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Christmas Eve Menu: Spinach Lasagna Dinner

Lasagna snap3

I’ll update the photo if I get a good one this Christmas Eve

Tossing around ideas for my Christmas Eve party and settled on lasagna this year. It will once again be gluten-free using specialty noodles. Excited to have our traditional party in the new house.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Garlic Bread*

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I will make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring 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

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Garlic Bread

*I’m going to purchase a gluten free loaf  (we have a great local bakery for that) and I’m also going to make this Slow Rise recipe.  Making the garlic bread is easy. I slice the loaves in half lengthwise, melt butter, add a healthy amount of crushed garlic and brush liberally on each loaf half. Then I top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Tossed Salad

I try to change it up each year, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this time. Maybe spinach/raspberry or a veggie toss with romaine.

Next up: Dessert Menu



 

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Dinner Menu: Grilled Rosemary Steak with Grilled Sweet Peppers and Potatoes

Grilled Potatoes and Peppers3

Rounding up a grilling menu for tonight. I love getting one of each of the sweet peppers when they are on sale and using them with the potatoes and onions. I find the red potatoes grill best, but you can also use russets or golds.  The horseradish and rosemary adds a nice flavor to the lean sirloin.

It’s stormy again tonight, for  more days than I can count. Some areas are getting damaging winds and lots of hail, but we’ve been lucky with just thunder, lightening and nice rains. It cools off the night and makes for pleasant sleeping, so I am grateful. Most nights there is still time to sneak in some grilling before it hits hard.

On the board tonight:

  1. Rosemary Steak
  2. Grilled Sweet Peppers and Potatoes
  3. Spinach/Orange Salad w/Balsamic Vinaigrette
  4. Apples

 
But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Dinner Menu: Hot Orange Chicken, Potato Wedges and Mocha Cake

Potato Wedges1a

As promised, this week’s menu. Kind of hodge-podge. I love spicy, citrus flavored chicken and this one is quick and easy. The potato wedges are a breeze and the Mocha Cake is the simplest chocolate cake to make, a cousin to yummy Lava cake.  Enjoy.

  1. Hot Orange Chicken
  2. Potato Wedges
  3. Tossed Salad w/Pineapple chunks
  4. Mocha Cake

Hot Orange Chicken

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sage
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander (cilantro)
  • ¼ tsp orange zest
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

bowl

skillet or wok

Mix the first 6 spices in bowl and rub chicken with it.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Heat oil in skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until golden on all sides (5 minutes).  Add water, cornstarch, lemon and orange juice and let simmer 7 to 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken, keep warm.  Bring liquid to a boil, cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until reduced by half.  Spoon over chicken and serve.

Potato Wedges – easy to do, quarter potatoes, rub with olive oil, salt and place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 425° until tender.

Mocha Cake

  • 1 cup flourMocha6b
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

====

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup very hot coffee (see notes)

8×8 inch baking dish

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.  Combine milk, oil and vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture.  Stir well.  Pour batter into baking dish.  Combine sugar and cocoa (from bottom list) and sprinkle over batter.  Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir.  Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched.

NOTE: if you don’t want to use coffee, use boiling water. If you want stronger coffee flavor you can use ½ cup hot espresso and ½ cup boiling water.

Dinner Menu Delayed

Hello all. My best intentions to get to the menu yesterday and today have been thwarted. I have a sick kitteh and I still have to bake a birthday cake for tomorrow.

I’ll try again tomorrow to post the menu.  Until then…

 

red-sox-logo3.jpg

Dinner Menu: Beef & Pepper Subs with Walnut Pear Salad

DSC_4000 (Copy)

Photo by JeffreyW

Lots going on. I picked up a new client last week, but still need to wrap things up this week with one of my other clients in order to make room for the new client. I’m putting together a trip to Los Angeles and Nebraska, plus I’ve got three personal projects I’m working on, which are at least two, too many.  What I’m trying to say is, it’s busy around here, just the way I like it, which is why I looked for something simple for tonight’s dinner menu. I especially wanted to find something with pears, because right now they are abundant at the store and I wanted to take advantage.

So that’s my Monday…any suggestions for Friday’s Recipe Exchange??

Tonight’s menu is pretty simple, for those lazy nights when you don’t want to cook an elaborate meal.  I usually let everyone assemble their own sandwich at the counter – less cleanup. I didn’t put chips on the menu, but they would probably show up last minute at my house anyway. The walnut pear salad is a nice treat this time of year, when you can usually find fresh pears at a good price. Pears and bleu cheese are a winning combo, and spinach seems to be on sale everywhere this week. If you can find it, drinking chocolate is like hot cocoa on steroids. We have a local coffee roaster who also makes drinking chocolate. It’s as if someone melted a chocolate bar in your cup and added some cream. A little goes a very long way.

