Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Braised Short Ribs, Take 2

Tonight I finished up the short ribs that I started yesterday. They were delicious. We had a dinner guest and didn't think he wanted to eat after 8 p.m. - so I seared and braised the short ribs last night (about 2 hours) and then finished them up with an hour on the stove tonight.

Instead of a fancy sauce like the first try this time I kept it simple. I used beef broth, onions, parsnips, a mix of herbs, salt and pepper. On the side we had mashed potatoes and parsnips (to carry over the flavor from the short ribs). The ribs came out very tender and full of flavor. Our guest proclaimed, "That's good cooking Doris." The mashed potato and parsnip side dish was also full of flavor, including the same herbs as the short ribs. More photos are in the Food Photos album on the right.

Basic Braised Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs
3-5 parsnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 yellow onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cup beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp. herb mix (thyme, parsley, etc.)
Salt and pepper

For cooking details, see the original Short Ribs post, using the ingredients above.

Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips
Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
Parsnips, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup milk
Herb mix (same as above)

Place potatoes and parsnips in a large pot.
Fill with cold water, enough to cover by 1 inch.
Bring to a boil, and boil for 12 minutes.
Drain and return to pot.
Add milk and mash with potato masher until desired consistency.

Prep Time - 15 minutes
Cook Time - Active time: 20 minutes; Passive - 3 hours (ribs)
1 large dutch oven with cover, 1 baking sheet, 1 large pot, potato masher, chopping board and knife

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ravioli with Vodka Sauce

Tonight's dinner was a quick and easy meal - leaving time to prep for tomorrow's dinner (short ribs take 2). We bought some fresh pasta from the store and combined it with a jar of vodka sauce, and served it with frozen garlic naan. Tasty and done in 12 minutes. Sorry, we ate it so quickly that we forgot to take a photo.

This gave me time to do some prep work on dinner for tomorrow night. We are having Short Rips, take 2. This time I'm skipping the cranberries and using beef broth, parsnips, and onions as the ingredients. Should be tasty!

Tonight it will cook for about an hour and a half, and then another hour tomorrow when we get home from work. We are having a dinner guest tomorrow - this will be a nice fancy meal to serve. I'll post the final results tomorrow. It will be served with green beans and some sort of potato (not sure if it will be roasted or mashed). Stay tuned for the delicious description.

Here is a preview of the seared short ribs waiting to go back in the pot:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Fiesta" Meatloaf

Not sure if this is the best name for the recipe, but it's essentially a southwestern flavored meatloaf. Meatloaf is a frequent item on our dinner menu - each time with a different twist. I usually make it in muffin tins. The meatloaf cooks quicker and it makes for easier leftovers for lunch. It's easy to come up with variations based on the flavor of the week (or what we have in the fridge). You can swap veggies, sauces, and side dishes. The flavor for this week is southwest, served with roasted Yukon gold potatoes, and guacamole on the side. Enjoy!

"Fiesta Meatloaf"
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 red pepper
1/2 an onion (any color)
2 stalks of celery
1/2 a jalapeno
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup salsa + 1/2 cup salsa
1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put ground beef in a large mixing bowl and break up.
Cut onion, pepper, celery and jalapeno into about 2 inch pieces.
Put vegetables into a food processor and pulse until they are in small pieces.
Add veggies to the meat in the bowl.
Add bread crumbs, 1/2 cup salsa, and egg to the bowl.
Mix until well combined.

Either put into greased muffin tins or use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and scoop into patties on a greased baking sheet. Top each muffin with a spoonful of salsa. Bake for 20 minutes, until meat is cooked thoroughly.

Southwest Roasted Potatoes
Yukon gold potatoes (as much as you need), cut in quarters.
Chili Powder
1-2 garlic cloves
Olive oil

Toss the potatoes in olive oil and spices. Place on a baking sheet. Bake alongside the meatloaf, checking after 15 minutes to make sure they don't burn.

Prep time - about 10 minutes

Cook time - 20-25 minutes
2 bowls, chopping board and knife, food processor, muffin tin/baking sheet, second baking sheet, spatula and spoons.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Favorite Go-To Dinner

This is my favorite dinner for nights when I get home late, am too lazy to cook, or just have no food in the house. I could eat eggs for dinner every night (my husband disagrees)! So tonight I was home alone for dinner, got home late, and knew just what I was having. This combines two of my favorite foods - bread and cheese! The composition varies based on what is in the fridge, but it always involves eggs, cheese and some kind of bread. Tonight's version:

Lara's Egg & Cheese
Toasted onion bagel with 2 fried eggs and melted sharp cheddar cheese.

