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Creamy Ravioli and Pesto Gratin

★★★★

  • 16 to 18 ounces cheese ravioli, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400°. Cook pasta according to package directions.

In large bowl, whisk together cream and pesto. Add pasta and toss to combine.

Transfer mixture to shallow 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes

Makes 4 servings

Source : Real Simple dinner tonight: done!


This was a crazy week for dinners. Our weekend plans were postponed due to hurricane Irene coming through the area. As Friday is my typical grocery day, and we were gone all day, groceries did not get done. As Irene passed through Saturday and Sunday making the outside realm unappealing to go traipsing through, groceries never got accomplished. We ended up buying the fixings for each night and ate more than a few convenience meals. I had checked this book out of the library and decided it was a good time to try a few of the recipes. This was a recipe that I only needed the ravioli for! (That over abundance of heavy cream again.)

Easy to throw together, but with the pesto, a little heavy on the garlic. We drank a lot of tea tonight! It was really good though.

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Cajun Skirt Steak with Creamed Corn

★★★★★

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 eye round steaks
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add corn, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer until corn is tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

Heat broiler. Season steak with Creole seasoning and remaining salt and pepper. Place on broilerproof rimmed baking sheet and broil to desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes.

Serve with greens and tomatoes.

Makes 6 servings

Source : Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done!


With the kids back in school, not only did I run to DD, but I was also able to go to the library and take my time. The cookbook section was calling to me as I was hitting a road block with the recipes I had. Sometimes I want an old-fashioned book to read from instead of scouring webpage after webpage. This book was perfect, once home I started paging through until I found something that would be good for tonight’s dinner. Even better, I had most of the ingredients on hand, we just needed steaks. Originally it called for skirt steak, but I had a little chat with the butcher and explained what I was doing with it and that I am not the best when it comes to beef. He recommended the eye rounds and said he’s never had one get too tough – translation ‘you can’t screw it up’. That was good enough for me, even better the one package had 2 wee little steaks in it that would be great for the youngers.

The creamed corn was something new, we usually just have corn microwaved with butter and sugar. Once again, heavy cream replaced half-and-half, because it’s still multiplying in my refrigerator. And again we’ve replaced the seasoning with Creole because that’s what my pantry offers up. The original recipe called for some tossing of the greens and tomatoes with some oil and spices, I just washed them up and put them separately on the table. As a side note, the steak was super tasty when used to ‘swap the deck’! Son #1 was greatly enamored of the creamed corn, I believe he had 3 (or was it 4) servings.

The first day of school sounds like it was a good one. All 4 sons came home chattering away. Son #4’s class received one of the smart whiteboards and he was telling us how that works and how he needs a stool because he can’t reach it. Apparently he’s the runt of the class this year. Even the biggers came home with good things to say, which is unusual. As soon as the last 2 fell in the door, they were herded to the car where they were taken for a little after school treat. (Thank you library summer reading program for giving them coupons for free treats!) We’ve gone through the Rita’s Ice, Christine’s Cookie, pizza slices, and subs. Today it was fruit pops from Edible Arrangements.

As is normal, I made them pose for pictures before running off to school. It’s funny how the older they get, the less enthused they look!

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Sausage Studded Red Beans and Rice

★★★

  • 1 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 package (16 ounces) smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) chili beans, undrained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, saute sausage, onion and celery in a large saucepan until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and seasoning. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir in rice; heat through.

Makes 8 servings

Source : Taste of Home


Incredibly easy recipe that came together pretty quickly. I think by the time the rice was done cooking, the meat mixture was done too. Whatever sausage had been bought was not the best option. Hot Italian would be good, or andouille even. What we had was reminiscent of hot dog. BLECH! The recipe called for Cajun seasoning, but the closest we have is Creole, this made it a smidge to spicy for son #4.

This ended up being the boys last summer meal of 2011. Bright and early tomorrow morning they will be on their was to the bus stop. I cannot begin to tell you how not excited they are! It may not have helped that we have been counting down the days as if WE are excited. Nor may it have helped that we kept reminding them of all the wonderful school type things they will have to look forward too. Of course, it could have been mentioning how eagerly I was anticipating being able to scooter to Dunkin’ Donuts for a morning coffee and donut. Maybe it was the off-hand comment about Rita’s still being open and how that might be my lunches. After all – why have kids if you can’t have fun with it?

