Cooking from the heart, and from bare essentials!

You do not have to go by the book to create tasty, easy, sociable food. Easy meal preparation is all about stripping cooking down to its bare essentials using little techniques and conveniences to make the most of your recipes. It is so simple: Skip the fuss and follow your heart.

Here are some tips to take the stress out of cooking, whether you are stirring up supper for your mate or hoping to impress the new in-laws:

Dinners-in-a-Bag

Make these dinner bags involving glorious aluminum foil and write on them,

25 minutes at 425 F”, for example, with a marker pen. Even though Jools didn’t like cooking, she never had a problem with cooking the bags. I just program the “Favorites Cycle, in your microwave . Here’s just one version, but feel free to vary the recipe with things like grated parsnip, smoked bacon or red wine.

Chicken Breasts Baked in a Bag

(Serves two)

2 7-ounce skinless chicken breasts

1 handful of dried porcini

9 ounces of mixed mushrooms, torn up

1 large wineglass of white wine

3 large pats of butter

1 handful of fresh thyme

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