Saturday, December 11, 2010

3 More Posts for 2010

Weird that this year is so close to an end. It was so eventful, and as quick to pass as ever. The kids and I added it up, and we've had 19 dogs here in the last year. Seriously. No exaggeration. Nineteen. One has gone on to doggie heaven. One has gone on to become an assistance dog, and one has failed her assistance dog entrance exam. Two have retired from lives of overbreeding. One has been adopted into our family. 13 are about to celebrate their first birthday. One has just begun his approach into assistance dog life. And home is, and always will be, where the fur flies.

This has nothing to do with dinner, but everything to do with Dinner Diva. :)

Sunday: Southwest Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Calzones

2 cans Pillsbury Pizza Dough
1 package Southwest flavored Grilled Chicken, chopped
1 C. mild or sharp cheddar, pre-shredded
1 1/2 C. broccoli (fresh or frozen), chopped
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 T. taco seasoning

Unroll pizza dough onto cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 375.

Mix next 5 ingredients until well-mixed. Using half the filling, fill one half of one unrolled dough. Fold other half over, and seal edges. Repeat with remaining filling and remaining dough.

Bake at 375 for 25-35 min or until golden brown. Serves 4.

Monday: Pork Chops and Saurkraut, toasted sourdough bread, spinach salad

4 pork chops, approx. 4 oz each.
1 14 oz can saurkraut
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 t. parsley
1/4 t. celery seed
1/4 c. beer

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper, both sides. Heat olive oil in skillet and brown pork chops onn both sides. Set aside. Drain saurkraut. Mix saurkraut, onion, apple, parsley and celery seed. Put pork chops in baking dish coated with cooking spray. Put saurkraut mixture on top. Pour beer and skillet drippings over. Cover tightly and bake at 350 for 90 min.

Tuesday: White Chili
(this is from the Curves Member Handbook. It is light, healthy, and extremely good!)

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T. Olive Oil
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (wear gloves when handling jalepenos)
1 4oz can chopped green chiles
1 t. powdered cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can white kidney beans (great northern), rinsed and drained
8 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped, about 2 cups
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. shredded monterey jack cheese

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in soup pot until tender. Add jalepeno, chiles, oregeno, cayenne, and salt. Saute another minute. Add broth, beans, and chicken. Simmer 25 min. Stir in cilantro and cheese; serve.

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Pinot Grigio and Seafood, garlic bread

Thursday: Meatloaf, boiled baby red potatoes, steamed carrots


1 lb each lean ground beef and ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
2 eggs
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. milk
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. sage
1 t. dry mustard

Combine all ingredients until well mixed. (I use my KitchenAid Mixer.) Place in greased loaf pan, mini-loaf pans, or cupcake pans. Bake loaf 45 min-1 hour, or until done through. Smaller pans will require shorter baking times. Keep an eye on them.

Serve with ketchup or A-1, if desired.

Friday: By request: French Toast with Sautee'd Apples, bacon, fresh cut pineapple

Saturday: Pizza Night

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dinner Diva Week of 12/6

Monday: Sloppy Joes, home fries, cole slaw

Tuesday: Grilled Tilapia, Steamed Brown Rice, Steamed Edamame

Wednesday: Fettucine with Prosciutto and Asparagus, french bread

Thursday: Vegetable-Cheddar Strata, Fresh Fruit

(This is a practice dish for Holiday company!)

Friday: Grilled Chicken, baked sweet potatoes, steamed green beans

Saturday: Pizza Night

Friday, November 26, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Leftover Chow Down

Too much food, too little stomach! Leftovers become more than just leftovers with some creative planning.

Sunday: Turkey-Noodle Soup (recipe modified from P90X nutrition guide)

10 C. chicken broth
4 red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 C. onions, quartered
1 C. carrots, 1 inch thick
3 C. celery, sliced 1 inch thick
2 C. shredded cooked turkey
2 C. zucchini, sliced 1 inch thick
8 oz tomato sauce, canned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 bunch parsley, chopped
dash black pepper

1/2 package wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions, and drained

In a large stockpot, combine chicken broth, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-high, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 min.

Add turkey, zucchini, tomato sauce, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Reduce heat to med-low and cook for 10-15 minutes more, or until zucchini is tender. Add noodles. Season to taste with pepper and serve.

Tuesday: Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

(use leftover mashed potatoes if you have them)

Wednesday: Toasted Turkey and Brie Sandwiches, spinach salad

(use leftover turkey and rolls if you have them)

Thursday: Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole

Friday: (for a break from poultry) Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping, steamed brown rice

Saturday: (back to normal) Pizza Night

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Easy, Yummy Week

Sunday: Spaghetti, bread, salad

Monday: Pan-Fried Chicken Fingers, cole slaw, mashed sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Oat and Banana Pancakes, Fruit Salad, turkey bacon

Wednesday: Shredded Grilled Tilapia Tacos, baked tortilla chips

Thursday: Rotini and Cheese

Friday: Broccoli Casserole

Saturday: Pizza Night

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Let's Get Cooking!

For a lot of us, cooking is a chore, approached with the dread of getting out of the warm, cozy covers on a cold morning: we don't want to do it, but it needs to be done so we do it anyway. (And often, it's done without grace or maybe even clean language.)

For me, it's something to which I look forward with the anticipation of producing something people will like. It taps my creativity most nights, even if it's a simple recipe we've seen before. I'll turn on the radio, pour a glass of wine, and work barefoot, singing (badly) with the radio.

