Archive for ‘Dinner’

May 1, 2014

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Are you like me and secretly hide your love of Hamburger Helper – the ease of it all, the fact that your kids love it, and so do you? My favorites are Beefy Pasta and Cheeseburger Macaroni. I don’t think I have really cared to try the rest since I know it’s over processed and not healthy and I am already addicted to two of them. It’s a guilty pleasure, and a rare occurrence in my house. But when I bust out the Hamburger Helper in my house you can hear the cheering and there is never any left. And if there is my husband or my one stepson (I have two stepsons and one daughter) happily take it for lunch the following day. Well, I wanted to come up with a way to have my hamburger helper and eat it, guilt-free, too.

hamburger helper-7990 

1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. garlic powder (you could also use 2 cloves fresh minced garlic)

1  tbsp. dried onion flakes

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. pepper (or more to taste)

2 large beef bullion cubes (or 3 small ones)

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

2 1/2  cups hot water

1/2 cup milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

 

Brown the ground beef in a pan with the worcestershire, garlic powder, onion flakes, and pepper.

IMG_1328

Crumble the bullion cubes into the meat and stir. Add the cornstarch and stir to coat the meat.

IMG_1330

Slowly add the water and milk. Stir until mixed and add the pasta.

IMG_1333

 

Cover and cook for 12 minutes (or until the noodles are tender). Add the cheese at the end and stir until completely melted.

hamburger helper-8003

It’s that easy! Just as easy as the boxed stuff and I promise just as good. You won’t go back! At least I will not go back, I’ll work on the cheeseburger mac next.

Enjoy~

Amanda

 

Advertisements
June 13, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers on the Grill

Stuffed Peppers

Twice now Stuffed Peppers has been on my weekly dinner menu. Twice now, I have decided to make something different with the ground beef because I did not want to turn the oven on and heat up the house for an hour. To solve this problem, I decided to try to make the peppers on the grill. I thought 350 on the grill is the same as 350 in the oven, right? Right!

So I prepared these babies wrapped them up in foil and cooked them indirectly on the grill. It takes about the same time 45 minutes or so but I’m not heating up the house! And you can really get creative if you add some mesquite or hickory wood in a little foil bowl or in a little foil wrapping, and add a whole other flavor to the mix (Note to self, try that next time).

Stuffed Peppers

1 1/2-2lbs lb. ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork, heck even try turkey)

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup minute rice

1 egg, scrambled

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

4 bell peppers (green are my favorite)

Topping:

1/2 ketchup

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon sriracha (or any hot or chili sauce)

Mix the ground beef, ketchup, rice, egg and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.

Wash the peppers, then cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the stems, seeds and veins.

Stuff the peppers evenly with the meat mixture.

In a separate bowl mix the ketchup  , Worcestershire, soy sauce and chili sauce together. Pour the sauce over the top of the meat.

Wrap the peppers in foil and heat the grill to 350 degrees. Turn off one burner in the middle of your grill and place the peppers over that burner so that the flame is not directly under the peppers. Keep the grill temperature at 350 and cook the peppers for about 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature measures 160 degrees.

This is what it looks like when you open the foil and they are done…YUM!

Stuffed Peppers2

That is it! Not so bad right?

~Enjoy~

Amanda

September 29, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Pasta

One of my go-to dishes during the winter. It is meatless so you can feel good about going meatless one night a week. Cannellini beans are low-fat, packed with fiber (10g) and a 3oz portion has 10% of your daily value of iron (about the same amount of iron found in a 3oz portion of beef) and the cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C.

You know there is always that debate about how to cook your vegetables – steam, boil, microwave, roast. Truth is it varies. For example (I got this off Dr. Weil’s website),

“A study published in the November 2003 issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli cooked in the microwave lost up to 97 percent of its antioxidant content but lost only 11 percent when it was steamed. Another study showed that spinach cooked in the microwave retained nearly all its folate but lost about 77 percent of this nutrient when cooked on the stove.

The one consistent thing I read is that how MUCH or LONG you cook your veggies usually determines how much nutrients are lost. If you overcook vegetables (they are mushy), you are losing many more nutrients, than if you cook them to a tender crisp. I keep most of my vegetables tender- crisp. I am no nutritionist, I do read a lot about food on my quest to learn “how” to properly prepare foods, so count this as my own, unprofessional, conclusion.  Bottom line, though, as long as you are eating vegetables regularly you will be healthier in general!

