Tag Archives: dinner

Easy Breezy Beautiful

Cover Girl Lasagna.

I’m a fan of make-ahead meals.

During a busy week, my make-ahead meals are a life saver, a budget saver and a health saver.

Instead of ordering pizza or grabbing something on the way home, I can come home, open the freezer and bake a main dish within an hour.

My favorite make-ahead meal:  Lasagna.

After several attempts with several recipes, this is my absolute favorite.

While it isn’t the easiest to put together and requires some time on my part, it is quite worth it.

I never get tired of lasagna.  I can have it for a week-straight – lunch and dinner – which is exactly how long this recipe lasts.

My Favorite Lasagna
adapted from here

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 12 lasagna noodles *I buy the ones you do not have to pre-boil
  • 16 oz skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Directions:
  1. Heat a dutch oven (or large pot) over medium-high heat.
  2. Once pot is hot, add olive oil and wait for it to heat up.
  3. Once oil is hot, add onions and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add ground beef.  Cook until browned.
  5. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  6. Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 T salt, pepper and 2 T parsley.
  7. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  9. Make ricotta mixture:  combine ricotta cheese, egg, 2 T parsley and nutmeg.
  10. Assemble in the following layers:  (a) 1.5 cups of meat sauce at the bottom of the lasagna dish, (b) arrange approximately 6 noodles to cover the meat sauce, (c) add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture to the noodles and spread evenly, (d) add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices, (e) add 1.5 cups of meat sauce over the cheese slices, (f) sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over the meat sauce, (g) arrange another 6 noodles to cover the top, (h) add remaining 1/2 of the ricotta mixture to the noodles and spread evenly, (i) add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices, (j) add 1.5 cup of the meat sauce over the cheese, (k) add remaining mozzarella cheese slices, (l) sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
  11. Spray foil with non-stick spray and cover the lasagna dish.
  12. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Are you a fan of make-ahead meals?  What’s your make-ahead meal?

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20 Comments

Filed under baking, Favorites, Italian

Thai Tanee

I love Asian food.  Obviously I’m a huge fan of Indian.  My next favorite would be Korean.  Then, Japanese.  Of my top 10 Asian food favs, I think Thai food would be the last or near the last on that list.

I rarely crave it, but when I do, it’s almost an unstoppable force.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Binks and I Yelp-ed and found Thai Tanee.

Tai Tanee is located in a strip center, and if I weren’t looking for it, I would likely drive by and never notice.  But, I’m very glad I stopped.

Upon entering the restaurant, you immediately (well, I immediately) notice how clean everything is.  We were immediately seated by the sweetest of wait staff.

Binks and I usually share when we go out to eat, so we came up with a game plan.

Appetizers: Tanee Egg Rolls with chicken.  *not pictured, forgive me.

Main Course: Chicken Larb Salad and an order of steamed rice.

When the waitress came to take our order, I made sure to say, Thai hot – very very hot.  As always, I got the typical reaction – “Yes, Yes.”  And, I had to stop her.  No, I mean really – Thai hot – very very hot, I told her again.  She walked off and I hoped to goodness she would know.

She arrived with this:

Don’t let the plethora of red pepper flakes fool you.  It wasn’t Thai hot.  If you have ever cooked with the Thai peppers, you know what Thai hot is.

But, it was full of Thai flavor.  While it was a tad on the sweeter side, Binks and I really enjoyed the meal.

The picture doesn’t do it justice.  The portions were huge.  Mind you, Binks and I shared.

I of course had to have my side dish mixture of garlic chili paste, Sriracha sauce, and low-sodium soy sauce.

Per usual, my side dish mixture turned into pretty much a main course on my plate.

After the waitress saw my hot sauce concoction she said: “Oh, you like really hot.”  I smiled and nodded while sweating out of every orifice in my body.

I’m 80% sure I gave myself 40 new ulcers.  I left very satisfied.

Do you love Thai food?  Have you tried larb salad?  Do you like spicy?  Thai hot?  Do you dare? 🙂

20 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Uncategorized

Semi Olie-Made

Do you guys watch Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Cooking on the Food Network?  (When I had cable), I used to.  Prior to knowing anything about it, I thought the idea was ingenious.  She cooked the way I cooked way back then.

Doctoring up pre-made food was the name of the game.  And I was a playa!

The one thing I knew best was how to doctor up spaghetti sauce.  Why I couldn’t just prepare homemade spaghetti sauce – I don’t know.  But, let me share.

I don’t like jarred spaghetti sauce.  I don’t know if it’s the massive amounts of sugar they put in there or what.  I can never eat a jar of spaghetti sauce without doing something to it.