This morning they were greeted with this: 

What better way to use our new wall than with a very large chalk list of school tasks? The olders have learned that these list are typically more for my benefit then their own, so they don’t pay much attention to them, but the youngers follow them pretty well. Need I mention that I we are enjoying they chalk wall very much.

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Cajun Corn Soup

★★★★

  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 15 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Mix the broth and water in a pot, and bring to a boil. Stir in the green bell pepper, tomatoes, and corn. Season with garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer 1/2 the mixture to a blender, blend until smooth, and return to pot.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the leek and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, until tender. Transfer to blender. Place black beans and about 1/2 cup of the soup into blender. Blend until smooth. Mix into the soup, and continue cooking 10 minutes. Just before serving, add heavy cream and cook until heated through.

Makes 6 servings

Source : Allrecipes/JWHICKER


This was a recipe I called son #1 in to help with. He handled the broth and water while I started cutting the pepper. Then I had him open and drain the cans awhile until the broth came to a boil. Although the recipe called for 1 pepper, I used 2 because I happened to have 2 garden peppers in my fridge that were begging to be used. Son #1 got out a board and knife and I showed him how to dice peppers. He dumped them along with the cans into the pot. The blender step got skipped in favor of a stick blender that I can use right in the pot. It did not get as smooth, but that was okay with us.

Leeks were something I had for the first time in Disney World when we hid from the rain in the German pub in Epcot. I ordered leek and potato soup, not really knowing what to expect. Since then, we have tried numerous recipes that feature the leek. Learning how to prepare it took some research and I told son #1 that I was going to show him how. He thought it was gross that they had sand and dirt inside all the layers. Likely you know how to prepare one, but just in case, here’s how I do it. Cut off the top inch or so of the green end and the root. Slice the entire leek in half lengthwise. Keep the layers together! Hold one half under cold running water, sliding your thumbs along the layers to fan them out so the water can get in between each. Son #1 did one half while I did the other and likewise he cut his half while I did mine. We only used the bottom white section and a little up the light green. Sometimes I will chop the remaining dark green parts and freeze them to be added in lieu of onions in some recipes. Son #1 was relieved when I said I would do the garlic clove, he didn’t want his hands all smelly. He was put to the task of rinsing the black beans (also kind of gross for a 14 year old). This was all added to the pot and blended again. Right before serving I decided it would look and taste good if we added some heavy cream (which I also happen to have an overabundance of in my refrigerator for some reason, I think they are breeding in there.) Son #1 was intrigued by this so I left him taste a little of the cream, his response was “I can see how that would make it taste better!” Sadly I do not have any pictures of him trying any of these steps, as the house photographer this happens often when my hands are otherwise occupied.

In the end we had an extra tasty soup that was not too spicy, perfect for some of the other sons at the table. The chunkier version was good too, I’m not sure I would have liked it much blended smooth.

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Easy Ham Hash

★★★★

  • 1 lb. finely ground fully cooked cubed ham, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard (Mild & Creamy Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (+ 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large bowl, combine ham and onion. Shred potatoes and add to ham mixture. Stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and pepper.

Spoon into a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish, pressing down firmly. Combine cheeses; sprinkle over top. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings

Source : Taste of Home


Another recipe calling for ground ham. In this area, that means grinding it yourself! As I had found cooked cubed ham in my freezer, it got thawed and put in my chopper and whirled a few times until it became small pieces. Not quite ground, but close enough in my book.

There were several adjustments made to this recipe to make it work with what I had. Beyond the ham, I was not shredding potatoes. Not when they sell them by the bagful already shredded and I have a freezer with several ½ bags from previous recipes. It was estimated that 3 cups would be close enough. Likely the recipe intended that you use regular yellow mustard, I am not a fan, but since I found this mild and creamy Dijon, you may have noticed that I use that quite a bit. Worcestershire I would have happily added the full amount, except I ran out. After scavenging my pantry, I decided balsamic vinegar was the closest thing I had to Worcestershire and used that. I’m sure I could have done without that extra tablespoon of liquid, what with the shredded potatoes being frozen and all, but this is how it happened.

