We all have recipes earmarked for the dinner rotation, whether for everyday use or for special occasions. The recipes that follow can fit the bill for both. From a modern twist on coq au vin to maple-lacquered bacon, these are recipes to add to your rotation.


Pretzel Bread √

Makes 16 slider buns, 8 burger or hot dog buns, or a dozen breadsticks.

Note: This recipe is adapted from allrecipes.com. For an even chewier roll, substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour. Instant yeast also is called rapid-rise or bread machine yeast.

• 1/2 c. water

• 1/2 c. milk

• 2 tbsp. butter, softened

• 3 c. flour, plus more for shaping dough

• 2 tbsp. brown sugar

• 2 1/4 tsp. (1 env.) instant yeast

• 2 tsp. salt

• 1 egg, separated

• Cooking spray

• Cornmeal for pan

• 3/4 c. baking soda

• Coarse kosher salt for sprinkling


Combine 1/2 cup water, milk and butter in a microwave-safe container and heat for about 45 seconds to melt the butter and warm the milk. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt and egg yolk. Slowly begin adding milk mixture and mix until dough comes together in a shaggy mass. If it seems too dry, add a teaspoon of water. Mix or knead until the dough is smooth and springy, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl coated with cooking spray, place the dough, flipping it over so the top is oiled, too. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Turn out risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into equal pieces, depending on the shape you desire. To make a tight bun shape, balance the dough on your middle finger and pull the sides down and under, pinching to make a smooth ball. Place each shaped piece of dough on a baking sheet. Once all are shaped, cover with a clean dish towel and set aside to rest.

Spray another baking sheet with cooking spray, then sprinkle with cornmeal. (The poached dough can stick to a baking sheet, so using both oil and cornmeal matters. Don’t use parchment paper; if you have a Silpat, life is good.)

While the dough is resting, begin heating about 12 cups of water in a large pot. When it comes to a gentle boil, slowly add the baking soda. It will foam and bubble vigorously.

Add the rested pieces of dough to the simmering water, poaching them for 30 seconds, then flipping them over for another 30 seconds. You may need to do this in two batches.

With a slotted spoon or spatula, lift and place poached buns on the prepared baking sheet. Froth egg white with a fork, then brush each bun with egg white. Using a box cutter or sharp knife, make 2 to 4 slits across the top of each bun, about 1/4-inch deep. Sprinkle with salt, then bake for 20 minutes until deep brown.

Cool on wire rack. Pretzel buns are best eaten the same day they’re baked. If you need to freeze them, or bag them for the next day, omit the salt sprinkle.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 121 Fat 2 g Sodium 316 mg

Carbohydrates 22 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 17 mg

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 16 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch, ½ fat.


Serves 4 to 6.

Note: From Cook’s Illustrated magazine. “A medium-bodied, fruity red wine such as pinot noir or Rhône Valley Grenache is best for this recipe,” writes author Sandra Wu. “Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like cabernet, and light-boded wines like Beaujolais.”

• 1 bottle (750 ml) medium-bodied red wine, divided

• 2 c. chicken stock

• 10 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley plus 2 tbsp. freshly minced flat-leaf parsley, divided

• 2 sprigs fresh thyme

• 1 bay leaf

• 4 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 -in. pieces

• 2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut in half crosswise

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

• 24 frozen pearl onions (about 1 c.), thawed and patted dry

• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, halved if small, quartered if large

• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

• 1 tbsp. tomato paste

• 2 tbsp. flour


In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all but 1 tablespoon of the red wine (reserving for later use), chicken stock, parsley sprigs, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook until mixture is reduced to 3 cups, about 20 to 25 minutes. Discard herbs and reserve wine-stock mixture.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat in a small bowl, and discard remaining fat.

Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon bacon fat and heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken, in a single layer, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate. Add remaining 1 tablespoon bacon fat and heat until just smoking, and repeat with remaining chicken.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add pearl onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring frequently, until well-combined, about 1 minute.

