Monday, February 18, 2008

Ribs, Potato Salad, and Green Beans

This is my dad's ribs recipe and it was my first time making it. It didn't turn out so great but maybe next time it'll be better. They weren't bad...they just weren't as good as my dad makes it.

My potato salad, however, was fantastic! The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and the only modifications I made were using half the white vinegar (last time it was too vinegary) and using yellow onion instead of red onion. Here's the recipe:

All-American Potato Salad

Note that this recipe calls for celery seed, not celery salt; if only celery salt is available, use the same amount but omit the addition of salt in the dressing. When testing the potatoes for doneness, simply taste a piece; do not overcook the potatoes or they will become mealy and will break apart. The potatoes must be just warm, or even fully cooled, when you add the dressing. If you find the potato salad a little dry for your liking, add up to 2 tablespoons more mayonnaise.

2 pounds russet potatoes (3 to 4 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
table salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 medium rib celery , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup mayonnaise (see note)
3/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large hard-cooked eggs , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are just warm, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together celery, onion, pickle relish, mayonnaise, mustard powder, celery seed, parsley, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using rubber spatula, gently fold dressing and eggs, if using, into potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour; serve. (Potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

17 Bean & Barley Soup

The recipe came from the back of the bag from Trader Joe's. It's a 17 bean and barley soup mix. It turned out all right but next time I'll definitely soak it instead of trying to force the beans to cook. (I had a few al dente beans, unfortunately.) Oh yes, and that roll is homemade!

Here's the recipe. It's really good. I do admit to wishing there was sausage or something in it, though.

17 Bean & Barley Soup from Trader Joe's

2 cups 17 bean and barley soup mix
2 - 32oz containers of vegetable broth
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup carrot chopped
1 cup bell pepper chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1 - 28oz can canned tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak beans overnight in a large pot of water, then rinse and drain. Pour 4 cups of vegetable broth into a pot with the beans. In a separate pan, cook onion, celery, carrot, pepper, basil and garilc in olive oil until soft. Combine this mixture and remaining ingredients into the bean pot and cover with more broth. Simmer covered for about 1 hour to desired tenderness. Be sure to occasionally check the liquid level and add more broth if necessary. Salt and pepper to desired taste. Makes about 8 hearty servings.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pork Tenderloin

My parents came to our house for dinner and brought a loaf of jalapeño-cheese bread. Inspired, I made a southwest rub for pork tenderloin:

freshly ground white pepper
kosher salt
chili powder
garlic powder
onion powder

I eyeballed the amounts. I will say the cumin and especially cayenne were in smaller quantities than the rest. I rubbed it all over the pork tenderloin. Then, I heated about 1 tablespoon canola oil in a dutch oven. I browned the tenderloin on all sides, added some onions cut into small wedges to the pan, and put it into an oven heated to 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.

It was really good and the onions were really good as well! I added corn on the cob because I had some in the freezer.

This was great because the whole day I was agonizing over what to make but due to something my dad brought I was able to think of a good dinner!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ravioli with Pesto and Sundried Tomatoes

I got this recipe from Quick & Simple magazine. The kids liked it a lot but I have to admit I didn't try it because my husband and I went out to a Thai restaurant for dinner.


* 1 24- to 26-ounce package frozen cheese ravioli
* 1 10-ounce jar pesto sauce
* 1/2 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes
* Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ravioli as package label directs. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return ravioli to the pot along with pesto sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and the reserved cooking liquid; toss gently, being careful not to tear ravioli. Serve ravioli topped with grated Parmesan cheese, and have a simple salad on the side.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner

Dijon Orange Chicken Thighs, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans

Anyway, this is dijon orange chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans. Everyone raved about this dish! It was very, very good.


* 8 Chicken Thighs
* Seasoned salt
* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup orange juice
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt.

Heat vegetable oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken and brown about 5 minutes per side.

Mix orange juice, mustard, honey and cornstarch in a bowl; pour mixture over chicken in pan. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve chicken with a side of green beans and garnish with orange wedges, if you like.

Here are step by step pictures.

Brown the chicken:

Mix the sauce:

Add the sauce to the browned chicken:

Chicken's done!

Dish it up.

That's Willow Crest's Syrah Port in the background. Too bad my daughter spilled it on the floor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hamburger Skillet Meal

This was pretty yummy. I chopped half an onion roughly and sautéed it with about a pound of hamburger. Then I added rice from a beef rice-a-roni, 2 1/2 cups of water, 8 oz. of tomato sauce, and then the seasoning mix. I mixed that up pretty well then I added a package (about 16 oz.) of frozen mixed vegetables. I let it all cook for about 15 minutes or so, until the rice was cooked and most of the moisture was absorbed. I grated about 1/2 cup of cheese and stirred that in until it was all incorporated. It was wonderful!! I mean, not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination but definitely filling and tasty.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spaghetti with Chicken Sausages

Spaghetti with Italian chicken sausage, garlic bread, and broccoli

I don't know if this was next in my meal plan (pasta). I found chicken sausages at the store for half price ($3) so I got two packages. Since we had ground beef last night I didn't really want it for a second night in a row.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One-Pot Salsa Beef

I heavily altered this recipe. Here's the base recipe and I'll say what alterations I made.