I like to present it, family-stye, on pretty matchy-matchy plates and platters, and I like to combine colors and flavors on a plate that please the eye and the palatte. Okay, but it's not like the super-chefs you see on tv. This is real food, it's not obscure finds from remote fish markets or farmers' markets. And I rarely garnish. But the other day as my eight year old was sitting down at the table, he said, "it's like a restaurant!"

My point is this: it doesn't have to be like taking off a bandaid: quick, painful, over fast and unmemorable. Cooking for a family can be fun and rewarding. And the best part is our family sitting together every night, laughing and talking and eating: enjoying each other.

Sunday: OUT (my sister-in-law has invited us for dinner; she is a good cook and a wonderful hostess. My mom is in town as well, so it will be a fun night!)

Monday: French Toast with sautee'd apples, yogurt
There was a lot of chatter on facebook this morning about using the extra hour to make a yummy breakfast...It sounded good for dinner too!

Tuesday: Pecan-Crusted Tilapia, Steamed Green Beans, Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday: Grilled Whole Cider Chicken, Homemade Applesauce, Steamed Broccoli

For the chicken, brine as directed in recipe, then place in greased foil roasting pan on indirect heat on grill. Grill 15 min per pound or until juices run clear. Alternatively, fill a clean empty soup or beer can with cider, and place chicken "beer can chicken" style upright over can and onto grill.

Thursday: Sauteed Chicken with Apples, Salad

Shred yesterday's leftover chicken, and substitute it for the chicken breasts in the recipe.

Friday: Cracker Chicken, Tater Tots, Honey Carrots

Saturday: Pizza night

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Here it is November...

...and I have only begun my Christmas shopping. I'm in big trouble! Please, oh please, retail Gods, send coupons to my inbox.

Sunday: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, Steamed Brown Rice

Wednesday: Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili, bread bowls

These bread bowls are easier than you think. The link takes you to a video for how to make your own using frozen dough! How easy is that? It's an awesome way to serve chili! Try it, and leave a comment telling me how it was.

Thursday: Chili-Cheese Nachos

Heat leftover chili in microwave until hot. Spread over a single layer of tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sharp cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with sliced green onions and sour cream, if desired.

Friday: Blackened Grilled Flank Steak, twice-baked potatoes, baby spring greens salad

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese, Garlic Bread, salad

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Favorite Protein Shakes

Good nutrition isn't just for dinner, and when I remember to, I drink a "recovery" shake after a workout. The best ones are high in protein, and should have a fairly equal protein-carbs ratio. I find the ready-made ones expensive and lower in protein than I would like, and so I make my own. It's easy and there are so many flavor possibilities! These are my favorite combos:


1 cup (80z) Mighty Mango Smoothie (made by Naked)
1 cup ice
1/4 cup protein powder (I use Bob's Red Mill whey protein from Amazon. If you're avoiding dairy, you could also use Bob's Red Mill soy isolate powder.)

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Black Forest Shake

1 chocolate royal slim fast can
1 cup ice
1/4 c. protein powder
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened cherries

Blend all ingredients and enjoy. (note: the cherries should be partially thawed before blending, so microwave them for about 30 sec. Trying to blend them frozen solid may hurt your blender.)

Iced Mocha 1

1 cup Bolthouse Farm's Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappucino
1 cup ice
1/4 c. protein powder

Blend and enjoy. For extra coffee flavor, add 1 t. instant coffee or espresso granules before blending.

Iced Mocha 2

1 can chocolate royal slim fast
1 c. ice
1/4 c. protein powder
1 t. instant coffee or espresso granules

Blend and enjoy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In and Out

If you've been following the blog you know we were trying to move. Thanks to some general somewhere, those plans have changed. We're staying put, for now, and life is somewhat back to normal. My favorite part is not having to show the house anymore, and not giving up my firepit!

Monday: Rotisserie Chicken, fresh bread, edamame

Tuesday: omelettes, bacon, fresh fruit
(omit bacon if cooking vegetarian)

Wednesday: flank steak and aparagus stir fry, rice

Thursday: Beef and Spinach Lasagna Rolls, salad, fresh bread

Friday: Halibut En Papillote With Potatoes, Green Beans and Sweet Onions

Saturday: Pizza Night

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dinner Diva Doubles Up

This week's blog is brought to you by Joanna S., who was the inspiration for the meals herein. Joanna's busy family battles mealtime two at a time, cutting the work nearly in half and making busy nights' meals less of a hassle. To that end, here are two weeks' worth of meals, with about half the work. The way it's set up here, you do most of the cooking the first week, and use the "leftovers" the second week. You may want to change things around according to your schedule.

Round 1:

Sunday: Never-Fail Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Steam-In-The-Bag Edamame
(I've doubled the recipe for you. Eat one this Sunday and freeze the second for next week)

Never-Fail Meatloaf (a moniker given by my friend Erika J.)

2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 lbs lean ground beef (I use the leanest I can find)
2 onions, chopped (optional)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs (storebought or homemade, dried or fresh, Italian or Plain--I've made it all sorts of ways and it works whatever you use)
2 t. dried sage
2 t. dried mustard
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients until well mixed. Shape mixture into two loaf pans*. Bake, uncovered, 45 min or until done through. Drain if desired. (If you put in the potatoes when you put in the loaves, they'll all be done at once.)

*There are options galore when it comes to baking pans. I prefer stoneware or glass, because I can use it in the microwave--very handy for that second loaf! Foil pans are also a good (if not green) choice because it reduces dirty dishes.

To freeze a loaf, allow to cool and remove it from the pan. Wrap it tightly in foil, label and place in freezer. To reheat, unwrap, put it back in the pan (still frozen) and microwave until desired temperature is reached. Taking it out of the pan to freeze frees up your loaf pans for Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread.

