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Cooking for two or 20

By Staff | Aug 5, 2016

ROOMMATES Allyssa Doran, left, and Alexia Siders, both of Story City, said they love to cook even though they both have busy schedules. On the counter before them are all the ingredients needed for their all-in-one-dish chicken dinner.



STORY CITY – Roommates Allyssa Doran and Alexia Siders, both of Story City, know just how to cook for two, or maybe 20.

Their all-time favorite recipe, all-in-one-dish chicken dinner, is perfect for individual serving sizes, a family casserole, or large baking pan capable of feeding 20 guests.

“We’re busy working girls,” said Doran. “We hold down full time jobs, have dreams for continuing education, career plans, and would one day even like to be homeowners.”

ALLYSSA DORAN, left, and Alexia Siders, both of Story City, pour ingredients as they mix their chicken dinner that will be prepared in individual casserole dishes. This is a system they enjoy and can work for larger groups.

“There isn’t a whole lot of time to be in the kitchen, so we tend to make things simple when we can.”

The all-in-one chicken dinner, one of their favorite recipes, can be made into individual casserole dishes that are microwave-safe.

“That means we can make one dinner and have enough to freeze for another time,” said Doran. “When put in a microwave-safe dish, then all we have to do is take it out of the freezer before going to work in the morning and when we get home, it is ready to pop into the microwave for a fast dinner that’s also home-cooked and nutritious.”

Perfect for a two-member household, retired individuals, college students or young married couples, this recipe is just as good fresh from the oven as it is microwaved later after being frozen.

“The best part of this all-in-one dish is that I can add broccoli, which I love,” Doran said, “but Lexy can leave hers without vegetables since she is not a fan of broccoli.”

MAKING THE CHICKEN DINNER in individual-serving casserole dishes means each person can customize their own dish, layering it to suit individual taste.

“Each of us can fix our individual-serving casserole dish to suit our own tastes,” she added. “Lexy would have added other spices, whereas I would not have, so this dish is perfect for individualizing each serving.”

Siders has childhood memories of cooking.

“I remember being four or five years old and cooking in our family kitchen with my older sister, Brie,” Siders said. “She taught me how to make all of those kid-friendly things like mac and cheese, spaghetti and tacos. I remember holiday baking, Christmas cookies, and how it made the whole house just smell so good.”

Doran said she also has fond memories of holiday baking.

“My grandma, Marian Bauman, taught me much of what I know today,” she said. “My favorite times were helping her make homemade pies, cookies, hot fudge, homemade chicken noodle soup, even homemade ice cream.”

It wasn’t just grandma’s house where all the cooking took place. Doran’s father, Tom Doran, of Madrid, was the 4-H summer camp cook for a number of years.

Doran said she appreciates the creative side of cooking, as she has a personality both artistic and unique that is not confined to the kitchen.

“One day I’d like to go into commercial horticulture,” said Doran, who has planted a butterfly hummingbird garden at her father’s Madrid farm. Her outdoor projects included mesh baskets where bulbs are planted interspersed with a variety of other flowering plants and greens.

When planted correctly in this type of hanging basket, the flowers grow through the mesh, covering the basket completely and making a colorful display.

Siders said she has aspirations of becoming a psychologist.

“I’m interested in human behavior and like people-watching, how they respond or react, what motivates them, how they address life issues,” she said. “I want to better understand humankind. I think my favorite thing to do is study people. It can be fascinating.”

Even though the roommates have busy schedules, they don’t spend every minute working, as recently they hosted a dinner party for eight.

“I love cooking,” said Doran. “We invited friends over even though we have a small apartment. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in a while and we thought what a great way to spend an evening. Food and friends, a wonderful way to reconnect.”


chicken dinner

Makes four servings

4 boneless skinless chicken breast cooked and cubed

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup broccoli (frozen or fresh. uncooked)

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of chicken soup


1/2 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs

1 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Sprinkle of flax seed (optional)

Sprinkle of Grape Nuts (optional)

In mixing bowl, stir together cubed cooked chicken, cream of chicken and cream of celery soups, cooked brown rice.

If making this dish for two, pour into individual-serving, microwave-safe casserole dishes. It will fill four of these.

If making for a family, pour into 8-by-10-inch baking pan.

If making for a large crowd, this recipe can be doubled, or tripled, to serve 10, 15 or 20.

Pour into large baking pan if serving a crowd.

Top with uncooked broccoli.

To make breadcrumb topping:

Melt butter. Add bread crumbs and stir with a fork until crumbly.

Spoon topping over the broccoli layer. If desired, sprinkle almonds, flax seed and grape nuts, which will give the dish a crunchy texture as well as add flavor and additional nutrition.

Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve with a salad for a complete meal.

Grandma’s favorite quantity peanut butter banana bread

Yield: Six loaves

3 cups peanut butter

2 1/4 cups margarine

4 1/2 cups sugar

18 eggs

9 cups ripe bananas (18 bananas)

2 1/4 cups milk

Grated orange rind

18 cups flour

6 tablespoons baking powder

3 tablespoons salt

2 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Cream peanut butter and margarine. Add sugar. Beat in eggs.

Stir in bananas, milk and orange rind.

Add dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Spoon into six greased, 4.5-by-8.5-inch loaf pans.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes at 350 degrees.

Allyssa’s favorite

ham balls


1 1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ham loaf cubed

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cup crushed crackers


1 can tomato soup

1/3 cup vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 small cans crushed or chunk pineapple

Mix ground beef, ham loaf, eggs, milk and crushed crackers.

Shape into balls.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Drain if necessary.

While ham balls are baking, mix sauce together.

Combine soup, vinegar, brown sugar, dry mustard and pineapple.

When ham balls come out of the oven, pour sauce over them.

Bake uncovered an additional 30 minutes.

Serve hot.

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