Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hello out there!

The Dinner Blog has been dormant for quite a while, but it's going to be back and better than ever very soon.  Stay tuned for more!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hearty and Healthy Mexican Lasagna

For dinner tonight, I brought back a recipe I love that I haven't made in a very long time - Racheal Ray's Mexican Lasagna. This lasagna has two convenient qualities - it's made in no time, and it is huge! This meal could easily feed 4 or 5 people, or if you are cooking for one, like me, feed you for a whole week. I'm not a huge fan of Racheal Ray anymore, though it is true that her 30 Minute Meals was the first Food Network show to really suck me in. I give her credit here - I began cooking at 7:15 and was eating by 7:45.

I, of course, made a few tweaks to Ms. Ray's recipe, but my changes are really just personal preference. I use ground turkey instead of chicken, mostly because I can never seem to find ground chicken in my local stores. I use fire-roasted tomatoes over taco sauce, and to make it a bit healthier, add low-fat cheese and whole wheat tortillas. The result is a yummy casserole full of chunky meat and vegetables. I like to serve mine with a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of hot sauce. It keeps amazingly and like Italian-style lasagna, is often better the next day, once the flavors meld more. I'd imagine it would freeze fabulously as well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apple Turnovers

Fall in New England means apples. It's a yearly tradition for most people I know to go apple-picking at one of the many local orchards. I sound like a snob - but I just can't eat supermarket apples anymore!

This year I headed out late in the season. My good pal Maria and I scored a 1/2 bushel of Cortlands, MacIntoshes, and Romes. With apples in tow, we went back to my apartment to bake up some treats! I'd picked up some frozen puff pastry at Trader Joe's earlier that day, so we decided to make apple turnovers. We didn't really follow a recipe - just chopped up a few apples and tossed them with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of flour, and lemon juice. We found out quickly that you don't need much filling in each square of pastry!

Maria and I folded the pastry and sealed it shut using a fork. About 15 minutes in the oven is all you need - the puff pastry browns and crisps up, the apple filling sort of melts. They are so delicious and make you feel cozy! They were so simple, using pantry ingredients and frozen pastry, and took only 30 minutes in total. I can't wait to start my Monday morning with an apple turnover for breakfast!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Yummiest Sauce Ever

Do you have a steak in your freezer? Do you have access to a store where you can buy a steak? Because you need to go get one now and make this recipe - Hanger Steak with Cherry Shallot Sauce. This is so delicious, I can barely describe it. I saw the recipe made last weekend while on 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Network, and it was one of those moments where I immediately said - I have to have this steak.

I don't eat a lot of beef but I get a craving for it every once in a while, especially when it's paired with a sweet sauce. This cherry shallot sauce is incredible and true to the name of the show it came from, it has only 5 ingredients - garlic, shallots, olive oil, pomegranate juice, and cherry preserves. The sauce is savory and sweet, but not too sweet. It was all I could do to keep Ken from eating the rest of it with a spoon.

Cherry Shallot Sauce...how could you not want that?

I grilled up a simple steak and finally, I cooked it well for the first time! Cooking beef to the correct temperature is challenging and I've had my share of failures, either overcooking it or having to throw it back on the grill several times to get it right. I covered the meat in tons of sauce, full of the shallots and chunks of cherry. On the side I served some yummy baked sweet potato fries. It was heaven, especially on a cold, rainy night.

That is some good eats.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Get Me to the Greek...Salad

It's Salad Tuesday again! The best day of the week. Tonight we went Greek! Greek food might be one of my top five kinds of food. I love the vegetables, lamb, and a good rice pilaf. Of course, a simple salad hits the spot and is incredibly easy to make.

Add a warm toasty pita and stuff a bunch of salad in there. It's just so good. Soft warm pita, crunchy cucumbers and red peppers, sweet tomatoes, and the tang of balsamic vinegar. Here's how I did it...

Greek Salad with Yogurt-Marinated Chicken
Serves 4

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon grill seasoning
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 bag romaine lettuce
1 tomato, diced into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cucumber, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 red pepper, diced into 1 inch cubes
handful Kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
2 pitas

Combine yogurt, lemon juice, and spices in a medium-sized bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat completely. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Shred or cut into bite-size pieces.

In a small plastic container with a sealed cover, combine mustard, balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and shake to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, add lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, olives, feta cheese, and pieces of chicken. Toss with a few spoonfuls of dressing. Toast pitas and split in half, giving each plate half of a pita.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Sunday Brunch

And we're back! Sorry for the lack of posts lately - unfortunately my real work has not left me with much time for cooking fun meals. That's why it felt like the perfect time to throw a brunch! I had my family come over for frittata with corn, pancetta, and red peppers, cantaloupe salad, and sweet olive oil bread with fresh blueberry sauce. Doesn't that just scream summer?

Frittatas are a perfect one dish main course for a brunch. A frittata is just a method - almost any mix of vegetables, meat, and cheese work well in it. Corn immediately sounded delicious and I'm on a huge kick right now. My original thought was prosciutto but I spotted pancetta and went for it instead. I melted shredded mozzarella cheese on the top after adding garlic, red peppers, and scallions to the dish.

The cantaloupe salad was wonderful. I tossed cubes of cantaloupe with lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and honey. Mint was meant to be added but I was unable to find mint at the store (isn't that ridiculous?). It was unexpectedly delicious.

Finally, I made this interesting sweet olive oil quick bread. I've been dying to try an olive oil cake for a while now and I was drawn in by the ease of doing it as a quick bread (think banana bread). You don't even need two bowls to make this bread! There is no butter at all - only a 1/2 cup of olive oil - though I might add a bit more oil next time to make it just the slightest bit more moist. My only change was to top the bread with crushed almonds rather than pine nuts.

It baked up puffy and golden brown and was quite good. It was similar to a pound cake and lightly lemon scented. The blueberry sauce really took it over the top. For that I used Barefoot Contessa's Blueberry Sauce recipe, using just regular sugar and a touch of vanilla extract instead of vanilla sugar. As I mentioned, the bread was a little bit on the dry side so the sauce was a perfect additive. Sweet and a little tangy with lemon juice. How I love berry season!