On the side - quick hash browns thanks to some frozen shredded potatoes from Whole Foods.

Delicious and tasty! Perfect for sitting in front of the TV and watching The Office and 30 Rock.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sort of Chicken Nuggets and Fries

So, instead of going to McDonald's and getting nuggets and fries, we had a healthier version of our own. I spiced things up by including some jerk seasoning mix in the breading. This was about a 15 minute dinner - perfect for a weeknight!

Baked Chicken Nuggets w/ Cornmeal breading
1 lb. boneless skinless breast, cut into about 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp. jerk seasoning
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients in a shallow bowl.
Beat the egg in a separate bowl with a splash of water.
Dip chicken in the egg, then toss in the cornmeal mixture.
Place the chicken on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for about 6 minutes, turn chicken over, and cook an additional 6 minutes.

Quick Mashed Potatoes
4 yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup soy milk
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Cut potatoes into quarters and place in a pot.
Cover the potatoes with cold water (about 1 inch above the potatoes)
Bring to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes (until fork tender).
Drain and return to hot pot.
Mash with masher and add milk and seasoning.

Prep time - about 5 minutes
Cook time - 15-20 minutes
1 baking sheet, 1 pot, chopping board and knife, and a serving dishes.

Healthy and Fast Cod w/ Fresh Parsley and Garlic

Tonight's dinner was a quick version of a fancy meal. Inspired by the sale at Whole Foods, I decided to get some cod. I looked at a few recipes and adapted it to how much fish I had. It was tasty and would work well with any white fish (on sale of course) Here's what we had:

Cod with Parsley
1/4 cup or so Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound of cod, cut into 4 even sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and over low heat for about 10 minutes.
Add fish and turn heat up to medium low.
Cook for 4 minutes.
Turn fish over, add parsley, and cook for about 8-10 minutes (until fish is done).

I served it with peas and cous cous. It would be tasty with any type of rice and green vegetable.

Prep time - about 5 minutes

Cook time - 15 minutes
1 skillet, chopping board and knife

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quick and Easy Veggie Soup

This is one of my favorite things to make on a night when I don't feel like putting a huge amount of effort into dinner. It can be plain and simple or can get fancy if you feel like it. This is from a Rachel Ray recipe, but I've adapted my own twist on it. It works well with a variety of veggies, different store bought broths, and whatever herbs you have on hand. You can serve it with crescent rolls, biscuits, crackers, chicken salad, etc. Here's tonights version, served with crescent rolls:

Quick Veggie Soup with Veggies
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into small coins
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced into small coins
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 yellow onion, sliced
Olive oil
Bay leaf
Fresh parsley - about a handful
Chicken broth (box)
Salt and paper to taste

Place a pot on the stove over medium heat.
Put about 1 tbsp. of olive oil in the pot.
Chop the veggies and add them to the pot.
Sweat the veggies for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
Add the bay leaf and the chicken broth to the pot.
Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
When it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until you are ready eat).
Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top and serve.
Add salt and paper to taste.

Prep time - about 10 minutes

Cook time - 10-15 minutes
1 soup pot, chopping board and knife

A few hours of cooking - food for the week!

When it comes to having easy to bring weekday lunches - it is a struggle. We try to bring lunch everyday, taking in leftovers. This week we had a snowy Sunday forecast and decided to make a turkey breast. The turkey is easy to do - cooks for about 2 hours - and lasts all week! Today is Wednesday and we are still working on finishing it!

Every time I make a turkey breast I do it a little differently. This week was inspired by the other leftover ingredients we had in the fridge.

Roast Turkey Breast with Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
1 whole orange, unpeeled, cut into eighths and seeds removed
1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries

Place cranberries and oranges in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is all in small pieces.

Roast Turkey Breast
Turkey breast
1 onion sliced
A few carrots sliced
Relish (from above)
Chicken broth
Olive oil
Poultry seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a roasting pan (or brownie pan, whatever you have), place onions and carrots in the bottom of the pan.
Place turkey breast on top of veggies.
Lift up skin and spread relish underneath.
Pour about 1/2 - 1 cup of chicken broth over the top of the turkey.
Brush turkey with olive oil.
Sprinkle with about 1 tbsp. or so of poultry seasoning.
Place in oven and bake for about 2 hours (until temperature indicator pops up).
Let rest, slice, and eat!