Let me introduce you to the ‘something’:

Saute with olive oil over medium heat until soft and caramelized.  (I like my marinara a little chunky so I leave the red bell pepper bigger, but feel free to omit or mince based on your preference.) 

Then comes the kicker – the wine.  Binks and I usually have about half a glass left in the wine bottle that we definitely do not want to waste!  Add it after the veggies are done caramelizing.

Add the jar of tomato sauce and simmer for about 20-30 minutes over low heat.

At this point you can use an immersion blender to puree everything or just leave as is – chunky! 🙂  Feel free to make it your own at this point with the addition of basil or parmesan cheese.

Serve with your favorite pasta!

Perfect quick way to use up that spaghetti sauce in the pantry for dinner!

I would suggest this to Sandra Lee, but then….

….. the Kwanzaa cake episode arrived….

Oh. God. No.

What do you doctor up?  Do you watch Sandra’s show?

12 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Vegetarian

Tempeh Joes

I’m 28 years old.

At the age of 9 when I tasted my first sloppy joe.  And, I still remember the sauce.  Delicious sauce!  I remember seeing the commercials on TV for Manwich sandwiches and see the kids wipe off the red sauce from their mouth with the back of their hand (“I want a Manwich please!”) and wanting my next sloppy joe (and a napkin).

At the age of 13, I had my last sloppy joe.  For no other reason than I moved to high school where sloppy joes were somehow left off the school lunch menu.  And, my Indian mom sure as heck would not be making a sloppy joe at home without adding her own Indian flair to it.  So, in an attempt not to dilute the original, I never requested it.

15 years later…

I bought some tempeh and marinated it in my favorite BBQ sauce.

Ignore the burnt spatula – I love that thing despite what I’ve put it through!

I added it to some sautéed onions, garlic, red and green bell pepper.

And I made my own Tempeh Joes!

And you can’t leave out the slaw (mine was shredded cabbage and carrots quickly warmed in a pan) or the pickle.

I finished and relished every bite!  It brought me back to the cafeteria lunch line, ya’ll – minus the mystery meat, which I discovered at age 15.

Tempeh Joes Recipe

Adapted from here

Ingredients

  • Tempeh, 1 8oz package
  • 1 and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce of your choice*
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  • Crumble the tempeh with your hands or a grater until it resembles ground beef.
  • Marinade the tempeh in 1 cup of the BBQ sauce.  I added 1 tsp of Tabasco for a kick.
  • While the tempeh is marinating, prepare your veggies.
  • Heat non-stick pan over med-high heat.
  • Once heated, add oil and wait to heat over same heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, jalapeno (optional), and saute until soft.
  • Add red and green bell peppers and continue to cook until tender and the onions have browned.
  • Add the tempeh and the BBQ sauce to the veggie mix.
  • Cook until heated and cooked through.
  • *Add the 1/4 cup BBQ sauce and cook until warm.
  • Serve on toasted buns (*snicker*)!

*Note:  I like my Tempeh Joes on the saucy side.  If you do not, then omit the 1/4 cup of BBQ and do not add it at the end.

This was my first experience with tempeh and it definitely won’t be my last!

P.S. I made a killer dressing to the slaw that’s creamy without any dairy!  That post is coming up soon! 🙂

Do you cook with tempeh?  If so, what do you do?  What’s your favorite way to cook it?

16 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Where’s the Beef?

The first meal Binks and I cooked/made/prepared together was tacos!  Binks has this secret delicious taco seasoning that I just might have to pry from his grubby taco making hands!  He uses the packet (which I do not prefer), but there are some additions that make the tacos out of this freaking world.

Now, tacos are a regular for our dinners and leftovers for lunch.

Meet Binks’ tacos:

Notice anything different?

Meet mine:

Have you spotted it yet?

Let me strip this taco down to the bare essentials:

These aren’t just your ordinary tacos, my friend.  Meet The Lentil Taco!

I first made these for a Taco Night gathering where I had a couple of vegetarian friends coming for dinner.  I didn’t feel like I should just let them eat tortilla and sides so I concocted my version of a lentil taco.  At that dinner, I fell in love and I have never made beef tacos since.  So did many of the non-veg friends.  Binks, with his secret recipe, still requests these over beef. 

Yep, it’s that good.

Now, these don’t use taco seasoning but next time I make this, I’ll get the lentils ready and have Binks use his seasoning and see how that turns out.  I’ll keep you posted.

