Quick Dinner: Vegetable Pasta Toss

And…we’re back. Tonight’s recipe exchange is going to focus on quick and fresh. This is as quick as it gets.

Vegetable Pasta Toss

  • 9 oz pkg linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (or 6 green onions, including greens)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz broccoli florets
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated

saucepan, skillet

Cook linguine according to package directions.  While it cooks, heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add onions and saute until translucent. Add  garlic and vegetables, stirring until tender-crisp. Stir in tomatoes, basil and cook until heated through. Drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing well. Top with Parmesan cheese.

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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: Santa Fe Wraps

I know this late, but I got hit with a nasty bug and about all I could accomplish this week was work. The cold weather has stayed around longer than they predicted, though except for a day, it was nothing like anywhere else was experiencing.

I thought about doing soup for the menu tonight, but I’m tired of cold weather food (sigh, and it’s only January) so I decided to go for something that seemed a little fresher. I was in the store and passed by the flavored tortillas: sun dried tomato basil; jalapeno cheddar; garlic herb; and spinach and knew what I wanted to do. These are extra large and I really like the flavors. I like this recipe for company, you can make it all ahead of time, keep it warm and put it on the table and let everyone assemble their own.

On the board tonight:

  1. Santa Fe Wraps
  2. Salad w/Creamy Cucumber Dressing
  3. Grapes

Santa Fe Wraps

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can red beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb sirloin or London broil, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 red pepper*
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 12 oz shredded Jack Cheese
  • 4-8 burrito size flour tortillas (maybe try a flavored style)

2 saucepans, skillet and 4 serving bowls

In saucepan, add rice, 2 cups water and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until all water is absorbed. In other saucepan, add beans & heat on med-low until heated through. In 300° oven, place tortilla shells between two pieces of foil and warm. In skillet, heat oil, sauté onion & pepper add steak, cook 5 minutes, reduce heat & add tomatoes, taco seasoning and cook 5 minutes on medium. Put rice, beans, cheese and meat mixture in separate serving bowls, let everyone assemble their own wrap at the table.

*There are a lot of peppers at my grocers, so go wild, use a couple of different colors for some added flavor.

Also, please note my friend who lived in Santa Fe says it needs green chilis to be authentic.

Salad w/Creamy Cucumber Dressing

  • 12 oz bag spring greens
  • ½ head green leaf lettuce
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced

serving bowl

Mix all ingredients together in serving bowl.

Dressing:

  • 8 oz plain yogurt (low fat ok)
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled & chopped (seeded opt)**
  • ¼ Miracle Whip style salad dressing or mayonnaise
  • 4 green onions, chopped (or use the remaining yellow onion)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

small bowl

Mix ingredients together and toss with salad greens.  **I really like the English cucumbers (those are the long, thin ones, usually wrapped in plastic).

Shopping List:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can red beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb sirloin or London broil
  • 1 red pepper (don’t stop there, add a yellow and orange, too)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 12 oz shredded Jack Cheese
  • 4-8 burrito size flour tortillas (be daring, try a flavored one)
  • green chilis, opt.
  • 12 oz bag spring greens
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 8 oz plain yogurt (low fat ok)
  • 2 cucumbers (I like English)
  • 4 green onions (or use the remaining yellow onion)

Also: Miracle Whip style salad dressing or mayonnaise, lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, dill

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Thursday Night Menu: Asparagus, Peppers and Berries, Oh, My

As the weather warms up I find myself wandering the grocery aisles looking for fresh foods to cook with, not wanting any more root vegetables or winter squash.  It can be challenging because I want fresh – not shipped from a thousand miles fresh.  But I settle for what I can find, which are peppers and asparagus.  The linguine calls for red and green peppers, but red, green, yellow and orange were all on sale, so I’m going with that in mine.   It will make for a nice spring presentation.  Add to that a bunch of tulips for the table and I’m in full Spring mode at my house.  What are you doing to chase away the remnants of winter this weekend?

