Monday, November 23, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner, Tex-Mex Style

Last night, after a hectic weekend which left me completely knackered and a late arrival home by J & Pie, I was happy to make a simple dinner. I'd planned to make refried beans and a salad with our migas, but completely forgot the beans and had J wrinkle up her nose at the idea of salad. So, we had this Tex-Mex tortilla and egg scramble with bacon for the sole accompaniment. Migas most closely resembles chilaquiles, but the chilaquiles we had at our friend Carla's outshine the dish I made last night by far. Perhaps it was my chicken-hearted omission of the jalapenos, perhaps Carla's superior cooking skills, perhaps these needed some black beans instead of bacon. Whatever the case, I wouldn't hesitate to make this again, but it was not the droolsome dish it could have been.

3 slices bacon
6 small corn tortillas, slightly dried out,
torn into smallish pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 finely-chopped jalapeno
6 sliced plum tomatoes
1/2 tsp. cumin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c. Monterey Jack, grated
Salt & pepper
Cook the bacon crisp and drain on paper towels. Wipe out skillet and heat the oil in it. Fry the tortilla pieces golden and drain on paper towels. Cook the onion, garlic & jalapeno about 5 minutes. Add bacon, tomatoes, cumin. Cook a few minutes. Add tortillas and stir. Add eggs, cheese, salt & pepper. Cook on medium-high until just set. Serves 3-4.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wild Mango Queens Harvest Feast

Tonight, our Wild Mango Queens gathering was a "practice Thanksgiving," an idea gleaned from my dear friend Andi's family. Every year, the weekend before Thanksgiving, they invite all & sundry to an early Thanksgiving dinner. I am not sure how the tradition started, but I have always been utterly charmed by it. I figured it was as good a theme as any for the November Mangofest, so I requested that each guest bring either a favorite Thanksgiving dish or one they'd love to try. Not sure who was coming or what they would bring (I like the "luck" aspect of potluck & prefer not to dictate what people bring), I went with the information that I had, which was that one guest is a vegetarian. Considering that, and thinking ahead to future Thanksgiving gatherings with my veggie mama & stepdad, I decided to make several vegetarian-friendly dishes. A couple of my contributions were personal holiday favorites of mine. I made green bean casserole and cranberry sauce (using the recipes on the Campbell's soup can---with 2 cups of fresh, steamed green beans instead of the canned I usually use in deference to tradition---and the cranberry bag, respectively). I also did a vegetarian take on sausage-based stuffing, using Yves brand soy crumbles. I was unhappy that I couldn't find soy sausage crumbles or even sausage patties that weren't maple-flavored. I think the stuffing would have been better had I been able to do so. However, it was quite good anyway. I used this recipe: and thought the hazelnuts worked particularly well. We started with Winter squash soup (recipe at:, a salad of mixed baby greens tossed with pear (red Anjou and Bosc) and apple (Winesap) chunks, walnuts, dried cranberries and gorgonzola (served with good extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic for drizzling) and egg knot rolls from the bakery. That alone would have been plenty, but in true Thanksgiving style, we moved on to another course of the dishes I had made and a yummy "chicken" mashed potato casserole (vegetarian, too) Kelly invented a few weeks ago when her cupboards were nearly bare. Course number 3 was the very most beautiful, a delicious pumpkin-gingerbread trifle Marcy brought. She says Paula Deen's recipe on the Food Network site ( ) is very nearly the same as the one her friend gave her several years ago. I may just have to try that for our family Thanksgiving this year. It was lots nicer than pumpkin pie or even pumpkin cheesecake.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Artichoke Dip Lasagna

Last night's dinner was not remotely healthy, but man, was it good! The white lasagna I made reminded me of nothing so much as the artichoke dip I make every year for our tree-trimming party, the delicious artichoke dip I have to force myself every year to stop eating so I won't make myself sick. I actually have made myself sick on it, years ago when I first started making it. I exercised due caution with this lasagna and so should you. We ate it with bread to soak up all the fat. Ha ha! Oh, and add some salad! Italian dressing pairs well with this.