Monday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach salad

Cook at least 2 extra chicken breasts. Dice the extra meat and freeze in a baggie for next week.

To make the sweet potatoes, bake in a 375 or 400 oven for 45-60 min. (if it's going to be a busy night, put them on a timed bake and let your oven do the work). When they're cooked through, scoop the pulp out of the shell, mash with a fork, and serve. Optionally, add brown sugar or maple syrup to taste.

Tuesday: shrimp kabobs over steamed brown rice, garlic cheese bread

Shrimp Kabobs

1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (I use frozen)
1 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed
1 purple onion, wedged into 8 wedges
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pint whole mushrooms, any variety, washed and trimmed (optional)
1 cup Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

Divide the shrimp into equal portions; set half of the shrimp aside. Thread skewers with shrimp and all vegetables, in any pattern you like, until all is used up. Set skewers in a shallow dish and pour the salad dressing over it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate 30 min or several hours, turning occasionally if you think of it.

Thread the other half of the shrimp onto skewers without any vegetables. Do not marinate.

Grill all skewers over med heat until shrimp is opaque and vegetables are tender crisp. Optionally, reserve marinade, heat to boiling in the microwave, and baste the kabobs with reserved marinade while grilling.

Serve shrimp and vegetables over steamed brown rice, with garlic cheese bread on the side. Remove unmarinated shrimp from skewers and freeze in a baggie.

Make 2 cups (cooked) extra brown rice. While rice is still hot, measure 2 cups into a baggie. Seal and freeze. If you do this while your rice is still hot, it will not dry out in the freezer.

Garlic Cheese Bread:
I usually make my own french bread, and I just got my first baguette pan and am itching to use it! But if you choose not to make your own bread, buy a plain loaf of french bread. Cut your french loaf in half lengthwise. Spread with nonfat plain yogurt. (yep, yogurt) Spread with refrigerated minced garlic, and top with mozzarella. Optionally, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan or asiago. Broil 1 half, cheese sides up, 3 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Wrap other half in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Wednesday: Spaghetti Pie, romaine salad, garlic cheese bread
Make two Spaghetti Pies; eat one and allow one to cool to room temperature. Take the leftover pie and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze.

Broil the garlic cheese bread as directed above.

Thursday: Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili

1 batch ought to be enough for two meals. Freeze the leftovers.

Friday: Marinated Rib Eyes, Sauteed Zucchini, Popovers

4-8 Rib Eye Steaks
1/2 bottle Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette

Marinate steaks in dressing several hours or overnight. Grill over med heat until desired doneness. Serve half the steaks tonight. Slice remaining steaks on the diagonal, and freeze in baggies.

Saturday: Pizza night or out to eat


Sunday: Meatloaf Sandwiches, Frozen french fries, coleslaw
(use last Monday's meatloaf)

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
(use last Monday's chicken)

Tuesday: Shrimp Fried Rice
(use last Tuesday's shrimp and rice)

Wednesday: Spaghetti Pie, salad, Pillsbury Refrigerated French Bread
(eat last Wednesday's extra Pie)

Thursday: Chili Nachos

Thaw and heat last Thursday's leftover Chili. While chili is heating, arrange tortilla chips (our favorite are Tostito's Gold, but baked would be healthier!) in a single layer on a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 400. Spread chili evenly over chips, top with mexican blend shredded cheese, sliced green onions, black olives, and jalepenos (or toppings of your choice). Bake at 400 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, quacamole (or toppings of your choice), and salsa. Make it a picnic with Must See TV!

Friday: Rib Eye Sliders, steamed new potatoes, steam-in-the-bag mixed vegetables

Heat up last Friday's pre-cooked, pre-sliced rib eyes until hot. Arrange over storebought, sliced dinner rolls. Top with shredded asiago and roasted red bell peppers.

Saturday: Pizza night or out to eat

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Full Speed Ahead!

2 young boys. 1 large dog. Homeschool. House on the market. Closing on another house in a matter of weeks. Training for three races. Sports. Meetings. Craft orders to fill. Christmas shopping. Life is on, boys and girls; it's on and it's running full speed ahead!

Sunday: Homemade Deep Dish Pizza (see last week's post)

Monday: Grilled Shrimp, Vidalia Onion Risotto with Feta, fresh spinach salad

Tuesday: Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts A' La Jill (meal swap meal)

Wednesday: Hamburgers, sweet potato fries, quick pickles

Thursday: breakfast for dinner: Hashbrown Casserole with Bacon, Onions, and Cheese, fresh fruit (I'm considering this for this month's meal swap)

Friday: Leftovers or Out to eat

Saturday: Grilled Steak, Parmesan Pasta, Steamed Edamame

For the pasta, choose your favorite shaped pasta, boil as directed. Drain. Add 2 T. Butter and 1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese. Stir well, and serve warm.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Make it or Fake It

I try to make a lot of what we eat from scratch. I know it's kind of out of fashion, but hey, that's me. I think making it's less expensive, and I think it's healthier without a lot of the chemicals, artificially-produced ingredients, preservatives, and so many more unknowns in our food. I also enjoy cooking. I enjoy my breaks from cooking too, don't get me wrong, but for the most part it satisfies the creative side to me when I can take a bunch of stuff, throw it together, and present a beautiful, healthy, tasty meal to my family. I also believe that it is my "job" to make the meals. I am fortunate to stay at home and not have to work (that is, I work, but I don't have a formal job and no real salary). To make up for this lack of income, I feel it is my job to take care of the things that two income households might hire out. I do the laundry, the cleaning, the childcare and I do the cooking instead of us eating out, usually. The more I save, the more I increase my imaginary salary! But, like I said, that's me. The reality is that most people don't like to cook. This week's menu gives you both options: make it or fake it. It's up to you.

