Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Menus –

I am going on vacation!! Hope to get tons of ideas for new recipes along the way – thought I would leave you with some menu ideas to look at while I am away

I cook pretty much every night, and while I do love to entertain mostly I cook just for my family … I write down what I make and I got this crazy idea to record it here – so here are over 2 months of everyday menus that I really made over the few months – sprinkled among these are a few entertaining and party menus, ideas for formal sit downs as well as buffets – all of these are doable, some need more time and effort than others – well here goes: (Recipes which are available on video
my youtube channel
are marked with a *** )

Lets begin with some fancy:

The other night I wanted something special for friends, so I made a million homemade raviolis, sausages (hot and sweet Italian, first poached then grilled) a lovely salad, homemade garlic bread and a new york style cheesecake *** – I started with some high quality store bought crackers, a few cheeses and green grapes. Oh – strawberries with sugar and grand marnier with the cheesecake, coffee of course

A semi-formal sit down dinner:

The other weekend we had 2 couples over (plus us) so 6 people – I wanted to try something a little more formal but not too stuffy I made:

• A veggie platter with a simple sour cream/cream cheese/herb dip – included pepper rings in many colors (red, green, orange and yellow), carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, broccoli florets and cauliflower florets
• A platter of my bacon, mushroom palmiers ***
• Tortilla chips and salsa ***
• Mixtures of sangria ***
• Arugula bacon cheddar and apple salad ***
• Crispy chicken simply breaded and sautéed in butter ***
• Veal Saltimbocca ***
• Soft Polenta ***
• Parmesan crusted baby zucchini
• Decadent chocolate brownies *** with fresh strawberries macerated in triple sec and confectioners sugar and crème fraiche

Prior to that I had a simple backyard get together with 1 other couple and just did:

• Chips and salsa ***
• Chicken and steak fajitas, with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, green onions and cheese ***
• Savory black beans (canned black beans, with sautéed diced green bell pepper, onion and a little vinegar) ***
• Mexican rice ***
• Red sangria ***
• Decadent chocolate brownies ***

For my Moms Birthday I made:

• Vadas ***
• Aloo Goobi ***
• Chicken curry tikka masala
• Royal rice ***
• Naan
• Italian cheesecake ***

For large gatherings I like to make:

• Veggie platter
• Mozzarella /tomato and basil caprese salad
• Crispy sausages
• Meatballs ***
• Timpano
• Lasagnas: spinach, mushroom and meat (***)
• Canolies

A real celebration dinner I do sometimes:
• English style crown roast of beef
• Yorkshire pudding
• Creamed spinach (***)
• Roasted potatoes (roasted in goose fat or beef fat) (***)
• Crème brulee (***)

For fun and just for a playdate with some children for my daughter and other moms

• Mini gourgres (***)
• Brushetta with assorted toppings like pesto and tapenade (***)
• Fresh fruit: green grapes, blueberries, strawberries
• Chocolate chip cookies
• Biscotti (***)

Other ideas for more simple family dinners include the following dinners I have recently made:

For days when you have time to cook:

• Lasagna al forno (***)
• salad
• Garlic bread
• Three bean salad (***)
• Chocolate pudding (***)

• Fried chicken (***)
• Coleslaw
• Hush puppies
• Green beans

• Stuffed grape leaves (***)
• Hummus (***)
• Pita crisps (***)
• Mashed potatoes
• Baked acorn squash

• Turkey burgers (mini) (***)
• Homemade buns (mini) (***)
• Warm German potato salad with bacon
• Green beans

Well, I need to pack - can't wait to start my vacation - if I can post while in Europe I will...happy cooking everyone

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dinner with friends - lasagna etc

Had a wonderful dinner party last night, it was so easy because I had already made a lovely spinach and cheese lasagna and it was in the freezer - made a quick caprese salad to go with it, and some crispy sausages, both hot and sweet. Had cannolis for desert. For appetizers I put together a cheese ball and served it with some grapes and crackers and also offered to kinds of salsa, hot and mild with some blue corn chips and some line-yellow corn chips. Added a big pitcher of easy to make sangria and we had a great time with what seemed like minimal effort on my part

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Last night - perfect steak, again

Found some gorgeous aged ribeye steaks and couldn't resist. Paired them with some roasted asparagus and some Arancini (rice balls stuffed with cheese) - made a video of the steak and here it is
Now for dinner tonight? I am thinking of a tart with cream cheese pastry crust and a layer of tomatos, shredded provolone maybe some sauteed leeks? A little fresh basil and some olive oil - sounds light but good ...