Artichoke Dip Lasagna
10 oz. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 & 1/2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
16 oz. ricotta
4 oz. chive & onion cream cheese
A good grinding of pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
10 oz. alfredo sauce
14 oz. artichoke hearts, chopped
3 oz. shredded parmesan
1/8 c. mayonnaise
12 oven-ready lasagna noodles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix spinach with 1 cup of the Italian cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, pepper and egg. Mix half the alfredo sauce with artichoke hearts, parmesan and mayonnaise. Spread the rest of the alfredo in the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Top with 3 lasagna noodles and 1/2 the spinach mixture. Repeat with 3 noodles and the rest of the spinach mixture. Top with 3 noodles and artichoke sauce. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake another 5-7 minutes to melt cheese. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Friday Night Flank Steak

Last Friday night, it was just us grown folks for dinner, with Pie spending the weekend at his friend's house. I started marinating a flank steak in the morning and by evening, it was saturated with good flavor & ready to be broiled and accompanied by baked potatoes and a salad.

Marinated Flank Steak
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tsbp. olive oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. dry red wine
1 tsp. thyme
Salt & pepper
1 & 1/2 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat
Mix everything but the flank steak in a ziploc bag. Add the flank steak & squish it around to make sure it gets coated nicely with the marinade. Marinate at least 2 hours, turning every so often to coat. Preheat broiler. Place steak on broiler rack and spread marinade on top. Broil to desired doneness, about 5 min/side for medium-rare.

Getting a Little Chile

Last night, I tried out a new pork chop dish and it turned out fantastic! We very nearly ordered pizza because I didn't get home until 8:30, but we decided to push forward with my planned meal, which was chile-rubbed pork chops, sweet potato hash, lima beans and applesauce. It's really quite simple, although the veggie chopping is a little time-consuming.

Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped ( I used white sweet potatoes, but I think orange ones would be more aesthetically pleasing)
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 yellow pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper
A handful of chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. chile powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. each salt, pepper, coriander, cumin
6 thinly-sliced boneless pork chops
2 tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the hash ingredients except sage and butter in a baking pan (I used 13x9). Roast 1/2 hour. Meanwhile, mix first 7 pork chop ingredients into a thick paste. Spread on pork chops, covering both sides. Heat the 2 tbsp. olive oil in 2 skillets on medium-high heat. Sear pork chops on both sides. Cook, turning often, until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Toss hash with sage and butter. Serves 3.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Foods Class Chicken

This morning when he went to school, Pie left us a recipe his Foods class made this week with a request for us to make it for dinner tonight. We did and it was pretty dang good! I think she does a really good job with the kids---makes class fun and teaches them some substantial foods instead of all desserts or something like that. I chose not to go with the "option" of instant mashed potatoes for which there was a recipe at the bottom, figuring that the real thing would be far tastier. Corn served as our veggie. We made absolutely certain to follow the recipe to the T so that Pie wouldn't be aggravated with us for making it wrong. Here is the recipe, exactly as his Foods teacher gave it:

Oven-Barbecued Chicken
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
4 chicken pieces (Pie amended this to 3 and noted "chicken breast only" meaning boneless)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 medium onion, chopped
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine first 4 ingredients; stir well. Dredge chicken in flour mixture. Pour butter into a 9x9. Arrange chicken in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring well. Place in bowl and leave in your lab. Remove chicken from oven, turn; spoon sauce over chicken. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Yield=4 servings

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Sweetheart of a Dinner

I made a very simple, but very delicious dinner this evening. J was skeptical when I told her I was making white beans & kielbasa, but she ended up liking it very much and we both adored the hearts salad. That was all we had and it was all we needed. Pie did not love it, but he ate a little of the bean dish.

White Beans & Kielbasa

15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
14 oz. stewed tomatoes
1 lb. kielbasa, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 c. dry breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2 qt. casserole with cooking spray. Mix everything but breadcrumbs and olive oil. Put in casserole. Top with breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes. Serves 4.