On the board tonight:

  1. Beef & Pepper Subs
  2. Walnut Pear Salad
  3. Hot cocoa, marshmallows and graham crackers

Beef & Pepper Subs

  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced*
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 large crusty Italian sub rolls, sliced
  • 8 oz Provolone or American cheese, sliced

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add meat, garlic, onions & peppers. Allow to cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add immediately to rolls. Top with cheese. If desired you can also then pop under the broiler to melt the cheese (keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn)

* it’s easiest to do if it’s slightly frozen when you slice it

Walnut Pear Salad

  • 3 pears, thinly sliced
  • Bibb lettuces & spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp walnut oil (opt)
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey (more if needed)
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese

large platter and saucepan

Arrange lettuce leaves on platter, add pear slices. Combine walnuts, oil(s), vinegar & honey in saucepan, mix well, and heat until honey is melted. Taste and add more honey or vinegar as needed. Pour over pears. Crumble cheese over salad.

Shopping List:

  • Hot cocoa
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • 1 lb sirloin or flank steak
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 large crusty Italian sub rolls, sliced
  • 8 oz Provolone or American cheese, sliced
  • Bibb lettuces & spinach leaves
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 oz walnut oil (opt)
  • 4 oz honey
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese

Also: crushed garlic, salt & pepper, vinegar

Originally posted January 2011

=========================================

Tangy Roast Beef

Did you know May is national vinegar month?  Yeah, neither did I.  But it is and that’s great because I was just thinking about posting about cooking with vinegar.  I use it almost daily.  It is so versatile and really brightens the flavors in any food.  I just discovered a wonderful Red Wine-Pomegranate vinegar.  I use it in salads, mixed with a bit of garlic and basil.  No need for oils, so full of flavor and bite.

Malt vinegar is great with fried foods, cuts the grease and enhances the flavors.  Red wine vinegar in soups brings out the individual vegetable flavors.  Rice vinegars are a must in any Asian inspired dishes.  It is perfect for marinades,adding flavor and easily tenderizing meats.  The list is endless.  And if you want to reduce salt, vinegar will add enough flavor to your vegetables and meats to help you put down the shaker.

Here’s an update to an old favorite using vinegar:

Slow-Cooker Tangy Roast Beef w/Potatoes & Carrots

  • 2 to 3 lbs boneless chuck roast
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 red potatoes, halved
  • 4 carrots, peeled & quartered

Slow-Cooker

In order, place items in Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low).

Easter Dinner: Mint Peas

When I’m making a holiday dinner, except for Thanksgiving, I like to keep things simple.  Flavorful does not have to mean complicated.  I want to spend time with my guests and not be stuck in the kitchen.

These peas are a great side for the Garlic and Herb Roasted Lamb & Potatoes.   (A quick note on the roasted lamb – I like most lamb rare to medium rare, but I found with the seasoning, medium was a better choice, it really allowed the flavors to infuse the meat.  It was still tender and moist, but more flavorful at medium.)

Mint Peas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh baby snap peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat. Add the snap peas and saute until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and saute, stirring, until the lime juice is almost completely evaporated. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint.

Men Who Cook…for me.

While I was away I was lucky enough to have someone cook for me.  My friend Paula is married to a wonderful guy named Butch, and he is a really good cook.  It is always fun visiting because we like to talk recipes and see what’s cooking, and he usually rolls out some family favorites for dinner.  And after dinner we usually get in a couple rounds of Scattergories with the kids.  Just a great way to end the day.

Butch has contributed recipes here before and I wanted to include the dinner he made on Monday, because it was really terrific.  And as he said in the email he just sent me, really easy, too.

Butch’s Meatloaf and Roasted Potatoes:

Hearty Meatloaf

  • 1.5 lb of 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 cup of oatmeal, ground fine
  • 1 envelope onion dip mix
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp ah-so sauce
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste

Mix it well and bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for 55-60 mins.

Roasted Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 4-6 pieces
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Toss all ingredients together well, spread in a single layer in a 9 x 12 baking glass baking dish until crispy (about 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees)

Thursday Night Menu: Keeping it Simple

I know many of you are snowed under and I’m sorry about that. I’m wishing for spring as hard as you. Meanwhile we’ve had a suspicious 60 degree day with the promise of an ugly storm soon to follow.  Can I just say, “yippee.” (I’d say more, but I try to keep it PG). One other note: our intrepid blogger/photographer JeffW is on crutches after knee surgery, so everyone please wish him well.

Tonight’s menu is pretty simple, for those lazy nights when you don’t want to cook an elaborate meal.  I usually let everyone assemble their own sandwich at the counter – less cleanup. I didn’t put chips on the menu, but they would probably show up last minute  at my house anyway. The walnut pear salad is a nice treat this time of year, when you can usually find fresh pears at a good price. Pears and bleu cheese are a winning combo, and spinach seems to be on sale everywhere this week. If you can find it, drinking chocolate is like hot cocoa on steroids. We have a local coffee roaster who also makes drinking chocolate. It’s as if someone melted a chocolate bar in your cup and added some cream. A little goes a very long way.