If you want to learn more about properly cooking vegetables Alice Waters: The Art of Simple Food is a great vegetable cooking guide!

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 shallot
½ box spaghetti noodles
1 can cannellini beans (or other white bean)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup shredded parmesan

(You could also use a can of garbanzo bean and roast them with the cauliflower to mix it up – roasted garbanzos are a great snack or mix them with roasted chicken and tomatoes – they are really good!)

Take a head of cauliflower, pull it apart and then cupt it up into bite-sized pieces. Coat the pieces lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and toss.  Roast the cauliflower in a 450° oven for about 15 minutes, or until it starts to brown. (all ovens are different you make take more or less time)

Meanwhile cook spaghetti noodles according to the package directions, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water when draining the noodles.

Put 2T. Olive oil in the pot and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower and sauté for another minute more.

Drain a can of cannellini, or other white beans. Now add the beans, cooked pasta, and reserved pasta water to the pan and toss. Finish the pasta off with chopped parsley and serve with parmesan cheese and a light salad. (You can add many more vegetables to this dish if you’d like – zucchini, squash, eggplant, just roast with the cauliflower)

(and my daughters slight addition – avocado. To her, avocados goes with EVERYTHING!)

(NOTE: I am going to replace these awful photos with new ones when I make this recipe this week! Ones with nice natural lighting instead of this ugly yellowish lighting – these were taken indoors last winter pre-off camera flash and softbox days). — As promised – 100 times better, right! 🙂

September 5, 2011

Easy 5-step Baby Back Ribs

RIB FAIRY DUST (Just for those guys out there…)
3T. Kosher Salt
3T black pepper
2T brown sugar
1T paprika
2T garlic powder
1T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Easy Baby Back Ribs

While these ribs do take a couple hours to cook, they are simple and do not require much attention or preparation.

1.  Pull off the membrane from underneath each rack of ribs and cut each rack in half.

2.   Coat the ribs evenly with the spice rub, making sure to get both sides.

(At this point you can place the ribs in a glass baking dish cover the ribs and allow them to sit overnight. Or you can move on to the next step.)

3.  Wrap each rack in foil.

(place one piece of foil on the bottom and one on top. Crunch the sides together, leaving room for any steam to move around in the packet.)

4.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours @ 325 degrees.

(Place the ribs in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet so any drips are not caught by the bottom of your oven)

5.  Once your ribs are done, remove them from the foil.  Finish directly on the grill until both sides are crisp and the rub starts to sizzle.

(If you like barbecue sauce on your ribs, add the sauce during this step. With the grill on med-low, add sauce to the top side of your ribs, close the lid and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Turn and coat the bottom half of your ribs, close the lid and cook a few minutes more. Repeat this step until you have a good layer of caramelized barbecue sauce on your ribs. (2 or 3 times).)

Some people par boil their ribs, but here my opinion why to avoid this method…boiling meat pulls the flavor out of the meat and into the water. Boiling  meat is for making rich Stocks, not to barbecue meat – would you boil a great Ribeye? Remember, tender meat comes from meat that is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, not from the boiling process. Have you ever cooked anything too long in the crock pot and found it was dried out although liquid was in the pot? Yep liquid can dry out meat. It also pulls the flavor from your meat, that is why most roasts call for wine, tomato sauce, or stock to add flavor to the meat while cooking low and slow.

However, If you insist on the boil method, I can attest that ribs do come out tasty, but think how much tastier they could be cooked in their own juices? 

-Enjoy

Amanda

May 30, 2011

Braised Artichokes (a little How-to)

This week grocery shopping, I decided to part with my usual organized self and go without a list. I know, right? Scary.  I am not abandoning my usually weekly menu planning, I am just doing it a little backwards. I decided to go to the store and pick out the things that looked good, were in season or, in some cases, more affordable (let’s admit that has to be considered more and more these days).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to make a new artichoke dish, and lucky for me artichokes are in season and they looked good. Making artichokes usually means bringing a pot of water to a boil, then cooking the artichokes for 45 minutes to an hour.  Not this dish.  Braising artichokes does not require boiling water or cooking for a long period of time.  Braising brings out amazing flavor that puts the artichokes over the top. Butter and mayonnaise, no need! Save those calories and grams of fat but get a punch of flavor.