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dog Training I

Some fun with my dogs and a break from cooking ...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and a cool mojo

Its Monday, again and its raining again...yesterday was Fathers day, so my daughter made Daddy breakfast in bed (with a little help from me) we made a feta spinach egg scramble, love that combination, some english muffins, canadian bacon and fruit. Put it all on pretty dishes on a pretty tray and served it to Dad in bed - had leftovers for dinner from last nights amazing meal - my guests called on their way home to rave about how good the food was which really made me feel good ...tonight I want to try something new so I am planning a very easy to prepare, yet quite elegant meal. Butterflied shrimp with crabmeat stuffing, a red onion mojo on the side and some coconut rice. Should be good - very busy day, off to the doctor, the vet - pick up from day camp and of course the grocery store.
Dinner was wonderful, heres my video showing the shrimp and the mojo...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Company dinner - something special

Its Saturday - where did the week go? Had leftovers on Thursday, and take out on Friday.
We are having friends for dinner tonight, and here is my menu:

Bacon and feta and spinach stuffed roasted mushrooms
Veggie platter of colorful bell peppers with hummus
Caprese Salad
Spinach and cheese filled fresh pasta cannelloni
Crispy Italian sausages, hot and sweet
Garlic bread
red and white wine with dinner
Cannoli's, coffee

I have been cooking all morning. Made my twice roasted stuffed mushrooms, made the spinach and cheese filling for my cannelloni- made the egg pasta- its in the fridge and soon I have to roll it out. Need to make some hummus which I will serve with cut up red, yellow, orange and green peppers. Need to make the filling for the cannoli's which we will have for dessert -garlic bread is ready to go in the oven- what else?? Oh - the sausages, hot and sweet Italian I will partially cook these soon, then about 20 mins before serving slice into 1/2 pieces and sear on both sides to get them nice and crispy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Easy dinner

Tired today, went swimming with my daughter - don't really feel like cooking up a storm. I decided to make a simple tomato sauce, use a ton of fresh oregano from my garden to spice it up. I am going to serve that over some penne pasta and make a simple salad. I think I will offer some ricotta cheese to put on top of the sauce - that has to be one of my all time favorite combinations. The hot pasta and sauce topped with the cold ricotta just tastes wonderful to me. I think I will cut up some fresh basil to top the ricotta with. Maybe some garlic bread to. Thats it - easy night. Oh, and maybe some sauteed mushrooms, either in the sauce or on the side?

Thinking about Saturday, I have friends coming for dinner -wonderful couple and they are bringing their little dog too! They don't eat chicken, or care for fish and if memory serves they are also not fond of veal - oh, and no eggs presented in any fashion that doesn't conceal the egg (that is, baked goods using eggs are fine, but a poached or hard boiled egg atop a salad or some such thing is not acceptable)so I need to decide what to make ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Salmon Cakes with Tarragon

Last night, my brother and nieces stopped over - I made some gorgeous looking salmon into lovely salmon cakes and served them with some corn on the cob and some steamed brocollini.
Salmon Cakes
1.5 lbs salmon fillet
1 lemon
1/2 red onion
1 cup carrots
1 egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbs chopped fresh Tarragon
Poach Salmon -
coat foil with cooking spray, place salmon skin side down and drizzle with olive oil. Lay some thinly sliced lemons and 1/2 of the red onion, thinly sliced atop salmon. Encase in foil (loosely) bake on a cookie sheet at 400 F for about 8 mins or until barely done. Let cool, then remove skin and flake salmon with a fork removing any bones if needed.
Chop carrots in a food processor and add 1/2 of the red onion, chop. Place mixture in a bowl, add flaked salmon, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and Tarragon. Form mixture into patties, using wet hands, refrigerate covered for at least an hour. Saute in olive oil in a cast iron skillet for a few mins per side over medium heat. Serve with tarter sauce if desired.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The weekend - chicken quesadillas and pico de gallo

well, my daughter and husband got sick so we had to cancel Saturdays dinner with friends. The good thing is I had already made a huge tray of Spinach lasagna. This dish freezes beautifully so I am ready to go whenever we reschedule the dinner party. The bad thing is I have a ton of mushrooms and I am not sure if I make my roasted stuffed mushrooms that they will freeze well, I am worried about the mushrooms ending up soggy...guess I will find out or figure out something else to do with them. Its hard to find time to write on the weekends, but I promise to keep up with this on weekdays. Might make chicken soup today, as everyone is still a bit under the weather around here.

Actually everyone is feeling a lot better, so I changed dinner plans. I made some quick pico de gallo, served it with blue corn chips for a starter. I grilled up some chicken breasts which I first marinated in a little olive oil, lime juice, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and a bunch of fresh thyme from my herb garden. Then I made some chicken quesadillas with jack cheese, green onions and the chicken - served it up with sour cream and the pico de gallo - great!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday, Whats for dinner??

Tired- woke up early and made the fruit salad. It came out really pretty and was a big hit at her picnic. You can really use any kind of fruit you like, but here's what I did for this one:

Tropical Fruit Salad
1 large pineapple, carefully cut in half and flesh scooped out, diced, core discarded
1 pint raseberries
2 cups blue berries
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rings, then quartered
2 mangos (ripe please, or don't use -I went through 4 to get 2) diced
1/4 watermelon diced
1 can manderine oranges packed in juice if you can find them and drained
1 lb strawberries, diced
mint, chopped fine and clusters of leaves for garnish

Combine all fruit in a large bowl and toss gently to coat - add chopped mint. Scoop into
pineapple boats (or use a bowl) and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
Now for tonight -since it was a special day for Jess, she gets to pick the menu. She wants meat sauce and pasta and garlic bread (i'm adding salad)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whats for dinner?