Vegan Lentil Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (you can omit this if you do not want that much heat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 4 tsp chili powder (please note this is different from cayenne powder)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano

Directions

  • Heat a large pan over medium-high heat.  A non-stick works perfectly for this.
  • Add olive oil and heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, jalapeno.  Saute until tender and soft – about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, oregano and lentils.
  • Saute for 1-2 minutes until the raw smell of the spices goes away.
  • Add the bouillon cube, water, and juice from 1/2 a lime, and stir to incorporate with the mixture.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and let the mix simmer for about 25 minutes.  You want the lentils to be tender but not mushy.I leave the lentils alone for the full 25 minutes and prepare my sides while this is cooking.
  • Once tender, uncover and mash some of the lentils with the back of a spoon.  I leave some lentils whole because I like the texture.  Mash to your liking!
  • Cook uncovered for another 5-8 minutes.
  • Serve into taco shells, tortillas or over a salad!

Enjoy!

Happy Friday everyone!

14 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Favorites, Vegan

Falafel Tested. Olie Approved.

I was craving falafel.

Falafel is usually fried.

I eat fried things.

I don’t like to fry things.

I don’t like to fry things in my house.

I don’t like things fried when I’m in a house.

There’s a lingering weird smell.

Do you know what I mean?

No?

That’s okay.

Turns out, falafel need not be fried.

Falafel can be baked, did ya know?

Tis just as delicious baked!

Did ya know?

I will never be without falafel again.  And a falafel needs a tahini sauce.  Did I mention its vegan?

Falafel Recipe

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 of a medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno, for heat (optional)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax-seed mixed with 3 tablespoon water) (or you can use an egg)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup wheat germ

–  Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a cookie sheet.  I like to use foil paper and spray Pam on the foil paper so it doesn’t mess up my baking sheet (or parchment should be fine.)

–  In a food process, add parsley, onion, garlic and jalapeno (optional).  Process until it becomes smooth and all veggies are ground up nicely together.  Then, add chickpeas and process until it becomes coarsely ground.  You do not want to process too long because the mixture will be too thin and it won’t hold together.  After its mixed, pour mixture into a bowl.

–  In a separate bowl, prepare the flax egg and add cumin, coriander, salt and black pepper.  Mix and pour into the chickpea mix.

–  Combine everything until its thoroughly incorporated.  Add olive oil and wheat germ until you get a consistency where everything binds together.  The flax egg is important for this.

–  Make into patties (you should get about 9 patties) 2” in diameter.

–  Place patties on the greased cookie sheet.  Spray the patties themselves with cooking spray or you can drizzle a little bit of olive oil on them.

–  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.

–  Turn over each patty and bake for another 10 minutes.

–  Serve with rice, in a pita, by itself, really however you like!  Enjoy yourself.

🙂

18 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Uncategorized, Vegan

Oh. Em. Gee.

Dear goodness and gravy…

What a couple of days…

What happened?

The Good – I got a camera!   I have been taking pictures with my iPhone this entire time!

The Bad – I need to do a lot of learnin’.

The Ugly – Oh dear – do you have time for this?  Indulge me – if you will.

The camera was delivered to my office last Thursday (11/18/2010).  I opened it quickly out of excitement, and I left it on my desk because I was meeting with a client.

I left it in the office overnight. (Foreshadowing for BIG MISTAKE!)

Next morning, I come in and it’s gone. I saw some packaging paper sitting next to my trash and I knew – I just knewthe cleaning staff threw it away thinking it was trash.

I ran to the building recycling bin and fished through loads of bags of paper and plastic – in my good suit, nonetheless.  Nothing.

Then I approached the dumpster – the stink smelly dumpster – and I just stared at it.  Do I dare? The thing was packed to the max.  Thinking I have a client coming in the next 30 minutes, who probably won’t want their attorney smelling like yesterday’s lunch leftovers, I gave up.  Even I couldn’t make the dive.

I told the building manager, and she said she would do her best to see what happened.  Needless to say I was irritated/disappointed/sad.

Then the next day…I got a call.

The manager of the cleaning company said that he asked around (I’m sure they were motivated considering they would have to replace the sucker if they didn’t find it), who said his staff remembered the box and brought it to him – camera and accessories in tow!

A little fishy if you ask me but hey – I got my camera back.  And, let me tell you!  It’s divine! I don’t know what most of the buttons mean but, golly – I’m sure going to learn!

I, of course, practiced right away – on one of my very favorite items!

Since all was right with the world, and because I needed something good in my day, I made this:

What’s inside you ask?  Let’s take a closer look:

What you see here is a mix of the following:

–  drained garbanzo beans

–  carrot ribbons

–  sliced onions

–  romaine

–  chopped tomatoes

–  a little bit of ground black pepper

Then,  a dressing, which matched this combo perfectly!

Just a simple mix of spicy mustard, red wine vinegar, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and olive oil.

(I love making my own dressings!)

This, and  then the Sopranos – makes you think – what camera incident?

Fugetaboutit!

15 Comments

Filed under Dinner