Category Archives: What’s 4 Dinner Solutions

Dinner Menu: Golden Curried Chicken

Golden Chicken Curry4

Been crazy busy, but didn’t forget about the weekly menu. I love the flavors in this chicken recipe and the dill dip is the perfect complement to the spicy main course. If you can find really good pita bread you’re luckier than I am. I have to really search to find the soft, chewy kind I like, that isn’t dry and flavorless. I think next time I make this I might try JeffreyW’s Fry Bread recipe.

On the board tonight:

  1. Golden Chicken Pilaf
  2. Cool Dill Dip
  3. Applesauce w/chopped dried figs Curried chicken spices

Golden Chicken Pilaf

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 oz diced carrots
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 tsp (2 cubes) chicken bouillon
  • ½ to 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

skillet, saucepan

In saucepan, melt butter and sauté onions for 2 minutes, add carrots, rice, water, bouillon, curry, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, stir well, reduce heat, cover and let simmer until all water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Add raisins and fluff rice with a fork.

In skillet, heat oil, add chicken and brown on all sides.  Add salt & pepper, reduce heat and allow chicken to simmer until rice is done.  Toss chicken to rice and garnish with almonds. 

Cool Dill Dip

  • 8 oz container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, finely diced
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or ½ tsp dry dill)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 pita bread pieces

bowl

Mix together all ingredients, except pita.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with pita bread, torn into large pieces.

 

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Dinner Menu: Enchilada Pie and Black Bean Confetti

We are expecting snow tonight, I’m hoping it be a quick, brief storm and spring will soon be in full swing and the green up will begin. I’m tired of brown everywhere. I should go out and grab some forsythia branches and force them indoors. If you’ve never done it, it can be a treat and it’s very easy. You cut a few branches, bring them indoors, submerge them in warm water. Under water, cut about an inch off the stems and they’ll bloom in a day or two. It helps if you cut the stems once or twice more, under water, to keep them soaking up the water. Now you’ll have a little bit of spring in your house. You can do this will pussy willows, too.

For this week’s dinner menu, this is one of my recipes from my kid-friendly series. It’s quick, easy and full of flavor. And I finish it off with banana sundaes, one of my favorite things, it takes hot fudge sundaes up a notch when you add sliced bananas.

On the board tonight:

  1. Enchilada Pie
  2. Vegetable Tray
  3. Black Bean Confetti
  4. Banana Sundaes

Enchilada Pie

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

skillet & 8×8 glass baking dish, lightly oiled

Add beef and onion to skillet and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add spices and sauces; let simmer while you prep tortillas. Tear tortillas into strips and use some to cover the bottom of a well-oiled casserole dish. Layer a portion of the beef mixture and cheese on top, then repeat (tortillas, beef, cheese) to fill up casserole; finish with layer of cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350°

Black Bean Confetti

  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of limejuice

saucepans & large serving bowl or platter

In saucepan, add ingredients (except limejuice) and heat on medium. Toss with limejuice and serve.

Banana Sundaes

  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 2 bananas
  • Favorite chocolate sauce (I prefer Hershey’s but some prefer the thicker hot fudge sauce)
  • Walnuts, chopped into large pieces
  • Whipped cream (opt, and if you’re going to do it, it’s most fun using the spray can cream)

4 dessert bowls

Scoop ice cream into bowls. Peel and cut bananas in half, then quarter each half, lengthwise. Place four slices around the sides of the bowl, tucking down into the ice cream to help them stand. Pour a generous amount of chocolate on the ice cream and top with walnuts and whip cream.

Shopping List:

  • Vegetable tray fixins
  • Vegetable dips & dressings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 stalk celery
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 2 bananas
  • Favorite chocolate sauce (I prefer Hershey’s but some prefer the thicker hot fudge sauce)
  • 8 oz Walnuts, chopped into large pieces
  • Whipped cream

Friday Recipe Exchange: Quick Pasta Meals

DSC_7983 (1600x1060)

Nothing beats pasta for a quick dinner. Friend of blog, LFern, often does pasta and olive oil, tossed with fresh vegetables when she needs a quick meal. I always keep a pint of frozen Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce for quick dinners. And if you need gluten-free, there many choices now in gluten-free pastas. I usually go for a nice brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta, for added flavor to any pasta dish.

I thought for tonight’s recipe exchange it would nice to explore a diversity of flavors in quick pasta meals, moving away from the more traditional tomato or cheese sauces.