First, how to prepare an artichoke… (on my blog I have some step-by-step photos and my wonderful friend Tara helped me – thank you!).

Collages

1. Cut about 1/3 off the top of the artichoke.

2. Cut the stem leaving about 1/2 inch or so on the bottom.

3. Peel off the tough outer leaves. Peel the leaf bending it back and the good part at the bottom of the leaf will stay on while the inedible part will come right off.

4. Snip off the tip of the remaining leaves, to remove the thistles.

5. With a pairing knife trim off the outer portions of the stem and the tough/stringy green part left by the leaves you peeled.

Collages1

6. Now turn the artichoke on its top and quarter the artichoke.

7. On the heart is a line where the little hairs start to form. Following that line cut toward the leaves and cut out all the hairs along with the bloom in the center. (that inner part will bloom into a thistle flower if left on the bush).

8. Place the quartered artichokes in a bowl of lemon water to help stop the browning while you cut the rest of your artichokes

To prepare an artichoke whole, stop at Step 5 and steam or boil your artichokes.  Also you could use a spoon to dig out the middle bloom and hairs, then stuff the artichoke with a cheese bread crumb mixture, or a mixture of your favorite herbs and butter.

BRAISED ARTICHOKES

4 artichokes (1 per person)

2 scallions, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper

(add-ins: chopped kalamata olives, herbs de Provence, capers, tomatoes, a mixture of your favorite herbs, thyme, basil, oregano.)

Prepare your artichokes, and quarter them.

In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until translucent.

Add the quartered artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to Medium-low and add the wine and water. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the artichokes are soft and a leaf pulls off easily. I like to brown the artichokes up a bit at this point.

I like to serve this with crusty basil-garlic bread or as a side dish to grilled pork chops or chicken.

IMG_8604-46 -2

May 16, 2011

Ratatouille Pizza

IMG_8458-5 -2

We (my daughter and I) call this pizza the sunshine pizza. It’s so bright and happy and with the roasted marinated peppers as rays of a sun.  This recipe for pizza dough, though, is the bomb. Definitely the best I found. This weekend I got a great opportunity to help out with a catering event. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much in such a short amount of time.  Thanks Anne, it was awesome! (visit her site@ http://annewilesgourmet.com/). There was so much great food! In particular, Anne had set up a grilled pizza station for guests to top their own pizzas. We finished them off on the grill. Such a yummy, fun idea!

So now my inspiration kicked in for this fantastic ratatouille pizza.  I originally saw this idea on www.morethanamouthfull.com. I must say I am not a big fan of eggplant, as much as I want to be, it’s just on the “ok” list for me. But on this pizza it is pretty fantastic mixed with the squash, red onion, peppers and fresh mozz and basil! Perfecto!

IMG_8453-4 -2

Dough (by Marcy Goldman)

1 1/2 cup warm water

2 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast

2 tsp sugar (or honey or agave)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2-3 cups bread flour

Olive oil for brushing the pans and dough.

In a stand mixer. Mix the water and yeast and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the sugar, salt, oil, cornmeal, all-purpose flour and 2 cups of bread flour and mix to make a soft mass.  Knead with the dough hook on the slowest speed of the mixer, dusting in additional flour as required to form a soft, elastic dough, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until almost doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough, cover and allow to rest an additional 15 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough.  Press or roll out dough to fit prepared pizza pans.

If dough resists or otherwise retracts, let it rest for a few minutes, then gently coax it to fit pan.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top of dough.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

IMG_8468-15 -2

Thinly slice a yellow squash, Japanese eggplant (it’s closer in size to the yellow squash) and red onion. Slice roasted peppers into thin strips and dice some sun dried tomatoes (you can use fresh thin sliced tomato and layer it with the eggplant and squash.

Brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle some fresh oregano, or brush with a garlicky cream sauce.  Leaving about an inch from the edge of the crust alternate the eggplant and squash (tomato too if you are using fresh) once around. This is where my daughter got excited saying “hey, it’s a pattern!” Next layer some onion slices. Now alternate another layer of eggplant and squash until the pizza is completely covered. Lay the slices of peppers, we liked the sun pattern, you can do whatever way you’d like. Sprinkle a mixture of your favorite cheeses or mix and top with fresh mozzarella, basil and salt and pepper.

Bake 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 400 F.  Bake another 15 – 20 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly brown.

Or cook your pizza on the grill – 450-500 degrees and cook the pizza on both sides just a little. Dress your pizza with toppings and then finish it off on the grill until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden.

April 25, 2011

Un-Traditional Easter Dinner

Since our family had to postpone Easter dinner until next weekend, I decided to make Braciole for Easter. It’s a dish I attempted and failed at before so it was time for another try.

Braciole is an Italian dish made with steak (sirloin pounded into think strips, or flank steak pounded to about a 1/4’”) stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs, then stewed in a tomato sauce.

Technique: Braising. Braising and stewing begin with searing meats to lock in the moisture and create a good crust on the meat. Another great side effect of Braising is the sauce. Braising uses a small amount of liquid so by the end of the cooking process the sauce has reduced and developed deeper flavors.

IMG_8208-56 

I begin with the tomato sauce since it should simmer for 30-minutes, then I use that time to make the stuffing and prepare the steak.

Tomato Sauce

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion, finely diced

8oz mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

crushed red pepper

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

4-5 basil leaves

salt and pepper

In an oven safe pot saute the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms until they are softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow to cook about 3 minutes.

IMG_8150-19

Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

IMG_8160-29

After 30 minutes add the torn basil leaves to the tomato mixture and stir.

Steak

1 flank steak

1/2 c bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/4 c parmesan cheese

1/2 bunch of parsley

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper

NOTE: Add other ingredients to the stuffing such as, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, green onion, spinach, mushrooms, etc…

(Next time I am going to try spinach, provolone and sun dried tomatoes, and I won’t process it in the food processor).

IMG_8144-13IMG_8165-34

Place all the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s paste-like.

Lay the steak out on a cutting board and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing over the steak, then roll it up starting with the narrow end.

Tie the ends and middle with kitchen twine. Sear the steak on all sides until it is brown, then add it to the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The longer you cook it the more tender the meat.

I served the Braciole with roasted asparagus and basil butter orzo.

IMG_8199-47

April 14, 2011

Seared Ahi w/Mixed Greens

This post will, by far, be the shortest post.  That’s how easy it is.

Seared Ahi

I made this for Appetizer Extravaganza! for Shawnee’s birthday (with zebra cheesecake).

Not having a lot of experience with making sushi or serving rare fish I am very cautious. I’m not confident with the freshness of fish at the grocery store, so I will start by telling you I called in a favor to a friend who owns a restaurant.  So if you know your source and the freshness of your fish you’re good (Or if you are lucky and fortunate enough to have a friend like I do!)

On with the recipe!

6-8oz of Ahi per person

sesame seeds (regular and black)

1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper

salt and pepper

On a plate evenly spread the sesame seeds, red pepper, salt and pepper.

Dip all sides of each piece of fish in the sesame seed mixture.

Heat a grill pan over high heat, spray with a thin coat of oil.

Sear the Ahi 2 minutes on each side (watch out the sesame seeds started popping everywhere).

Slice thinly and lay on a bed of greens. I served this with Sriracha chili sauce and soy sauce because we all liked it simple.

Enjoy!

April 7, 2011

Sausage, Bean and Kale Stew

The other day a wise man (my dentist, Chris Kleintjes) mentioned that someone must have came up with the name “Spring” for this season because [around here] the weather keeps springing back and forth. “At least that’s my perspective,” he said. Even if that is not really the reason behind the name “Spring,” I think from this point forward that’s what we should say anyway, considering the weather we get in Nevada. Looking out the window today I can tell you that it is very evident, the weather has sprung back to Winter! Yesterday was a decent Spring day, while today is surely Winter again!