Hearts Salad

6 tbsp. mayonnaise
A generous pinch of dried mint (or, if you have fresh, about 3 tbsp., chopped)
A smidge over a tbsp. of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1 c. chopped hearts of palm (Trader Joe's has a very good jarred variety)
Salt, to taste
Pomegranate seeds/dried cherries
Spring mix or other salad greens (since J chose the house salad this week, we had romaine and that was just fine but if I were serving this for company, I'd use spring mix so that's what I recommend here)

Mix together the mayo, mint and lemon juice. Add the hearts of palm & artichoke. Taste and salt, if needed. Serve on greens, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds or dried cherries. Serves 4.

Praline Lusciousness

Last night, we had breakfast for dinner. I am a huge fan of real maple syrup, but I decided to try something new and it turned out great. I made Belgian waffles, following Emeril's recipe at and we topped them with praline syrup. J fried up some bacon and we also had fresh pineapple. Good stuff.

Praline Syrup
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. light Karo
3 tbsp. water
A dash of salt
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. chopped pecans
Mix everything but butter and nuts in a pan. Bring to a boil. Simmer 2-3 minutes. Add butter and nuts and stir to melt butter.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Lemon Heaven

Tonight, dinner was ideal for all the lemon lovers in the house. That would be me. Luckily, J really loved dinner despite not being a fan of anything sour. Pie was grumpy because we are actually expecting him to do his school work or not play video games, so nothing would have tasted good to him...not that he would admit, anyway! But he ate every scrap of his dinner nonetheless. I made chicken picatta and served it with Trader Joe's lemon pepper pappardelle tossed with butter and an iceberg salad dressed with maple balsamic vinaigrette from J's plant.

Chicken Picatta
Salt & pepper
1 lb. chicken scallopine
3 tbsp. butter
Juice of 2 lemons
A little over 1/3 c. dry white wine
1 heaping tbsp. capers
Mix flour with salt & pepper to taste. Dredge the chicken in the flour mix. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a skillet set on medium-high. Brown half the chicken on both sides. Keep warm on a plate in a low oven. Add another tbsp. butter to skillet and brown the rest of the chicken. Mix half the lemon juice, half the wine and half the capers. Add to chicken in skillet. Cook about 1 minute, turning chicken once during that time. Set chicken aside & keep warm. Return first batch of chicken to skillet. Mix remaining lemon juice, wine and capers. Add to skillet and cook 1 minute, turning chicken once. Add this chicken to the other batch and keep warm. Add 1 tbsp. butter to sauce in skillet and swirl to melt completely. Serve chicken with this sauce. Serves 2-3.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Halloween Fondue

Finding myself celebrating Halloween all by my lonesome, I wondered what I could make for dinner that would be special and celebratory so I wouldn't feel so blue about not getting to go visit my auntie with J & the boys. I settled on a Cheddar & Ale fondue recipe of Sandra Lee's. I skipped the homemade bread part, opting instead to eat it with pumpernickel and pretzel rods. This would be good for a party, too! A perfect accompaniment is Winesaps, sliced and served with caramel dip. I have a stash of caramel that my mom's neighbor made. Mmm. The fondue recipe can be found at: I used Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale and it was perfect.

A Cozy Stew for the Crockpot

Monday evening, I walked into the house and gave thanks for the crockpot, from which a delicious odor of pork stew wafted! This is a tasty melange of winter veggies & pork loin, easy to throw together and soul-satisfying to eat. We just had some buttered bread with it.

Hearty Pork Stew

1 1/2 lb. pork loin, cut in chunks

3 parsnips, peeled and sliced

5 carrots, peeled & sliced

1 1/2 c. butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 onion, chopped

4 c. chicken broth

Salt & pepper to taste

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

Put pork and veggies in crockpot. Add broth, salt, pepper. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high 3-4. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Gradually stir in flour until you have a smooth paste. Add to stew, stir well and cook another 30-45 minutes on high, stirring occasionally. Serves 4-6.