Tomorrow is my daughters last day of school, and I have offered to bring a fruit salad for 20. I will make it tomorrow morning, though I might do some prep tonight. I wanted to go with something tropical and something kids will like - so I'm thinking pineapple (maybe I'll even serve it in the pineapple shells, I have 2 so that would make 2 pineapple bowls), kiwi, banana, mango -couldn't find a decent papaya or any starfruit - have some berries, grapes, etc. Tonight its just me and Jess so I think I'll do something super easy - maybe english muffin pizzas? I don't think she has ever had this and she loves my homemade pizza -or maybe quesadillas?

Nervous about Saturday, we are having friends for dinner and normally this is right up my alley, loving to cook as I do. This Saturday Jess has a bday party to attend from 2-4, and also one on Friday. My guests are arriving at 5:30 on Saturday - so I need a make ahead dinner I can pull together when I get back from the birthday party - thinking maybe a lasagna, salad, garlic bread combo and my double roasted stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer- still not sure...

At anyrate, for tonight I made english muffin pizzas - super easy, lightly toast muffins, spread with tomato sauce, sprinkle with some oregano, about 1 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese, some canned mushrooms, fresh basil, olive oil and broil until cheese melts. I served these with some extra canned mushrooms (because my daughter loves these) and some sugar snap peas.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday night,dinner ideas?

OK - its Tuesday, I had a very wild day - dogs are crazy. Kid is crazy - need an easy, different dinner idea - decided on a turkey meatloaf (hubby really wants what he deems "healthy") I usually hate turkey meatloaf, I am very partial to beef - hey, its "whats for dinner", right?

At anyrate, decided on an all white meat turkey meat loaf. Going to stuff it with cheese and roasted peppers, serve it with some gravy and some green beans - mashed potatoes are optional..
and here's the video

Monday, June 8, 2009

The weekend, and now what to make for dinner tonight

The weekend was lovely, didn't cook on Saturday - grabbed some deli coleslaw and macaroni salad and some organic beef patties,packed it all up in a cooler with some fixins' and a bag of charcoal. We went kayaking, and then had a bbq at a local park - gorgeous day! Sunday, made some mashed potatoes with green olives and cream cheese and grilled a chicken, steamed some asparagus. Sunday also had a playdate party for my daughter and let the girls make cat face cupcakes -

they had a blast. Now, I am trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight, husband mentioned a stirfry and I have a ton of green onions that need used up, so maybe a simple shrimp stirfry and some rice? That is exactly what i did -

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tomato stuffed with Crabsalad

Last night I made a 50's classic-which still works today. A simple crab salad stuffed into an artfully cut tomato on a bed of shredded hearts of romaine. Easy, fun and delicious
6 oz of crab meat
1/2 cup low fat mayo
2 Tbs ketchup
2 tsp horseradish, optional
black pepper
4 tomatoes, cored
hearts of romaine sliced crosswise into 1/4 lengths
combine crab meat,mayo, ketchup and horseradish add a few turns black pepper,cut tomatoes into 6 wedges, but don't cut all the way through the bottom, fan out the tomatoes on lettuce lined plates and fill with crab salad

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan and a chopped salad

Yesterday morning my daughter requested eggplant parm for dinner - one of her all time
favorites. I love my version because I don't use the oven at all. I paired it with a quick chopped salad made of what I could find in the fridge. Whenever I make eggplant parm, I keep a few of the eggplant slices just pan fried and serve them as an appetizer, without the tomato sauce and cheese - Jess calls these "Naked eggplants"
and she loves to take leftovers to school the next day ...
easy healthy meal, I like to get started early in the day. Breading the eggplants and then refrigerating them for several hours helps the coating to adhere and thereby reduces the amount of oil absorbed by the eggplants while sauteing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dinner Tonight - easy skillet chicken

My sister came in to town, last minute kinda thing, had to cancel a playdate, pick her up from the bus station - do a ton of emergency dog handling exercises with her - then back home, pick up my daughter - what to do about dinner?

Easy - went with chicken florentine, basically bread, egg and dip in breadcrumbs seasoned with spices and some parm. Pan fry the chickens, plate up over some boiled spinach add some easy stuffing and your good to go!! Here's a video where i did this to the chicken, but used chard instead of spinach and spaghetti squash instead of stuffing - this would work just as well!

Dinner Last night - a different take on chicken

Last night, I made a very different chicken dish - a steamed ground chicken. It was quite delightful, and I paired it with coconut rice for a lovely light Thai style dinner. The chicken was very easy to prepare, and you can even do most of the work ahead of time.

Steamed Chicken Cups

1 lb ground chicken
1/2 lb ground pork
3 cloves of garlic
10 sprigs fresh cilantro
2 Tbs coconut milk
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Thai fish sauce

Basically you just combine everything and press the mixture into 1/2 cup
ramekins. (first finely mince the garlic and the cilantro stems, save the leaves for final garnish. This can be done ahead, cover and refrigerate, 20 mins before dinnertime
place the ramekins in a steamer over 2 inches of boiling water and cover and steam for 20 minutes. Then invert onto a plate and garnish with some of the cilantro leaves