Make it: Grilled Whole Chicken, roasted vegetables, homemade dinner rolls
Fake it: Rotisserie Chicken, steam-in-the-bag vegetables, brown-and-serve dinner rolls

To grill a whole chicken, rinse and pat dry the chicken. Coat a foil roasting pan with cooking spray. Place chicken in foil pan, and dust with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place in preheated grill over indirect medium heat (uncovered) for about 15 min per pound. No basting, no turning, no nothing. Your chicken will come out golden brown and crusty-skinned, with juicy tender meat inside.

For the roasted vegetables, choose several different veggies. We like fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, yellow onions, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes. Wash and prepare the veggies, then place in single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast at 400 for about 45 min or until tender.

Make It: Carolina Blond BBQ Sandwiches , baked beans,
Fake It: Lloyd's BBQ Sandwiches, baked beans, deli cole slaw
My grandmother made superb baked beans, homemade, from scratch. This is one recipe I have yet to attempt! Even we will be eating canned baked beans. If you're faking it, look for Lloyd's BBQ in a tub in your grocer's refrigerator.

Make It: Spaghetti, salad, french bread
Fake It: out to eat, Italian!

*note: make extra sauce for Saturday's pizza

Make It: Pasta Jambalaya
Fake It: Zataran's Jambalaya (with added meat if desired)

Make It: Tacos
Fake It: Tacos made from a tub of El Paso ready to serve Taco Meat

Make It: Maryland Crabcakes, home fries, steamed edamame
Fake It: Frozen Crabcakes, Ore Rida Fries, steam-in-the-bag edamame

*note, if you're making it, make double the crabcakes, as they freeze beautifully and doubling makes better use of . They also make great crabcake sandwiches for a future lunch or dinner! Try them with chili sauce (next to the ketchup) or Creamy Caper-Dill Sauce.

Make It: Homemade Deep Dish Pizza, salad
Fake It: Frozen Pizza

Shopping List (for Make It):
2 lbs lump crab meat or artificial crab meat flakes or 1 lb each
1 lb ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
taco shells and/or tortillas
shredded lettuce
mozzarella cheese
pepperoni (or your choice pizza toppings)
1 chicken
fingerling potatoes
sweet potatoes
1 acorn squash
3 yellow onions
1 bag baby carrots
coleslaw dressing
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
baked beans
red bell pepper
1 can black beans
1 can rotel
turkey keilbasa
whole wheat penne pasta
mexican blend shredded cheese
green onions
1 loaf of bread (from which to make breadcrumbs)
1 lemon (optional)

Monday, September 13, 2010


Things are changing in the life of Dinner Diva. Temperatures are cooling down, gracing my morning runs with a blessed breeze that leaves me feeling invigorated rather than beat down at the end of my miles. School has started, and with it a full schedule of inked-up calendars and post-it reminders. And DH and I are making some life changes that mean my time in the kitchen is limited...for now. Quick fix dinners are the theme this week: enjoy!

Sunday: Flat Tire Burgers in Edmond (I don't even want to think about how many miles I'll have to run to burn off my awesome juicy burger and crispy onion rings!)

Monday: Shrimp Stir Fry, Steamed White Rice, Egg Rolls

Tuesday: Grilled Salmon Steaks, Steamed Broccoli, Brown Rice Pilaf

Wednesday: Grilled Steaks, Roasted Green Beans, Breadsticks

Thursday: Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta, salad

Friday: Garden Vegetable Crustless Quiche, fresh fruit

Saturday: Pizza Night

Something new, a grocery list! I'll try to include a shopping list each week...your comments are welcome!

egg beaters (1 1/2 cups)
1 16 oz carton cottage cheese
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar (reduced fat)
6 oz shredded monterey jack cheese (reduced fat)
pecorino cheese
1 11 oz can refrigerated breadstick dough, such as pillsbury

simply potatoes potatoes and onion
4 small zucchini
1 green bell pepper
8 oz presliced fresh mushrooms
parsley (fresh)
tomatoes (2.25 lbs)
1 onion
fresh basil
2 lbs fresh green beans
freash broccoli, 2 lbs

penne pasta
1 box brown rice pilaf

8 oz italian sausage or turkey italian sausage
rib eye or new york strip steaks

pickled jalepenos
kalamata olives

frozen egg rolls
frozen tuna steaks
frozen shrimp, 1 lb
frozen pizza

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Al Fresco

Me and my good friend Al Fresco are gonna reacquaint this week. The weather in Oklahoma is finally comfortable enough for outdoor dining, and I know it won't last long this way, so I plan to take full advantage. There's just something about eating outside. It can be formal or casual, romantic or family oriented. Meet my friend Al. You'll like 'im!

Sunday: Grilled Shrimp and Tomatoes, cornbread
The perfect outdoor meal! Enjoy!

Grilled Shrimp and Tomatoes
1 lb. shrimp, thawed and peeled
6 med tomatoes, home-grown or farmers' market work best, cut into small wedges
4 T. olive oil, divided
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
fresh parmesan shavings, optional

Toss shrimp and tomatoes with 2 T. olive oil, coating well. Grill shrimp and tomatoes in a grill basket over med-high heat 10 minutes, or until shrimp is opaque, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, and basil and drizzle over shrimp and tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan, if desired.

