Category Archives: TaMara

Dinner Menu: Mambo Italiano Edition

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

Going old school tonight.  I thought you may still have some zucchini and tomatoes that needed to be used up and this menu does both.  Growing up, spaghetti was a weekly occurrence.  I’m not sure where my mom learned to make it, because it is my dad’s half of the family that is Italian, but it was always a hit at our house.  Over the years we’ve all played with different variations, but this is pretty close to the original. Whether it was at a weekly family meal or the Christmas dinner at my Gram’s, this basic sauce ruled.  And the good thing is, it is simple to modify depending on your tastes.  If you want to spice things up, add 1/4 to 1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage and reduce the ground beef by as much.

Quick, easy and freezes well, I usually make double so I have some on hand for quick dinners.  Trust me, you will never find any jar sauce in my house.  Ever.  If you’d like to have meatballs instead, recipe is here.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce
  2. Zucchini Italiano
  3. Crusty Italian Bread
  4. Sherbet or even better, Gelato

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 3 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Italiano

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½  tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½  tsp basil, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

medium skillet

Clean and slice zucchini, heat oil in skillet, add zucchini, garlic and spices. Stir-fry over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon water and let steam until zucchini is tender.  Toss with parmesan and serve.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

Shopping List:

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 carrot
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Crusty Italian Bread
  • Sherbet or  Gelato

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, rosemary, salt & pepper

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Originally published Oct 2010 copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook Spring Edition

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The Truth Is Out

Uh-oh 1

This is Emma trying to escape before I can snap the photo of her and Bixby snuggled down together. That’s what I woke up to this morning. She was curled up next to his nose and he was resting his head on her bed. The truth is out, no going back now.

Paw print

Friday Dinner Music: Keane, Somewhere Only We Know

Friday Recipe Exchange: Chicken Buttermilk Biscuit Pie

Chicken Biscuit Pie_Snapseed1

They were predicting snow today, it did not show up, but it’s unseasonably cold. SNOW. I am not ready. But it does put me in the mood for cool weather recipes. Soups and tonight’s featured recipe, easy Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pot Pie. 

Life has been hectic, I’ve been busy with house hunting, work and of course the puppy, so I’ve kept meals simple. I haven’t linked to it in a while, but I have a bunch of tips for keeping meals quick, easy and full of flavor right here, which may come in handy now that school and activities are back in full swing.

For the dog lovers, Bixby updates are here and here. He’s now 33 34 lbs and so smart, he’s been a breeze to train.

On to the recipes. Soup is what I miss most in summer, so as soon as the temperatures dip, I break out the soup recipes. Here are three for you:

Cream of Chicken Soup (recipe here).

Spicy Black Bean Soup (recipe and full dinner menu here)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe here)

What’s the weather like in corner of the planet? What’s on your plate for the weekend? Hit the comments and share some of your favorite fall recipes.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I brought together some of my favorite comfort foods into one dish. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the chicken mixture to a baking dish and top with biscuits.

Chicken and Biscuits_Snapseed2

Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pot Pie

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (frozen ok)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen ok)

Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil. Sear chicken in pan, stirring occasionally, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside in a separate bowl. Add butter to the pan and, when melted, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the stock, browned chicken, potatoes, and spices.

Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat so that the sauce just simmers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken and potatoes are tender…about 25-35 minutes.

While it simmers, prepare Buttermilk Biscuits, below.

Just before adding biscuits, fold peas into chicken mixture and then remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the biscuits on top of the chicken and gravy, with 6 biscuits around the edge of the pan and the remaining 4 biscuits in the center (if you have a left over biscuit or two, bake on a separate baking sheet). Be sure the biscuits do not touch, so they cook thoroughly. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and flaky…14 to 15 minutes. Allow the pot pie to cool briefly before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Buttermilk Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 tbsp powdered buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter to brush on formed biscuits

Mix dry ingredients, make a center hole in the dry ingredients and add in shortening and milk.  Blend together, then knead 10-12 strokes on a floured surface, roll out to ½” thick, cut into 8-10 biscuits.

That’s it for this week. Have great weekend. – TaMara

 

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copyright 2014 What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring

 

 

Bixby Diaries: Week Four

Bixby 9 3 14

It was a big week for me.

9.5 My ears grew, and I can’t do a thing with them. Play date with my friend LFern. I really like her and she knows how to play fun games. We then went on a walk; I led the way and showed her all the sights. And apples, everywhere. I love apples. Really. Love. Apples.

9.6 What a day! Had my first puppy play date. And the boys were there, too. I got to practice going downstairs on carpeted stairs. It’s easy, but when I got home, my person wanted me to practice on the deck stairs. They’re kinda scary and open and steep. But she was patient and showed me how easy it was and there were treats on each step! It took a few minutes and a couple of tries, but now I’m the stair master!

Play date

9.7 Crap, it’s morning? I did not want to get out of bed and after I did, I just crawled up on the couch and slept all day. No morning walk for me, I made that clear. (TaMara’s note: he really did make it clear. We walk so the cats have time to eat in peace. He never budged from the couch, so cats ate and he slept.)

9.8 My person worked all day, but by late afternoon I convinced her it was time for a break and we went for a nice walk. Every time we meet people they always say how big I am. I’m not so big, you should see my dad.

I Love Flowers

9.9 Did my weekly weigh-in today. 33.4 lbs. Wow. 20” at my shoulder. When we got home, my new crate came. I even helped put it together. I love it. (TaMara’s note: “helped” is in the eye of the beholder.)