Pictured above, JeffreyW does a quick and simple pasta, sauce and cheese. I have my version of that, Hot & Sweet Penne here, which spices things up a bit.

Butternut Squash Pasta (recipe here) is one of my favorite hearty dinners that blends the sweetness of butternut squash with spicy Italian sausage.

Slow-cooker Beef and Pasta Soup, (recipe here) is a nice soup to come home to on a rainy spring evening.

Family favorite, Portuguese Beef and Pasta, recipe here, so simple, with just a few ingredients, but tastes amazing.

For a real taste treat, try this week’s complete dinner menu (and shopping list) Pasta Jambalaya  recipe here.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Do you have a favorite, quick and easy pasta recipe? Anyone make their own fresh pasta? Hit the comments and share.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I went with a flavorful vegetarian pasta dish. The recipe calls for green and red peppers, but you can use any variation. When they’re on sale, I usually buy one of each color for a really pretty dish.

Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine (there are some really good gluten-free pastas out there if needed)

saucepan and skillet

In skillet heat oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes, green & red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper let simmer while pasta cooks. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Toss with pepper mixture & cheese.

* you can use fresh tomatoes, about 2 large, but I couldn’t find any decent ones this time of year.

Tidbits

PICT8527 (1600x1060)We had a fox looking the backyard over the other night.  We see them occasionally but I think coyotes are more common these days.  I hope to catch a bobcat one of these nights, Mrs J has seen them nearby but they are very secretive.IMG_4543 (1600x1200)Mrs J says they have a number of kittens that are ready for adoption, and several puppies have been taken in, as well:IMG_4492 (1600x1200)This is a ten week old MinPin x hound dog, one of seven in a litter.  Four of the tan color like this one, and three black and tans.  Mrs J says they are really calm and laid back for puppies, not as squirmy as most.DSC_8001 (1600x1060)I bought another tablet the other day, a Kindle 7″ HDX.  It is the best e-reader I’ve used, that’s pretty much what it was built to do along with viewing videos.  It’s a bother that it won’t let me access the Google play store but you can sideload many of the apps.  I’ve loaded the Chrome browser, and one called Dolphin that is very good.  The included browser, Silk, is pretty good but lacks a way to import bookmarks from other browsers.  For almost everything but reading e-books I still prefer my Nexus tablets.DSC_7977 (1600x1060)Steak!  And a baked potato with the store brand French onion dip.  We almost never buy straight sour cream.  This particular dip has a very mild flavor that subs very well for sour cream almost everywhere.DSC_7961 (1600x1060)Here’s a blueberry pie that I nagged Mrs J into making for Pi day (3/4/14).  We had a little trouble with the over/unders but there was no impact on the taste.DSC_4532 (1600x1060)Here’s Homer, hiding under the credenza, where he was chased by Toby, up with whom he will not put.

Full Menu: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast and Ice Cream Delight

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Pot Roast and Veggies, photo by JeffreyW

Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so of course I wanted pot roast. I love pot roast. Throwing the ingredients in the slow-cooker and coming home to a true comfort food dinner is just what this week needs. 

You can substitute beef broth for the wine if you like.  The frozen pie is the favorite of a friend of mine, I’d never even heard of it before, but she said she grew up with it.  It is easy enough to make and I love chocolate and mint together, so it was a no-brainer when she suggested it.

On the board tonight:

  1. Slow-cooker Pot Roast
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Ice Cream Delight

Slow-cooker Pot Roast

  • 4 lbs Pot Roast (chuck roast)
  • ¼ red wine
  • ¼ cup beef broth or water
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 lb bag baby carrots

slow-cooker

Optional:  coat roast in 1 tbsp flour and brown on all sides in 2 tbsp oil in skillet before adding to slow-cooker.  Nice, but not necessary for great flavor.

Add roast & liquid to slow-cooker.  Sprinkle rosemary, dill, bay leaves, salt & pepper on top of roast.  Add in order: onion, potatoes and carrots (this keeps carrots from over cooking).  Cover & cook according to your slow-cooker directions (they vary considerably) usually 8 to 10 hours on low.

Gravy – When I use a slow-cooker, I usually cheat a bit on the gravy.  I take ½ cup of beef broth and mix with 1 tbsp of flour, stirring well. I then bring the beef juices (about 1 cup, if more, you’ll need more flour) in the slow-cooker to a boil and stir in the flour mixture, stirring at a boil until thickened.  Then I reduce the heat back to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Not as tasty as a gravy started with a roux, but it does the trick and you’ll never have lumps.

