Hobo packs are one of the best ways to make good food fast.  I'm trying to cut back on calories but want to eat something other than cardboard or lettuce. These meals on the fly cooked in foil or parchment paper are so good and so easy because you can cook, serve, and clean up very quickly. These are not only good for a party; (we used to make them at Girl Scouts with hamburger, cooked on the campfire) but they are perfect for busy nights when you just want to get dinner on the table. I make up a few at the beginning of the week and cook them as I need them. Use any flavor profile you want: Greek, Italian, Southern, Cajun, you get the picture. I typically use what I have on hand and want to get rid of... onions, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, parsnips, butternut squash, and more are all great choices. NOTE: Make sure to slice the potatoes and other fast cooking vegetables larger than your carrots and other dense root vegetables so they'll cook at the same time.



1 small yellow onion, sliced very thin

2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin

1 potato, peeled and cubed

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

thyme, rosemary, oregano, or other herbs as you desire


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Tear off two 18' pieces of foil. Arrange the veggies on the foil. Begin with the onion, carrot, and then potato. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the chicken breast on top and a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper. Add any herbs you like. Seal the top and the sides of each package carefully so that no steam will escape. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on how large your chicken breasts are. (Chicken is done at 165 degrees.)

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If you're like me, you always make too much pasta and have a ton left over. Here's a way to use it! My Parmesan Cheese Skillet Spaghetti Cake uses pantry or fridge items you simply bake in a cast iron skillet. It's pretty fantastic. In fact, you can throw just about anything you want in there... leftover roasted veggies, a bit of sausage or even leftover short ribs. This easy recipe is great for an impromptu party or for  dinner, as a side dish or anytime you have leftover pasta. Add some marinara on the side. You’ll love it!


Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 15 minutes


1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

12 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked and drained

2 eggs

1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, grated, plus 1/4 cup more for serving

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes



Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain. Toss with ½ teaspoon olive oil. Set aside.

Put the eggs in a large bowl and whisk them well. Whisk in the salt, pepper and the garlic. Add the pasta and the cheese. Toss to coat evenly.

Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. When it gets hot, add the smashed garlic clove and let it cook 1-2 minutes but don’t let it burn. Remove from heat. Use the back of a knife to turn the garlic clove into a paste. Mix it into the pasta.

Turn the heat down to medium. Carefully spin the hot skillet to distribute the olive oil. Pour the pasta mixture into the hot pan. Let it cook 3-4 minutes or until well-browned. Use a large spatula or two small ones to flip the cake and brown the other side; about 4 minutes more. The cake is done when the eggs are set and the cheese is melted.

If you prefer not to flip the cake, no problem. You can finish it in the oven. Before you start, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Once you've cooked the cake on the stove to brown the bottom, move the pan into the oven and cook for 10 minutes more or until the top is golden brown and the eggs are completely set. (Make sure to use an oven safe pan like a cast iron skillet)

To serve, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and turn it out on a heat-proof platter or wooden cutting board. Sprinkle with more freshly grated Parmesan and some finely chopped Italian parsley.

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My mom rarely used recipes so imagine my delight when I found this one tucked into a drawer more than 10 years after she passed away- and in her handwriting, too! I’m not sure where she got it but it turns out absolutely perfect every time I make it. Plus it is so fast and so easy. Use this recipe when guests are coming over, for a holiday meal, or even for a fast weeknight supper. It is so good but nobody will ever guess how simple it is to make.

An easy, peasy crowd pleaser. Try my Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Black Pepper Crust. You'll love it!

An easy, peasy crowd pleaser. Try my Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Black Pepper Crust. You'll love it!

Skill Level: Easy

Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 35 minutes


2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon white wine (substitute water if you like)

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 tablespoon olive oil


Heat oven to 350°F.

Using a cutting board and a sharp knife, carefully remove any silver skin on the exterior of the tenderloin. Set aside.

Lightly toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan over low heat. When cool, combine the fennel and black peppercorns and use a spice grinder to pulse until it becomes a medium to coarse mix. (Or simply put them into a ziptop bag and use a heavy skillet or rolling pin to crush the fennel seeds and the peppercorns.) Combine with the salt. Spread the spice mixture out on a clean work surface or pan.

Whisk the wine into the mustard and brush the mustard over the tenderloin. Roll the tenderloin in the spice mix making sure to press so that all of the spices stick. Put 1 ½ teaspoons of the olive oil on your pan and put the tenderloin on top of it. Drizzle the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil over the top of the tenderloin. Roast until done, about 35 minutes or until pork reaches 155°F on a meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes. The pork will continue to cook to 160°F. Slice and serve.

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