Side Dish: “Kitchen 101”

Local cookbook author Holly Clegg tackles cooking basics with recipes she calls “the easiest of the easy” in the latest book in her trim&TERRIFC series.

As usual, she makes sure the more than 150 recipes in “Holly Clegg’s trim&TERRIFIC Kitchen 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence” (Favorite Recipe Press, $24.95, paperback) are delicious, yet healthful. Many of them meet American Diabetes Association guidelines. And she offers plenty of practical tips.

Clegg says the idea for “Kitchen 101” came from a man sitting next to her on an airplane who suggested she write a book “for people at any stage in life ready to begin cooking.” She says her 192-page book is aimed at helping guide those “off to college, your first apartment, getting married, having a family, single or just plain busy” — in other words, pretty much anyone wanting to learn their way around the kitchen.

Recipes include nutritional and diabetic exchange information and are illustrated with full-color photographs taken by Clegg and Lee Jackson. A helpful feature for readers is the use of symbols indicating if recipes are vegetarian, can be made ahead and frozen, can be prepared in a slow cooker, or are diabetic friendly.

The book’s first chapter covers how to set a table; what basic utensils, knives, cookware and gadgets to have on hand; stocking the pantry; culinary terms; and information on herbs.

Clegg includes an entire chapter in recipes for using rotisserie chicken as a time saver. That chapter and those called “Start Simple” and “Fix It Fast” are for making last-minute meals.

The “Building on Basics” chapter offers fresh takes on such favorites as hamburgers, tacos, pizzas and potatoes.

Clegg says many of her readers like menus to help them put together a well-rounded meal, so she’s included a chapter with a variety of menus from date night to holiday heroes. The book also has a chapter with slow-cooker recipes and another of desserts.

Among the recipes are those for banana bread, Philly cheesesteak, stuffed mozzarella and onion bread, ham and cheese sliders, crabmeat brie dip, red velvet cheesecake, Cuban stuffed pork tenderloin, barbecue shrimp and stir-fry rice.

This colorful book, with its appealing, easy-to-make recipes, is a good choice for any new cook on your gift list.

Clegg will be autographing copies of her book at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 2590 CitiPlace Court, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 30.

To order the self-published book, call 1-800-884-6559 or go to or

Book signing

Former New Orleans firefighter Robert Medina will be signing copies of his cookbook, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat — a New Orleans Firefighter’s Cookbook,” from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Perkins Rowe, 7707 Bluebonnet Blvd. Part of the book sale proceeds will benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The Baton Rouge Firefighters 557 Chili Cook-Off to benefit Literacy Day will be held during the same time period. Store visitors will be able to sample firehouse chili.

Face painting, crafts and games will be available for the kids. Up to 20 percent of customers’ purchases this weekend will support the Greater Baton Rouge Literacy Coalition.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is
Smothered Chicken

Serves 6. Recipe is from “Holly Clegg’s trim&TERRIFIC Kitchen 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence” by Holly Clegg, who says, “Effortless flavorsome chicken in a rich brown gravy served over rice is the ultimate comfort food. When done, leave on simmer until ready to serve, you can’t overcook — just gets more tender.”

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 cup water

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup all-purpose flour dissolved in 1/2 cup water

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 tbls. chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté onion and garlic until tender and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and continue cooking 5 minutes

2. Add chicken. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is tender.

3. In small cup, mix together flour and water and add to skillet, stirring until smooth and thickens. Gradually add broth, cooking until chicken is done and gravy is bubbling, another 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Stir in green onions and parsley, and season to taste.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 216 calories, 18 percent calories from fat, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 97 milligrams cholesterol, 249 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams total sugar, 33 grams protein.

Dietary exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 4 lean meat