Good morning and good company to you this week. Whether or not you are a fan of Valentine's Day, there are sweet things and substantial things to be enjoyed.

Yeast of the Ridge ended up with questions and a large container of cottage cheese. "Although my cottage cheese is way past the expiration date, the contents are still good. We were using it up so slowly that I would like to know some good recipes using cottage cheese or simple uses for cottage cheese." And if they don't arrive in time for this container, surely your answers will suffice for future cartons.



The first answer to Dinners for One is an idea that fits the requirements of Just a Dash at column's end, but we would love more ideas in that sometimes-challenging category: how to cook for one host/guest.

E.E. had been looking for a recipe for breakfast bars with two requirements: "Not sweet like store-bought bars, and enough to fill us up until lunchtime. This one works. It is from"


Healthy Breakfast Bars

This easy recipe is made in one bowl in 30 minutes and is loaded with fiber, protein and omega-3s to keep you full all morning long. The bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free and vegan.

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (you can use old-fashioned but bars will be chewier)

1/2 cup almond meal (I used almond flour)

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 to 4 tablespoons plant-based vanilla protein powder (optional)

2 bananas, ripe and mashed

1/2 cup applesauce

2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup for vegan option)

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (plus more peanut butter for the top, about cup)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8- by 8-inch square baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients (oats, almond meal, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, salt and protein powder if using). Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add applesauce, honey, 1/4 cup peanut butter and vanilla. Mix well.

Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined. Spread mixture into the pan. It should be moist, not soupy. Bake 20 minutes (should be slightly brown around the edges and top should be set), remove from oven and spread peanut butter over the top of the bars. I like a really thick layer of peanut butter, but it's your preference.

Continue baking for 10 minutes more or until firm and lightly browned around the edges. At this point the peanut butter layer will have tiny little bubbles in it. Cool completely in the refrigerator, and cut into 6 or 9 bars. Wrap each with plastic wrap, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go breakfast.



For Susan Powell, it has been her Instant Pot that created the Best of the Best dishes. "I love my IP. When we moved in December from Columbia, South Carolina, to Chattanooga, the 6-quart IP and cookbooks came in the car with me."

The favorite 2019 dish from there calls for chicken thighs. It comes from "Instant Pot Obsession" by Janet A. Zimmerman. Ms. Powell has tweaked this for her kitchen with success, and her changes are incorporated in the recipe that follows.


Brazilian Chicken Thighs with Dark Beer in the Instant Pot

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1 large onion, sliced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dark beer, such as porter or stout

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Salt to taste (optional)

Sear the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat a large, heavy skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it shimmers. (If you prefer to sear the pork in the Instant Pot, preheat the pot by selecting Sauté and adjust to More Heat until oil shimmers.) Add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and let them cook, undisturbed, until the skin is dark golden brown and most of the fat under the skin has rendered out, about 7 minutes. Do not crowd the thighs; if necessary, work in batches. Flip the thighs, and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer thighs to a plate.

Make the sauce. Carefully pour off almost all the fat, leaving just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet or pot with a thick coat (about 1 tablespoon). Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the beer, and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits. Boil until the liquid reduces by about half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, paprika, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, and cook for 1 minute. If you're using a skillet, pour the sauce into the Instant Pot. Add the chicken thighs, skin-side up, to the pot.

Pressure-cook. Lock the lid into place. Select Manual; adjust the pressure to High and the time to 10 minutes. After cooking, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove the chicken thighs, and place them on a rack set over a baking sheet. Let the chicken rest on the rack while you finish the sauce.

Finish the dish. Strain the sauce into a fat separator, and let it rest until the fat rises to the surface. (If you don't have a fat separator, let the sauce sit for a few minutes, then spoon or blot off any excess fat from the top of the sauce.) Pour the defatted sauce back into the Instant Pot, and select Keep Warm. If you prefer a thicker sauce, select Sauté and adjust to Less. Let the sauce simmer for several minutes until it's reduced to the consistency you like. Adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and black pepper if needed. Serve the chicken thighs topped with the sauce.

Susan Powell's comments: "I make the night before we are eating to make Step 4, Finish the Dish, easier. I leave dish in IP pot and place in refrigerator overnight and let fat come to the top. It's actually better the next day. Just reheat the next day.

I brown the thighs under the broiler and do not sear in the IP it's very time-consuming searing 8 thighs.



We'll end with Just a Dash, with gratitude to all of you who wrote and read this week.

Here's the first answer for A.N. for dinners for one, and it's from an anonymous reader. "Bake a potato and top it with cooked broccoli, chopped bacon, butter, cheese, sour cream — add any leftover meat you have on hand, but meat is not necessary."



* Ways with cottage cheese

* Meals for one



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Jane Henegar

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750