Ice Cream Delight

  • 8 oz Oreo style cookies
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 qt. mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 6 oz chocolate topping
  • 4 oz whipped cream (I go for the real thing)

8×8 baking dish

Crush cookies in a blender until fine crumbs.  Mix ½ of the crumbs with melted butter, spread on the bottom of baking dish, don’t pack down.  Cut ice cream into 1-inch thick slices and layer on crust (or let melt enough to be spreadable and spread with a large spatula).  Spread chocolate, then whipped topping on top.  Sprinkle remaining cookie crumbs over top.  Freeze.

Shopping List:

  • Salad fixins’
  • 4 lbs Pot Roast
  • 2 oz red wine
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 lb bag baby carrots
  • 8 oz Oreo style cookies
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 qt. mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 6 oz chocolate topping
  • 4 oz whipped cream (I go for making my own or the canned cream in the dairy section)

Also: beef broth, rosemary, dried dill, 2 bay leaves, salt & pepper,

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Dinner Menu: Tuscan Cod and Bruschetta

Melted Bruscetta copyright

When I was in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, we went out to dinner to a cute little fish diner, right on the water. The fish was amazingly fresh and I realized how much I miss it when I’m not on either coast. With that in mind, I went looking for one of my fish recipes. This one popped up and I thought it sounded spring like, so that’s how we got here.

When picking fish, make sure it doesn’t smell fishy, just fresh and like clean water.  It should be firm to the touch and any liquid should be clear, not milky. It helps to know your butcher, they’ll usually direct you to the freshest fillets. You should plan on using it the day you purchase it. You can substitute any firm white fish in this recipe.

  1. Tuscan Cod
  2. Bruschetta
  3. Broccoli
  4. Grapes

Tuscan Cod

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ diced red pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • 4-6 oz cod fillets

skillet

Heat 1 tbsp oil in the skillet, over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and pepper for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, cumin and crushed pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and add remaining oil. Once heated, add fish fillets and cook 5 minutes, turn over, spoon sauce on top, cover and cook additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Fish should flake easily with a fork.

Bruschetta

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 French baguette, sliced in half, lengthwise
  • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 8 oz grated mozzarella

baking sheet

Mix oil and garlic together. Lay baguette halves on baking sheet, cut side up and brush with oil mixture. Broil for 3-5 minutes until golden brown (watch carefully). Remove and top evenly with tomato slices, basil and mozzarella. Broil for 2 more minutes until cheese is melted. Slice and serve.

Shopping List:

  • 1 red onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 4-6 oz cod fillets
  • 1 French baguette
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 8 oz grated mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of grapes
  • 1 head of broccoli or 16 oz frozen

Also: cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil,

Tidbits

IMG_4280 (1600x1060)A few kittehs from a new crop at the shelter.  Mrs J says there are two new litters that came in.  There are seven new kittens in total to go with eight adults that are still there.IMG_4305 (1600x1060)There are a few dogs that have arrived, some adults and a few pups.IMG_4289 (1600x1060)Mrs J says this female came in from a puppy mill, she’s an adult and has had several liters of her own.  She appears to be a chihuahua mix but that’s just a guess.DSC_7903 (1600x1060)Cheeseburger!  Cheeseburger!  Fries!IMG_4291 (1600x1060)We have no info on this one.  Some sort of terrier.DSC_7908 (1600x1060)Soup’s on!  This is a classic pantry soup.  Beef and barley with onions and various veggies.  I browned the beef in the pot in a little olive oil and poured in a bottle of dark beer to deglaze, then added beef broth and the barley.  It cooked a while and then the veggies went in during the last hour.  I made a basic recipe loaf of white bread and tossed in a handful of garlic cloves when the machine beeped.  There is a subtle taste of garlic throughout and it paired nicely with the soup.IMG_4285 (1600x1060)And a few more kittehs.  These are not related.  Mrs J says the larger cat was adopted today.  The shelter had an adoption fair today and two dogs went out for home visits.

Dinner Menu: Linguine w/Peppers and Italian Asparagus

It’s the time of year that I begin to crave fresh, light dinners. I’ve tired of stews, hearty soups and the other staples of the mid-winter gloom. As I start to believe spring will arrive again, I want meals that reflect that belief. Lots of fresh veggies, fresh fruits, light sauces and simple, full flavors.