Monday: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Quinoa Salad with Peaches, Steamed Edamame

The tenderloin is my choice for this month's meal swap. If you make this, you might as well make two at once and freeze one for later in the month. To freeze, prepare the recipe as followed. After you wrap the pork in the bacon, wrap tightly in foil, label and freeze. To prepare after freezing, thaw completely (overnight), then roast as directed.

Buy steam-in-the-bag edamame if you can find it, and this colorful meal will be ready in about 20 min.

Tuesday: Chicken Puttanesca with Fettucine, fresh French Bread, Quick Salad

Quick Salad

1 bag salad, any variety (we like baby mixed greens or romaine)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin 1" pieces
1/4 purple onion, thinly sliced

Our favorite dressings are Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette and Newman's Own Light Caesar. Both add flavor to the salad without adding a whole lot of extra calories and fat. We all know that the dressing is what makes the salad edible--my brother is the only one I know who eats his salad naked--but we all also know that the dressing can be what makes a salad unhealthy. Anyone who has read the nutrition information for a McDonald's salad knows that a salad can be just as bad calorie-wise as a cheeseburger. Sad, but true. My only point is that if you're concerned with health foods, pay attention to your salad dressing.

Wednesday: Maple-Glazed Salmon, Brown Rice Pilaf, steamed fresh broccoli

Use boxed pilaf for simple prep (we like Near East brand).

Thursday: Black Bean Tacos, Fiesta Corn Salad

Fiesta Corn Salad
5 leaves romaine lettuce, cut into fine strips
1 c. frozen corn, thawed
1/2 c. salsa
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Arrange romaine confetti on each of 4 plates. Combine corn and salsa. Top the lettuce with the corn mixture. Sprinkle with green onions.

Note: double the black bean taco mixture and the avocado salsa, and refrigerate for tomorrow's meal.

Friday: Black Bean Nachos

Black Bean Nachos
4 C. baked tortilla chips
black bean taco mixture
8 oz. monterey jack or pepper jack cheese, shredded
avocado salsa

Arrange chips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with black bean taco mixture (reserving shredded romaine). Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min or until cheese is melted. Top with romaine and avocado salsa, and serve.

Saturday: Pizza night
This has become a favorite family tradition. We pull a picnic blanket into the living room, start a movie, and have our family meal on the floor!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bridge to Fall

In Wisconsin, the air is cooling off and the leaves are beginning to change, signifying a new season is approaching with each breezy gust. While it's still very much summer here in Oklahoma, and temperatures are still well above 90 and even reaching triple digits fairly regularly, school has started and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils reminds me of Fall. With that in mind, how does one plan a menu? In between seasons along with new and busy schedules dictate a kind of transistion...a bridge to Fall.

Quick and easy weeknight meals, plan-ahead meals, even slow cooker suppers are the focus of the upcoming weeks and months.

September is also a good time to think about joining or starting a meal swap. The convenience of having something already prepared far outweighs the slightly extra work of having to prepare it. A meal swap makes it even easier to have pre-made meals, by allowing you to make one meal 4 times, all at the same time, but you get 4 different meals to eat. It's like magic!

Monday: Parmesan Orzo and Meatballs, fresh crusty french bread

Tuesday: Veggie Fried Rice, cheese wontons (optional)

Wednesday: Oatmeal Pancakes, fresh fruit, pure maple syrup

Other toppings for pancakes include yogurt, peanut butter, or applesauce--think healthy, get creative!

Thursday: grilled steak, oven-roasted sweet potatoes, steamed sugar snap peas

Friday: 15 Minute Mozzarella Chicken Sandwiches, fresh orange wedges, baked chips

Saturday: Pizza Night

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I have just completed my second lifetime triathlon. Time to think about food:

Sunday: out to eat...sorry, but my legs don't even want me to STAND up in the kitchen tonight. We're thinking of trying out this dive of a restaurant near us that was featured on Man Vs. Food on the Food Network channel. It looks very scary from the outside, but everyone says what it lacks in ambiance it makes up for in flavor. You only live once, right?

Monday: Our 13th anniversary: I will prepare an oh-so-elegant anniversary dinner, which happens to be my husband's favorite and most-requested meal: tacos. Yep, tacos. I have a year of menus with almost no repeats and he asks for tacos. Gotta love him! Be sure to make extra taco meat for Wednesday's feast.

Tuesday: Weeknight Frittata, fresh fruit

Wednesday: Mexi-Stuffed Potatoes

Thursday: Catfish Po'Boys, potato chips, raw veggies (dip optional)
Our favorite veggie in the raw is sugar snap peas, but baby carrots, pepper strips, broccoli or cauliflower would each be a lovely side.

Friday: Pizza Night

Saturday: Roasted Vegetable and Feta Ziti, french bread, salad (optional)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Atkins, schmatkins. I'm carb-loading in a big bad way this week, and it makes me happy. I love my carbs! (unfortunately I love them so much I tend to keep them around for a very long time as excess weight)

But this week I have an excuse to give in to my irrational carb cravings. My triathlon is Sunday, which means not only do I get to eat extra carbs, but I also get to taper my training sessions. Aaaah, the blessed taper week!

Sunday: Pioneer Woman's Beans and Cornbread

This is the first time I've included PW in my weekly menus. I got her cookbook from my awesome sister-in-law for Christmas, and I love reading her. Her recipes look really really good (too good...the woman loves her butter and bacon!) and she is hilarious and fun to read, but so far have not fit well into my trying-to-eat healthy menus.