Then you just stir it all together and put it in a pan and bake. In the future, some corn flake crumbs would be tasty on top. Just something to give it a little crunch.

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Saucy Cajun Chicken Breasts

★★★★★

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian-style salad dressing
  • 18 ounce bottle barbecue sauce

Place frozen chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag and cover with salad dressing. Seal bag and place in refrigerator and marinate until chicken is thawed (marinating frozen breasts until thawed permeates the meat with the dressing flavors).

Lightly oil grill and preheat to high heat.

Remove chicken breasts from marinade and grill 5 to 7 minutes each side, until they are barely done. Coat with barbecue sauce and cook just a few minutes more. Don’t overcook, but check to make sure that the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.

Makes 6 servings

Source : Allrecipes/David


Let me start by warning you that the marinade measurements are supposed to be for 2 chicken breast! We did 4 and still had enough extra marinade to do another 4. It was way too much. This is perfect for those frozen bulk packages of chicken. Toss in as many as you need in the morning, let them thaw and viola! dinner! It was good, very good. Moist, flavorful, it got those little crispy edges that add so much flavor. It doesn’t get much easier, we grilled them, but likely you could use a Foreman grill or broil them.

Today was the boys last chance to swim before summer vacation is over. We headed over to a friends after lunch and met up with several friends when we got there. It was a wee bit breezy causing a bit of complaining about being cold, but they got in anyway.


For those of you that know me, that little girl is not mine. She’s the granddaughter of a friend and an excessively good natured little lass. My 2 older boys had fun letting her boss them around. In the other picture you see #3 during one of those “I’m cold” times. They never quite catch on to the fact that you feel warm only if you stay in the water completely or if you stay out of the water completely. They would jump in and then sit out and shiver, repeatedly. The joys of summer!

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French Toast BLT with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

★★★★★

  • 12 thick slices smoked bacon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 slices challah bread, at least 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 ½ cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • 12 slices ripe tomatoes (about 3 small)
  • 6 cups arugula spring mix, cleaned

Roasted-Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 3 heads garlic
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mild and creamy Dijon mustard
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.  Place bacon on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Leave oven on. Preheat oven to 375°.  Slice tops off garlic heads so cloves are exposed. Place in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil. Cover pan with foil and roast until golden brown and fragrant, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile fry bacon in skillet. Remove garlic from oven. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Combine heavy cream and eggs in bowl and whisk to thoroughly blend. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Soak bread in mixture, 15 minutes, then turn slices over and soak an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Place nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil. Once oil is hot, fry challah slices on each side until golden brown, working in batches. Transfer bread to baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until custard is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes; the bread should soufflé or puff up.

While bread is baking; squeeze garlic cloves out of skins into blender bowl. Combine vinegar and mustard, blending until smooth. With machine running, slowly drizzle in ¾ cup olive oil. Keep blender running and season with salt and pepper.

Remove bread pan from oven, cover each slice with grated cheese, return pan to oven to melt cheese, about 4 minutes. Remove from oven. Put 2 slices bacon and 2 slices tomato on each slice of bread and drizzle with some vinaigrette. Toss arugula spring mix with remaining dressing and place atop each piece. Serve warm.

 

Makes 6 servings

Source : Epicurious June 2011 / Esquire : Eat Like a Man; Gautreau’s, New Orleans


Wow! Just wow! This was incredible! As is becoming quite common, by mid-afternoon I started feeling sick, so the hubby offered to fix the rest of dinner. We had already prepared the bacon and roasted the garlic. He chose to fry the bacon instead of baking it because he likes it more crispy. The recipe was otherwise followed as is, except for the leafy part. As is common to most men, looking beyond what is in front is too much. The arugula was buried in the veggie crisper at the bottom of the fridge and the spring mix was on the shelf in front. Oh well, it didn’t likely make that much of a difference.

Typical french toast is sweet and full of baked goody-ness. This is the total opposite. Savory and hearty. I see why it was in an article titled Eat Like a Man. I still wasn’t feeling up to par, but the smell wafting upstairs was not to be resisted. I had trouble eating 1 piece, I think the boys might have had full bellies on 1 piece too. What a great alternative for dinner. It might look intimidating at first glance, but please try this, you will not be sorry.