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


Thursday Night Menu: Longing for Spring Edition

I don’t know about you, but my last few weeks have been full of activities and work. Add to that an unexpected snow storm that created havoc on the roads today and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and short on time. So tonight’s menu is about simplicity and freshness. The snow and cold makes me long for fresh fruits and vegetables (and seed catalogs). I know good quality can be hard to come by this time of year, but I am tired of soups and stews, so I’ll do the freshest I can with the ingredients available. Nothing exciting about this pasta dish, except it is quick, easy and fresh. Substituting good quality canned diced tomatoes (maybe even roasted tomatoes) will work if you can’t find any decent fresh tomatoes. I can usually find local greenhouse tomatoes at the indoor farmer’s market, along with fresh dried pastas, so I try to get there when I can. For the salad, I look for anything that sounds like it might be a good addition: snow peas, jicama, grapes, peppers, even sliced apples, to add to several types of greens. A friend introduced me to Greek yogurt recently and I really, really like it. It’s smooth, creamy and works well as a dessert. I know blueberries and raspberries can be iffy when fresh this time of year (re: bland), not to mention expensive. I like frozen, organic blueberries that are small and taste almost like wild blueberries. Frozen raspberries are almost always better than any out of season fresh raspberry. I thaw them and serve with the yogurt and that works really well. So with all that, I’ve done my best to bring some fresh ideas to a cold winter’s weekend.

On the board tonight:

  1. Tomato-Parmesan Linguine
  2. Tossed Salad w/Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
  3. Steamed Asparagus Spears
  4. Blueberries & Raspberries w/vanilla yogurt

Tomato-Parmesan Linguine

  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes, diced (or equivalent)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or you can substitute 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes and skip the oil)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup fresh shredded parmesan (not grated)
  • 9 oz fresh linguini or a nice flavored dry pasta
  • Parmesan for topping

2 saucepans, serving dish

Heat oil in saucepan, add tomatoes, basil, oregano & garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes on medium-high, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 minutes, add parmesan and cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook linguini according to package directions. Toss together pasta and tomatoes and serve. Serve with additional parmesan.

Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (more if needed)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil

Add lemon zest, salt, juice & thyme in blender. Slowly add oil while blending, emulsifying the mixture. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice or salt as needed. Let sit for ½ hour before serving.

Shopping list:

  • Salad ingredients
  • 32 oz vanilla yogurt
  • 8 oz blueberries
  • 8 oz raspberries
  • 6 oz olive oil
  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes (or equivalent) – or you can substitute 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 6 oz fresh shredded parmesan (not grated)
  • 9 oz fresh linguini or a nice flavored dry pasta

Also: lemon zest, salt, lemon juice, dried thyme, ½ cup olive oil, crushed garlic, dried oregano

Thursday Night Menu: Tropical Edition

I’m travelling, again, but I’m leaving you with my favorite Key Lime Pie recipe, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law in Florida.  I love Key Lime Pie and this one is so easy and fool-proof.  This entire menu has a bit of a tropical feel to it, which I think is perfect for a cold winter’s day.  I’ll be on the beach, so whatever.  I hear I’ll be coming home to snow and bitter cold, lucky me.  I await spring and seed catalogs.  Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you’ve got something fun planned.  If I was home I’d have a big pot of soup or stew on and be curled up reading a good book.  What do you like to cook when the weather is cold and dreary?

On the board tonight:

  1. Pork Tenderloin w/Mojo Sauce & Chutney
  2. Baked Sweet Potato w/ Curry Butter
  3. Steamed Sugar Snap Peas
  4. Key Lime Pie

Pork Tenderloin w/Mojo Sauce & Chutney

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup key limejuice*
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1-1½ lb pork tenderloin
  • 8 oz jar pineapple or mango chutney

sauce pan and roasting pan or casserole dish

Sauté garlic & olive oil in saucepan. Add limejuice & spices. Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Place the roast in a covered oven-proof casserole. Pour 1 cup of the Mojo sauce over the pork. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes, until internal temperature is 140°. During cooking, baste the roast twice. Let set 10 minutes before slicing into medallions, serve with remaining Mojo sauce & chutney. Start checking internal temperature at 30 minutes. I’ve never had a pork roast cook the same amount of time yet.

Baked Sweet Potato w/ Curry Butter

  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ – ½ tsp curry powder

Bake at the same time the tenderloin is cooking (I’d start them about 10 minutes before, just to be safe). Approximately 45-60 minutes, until you can easily pierce w/fork. If you have metal skewers, place potatoes on the skewers (usually 2 can fit on each skewer) this will speed up cooking time. Melt butter, add curry and let cool.  If potatoes finish before roast is ready, wrap in foil to keep warm. Slice open cooked potatoes and add dollop of curry butter.

Key Lime Pie

So easy, yet sooo good!

  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp Key limejuice*
  • 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 4 oz whipped topping
  • 1 lime, sliced

Preheat oven to 250°

Combine milk & yolks with mixer until well blended. Add limejuice, mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool, then spread whipped topping over the top, garnish with lime slices, and refrigerate until served.