Monday: Red Beans and Rice

Tuesday: Seafood Paella

I've been wanting to try Paella for a long time, but haven't been able to justify the cost of saffron nor been brave enough to try the recipe without it. Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought saffron, (Target, $10). My brother cooks up a mean Paella; I wonder if mine will pale in comparison?

Wednesday: Twice-Baked Spinach Potatoes, honeyed carrots

If you're not interested in keeping this meal vegetarian, feel free to serve the potatoes as a side to a nice grilled chicken breast or some grilled pork tenderloin; I'm serving them as the main dish.

Thursday: Zucchini Fusilli, garlic toast

Friday: Croque Monsieur, potato chips, coleslaw

Fancy name for a simple sandwich, a Croque Monsieur is just like a grilled ham and cheese crossed with savory french toast. Simple to make, filling, easy family pleaser.

Saturday: final carb-load before the big day! Linguine with Spicy Shrimp, Garlic Bread, fresh salad

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Food as Fuel

Somewhere after the invention of, perhaps, the sugared donut, people forgot that food is fuel. We need it to provide calories for our bodies to burn for energy, nutrients to help our bodies perform the way they were intended to perform, and keep our systems working properly. Instead, food has become a treat, a reward for the stressful lives we live, a comfort for down times, a vehicle to slow the rumbles. Instead, everything we put in our mouths, somehow, has to be the best thing we've ever eaten. Flavor has outranked content and convenience has become the CEO of our menus.

Before you think, "hello, soapbox!," let me be the first to admit that I love food. Not for its nutritional properties either, I love (LOVE) to eat! I eat the wrong things and I eat too much of everything. But I'm trying. I'm trying to see food as fuel. I'm trying to look at a food before I put it in my mouth and think, "how will this help me?" Beyond the obvious eye roll of satisfaction or curbage of cravings, that is. I'm trying to read labels before I even bring the food home. Especially now, with my triathlon two weeks away, I've got to become more considerate of what I'm asking my body to do, and how my food choices will help it do that.

Here's to a healthy, or at least healthier, week, everyone!

Sunday: Lasagna, spinach salad, whole wheat french bread

My favorite lasagna recipe uses regular (whole wheat) noodles but does not require they be boiled first. I use a combination of ground turkey and extra lean ground beef, and light ricotta. It's a little effort that goes a long way. One recipe feeds our family multiple times.

12 (1 box) whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked

1 jar marinara sauce
1 lb meat (1/2 lb lean ground beef, 1/2 lb ground turkey)

15 oz light ricotta cheese
1.5 cups mozzarella (light if you can find it) cheese
1/4 C. shredded fresh parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, or 2 T. dried parsley
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

.5 cups mozzarella
2 T. parmesan

Brown and drain meat. Combine meat and marinara. Set aside.

Combine ricotta and next 6 ingredients. Set aside.

Coat a 9X13 pan with cooking spray. Spread 1 c. meat sauce in bottom of pan. Arrange 3 uncooked noodles on top of sauce. Top with 1 c. sauce, 1/4 cheese mixture. Repeat layers (noodles, sauce, cheese) until all is used up. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

Coat one side of aluminum foil with cooking spray, place foil, oil side down, on lasagna. Bake at 350 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 15 more minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Monday: Shrimp Fried Rice

Tuesday: Double Bean Burritos, tex-mex salad
it's so hard to find side dishes for mexican dishes, other than the obvious refried beans and mexican rice. This Tex Mex Salad is easy and delicious, and provides the perfect balance to burritos.

Wednesday: (Birthday Dinner!) Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans

This is my all-time favorite meal. It's simple, but it's delicious, and with the color combination from the black grill marks to the bright oranges and greens, it's absolutely gorgeous on the plate!
I eat my YAMS plain, because they have enough natural sugar for my taste, but my husband and kids enjoy them with a sprinkling of brown sugar. Nothing on the steaks but salt and pepper (or if you must marinade, marinade in light bottled italian or balsamic vinaigrette)

Thursday: Chipotle Salmon Burgers, home fries, Grilled Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette

I found the most delicious grape tomatoes at the farmers' market last week! They were huge, almost the size of romas. So tasty that we all enjoyed them plain as a dip, no nothing. Just pop, mmm, heaven. I will see if the same farmer is there this week, and if so, I'll be grillin' me up some fun.

I omit the mayo on the burgers and they're still good!

For the fries:
Oven to 400. Cut several white potatoes (I use 6 for our family of 4) into french fries or wedges. Toss cut taters with 1/3 cup oil, 1 t. kosher salt and 1 t. black pepper either in a mixing bowl or in a ziploc bag. Arrange coated fries onto a baking sheet, assuring single layered-ness. Bake at 400 for 45-60 min, or until golden brown and cooked through, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.

Friday: Apple Puffed Pancake, fresh fruit
After my lecture about food as fuel, I'll throw in this oh-so-unhealthy gem. Actually, it's not that bad!

Saturday: Pizza night!
Okay, okay, I promised you healthy:
Pizza Margherita

Friday, July 23, 2010

Last week of JULY? What?

No one told me July was in fast forward. How did I miss that memo? Can someone please tell me how to live in the moment, and not panic because school is literally just around the corner? Ok, if summer is going to fly by, we're gonna eat well for the ride.

Saturday: Grilled Vidalia Onion and Steak Sandwiches, corn on the cob, watermelon

If this looks familiar, it's because it was posted for last week's menu. We were supposed to have it Friday night, but I had to switch around because I didn't marinate the meat in time! Shame on the dinner diva!

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: blueberry pancakes, farmers' market peaches, eggs

Monday: OUT. It's time.