Add reduced wine mixture, scraping bottom of pot with a spoon to loosen browned bits. Add 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cooked chicken (and any accumulated juices) and cooked bacon. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a large bowl and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until sauce is thick and glossy and measures about 3 1/2 cups, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved 1 tablespoon wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken to pot. Top with minced parsley and serve immediately.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 530 Fat 32 g Sodium 300 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 13 g Calcium 74 mg

Protein 45 g Cholesterol 152 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ other carb, 6 lean meat, 3 fat.


Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

• 2 c. white wine

• 1/2 c. minced shallots

• 4 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

• 1 bay leaf

• 4 lb. mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter


In a large covered pan, bring wine, shallots, garlic, parsley and bay leaf to a simmer. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes to concentrate flavors. Add mussels, cover pan, and cook 5 to 8 minutes, until mussels have opened.

Remove cooked mussels with a slotted spoon, and place in a serving dish. Swirl butter into the pan to emulsify the juices. Pour the liquid over the mussels and serve with lots of crusty bread or rice.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 180 Fat 9 g Sodium 740 mg

Carbohydrates 8 g Saturated fat 5 g Calcium 58 mg

Protein 14 g Cholesterol 47 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ other carb, 2 lean meat, ½ fat.

Sardinian Hard-Cooked Eggs √

Makes 16 hard-cooked egg halves.

Note: From “The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper,” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter, $35).

• 8 hard-cooked eggs

• Olive oil

• 1/4 c. white wine vinegar

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 3 tbsp. freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

• 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs


Peel eggs under cold running water to remove any small pieces of shell. Cut hard-cooked eggs in half lengthwise. Over medium heat, film a large nonstick skillet lightly with olive oil, then add vinegar. Heat until vinegar is bubbling. Sprinkle pan with salt and pepper and add eggs, cut side down. Cook eggs, turning them gently a few times, until vinegar has evaporated and they are golden. Transfer eggs to a platter, arranging them yolk-side up.

Add garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs to the skillet and sauté until breadcrumbs are golden, taking care not to burn the garlic. Scrape crumb mixture over eggs and serve.

Nutrition information per egg half:

Calories 63 Fat 4 g Sodium 56 mg

Carbohydrates 3 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 20 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 93 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ medium-fat meat, ½ fat.

Maple-Lacquered Bacon With Crushed Peanuts √

Serves 6.

Note: Serve this as part of a special weekend breakfast or with drinks before dinner. From “The New Midwestern Table,” by Amy Thielen.

• 1/4 c. roasted salted peanuts

• 1/4 c. maple syrup

• 12 slices good-quality thick-cut bacon, cut in half

• Coarsely ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Put peanuts in a plastic bag and pound with a rolling pin until they are finely crushed.

Pour the maple syrup into a shallow bowl and give each bacon slice (both sides) a generous dip in the syrup. Lay the bacon on the prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle it with black pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the bacon over and bake until it is crisp at the edges and caramelized on the bottom, another 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from the oven, flip the bacon again (it should look shiny and feel like it’s starting to stiffen), and sprinkle the chopped peanuts evenly over the bacon slices. Nudge the bacon slices to unmoor them from the baking sheet, and let cool for a minute to firm up. Transfer to a long platter to serve.

Nutrition information per 2 slices:

Calories 175 Fat 11 g Sodium 530 mg Saturated fat 3 g Carbohydrates 10 g Calcium 21 mg

Protein 9 g Cholesterol 22 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ other carb, 1 high-fat meat, ½ fat.

Ziti with broccoli rabe and sausage √

Serves 4.

