Easy dinner

After a 3 hour drive for a trip home that should have been 1 hour and 40 minutes, I did not want to come home and cook something complicated. (I also wanted to watch the end of the US Open golf tournament and see the Ravens game.) Keith volunteered to grill so I bought steaks and then cheated with a store-bought salad (Samantha’s favorite with Gorgonzola cheese, nuts and dried cranberries) and even Bob Evans mashed potatoes.

Sometimes you just have to compromise!

A new shrimp salad

I found a recipe for a shrimp wedge salad and tweaked it a bit. I was worried that it would not be enough for dinner, but it is pleasantly filling. The heat sneaks up on you!

Shrimp Wedge Salad

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tsp Old Bay
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut in wedges
  • 1 tomato, cut in wedges

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet and saute shrimp until pink. Remove from pan and add panko and Old Bay to remaining oil. Cook for 3 -4 minutes. Mix mayonnaise and Sriracha. Serve with a wedge of lettuce, tomatoes, shrimp, seasoned breadcrumbs and mayonnaise dressing.

Easy pizza

I thought we had this pizza recently but when I searched blog, we had it in November.  Time flies!  It isn’t the healthiest pizza I make but it is super fast and it was absolutely devoured.  Those who like heat can put as many jalapenos on theirs as they want (and hot pepper flakes).  Those (like me) who aren’t super spicy can have as is.

Queso pizza

  • 1 prepared pizza crust
  • 3 oz mascarpone (or creme fraiche)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup grated Pepperjack cheese (more or less to taste)
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (or use pickled jalapeno slices)

Preheat oven to 425.  Spread mascarpone on pizza crust.  Top with Parmesan and then Pepperjack.  Put jalapeno slices on for those who want them.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

queso pizza

Almost a night off

Tonight’s dinner was intentionally selected for its minimal effort.  We have leftover Smithfield ham in the fridge.  It pairs really well with oysters that have been poached in a little bit of butter and the oyster liquor.  Cook them just until they curl.  I served them on Smithfield ham on top of wheat toast with roasted asparagus that I tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 400 for 12 minutes.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Here is a picture:

Smithfield ham and oysters

Birthday dinner

Today was my birthday so Keith volunteered to cook but wanted to keep it simple.  We opted for this easy to fix entree with steamed broccoli.


Crab cake casserole

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/3 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TB mayonnaise
  • 2 TB melted butter
  • 2 TB grated Parmesan cheese
In a 1 1/2 qt casserole dish, gently combine crabmeat with dry mustard and old bay.  Add egg, panko, mayonnaise and melted butter and stir to combine.  Top with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Serve hot.

Combatting craziness

I knew this week was going to be hectic.  I knew we had the swim team banquet Sunday night, travel for a golf outing on Monday with a late return, dinner out for our daughter’s birthday on Tuesday and back-to-school night on Wednesday.  But I didn’t plan for my daughter’s hamster to die on her birthday.  (Nobody would plan that.)  The book about hamsters said that they live about two years and he died two years to the day from the day we brought him home.  That made a tough week even tougher.  We are all exhausted.  RIP Honey.  😦

Thank goodness I had something easy ready to go tonight.

Thai marinade

  • 4 – 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 TB cumin seed
  • 2 TB coriander seed
  • 1 TB peppercorns
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar and/or honey
  • 1 TB turmeric powder
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground Thai chili peppers
  • 1 cup coconut cream
Toast the cumin seed, coriander and peppercorns in a dry pan over the stove for a few minutes until aromatic.  Grind together in a mortar and pestle.  Add garlic and continue grinding until ingredients make a paste.  Put paste in a bowl and add brown sugar, soy sauce, juice from lime, ground chili pepper, turmeric and coconut cream.  Mix well.  Marinate chicken up to overnight overnight and grill, basting with marinade.  Serve with rice.

Versatile marinade

I love a marinade that you can use on multiple things.  The chipotle marinade that I made a couple of weeks ago certainly fits the bill.  It is well worth making a quick batch and keeping in the fridge.  That makes for an easy weeknight dinner.  Cous cous makes a great side with the chipotle shrimp.

Skewer deveined and cleaned shrimp and dip in chipotle marinade.  Grill for 2 – 3 minutes per side.

Chipotle marinade 

  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 TB tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  NOTE: This marinade has some zip.  You don’t need to drench your protein in it, just dip it and let it sit for a little before grilling.


Dinner for two (and two)

I have a dear friend who had surgery and I wanted to send a dinner to her.  I went with an old favorite and made two sets of two servings.  One for her and her husband and one for us.  This is another one of those super easy, super popular dinners – easy enough for a weeknight and delicious enough for company.  I was going to make zucchini fritters but decided a vegetable gratin would be healthier (and travel better for delivery to my friend.)

Chicken with Pesto and Sundried Tomatoes

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 per serving)
  • Pesto (prepared or homemade)
  • Minced sundried tomatoes in a jar (packed in olive oil)
  • Pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Top each breast with approximately 1 TB of pesto and 2 tsps of sundried tomatoes and then roll up.  Place rolled chicken breasts in a ceramic or glass baking dish and bake 35 – 40 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  I baste them with pan juice about 5 minutes before done (it gives them a nice color.)  If you want to dress them up more, sprinkle with pine nuts.  Serve or let cool and freeze.

Zucchini Gratin

  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • Parmesan cheese
In a glass baking dish start with a layer of thinly sliced zucchini.  Top with tomato slices and red onion slices.  Drizzle with olive oil, rosemary and oregano (you can substitute whatever herbs you prefer).  Repeat and add grated Parmesan cheese on top layer.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Weeknight roast chicken

I love roast chicken and it’s a great Sunday night meal.  I discovered this method for roasting a smaller chicken and it was so delicious that I was eager to make it again. It is simple to prepare, cooks in one pan and cooks in about an hour.  Perfect for a weeknight!

Roasted chicken with veggies

  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 chicken broiler/fryer between 3 and 4 pounds
  • 1 bunch leeks, trimmed, well rinsed, cut lengthwise and then sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 package baby kale
  • 2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and cut into inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB butter

Mix poultry seasoning and salt.  Using kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone of the chicken (put chicken breast side down).  I will admit that I thought this was going to be very difficult and require butchering skills – it was perfectly straightforward and took about 1 minute.  Then split chicken through breastbone.  Rinse and dry thoroughly.  Rub it with about 1/2 of poultry seasoning mix and butter.  (Save backbone in a freezer bag for making chicken stock!)

Put vegetables in a roasting pan and toss with remaining poultry seasoning mix and olive oil.  Put a rack over vegetables with chicken.  Roast at 450 for about 1 hour.  (After 30 minutes, stir vegetables.)

Serve chicken with veggies.


Sunday night dinner

Samantha turned 8 yesterday.  I can’t believe it.  It has been a big weekend.  She had a soccer game yesterday, we took her out to dinner last night, her kid party was today and yesterday she acquired her big gift – a pet hamster, “Honey”.  Honey is very cute and seems to be settling in well.  With all of the chaos and confusion, I wanted an easy dinner tonight.  Lamb chops on the grill and my favorite roasted brussels sprouts fit the bill.  The lamb chops are marinating in Worcestershire sauce and we will serve them with:

Roasted brussels sprouts

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 3 – 4 oz pancetta, chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss sprouts with pancetta, olive oil and pepper in a ceramic baking dish.  Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once.  Remove from oven and toss with balsamic vinegar.  Serve.