Tuesday: Classic Italian Panini with Prosciutto and Mozzarella, carrot fries

Look for carrot fries in your grocer's freezer.

Wednesday: Pan-Grilled Snapper with Orzo Pasta, steamed green beans

Thursday: White Bean and Roasted Chicken Salad, crusty french bread

Friday: "Meaty" Meatless Spaghetti with Fresh Spinach, garlic bread

Saturday: Pizza Night

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's HOT!

Dear Summer,
I'm sorry if you have not received the attention to which you've become accustomed, and have felt so unnoticed that you have increased the heat to the most unbearable degree, making you impossible to ignore. I'm focused on you now, and promise to be attentive to your needs until you yield yourself to Fall. Please feel free to reduce the temperature to a livable level, perhaps something in the double-digit range, in the meantime. Thank you.
Respectfully yours,
Dinner Diva

Monday: Herb-Rubbed Ribs with Cherry Zinfandel Sauce, corn bread, fruit salad

I find the bright orange stickers, "reduced for quick sale," on the meat packages at Sam's Club simply irresistible. I confess sometimes I wake up early and go to Sam's just to see what meat is marked down. "I cost less!" "Buy me!" "Choose me, I'm a bargain!" Hence, the ribs. They were on sale, and I had leftover sauce in my freezer.

Tuesday: Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice

This one is new for us, and it jumps a bit outside our norm. Still, it looks tasty, and easy, and I love trying new things!

Wednesday: Pan-Grilled Salmon with Red Pepper Salsa, chili-cheese fries

I'm craving the flavors of the southwest, and Wednesdays are Farmers' Market days!

To make the fries:

Cut several (I use 1 1/2 potatoes for each person) white potatoes into french fries (sharp knife or french fry cutter if you have one). Place in large zip top bag with: 3 t. chili powder, 1 t. salt, 1 t. pepper, and 1/3 cup oil. Seal bag, shake to coat potatoes. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet, and bake at 400 for 30-45 min, or until potatoes are tender and lightly browned, stirring half way to unstick them. Sprinkle with shredded sharp cheddar and/or shredded pepper jack cheese as soon as it comes out of the oven; allow cheese to melt, then serve hot.

Thursday: Farfalle with Tomatoes, Onions, and Spinach, Olive Flatbread

This homage-to-summer recipe was found almost smack-dab in the center of the July Cooking Light magazine. The magazine has the recipe for the flatbread, but the website doesn't. So, I'll transcribe it:

Olive Flatbread
Oven to 450. Unroll 1 11oz can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough onto a baking sheet. Combine 1 1/2 T. olive oil, 1/2 t. crushed red pepper, and 1 minced garlic clove; brush over dough. Sprinkle dough with 1/3 c. chopped kalamatta olives. Bake at 450 11 min or until browned and done. Top with 2 T. thinly sliced basil.

Friday: Grilled Vidalia Onion and Steak Sandwiches, corn on the cob, fresh watermelon wedges

Just because I'm trying to be more vegetarian doesn't mean I have to give up my steak! Give me corn and watermelon from local growers, homemade whole wheat buns, and this is the night I will look forward to all week!

Saturday: Pizza night

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12-19: Good Eats Week

Continuing the pattern of no more than 2 animal protein entrees per week, this week looks like it will be full of flavor without losing the cook to the kitchen for the entire week. Translation: good food without a lot of fuss.

Monday: Deep Dish Pizza
This one is a versatile choice, as it can be as meaty or as meat-free as you like, depending on your toppings choice.

Whole Wheat Deep Dish Pizza Dough
1 1/3 c. water
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t. salt

2 1/2 t. bread machine yeast

(I've had the best results with warm water when using whole wheat flour, so be sure to warm the water a bit before making this.)

Place all ingredients in the pan of a bread machine or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer: liquids first, yeast last.

If using bread machine, program for dough and press start. If using electric mixer, fit it with a dough hook and turn to 1 or 2. Let it mix for about 10 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. After ten minutes, spray dough and inside of bowl with cooking spray, turn dough ball over to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or tea towel and place in warm oven. (I turn my oven on for two minutes, then turn it off, then place my bowl with dough in the warm but off oven.) You can also heat two cups of water in microwave for 4 minutes, then place the bowl with the dough next to the hot water in the microwave, and allow to stand. Either location is an effective dough rising environment. Allow to rise 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until almost doubled in bulk.

At this point the directions are the same for either the bread machine or the mixer.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten into a disc. Cover with a damp towel and let rest on the work surface 30 min or until increased 20 percent in size.

Roll out and shape the dough into a large circle (approximately 4 inches larger in diameter than your pan). Prepare pan (stoneware cake pan and cast iron skillets are my favorite, but a regular cake pan, even foil, will work) by coating with cooking spray. Place your dough into the bottom and up the sides of your pan. Let rest 15 min.

add your toppings, starting with cheese and ending with sauce. Bake at 400 15 min, then lower the temp to 350 and bake an additional 40-45 min. Cover with foil for the last 10 min of baking if cheese is too brown. remove from oven and let rest 10 min before serving.

Tuesday: Singapore Shrimp, Rice, Edamame
This shrimp entree is full of heat; tone it down by omitting the jalepeno, especially if feeding to kids. I love the way this looks on the plate: colorful and inviting and like you've spent all day, yet it takes just minutes!

Singapore Shrimp
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 12 oz package soybeans in the pod
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 t. cornstarch
1/8 t. white pepper
1/4 c. fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
1/4 c. ketchup
2 T. lite soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. chili garlic sauce (asian foods section)
2 t. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. fresh ginger, grated
1 shallot, minced
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
1/4 c. egg substitute, or 1 egg white

Prepare rice according to package directions; keep warm.