* you can substitute regular limejuice if needed.

No shopping list tonight, sorry, was a rushed week.


 

Thursday Night Menu: First Day of Fall Edition

Happy first day of autumn. According to my sources summer officially ended yesterday at 10:55 pm MDT. Sigh. I’ve pulled out the sweaters, but have not put away the shorts. JeffW updated us on Homer yesterday. His cast has been removed. No word yet on his permanent placement.  But more cute pix.

On to dinner. This is not a very fall oriented menu, I’ll get to those in later weeks.  This menu is a quick and flavorful stir-fry of no particular origin. If you can’t find the broad rice noodles, whatever you like will do just fine. I like the broad ones because they hold the sauce and lots of sesame seeds. I keep sesame seeds around like salt and pepper, so I add that at the table and it’s a nice touch to both the carrots and beef dish.  The yogurt and pineapple provide a cool finish.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Beef & Broccoli
  2. Rice Noodles (broad style)
  3. Sweet & Sour Carrots
  4. Crushed pineapple and vanilla yogurt

Spicy Beef & Broccoli

  • 1 lb sirloin or London broil, sliced very thin (easiest to do if slightly frozen)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ground ginger or 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup or more of chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups broccoli crowns
  • ½ cup Spanish peanuts

large skillet or wok

Heat 1 tbsp of oil and sauté onions, peppers,  fresh ginger and garlic quickly. Add more oil as needed, add beef and stir quickly until beef is cooked through. Combine red pepper flakes, cornstarch, soy sauce, broth, honey, and mix well. Add to meat, bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes. Add broccoli crowns, cover and steam for 2 to 3 more minutes (you want broccoli bright green, but still slightly crisp). Toss with peanuts. Serve over rice noodles.

Sweet & Sour Carrots

  • 16 oz pkg. sliced frozen carrots
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 green onions, sliced

small skillet or wok and small bowl

Mix ½ cup broth with cornstarch, vinegar, sugar and set aside.

Heat remaining broth, add carrots and onions, cook until carrots are tender, yet crisp. Add cornstarch mix, heat to quick boil, stirring constantly until sauce thickens and then remove from heat.

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb sirloin or London broil
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger or 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 16 oz broccoli crowns
  • 4 oz Spanish peanuts
  • 16 oz pkg. sliced frozen carrots
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 16 oz vanilla yogurt
  • Fresh crushed pineapple
  • Rice noodles

Also: red wine vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, olive oil, soy sauce, crushed garlic, honey, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds (opt)

Thursday Night Menu: Steak and Potatoes Edition

Not my most original recipe, but a summer classic, for sure. LFern and her husband think collard greens are great, which is why I even grew them in my garden one year. I know some people like them, but if you don’t, you can easily substitute spinach in the recipe. I love fruit crisps, and I’ve featured this crisp before, but thought it was worth repeating in this menu. As far as the steaks go, a good ribeye needs very little in the way of seasoning before grilling, but if you want to take it up a notch, the coffee rub from February was very popular. You can use any good cut of steak for this menu.

On the board tonight:

  1. Grilled Ribeyes
  2. Grilled Baked Potatoes
  3. Collard Greens w/Bacon
  4. Apple & Blackberry Crisp

Grilled Ribeyes

  • 4 Ribeye steaks
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • pepper to taste

Rub garlic and pepper on both sides of the steak and grill. 5 minutes on each side will be rare, cook longer if desired.

Collard Greens w/ Bacon

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or spinach)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet, saucepan and steamer

Wash collard greens. In skillet, cook bacon till crisp, remove, cool and crumble. In bacon drippings, sauté onions, remove. In saucepan, place steamer and enough water to come to the bottom of the steamer, add greens and steam until tender. Mix honey & vinegar, and a little of the bacon drippings if you like. Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Grilled Baked Potatoes

  • 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt

Rub each half with olive oil and salt. Place on the grill, cut-side down, away from the direct flame and they’ll bake quicker, with a nice crisp crust.

Apple & Blackberry Crisp

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 3 apples, cored & sliced (peeling opt)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

8×8 baking dish and bowl

In bowl, cut together sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon & butter until crumbly. In baking dish, toss apple slices & blackberries with sugar & lemon juice. Crumble butter mixture over the top evenly. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving to let fruit set.

Shopping List:

  • 4 Ribeye steaks (or other)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or spinach)
  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 apples
  • 1 cup blackberries

Also: crushed garlic, pepper, balsamic vinegar, honey, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, coarse salt