One-Pot Salsa Beef Skillet

Prep Time: 5 min
Total Time: 27 min
Makes: 4 servings

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cups water
1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
1 pkg. (14 oz.) KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Shredded Cheese
1 green onion, chopped

BROWN meat in skillet; drain. Return to skillet.

STIR in water, salsa and Macaroni. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover.

SIMMER 10 min. or until macaroni is tender, stirring twice. Add corn and Cheese Sauce; cook 2 min. or until heated through and blended. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and green onion.

My alterations:
I added one can of drained jalapeño-laced tomatoes when I added the macaroni. I did add the frozen corn but also about a cup of frozen bell peppers (from Trader Joe's). At the end, when I added the cheese sauce I also added about 1/2-3/4 cup of sour cream. I did use the green onion (yum!) but instead of the Mexican style shredded cheese I used Cotija cheese, crumbled.

My husband put tortilla chips in his and that was divine!

Anyway, the alterations made this meal from good to awesome!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!

I used the last of our homemade bread for the sandwiches. OH MY was this a perfect sandwich! I made mine with a little garlic salt and white pepper. Everyone else likes brown sugar in theirs. Don't ask; my husband started it and it's a little nuts, IMHO. They like it, though. The pasta salad was from a box:- Tuscan Cold Pasta Salad from Penguin Natural Foods. It was okay...I should have used the vinaigrette version but I had more mayo than I do olive oil so this time I opted for the creamy version. The cucumbers are easy. ^_^

I like this simple dinner. Especially the sandwich part!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots

There's something I love about this recipe. I altered it a bit from the original recipe (Cooking Light) because I thought their paltry 4 ounces of pasta was too little. I also use a good sized butternut squash. I cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, use a "Y" peeler to take the skin off, then cube it. I also tend to quarter the shallots because they're so yummy it's good to get more of them throughout the dish.

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots

3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise (about 1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
12-16 ounces uncooked pappardelle (wide ribbon pasta) or fettuccine
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 475°.

Combine the squash, sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons oil, salt, pepper, and shallots in a jelly roll pan; toss well. Bake at 475° for 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sage.

While the squash mixture bakes, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place cooked pasta in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons oil; toss well. Serve the squash mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup pasta, 3/4 cup squash mixture, and 1 tablespoon cheese)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Taco Bake with Corn and Green Beans

This recipe is courtesy of Kraft. Of course, they want you to use all of their own products but I always use what is on sale.

Taco Bake

Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 35 min
Makes: 6 servings

1 pkg. (14 oz.) KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1-1/2 cups KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Prepare Dinner as directed on package. While Macaroni is cooking, brown meat; drain. Add taco seasoning mix and water to meat; simmer 5 min.

STIR sour cream into prepared Dinner. Spoon half of the Dinner mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; top with layers of the meat mixture, 1 cup of the cheese and remaining Dinner mixture. Cover.

BAKE 15 min. Top with salsa and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuna Casserole and Cheese Muffins

I love tuna casserole! And I have perfected the cheese muffins, I think.

Cheese Muffins

1/4 cup oil
1 medium egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
1 cup cheddar, grated
1/3 cup parmesan, grated
1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons)
2 cups flour

In a large bowl combine the oil, egg, milk, sugar, salt and garlic salt. Mix it very well with a fork or wire whisk. Add in the cheeses. Measure in the baking powder and flour. Mix again until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not over mix. The whole thing should take about 20 to 30 strokes. Spoon the batter into a dozen well oiled muffin cups. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tangy Pork and Sweet Potatoes

This was pretty good. One kid thought it was great (middle child), the oldest thought it was okay, and the youngest only ate the bread. Oh well; you can't please them all.

I liked it all right but think it would be better with better BBQ sauce. I used a cheap-o kind this time.


1 1/2 pounds boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 cups hickory flavored barbecue sauce, divided use
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced

Place pork in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Top with sweet potatoes and onion.

Combine 1 cup barbecue sauce, dried mustard and garlic in a cup; mix well and pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 1/2-7 hours, or until pork and potatoes are very tender.

When ready to serve, stir in another 1 cup barbecue sauce. Have a fresh green salad and some crusty bread on the side.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chicken, Rice-a-Roni, and Green Beans

The chicken was easy. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper then browned it in 4 Tbsp. butter and 4 Tbsp. olive oil. Then I added 1/2 cup white wine (riesling) and a can of stewed tomatoes, chopped up. I then put the whole thing into a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Nummy tummy, as my daughter says. She ate her dinner all up. I was so proud!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sausage, Tomato, and Bean Stew

This was supposed to be white beans (cannellinis, to be exact), but one of the cans I needed got used in a different dinner last week. This stew is very filling and especially since I added orzo to the recipe.

Sausage, Tomato and White Bean Stew

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can basil-, garlic- and oregano-flavored diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup orzo, uncooked

In a stockpot over medium heat, crumble sausage and cook until no longer pink. If necessary, drain all but 1 tablespoon fat.

Add onion and saute until softened. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, and orzo and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.