For more photos - click on the album to the right.

Prep time - about 15-20 minutes

Cook time -2 hours
1 roasting pan, chopping board and knife, and food processor.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Restaurant Meals at Home

On New Year's Eve, we had a fantastic dinner out with friends. I had Guiness braised short ribs. It got me thinking that I don't order this enough. When we went to BJ's (like Sam's or Costco) after the holiday, we noticed that they had beef short ribs in the meat case and decided to try it ourselves!

I looked at a few recipes and decided to make my own combination. It was surprisingly easy - just 1 pot, 1 casserole dish and a cutting board and knife for prep. Here's what I came up with:

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs
Beef Short Ribs
Carrots (chopped
Onion (chopped
Fresh Cranberries (I would leave these out next time
1 bottle dry red wine
Beef broth
Salt, pepper
Bay leaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large heavy pot, heat oil. Sear ribs in small batches on all sides and set aside in a casserole dish/pan.
In the pot, add veggies and brown for appx 10 minutes.
Add in wine, about 1 cup of beef broth and bring to a boil.
Add in the short ribs and a few bay leaves
Cover and cook in the 350 degree oven for about 2 hours, until ribs are tender. Remove ribs from pot and set aside in a casserole dish.
Place pot over medium high heat and cook until sauce is thickened.

We had it with a cous cous blend. You could do mashed potatoes, rice, or any good starchy side dish.

We will definitely make this again - but with different combinations of veggies, a different liquid (next time beer), and some different spices. We had about 4lbs. of ribs. I think we had at least four meals out of it - great value for the price!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday Night...What's left in the Kitchen?

Sometimes the end of the week requires extra creativity. We have been trying to be resourceful and waste less food. That can lead to some creative ingredient combinations and sometimes tasty food that doesn't necessarily look like a gourmet meal but does taste like one.

Tonight's meal might not be the prettiest looking meal - but it was delicious. Definitely worth repeating, with a few tweaks (depending what we have in the kitchen). We had a few veggies, some leftover bread, and chicken breast that we didn't use on Tuesday. Then I went to the pantry to see what I could use to pull it all together. Both dishes cook in the oven together - saving time! Here's what I came up with:

Baked Chicken with mushroom sauce and breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (your favorite kind)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • Appx. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or combo of your favorite herbs)
  • Appx. 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a casserole dish, mix the soup, milk, and seasoning.
Stir in chicken, covering with the soup mixture.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, covering the whole dish.
Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.

Quick Version of my Grandma's Southern Dressing (aka stuffing)

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots sliced into small coin sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into appx. 1/2" pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • About 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 loaf of bread, torn into 1" cubes

Cook in 350 degree oven with the chicken dish
Microwave butter for 1 minute in a large bowl.
Add carrots and onion and microwave for 5 minutes.
Add bread to the bowl and mix.
Add the eggs, chicken broth and seasoning, and mix.
Pour into a greased 8"x8" pan.

Bake for 30 minutes along with the chicken.

Serve and enjoy! You could swap out the soup for Cream of Broccoli or whatever cream soup you have on hand. You could also throw in some broccoli or spinach if you have it.


Prep time - about 10-15 minutes
Cook time -30 minutes
2 baking dishes, 1 large bowl, and a few spoons!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

1/6/09 - Tuesday Night Trip to India

It's easy to make a weeknight a trip to an exotic destination. Tonight's dinner was made with some help from the store - but still delicious! Tonight's menu:

Chicken Tikka Masala
  • 1 lb. diced fresh boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 jar tikka masala sauce

  • Saute chicken breast over medium heat until brown, appx. 5 minutes.
    Lower heat, pour in jar of sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes.

    Steamed Green Peas (frozen peas cooked in the microwave)
    Naan (Indian Bread) (Thanks Trader Joe's)
    Brown Rice (follow instruction on the box)

    All done in about 20 minutes and great leftovers for lunch.

    Prep time - about 5 minutes for chicken, the rest while it's cooking
    Cook time -15 minutes
    Takes 1 pot for rice, 1 skillet for chicken, the oven for bread, and a bowl to steam the peas.

    Nice and easy!

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Stay tuned...

    Coming soon! Roast beef, braised short ribs, and more!


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