon

Place sheet pan or cookie sheet in the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes in half. Toss in olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Do not refrigerate.

Place four sheets of parchment paper on counter. On each sheet pan, put two lemon slices with rosemary sprig on top.

Next, place the salmon on top of rosemary. Add equal portions tomato mixture on and around salmon.

Fold parchment paper on top and twist ends. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, depending on preferred done-ness.

Note: You may add other thinly sliced vegetables such as zucchini, onions or thin asparagus to the packet.


5.) Weeknight Spicy Ramen — Tyffani Sedgwick of Windsor developed this shortcut spicy ramen recipe based on a 20-minute recipe she found on Pinterest.

“After adding the broth, you can also add additional veggies, leftover chicken, pork or shrimp,” she said. “We often use mushrooms, zucchini and spinach.”

If you really want to save time, you can make a batch of the broth at the beginning of the week and hold it in the fridge.

Then just cook the noodles on the night you’re going to reheat and eat it.

“That way the noodles will not get soggy,” she said.

Tyffani’s Weeknight Spicy Ramen

Makes 2 to 3 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small onion, diced

1 small Roma tomato, diced

1 tablespoon ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce (more if you’re adventurous!)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons rice vinegar (optional, for the tang)

2 packages ramen noodles (throw out the seasoning)

2 poached eggs (optional)

1/2 cup scallions, chopped, for garnish

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Add the vegetable oil to a medium-size pot. Add the onion and tomato and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth and use an immersion blender to blend the broth until smooth.

Bring to a simmer; add sesame oil, Sriracha sauce and soy sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add rice wine vinegar and noodles.

If you’d like to poach an egg or two into the soup, now is a good time to add the eggs.

Simmer another 2-3 minutes until noodles and eggs are done.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro.


6.) Roasted Chicken Thighs with Asparagus and Roasted Garlic Baby Red Potatoes — Jeffrey Madura, chef/owner of Jeffrey’s Hillside Cafe in Santa Rosa, lost his Santa Rosa home on Willowview Court during the October firestorm.

“These were the first houses to burn by Coffey Park once the fire jumped the freeway,” he said.

So for the past few months, Madura has come up with a few simple recipes to cook in the small kitchen of the apartment where he and his family are living while waiting to rebuild.

“This is a great late winter dish when the California asparagus is coming into season,” he said.

“The chicken, potatoes and Meyer lemons provide a great layer of flavors that go so well together.”

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Asparagus and Roasted Garlic Baby Red Potatoes

Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, unpeeled, halved

12 garlic cloves, peeled

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

— Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 organic bone-in chicken thighs

2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed

1/3 cup minced chives

2 Meyer or Eureka lemons, cut in wedges and seeds removed

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

Move oven rack to center of oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Coat a foil-lined sheet pan with a tablespoon of the olive oil. In a stainless steel bowl, toss the potatoes, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Roast on the sheet pan in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Rub the chicken thighs with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs (skin side up) on top of potatoes. Roast together for 15 minutes.

Rotate the sheet pan and add the asparagus that has been tossed in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon thyme.

Place the asparagus on the edge of the sheet pan and continue to roast for 10-15 minutes.

Roast until the chicken is 160 degrees and skin is starting to crisp.

Turn oven up to broil and heat until skin is crispy (about 5 minutes). Remove the sheet pan from the oven.

Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter. Toss the asparagus and potatoes with the remaining thyme and chives.

Squeeze two lemon wedges over the top and add salt and pepper.

Arrange the potatoes and asparagus around the chicken thighs and serve with the rest of the lemon wedges around the edge of platter.


7.) Bundt Pan Chicken with Rosemary Vegetables — Cooking instructor Bea Beasley of Santa Rosa developed this recipe after tasting the roadside roast chicken on the island of Fiji.

“Vendors had small, rolling carts outfitted with a rotisserie on which seasoned chickens were placed,” she said.

“On the rack below were various potatoes with fresh herbs. As the chickens turned, the fat from the hens would drip down, basting the potatoes.”

Bea’s Bundt Pan Chicken with Rosemary Vegetables

Makes 4 servings

— Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

— Olive oil or avocado oil, duck or bacon fat

1 pound small, unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (or larger potatoes, quartered)

4 rainbow carrots, peeled and cut into medium-size chunks

1 medium onion, peeled and cut into medium-size chunks

5 large, whole unpeeled garlic cloves

1 small Meyer lemon, halved (optional)

5 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 3-pound organic chicken at room temperature, patted dry and rubbed with fat or oil, then seasoned generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Place lemon halves in cavity if using.

Place oven racks in the lower portion of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a piece of heavy-duty foil over the hole of the Bundt pan and set aside.

Toss potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic cloves with salt, pepper and just enough fat or oil to coat well. Place around the bottom of the Bundt pan and top with rosemary sprigs.

Place the chicken in the middle of the Bundt pan with the neck and breast side up.

Make sure the cone is inside of the cavity of the chicken and tuck back the wings.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour or until the skin is golden and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Serve with the roasted vegetables, pan juices and a simple green salad.


8.) Jamie Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes and Basil — Carol Cole of Sebastopol discovered this tantalizing recipe last summer, when the tomatoes were fresh, but in the winter she makes it with a handful of San Marzano canned tomatoes.

“It’s so simple and delicious,” she said. “You end up with a perfect piece of chicken without having to deal with messy browning and all that clean-up.”

You can play around with the herbs, substituting the basil with thyme, oregano or rosemary, Cole said.

You can also leave out the tomatoes and tuck lemon slices under the chicken instead.

“It does take an hour and a half to cook, but it’s so worth the slow cooking time,” she added.

Click here for the recipe at food52.com.


9.) Harissa Chicken with Leeks, Potatoes and Yogurt — This sheet-pan dish from Elissa Clark’s cookbook “Dinner” has become a go-to for Susan Dunphy-Mall and Jeff Mall of Healdsburg, the entrepreneurs behind Volo Chocolate.

“I am doing it again tonight and adding thinly sliced fennel,” she said of the recipe. “This has become one of our all-time faves.”

Click here for the recipe at food52.com.


10.) Roasted Chicken with Asparagus — This recipe by Dawn Perry came from Real Simple and lives up to the name of the magazine where it appeared.

Click here for the recipe at realsimple.com.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56.

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