This menu includes items that are plentiful at my local grocery this week. All the peppers are on sale right now, so I use red, yellow. orange and green. Lots of fresh berries, too. And asparagus is everywhere.

On the board tonight:

  1. Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers
  2. Italian Asparagus
  3. Mixed berries & whipped cream

Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-Parmesan cheese
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine

saucepan and skillet

In skillet heat oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes, green & red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper let simmer while pasta cooks. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Toss with pepper mixture & cheese.

* you can use fresh tomatoes, probably 2 large, but I couldn’t find any decent ones this time of year.

Italian Asparagus

  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan

saucepan & steamer

Gently scrub asparagus, cut in half and place in steamer. Add enough water to saucepan to come in the bottom of the steamer. Steam for 5 to 8 minutes, until the stalks are tender. Remove and toss with oil, oregano, salt, pepper & cheese.

Shopping List:

  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-parmesan cheese**
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine
  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan
  • 16 oz mixed berries
  • Whipped Cream

Also: oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, crushed red pepper flakes

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Dinner Menu: Valentine’s Day Dishes

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, I thought it was a good time to repeat my annual holiday menu. I prefer this to going out to a crowded restaurant. Easy to fix, but looks and tastes quite elegant. From 2010:

JeffreyW shoots a cornish game hen, served with broccoli and rice

JeffreyW shoots a cornish game hen, served with broccoli and rice

Every year around this time, one of my local grocers offers Cornish Game Hens in packages where they are cut in half. I decided I needed to do something with this idea, so the Valentine’s menu was born. When they are cut in half, it reduced cooking time enough for the recipe to be workable on a week night. Since Valentine’s falls on a Sunday this year, using whole game hens seems reasonable, too. Longer cooking time, but worth it. In case you’re feeling really ambitious, click here for JeffreyW’s wonderful stuffing recipe.  And if you’re looking for a more elegant dessert for Valentine’s Day try this recipe for Raspberry-Chocolate Cupcakes in Raspberry Sauce.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cornish Game Hens w/Stuffing
  2. Buttered Peas and Carrots
  3. Tossed Salad
  4. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Cornish game hen

Cornish Game Hens

  • 2 pkgs. stuffing mix
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ cup boiling water or chicken broth
  • 4 Cornish game hens, cut in half *
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

9×13 glass baking dish

Add stuffing mix, 2 tbsp melted butter and boiling water to baking dish, stir & spread evenly over bottom of baking dish. Lay hens cut side down over stuffing (it’s a tight fit, but you should be able to get all 8 halves in the 13×9 pan). Melt remaining butter, add spices and mix well. Brush some over hens and continue to baste every 10-15 minutes while baking. Bake at 350 to 375° until internal temperature is 175 ° about 45 minutes. Remove, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 4

*Hens will have to thawed completely and you’ll need a sharp knife to cut them in half. You can check with your butcher to see if they’ll cut them for you. If you don’t want to cut them in half, cook them whole and allow 1 hour 10 minutes cooking time.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Preheat oven to 375°

  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 13-16 oz bag Hershey’s Kisses

2 bowls and baking sheet

Combine peanut butter, butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in bowl. Beat with mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add egg, beat until blended. In small bowl, combine flour, salt & soda. Add to creamed mixture at low-speed until just blended (don’t over mix). Scrape sides and bottom and make sure all flour is mixed. Drop by heaping teaspoon full onto baking sheet, unwrap kisses and press 1 into each cookie. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove to racks and cool.

Shopping List:

  • 2 pkgs. stuffing mix
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 Cornish game hens, cut in half if possible
  • chunky peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 13-16 oz bag Hershey’s Kisses
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz bag frozen peas and carrots
  • Tossed salad ingredients

Also: rosemary, sage, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, milk, flour, baking soda, chicken broth

Banana Bar Pr0n

DSC_7797 (1600x1060)This recipe seems a little more involved than many we looked at but they did turn out rather well.  We made the brown butter frosting with Splenda and subbed a Splenda brown sugar blend for regular brown sugar.  The recipe called for cooking the bananas down in the oven first although it seems to me just as easy to do it in a pan atop the stove.  We are really liking the brown butter recipes we see for frostings.  Browning the butter adds a lot of flavor.

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