Full Dinner Menu: Pasta Jambalaya and Orange Cookies

Pasta Jambalaya_Snapseed2

My goal with the dinner menus is to have a quick meal planned that doesn’t taste quick and uses fresh foods, versus over-processed frozen or microwave dinners. I think this one really meets that test. It’s full of great flavors and fresh vegetables. And the Orange cookies are a quick dessert, but you can always substitute fresh oranges for a healthier alternative.

On the board:

  1. Pasta Jambalaya
  2. Broccoli
  3. Orange Cookies

Pasta Jambalaya

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I like Andouille)
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican 4-blend cheese

saucepan Continue reading

Christmas Eve: Groundhog Day

Because 2020 and we are all feeling a bit worn out this year is not creative at all. When I asked my friends what they wanted for our very small gathering this year, Spinach Lasagna was the winner. Just like last year.

Further discussions found that they had never seen Groundhog Day...so that’s this year’s movie choice and it all seems so very appropriate.

From 2019:

One of my favorite nights of the year. Friends come over for Christmas Eve dinner and then we watch a movie. Tonight: Strictly Ballroom, a quirky Australian treat by Baz Luhrman.

This year I had a request to make Spinach Lasagna again, I haven’t made it for a few years. I really like it because I can prep it ahead and the night of the party I’m not stuck in the kitchen.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Green Beans Tossed w/Butter & Lemon Pepper
  3. Garlic Cheese Bread
  4. Ice Cream Sundae Bar

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I made it on Sunday and refrigerated. It will need additional cooking time to bring the center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Cranberry Pepper Steak and Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Cranberries are on sale now, so it seemed a good time to re-up this recipe.  You can use sirloin steak, or ribeye or NY strip. Works well on chicken breasts, too.

My love of cranberries has been well documented here. So no wonder this is one of my favorite dinners. The potatoes are very creamy – you can make them more calorie friendly by reducing the amount of butter, you probably won’t miss it with the creamy dressing.

  1. Cranberry Pepper Steak
  2. Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes
  3. Sliced Carrots
  4. Grapes

Cranberry Pepper Steak

  • 1/2 cup canned whole cranberries*
  • ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb sirloin steak
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

saucepan, broiler pan

In saucepan, combine cranberries, pepper flakes, & vinegar.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, cook until thickened and reduced by half. Rub sirloin on both sides with garlic, chili, salt & pepper (use more of each if desired).  Cut into 4 pieces, broil (or grill) 5 minutes on each side for rare.  Spoon sauce over cooked steaks & serve.

Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup blue cheese dressing

saucepan

Wash and cube potatoes (peeling optional – I never peel mine, just scrub really, really well), add to saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes).  Drain well.  Add butter, salt, pepper and dressing.  Mash potatoes until fluffy (I find a hand mixer works best)

*I keep fresh cranberries in the freezer. If you want to use fresh, add 1/4 cup of sugar and dash of orange juice as a substitute for canned.

Dinner Menu: Spicy Lime Cilantro Chicken w/Mexican Rice

It’s been unseasonably warm here after our early snow in September, so grilling is on the menu.

On the board:

  1. Spicy Lime Cilantro Chicken
  2. Mexican Rice Medley
  3. Green Beans
  4. Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe here)

Spicy Lime Cilantro Chicken:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup sliced pickled jalapenos and juice

 Place ingredients in a zip-lock bag and marinate 1 hour or overnight.  Broil or grill for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until breasts are cooked to 165 degrees. Continue reading

Full Dinner Menu: Washday Beans and Rice

Photo from JeffreyW

I’ve been watching a home show about buying and selling big mansions in New Orleans. I’m enjoying touring these big old mansions.  Since I was in a Louisiana mood, time for one of my favorite dinners.

On the board tonight:

  1. Washday Beans & Rice
  2. Sliced Steamed Zucchini
  3. Corn Bread
  4. Blueberries & Raspberries w/whip cream

Washday Beans & Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 14oz can red kidney bean
  • 4 links Italian or Andouille sausage (sweet or spicy) – slice each link into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun Creole Seasoning (start with teaspoon and work your way up to taste)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato diced (or 14 oz can)

2-quart saucepan and skillet Continue reading

Grilling Dinner Menu: Cantanzaro Herbed Chicken

I get gifts! One I got this year was a box of assorted large bottles of spice mixes. I’ve enjoyed each unique blend, especially the Peruvian one, since it’s been a while since we have been able to frequent our favorite Peruvian restaurant here.

Tonight’s menu features the Cantanzaro spice mix. Cantanzaro is a city in Italy.  So there are a lot of herbs this Italian girl recognizes: marjoram, basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano. And garlic, lots of garlic. But the kicker is the lemon and lemon peel.

It’s all very fresh for summer and great for grilling.

On the board tonight:

  1. Grilled Cantanzaro Herbed Chicken Breasts
  2. Grilled peppers and onions (toss sliced onions and favorite mix of peppers with olive oil, salt, pepper and grill in a grilling pan)
  3. Cucumber-Tomato Salad (recipe here)
  4. Gelato (recipes here)

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Dinner Menu: Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub and Blueberry Coffeecake

Blueberry Coffee Cake

More of my most requested grilling recipes.

From August 2013

A friend of mine spent a few months one summer experimenting with coffee rubs. This was one of my favorites. If you need something fun to do with your next grilled steak, this is a recipe to try. And with my love of blueberries, can’t go wrong with a blueberry coffeecake.  Yum.

On the board tonight:

  1. Steak with Coffee Rub
  2. Green Beans w/Bacon & Onion
  3. Baked Potatoes
  4. Blueberry CoffeeCake

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (use a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

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Grilling Menu: Stuffed Jalapeno-Cheddar Burgers and Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Stuffed Burger Uncut Snap

I make these all the time because they really are easy and a great way to have a cheeseburger without losing half the cheese to the grill. And the sweet potato cajun fries are the perfect sweet, spicy combo.  Grill some peaches, pears or plums and dinner is done. Enjoy.

On the board tonight:

  1. Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
  2. Kaiser Rolls
  3. Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
  4. Grilled Sweet Corn  (pull husks back, clean off silk, wash, pull husks up & grill-yum!)
  5. Plums

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