Play Date 2

9.10 I have continued my reluctant mornings. If I snuggle down, my person shuts off that awful ringing sound and I get to sleep tucked under her arm for a bit more. Haven’t had a morning walk all week because I stay on the couch while the cats eat breakfast, no matter how hard it is. Big plus, my person takes me outside for lots of games of tug instead. (TaMara’s note: we’ll get back to morning walks, but he’s been so good, I thought a few days off would be ok. And it has been raining heavily. Tug tires him out pretty good for now and we still do an afternoon walk.)

9.11 Rain, rain go away.  The cat called Emma chased me around the house today. My person almost yelled at me, until she realized it was the cat doing the chasing. Then she laughed and told Emma to stop chasing me. Then I laughed  – quietly, in my head, don’t want to antagonize the furry one. My person says we may have something called snow tomorrow, can’t wait to see that. Oh, boy, time for another game of tug. If you haven’t played, you really should get yourself a game going. Until next week – Bixby

Paw print

Full Dinner Menu: Black Bean Soup

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Mouthwatering Photo by JeffreyW

Believe it or not, they are forecasting snow by the end of the week. From 90 to snow in 4 days. Fall in Colorado. If it does snow it will be quick and brief I’m sure, then back to warm days and fall leaves. But cool weather means soup to me, so that is what I chose for this week’s menu.

This is a recipe from a restaurant in Ouray, CO that was in an old bank. They gave it to me 20 years ago on my honeymoon and I make it all the time. This was my first experience at having to change a recipe meant for 60 into one for 6-8. It’s spicy, so ease up on the cumin and chili powder if needed, you can always add more during the last 30 minutes if needed.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Black Bean Soup
  2. French Bread
  3. Red Grape Salad
  4. Apple wedges & Cheese

Black Bean Soup

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1 tsp to 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb chopped smoked sausage
  • 12 cups water

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to slow-cooker and cook according to directions (usually 8-10 hours on low). Just before serving, take a potato masher or hand blender and blend/mash slightly to thicken

Red Grape Salad

  • ½ head red leaf lettuce, torn
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 4 oz shredded carrots
  • Poppy Seed dressing

Serving bowl

Toss ingredients together, chill and serve

Shopping List:

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 4 -6 carrots or equivalent shredded carrots
  • ½ onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 oz dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • ½ head red leaf lettuce
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1 pear
  • Poppy Seed dressing
  • French Bread
  • Apple wedges & Cheese

Also: salt, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, chili powder, beef bouillon, cumin, pepper

Originally posted December 2009

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Life According To Bixby: Rules for the Game of Tug

Life According to Bixby Tug

Stuffed Green Peppers

 

DSC_3056 (Copy)

Stuffing for peppers – Photo by JeffreyW

A friend asked me for my recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers. I have a couple of recipes (here and here) and JeffreyW has done several (here and here), but I didn’t have just a simple, traditional recipe on the blog. So here it is. 

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

  • 6 large bell peppers
    DSC_3058 (Copy)

    Photo by JeffreyW

  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef (or half beef, half spicy sausage)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 – 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water (or tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or parmesan, your choice)

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.

Cut off the top from the peppers (about the top 1/4 inch),  remove seeds and membranes.  

Add peppers to boiling water, remove from heat and let soak 5 minutes.  

Remove stem and then chop pepper tops.  

Brown beef with chopped peppers and onions in skillet.  

Remove whole peppers from water and turn upside down on a paper towel to dry.  

Add tomatoes, spices, rice and water to hamburger mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until rice is tender (about 15 minutes)  Stir in 1/4 cup cheese and fill whole peppers.

Place in a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees until cheese if bubbly and golden.

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Bixby Diaries: Week Three

Very Sleepy Puppy

8.29  My person and I start each morning with a nice, brisk walk. This seems to make her much more relaxed. I’m happy to help. While we are out the cats eat breakfast and when we get back, I get my breakfast. I like mornings.

P1020434

8.30  Had a play date. Chased boys. I love boys. Let them teach me sit, over and over and over. I didn’t let on that I mastered that weeks ago. I wanted them to feel good.

P1020436

8.31 My person took me out to a place filled with puppy stuff. I rode in a basket (our vet said I could go if I rode in a basket) and my person let me pick out lots of stuffies. There was something called a “sale” so I got three new ones. Also met lots of people. Everyone wanted to pet me and tell my person how cute I was. I like this place, I hope we go there a lot.

9.1  My new Woobie and I took on the odd member of the pack. He sits quietly all day long, until suddenly he starts to growl and prowls all around the floor. And despite the video evidence below, I did not abandon Woobie and run off. I blame the editor.  (TaMara’s note: stick around to the end and judge for yourself).

9.2 I took a pill yesterday and today all I wanted to do was sleep. And sleep. And sleep. (TaMara’s note: he had a bad reaction to his heartworm combo meds. Was not a good day. But he was adorable while sleeping).

Big Dog Sleeping

9.3 Had my weigh in today. 29.6  lbs, 18” at my shoulders and depending on who is measuring me, 26 or 28 inches long from head to butt. Nobody counts my tail. I don’t know why, I count my tail. It’s a handsome tail. Everyone should have one. Until next week – Bixby

Paw pring

Tis The Season For Soups

Chicken Tortilla Soup

There was enough of a chill in the air this weekend for me to make a batch of  Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup. Yum.

 

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