With my anticipation of Spring and my daydreaming of farmer’s markets and CSA baskets, I decided to offer you this Sausage, Bean and Kale Stew. It’s warm and comforting for the cold days, but full of good stuff. Kale is a Spring green and if you subscribe to a CSA basket, you will probably be looking for recipes with greens. This stew is versatile, I have made it with Swiss Chard and it worked out just as well. Any hardy leafy green will do just fine. So use what you like.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Dinner: A Love Story. Jenny, a food writer for publications such as Bon Appetit, Cookie, and Real Simple, and her husband write this blog about their adventures in cooking and eating dinner with their sometimes-picky children. Jenny held a contest for easiest meals with directions that you could fit in a Twitter post (that is 140 characters). I entered, but unfortunately for me I did not win. This recipe, however, was the winning recipe. Although my recipe did not take the “post” I did find a great new recipe I love…(Thank you DALS and Anna, the winner).

 

 

Sausage, Bean and Kale Stew

Dinner: A Love Story Contest

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
8 Italian sausage links (I squeeze the sausage out or buy it without the casing)
1 (32 oz. ) container of chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 large bunch of kale, rinsed & chopped (or other greens)

In a Dutch or large pot, sauté red pepper flakes and onion in olive oil until the onions soften, then add the sausage and cook until browned.

Add garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, and beans, cook until heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring it all to a boil. Add the kale, cover and simmer until the kale is wilted (just a few minutes). Serve with shredded or shaved parmesan or Romano and some of your favorite crusty bread.

February 25, 2011

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Okay people, this is a super easy recipe for Lasagna and it’s AMAZING to me that the noodles go in uncooked. What!? you say? Yes no pre-cooking necessary! Cooking the noodles is the biggest pain in the butt, to me.  Bringing water to a boil, cooking noodles in batches and then working with hot noodles…ugh it sucks and takes the most time!

The most amazing part about this recipe? Are you ready for this because I think it’s a shocker! I made LASAGNA the day before I moved to a new house – with 95% of my kitchen packed in boxes! YES! It is THAT easy!

The slow cooker to the rescue! Most of the work of lasagna can be done all at once – cook your noodles and make a homemade sauce that develops deep flavor with minimal effort. (seriously whoever invented the slow cooker is GENIUS!) If you are like me I like to use homemade marinara or tomato sauce for my lasagna and it takes hours to cook. Then you still have to cook the noodles, and then assemble the whole thing.  The prep time in this recipe is significantly less! (Note: I love white lasagna and am not sure how well the white sauce will hold up in the crockpot, I’ll let you know when I try it).

Alter this recipe using ingredients you like. The sauce below is just a simple sauce I use for weekenights and is not the good tomato sauce I always use, but I was moving so didn’t have any sauce pans out. Don’t hesitate to use your favorite store-bought sauce too. Mix it up a bit and use different meat – or no meat. I used sausage because that is my favorite.

2-28oz cans crushed tomatoes (I used diced but think crushed would work better)
2 teaspoons herbs de provence (or basil, oregano, thyme mixture)
1 clove garlic, smashed  (or 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cranks of fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 large container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
1 large package of spinach
1 pound ground beef, chicken, pork, sausage (optional)
1 box of regular lasagna noodles (not the no cook kind)

Brown the meat and set aside.

If you use your own homemade sauce – start it like you would normally and once it is completely assembled and to the point in  your recipe that all it needs to do is simmer, it is ready to be used in the slow cooker lasagna (remember it’ll cook for 3-4 hours in the slow cooker.

Mix the first 7 ingredients together in one bowl.

IMG_6785-3

In another bowl, mix the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella and salt and pepper, set aside.

IMG_6789-7

Assemble:

1.   Put a little sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker;
2.  top with uncooked lasagna noodles. You may have to break the noodles into pieces to make sure you cover the bottom of the slow cooker (don’t hold back make sure you fully cover each layer with noodles even if they are little pieces, nobody will know!);
3.   add two cups of spinach (it looks like a lot but it will cook down);
4.   add 1 cup or so of sauce;
5.   dollop 1 cup or so of the ricotta mixture, then smooth it around;
6.   top with a layer of noodles;
7.   repeat another layer or two (or until you run out of ingredients;
8.   end with sauce and top with mozzarella cheese.

IMG_6784-2

Cover and turn the slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours, or until the noodles (in the center) are tender.

IMG_6791-9