On the board tonight:

  1. Beef & Pepper Subs
  2. Walnut Pear Salad
  3. Hot cocoa, marshmallows and graham crackers

Beef & Pepper Subs

  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced*
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 large crusty Italian sub rolls, sliced
  • 8 oz Provolone or American cheese, sliced

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add meat, garlic, onions & peppers. Allow to cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add immediately to rolls. Top with cheese. If desired you can also then pop under the broiler to melt the cheese (keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn)

* it’s easiest to do if it’s slightly frozen when you slice it

Walnut Pear Salad

  • 3 pears, thinly sliced
  • Bibb lettuces & spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp walnut oil (opt)
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey (more if needed)
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese

large platter and saucepan

Arrange lettuce leaves on platter, add pear slices. Combine walnuts, oil(s), vinegar & honey in saucepan, mix well, and heat until honey is melted. Taste and add more honey or vinegar as needed. Pour over pears. Crumble cheese over salad.

Shopping List:

  • Hot cocoa
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • 1 lb sirloin or flank steak
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 large crusty Italian sub rolls, sliced
  • 8 oz Provolone or American cheese, sliced
  • Bibb lettuces & spinach leaves
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 oz walnut oil (opt)
  • 4 oz honey
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese

Also: crushed garlic, salt & pepper, vinegar

Thursday Night Menu: Crash, Bang Edition

My day started out with a bang. A 16 year old girl, rushing to get her brother and herself to their morning finals, hit my car at a stop sign. Physically everyone was fine, my car has some minor damage, but she was an emotional mess. Thank goodness I had a bag of homemade cookies and a box of tissues in the car. Really, when everyone is physically unharmed, a hug and a chocolate chip cookie can go a long way to fixing everything. My boss (super hero today) got her brother to his final, the police officer gave her a note for her test (along with a ticket, poor thing) and an hour later we were all on our way. In the meantime, she and I got to talk and hopefully I calmed her down enough to take her ‘easy’ chem final (in my life there was never an easy chemistry anything). So that was my day, how was yours?

In honor of holiday and accident stress, we’re going with a crockpot/slowcooker menu tonight. And if you ever wonder why I use the term slowcooker, it is because crockpot is actually a trademarked name and they frown on people using without permission. Ask me how I now this. The cornbread is adapted from an Alton Brown recipe. I prefer to cook mine in a cast iron skillet, but if you don’t have one, a glass baking dish will be fine. I left the salad fixings up to you, but Salsa Ranch Dressing is one of my favorite ways to top off a salad, so I ‘suggested’ that.

On the board tonight:

  1. Creamy Mexican Bean & Chicken Soup
  2. Creamed Corn Cornbread
  3. Tossed Salad w/Salsa Ranch Dressing

Creamy Mexican Bean & Chicken Soup

  • 2 boneless breasts, cut in lg. pieces
  • 2 boneless thighs, cut in lg. pieces
  • 4-14 oz cans pinto beans*
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 tsp (1 cube) chicken bouillon
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz sour cream (opt)

large saucepan

Add all ingredients (except sour cream) to slowcooker and cook according to manufacturers directions, (usually at low for 8-10 hours). Using a potato masher, slightly mash beans during last 20 minutes of cooking. Serve with dollop of sour cream.

*if you’d like to use dried beans, use 1 lb, soak overnight, drain, rinse, cover with water, bring to a boil for 15 minutes, turn off heat and let sit for an hour. Drain, cover again and bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer for 4 hours. If you are at high-altitude like I am, a pressure cooker is probably your only way to get beans to cook completely. Bring to full pressure, reduce heat and let simmer at full pressure for 1 hour.

Creamed Corn Cornbread

  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup creamed corn

Cast iron skillet or 8×8 baking dish, melt 2 tbsp of butter and use to coat pan.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn, whisking together to combine thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture and stir to combine. Add more buttermilk to the batter if it will not pour. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until the cornbread is golden brown and springs back upon the touch, about 20 minutes.

Tossed Salad w/Salsa Ranch Dressing

If you can’t find salsa ranch dressing:

Mix 1 cup ranch dressing with 1 cup salsa

Shopping List:

  • Salad fixings
  • 8 oz buttermilk dressing
  • 8 oz favorite salsa
  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 2 boneless thighs
  • 4-14 oz cans pinto beans
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 4 oz sour cream (opt)
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup creamed corn

Also: crushed garlic, chicken bouillon, cayenne pepper, chili powder, salt & pepper, sugar, baking soda