Note: Ziti are thin tubes of pasta. Broccoli rabe (a leafy vegetable with some clusters of broccoli-like buds) and sausage go well together with pasta or on a loaf of Italian bread. From “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes,” by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

• 1/4 c. olive oil

• 3 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

• 1/4 tsp. salt, plus 1 tbsp. for the pasta water

• 1 lb. ziti (see Note)

• 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, meat removed from casings and crumbled

• 2 lb. broccoli rabe, cleaned and cut

• 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes

• 1/2 c. grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, heavy skillet with a fitted lid, then toss in the garlic and sauté, uncovered, until golden, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the ziti to the pot and cook until tender (al dente).

Meanwhile, add the sausage meat to the oil and garlic, and cook until golden, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, 1 cup pasta-boiling water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper flakes; cover and steam 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the sauce uncovered over high heat for about 3 minutes, until the liquids are slightly reduced. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and toss gently. Sprinkle on half of the cheese, toss again, and distribute the remaining cheese over the pasta. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 866 Fat 32 g Sodium 1,430 mg Saturated fat 9 g Carbohydrates 107 g Calcium 450 mg

Protein 38 g Cholesterol 33 mg Dietary fiber 12 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 6 bread/starch, 1 other carb, 3 medium-fat meat, 3½ fat.

Pickled Carrots √

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Crunchy and tangy, these carrot sticks are great on a picnic. Make them the night before you head out. The recipe works equally well with asparagus. These will keep one month in a covered container in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.

• 1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2- by 4-in. sticks

• 3/4 c. water

• 1/2 c. cider vinegar

• 2 tbsp. sugar

• 1 garlic clove, crushed

• 1 tbsp. dill seeds

• 1 tbsp. salt


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and blanch the carrots until they’re bright orange, about 1 minute. Drain and refresh under cold water. Transfer carrots to a bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, dill and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour this over the carrots and let cool, uncovered. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 22 Fat 0 g Sodium 320 mg

Carbohydrates 5 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 17 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable.

Chocolate SoufflÉ √

Serves 2.

Note: Quality chocolate is important; look for bittersweet in the 70 percent cacao range. The recipe is for two 8-ounce servings, but you also can make four smaller servings with 4-ounce baking dishes. Check smaller soufflés after 16 minutes. (Extra soufflés will fall, but still are delicious, chilled, the next day.)

• 1 to 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, for molds

• 1 to 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, for molds

• 2 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted (1/2 c. if using chips or discs)

• 1/2 tsp. vanilla

• Optional add-ins (choose one): 1/4 tsp. cinnamon or 1/2 tsp. espresso powder or 1 tbsp. rum (or other liqueur)

• 2 eggs, room temperature, separated

• Pinch of salt

• 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

• 1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or wait until later; see below).

Using your fingers, thoroughly coat two 6- to 8-ounce baking dishes (ramekins, coffee mugs, anything deep and straight-sided) with butter. Pour 1 tablespoon of sugar into one dish, then cover with plastic wrap. Shake gently to generously coat all surfaces. Pour remaining sugar into second dish and repeat, adding more sugar if necessary.

Melt the chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over a small pot of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir in vanilla and, if desired, an optional flavoring (cinnamon, espresso powder, rum or liqueur). Keep warm.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until the whites hold soft peaks when the beaters are turned off and lifted. Continue to beat on high while gradually adding 1 tablespoon of sugar until the whites hold stiff peaks and look glossy. Don’t overbeat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, with the same beaters, beat together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar on high speed until light-colored, thick and almost like frosting. This may take up to 5 minutes. With a spatula, gently fold egg mixture into the melted chocolate until few streaks remain (but a few are OK).

Stir a big dollop of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a spatula, lifting from the bottom and folding over the top until combined.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared dishes. You can bake them immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and hold in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. When ready to bake, place the dishes on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 18 minutes for a creamy center, 20 minutes for a firmer soufflé. Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream, or custard sauce and garnish with fresh berries.

Nutrition information per 8-ounce serving without garnish:

Calories 435 Fat 20 g Sodium 137 mg

Carbohydrates 55 g Saturated fat 10 g Calcium 36 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 202 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 4 other carb, 1 medium-fat meat, 3 fat.