While rice is cooking, prepare soybeans according to package directions.

In medium mixing bowl, combine shrimp, cornstarch, and white pepper; set aside.

In small mixing bowl, combine chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili garlic sauce; set aside

Heat oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add garilc, ginger, shallot, and jalepeno; stir fry 30 sec. Add shrimp mixture to the pan and stir fry for 2 minutes. add chicken broth mixture and stir fry 1 min.

while stirring, slowly pour the egg substitute or egg white into the shrimp mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 30 sec.

serves 4.

Wednesday: Grilled Cumin Chicken with Fresh Tomatillo Sauce, Chipotle Rice, Sliced Fresh Tomatoes
This is a new one for us, but it looks fabulous! I can't wait to try it!

Thursday: Quick Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti, garlic toast
Farmers' Market, here I come! It's one of the best things about summer.

For the toast:
slice one loaf of french bread in half lengthwise. Spread each cut side thinly with fat free plain yogurt. Dust with garlic powder and place on cookie sheet, cut sides up. Broil 3 minutes, check. Broil longer if desired, or until toasty. (The yogurt is the perfect substitute for butter to make this garlic toast guilt-free. Sounds weird, I know, but it works. Try it.)

Friday: Ginger Beef Salad with Miso Vinaigrette, Soba noodles
There's nothing like a fresh salad entree in the middle of summer! Refreshing!

Saturday: Orange Roughy, brown rice, sauteed zucchini
This simple, flavorful dish is from Eating For Life cookbook, a personal favorite. I make this a lot and never have leftovers. I like it because it is inexpensive, easy, and appreciated at the table.

Orange Roughy
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 c breadcrumbs
1 t. italian seasoning
1/4 c. reduced fat parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg white
4 orange roughy fillets, about 6 oz each
3 t. fresh parsley, chopped, divided
4 small zucchini
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 lemon, halved

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

In shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, and cheese. In small bowl, beat the egg white until slightly foamy.

Lightly brush both sides of each fillet with egg white, then dredge in breadcrumbs to coat. Arrange fillets on baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 T. parsley. Bake until opaque, about 20 minutes.

While the fish is baking, lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. slice zucchini diagonally. Add zucchini and onion to the skillet, cook 2 minutes. Turn zucchini and cook until tender, about 2 more minutes.

Stir remaining parsley and lemon peel into the cooked rice.

4 servings each.

Sunday: Risotto Primavera
This is another recipe I chose for its use of fresh farmers' market vegetables.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July Kickoff

Happy Independence Day! I've been thinking for awhile about a new format for our weekly menus. I've been wanting to incorporate more fish and less beef, chicken and pork. I have nothing against those meats, but I do think that our family would do better by consuming more fish and vegetarian options. I'm out of town this week, so i won't get to enjoy THIS menu (my mom has a great one planned though) but I'm looking forward to trying something new when I get back. Here's a stand-in menu for the meantime:

Sunday: Hamburgers, corn on the cob, baked beans....picnic food for the 4th

Monday: Farfalle with Onions, Tomatoes, and Feta

Tuesday: Blackened Yellowtail Snapper with Mango Salsa, Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas are one of the earth's greatest gifts. They are sweet, crunchy, satisfying, and super healthy. I'll grab a ready-to-eat bag from the produce aisle and have the WHOLE bag for an afternoon snack. If I'm really feeling hungry I'll dip them in some yummy hummus. Don't be afraid to try new grains. Quinoa (Keen Wa) is an easy to prepare and readily available option.

Wednesday: Roasted Tomato and Artichoke Flatbread Pizza

Thursday: Chili and Lime Grilled Shrimp with White Beans and Rice

Friday: Grilled Whole Chicken, corn on the cob, baby greens salad

To grill a whole chicken, rinse and dry a whole bird. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place in a greased foil roasting pan and put into a preheated grill over indirect heat. Cook 15 min per pound (usually an hour or so for a whole chicken). Your bird will come out golden brown and crispy skinned, with tender, juicy meat WITHOUT basting or any other fuss. The perfect summer meal.

Saturday: Pizza Night or Leftovers

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer's in Full Swing

I can't stand how fast the world is spinning right now. I'm having fun, but I want things to slow down. Unfortunately, there are no brakes on this ride! Speaking of rides, we had a great time in Orlando, and are going to be home just shy of a week before we hit the road AGAIN for the opposite side of the US. Wisconsin, here we come (with a few stops along the way to see family and friends). In the meantime, my kitchens, indoor and outdoor, miss me, so I'll have to spend some time with them starting Wednesday:

Wednesday: hot dogs and fresh corn on the cob in the fire, raw veggies and dip

Thursday: grilled shrimp and tomatoes over pasta with feta, fresh bread (gonna make this one up: stay tuned for a recipe)

Friday: steak on the grill, baked potatoes, steamed green beans

Saturday (meal swap meal): Stuffed Shells with Smoky marinara, fresh french bread, spinach

Sunday: Pizza (birthday party!!!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

I'm so ready for the rain to stop and the earth to dry. Too much of a good thing is still too much. The dogs look like wallowing pigs, and the kids NEED to go play outside! And this Dinner Diva is missing her grill.

Sunday: We never got around to having the chicken salad from last week. So, tonight we're having that! Chicken and Strawberry Salad, buttery baguettes

(Note: take a few minutes today to make the vinaigrette for Tuesday's needs time to chill.)

Monday: last week's other meal shopped for but never made: grilled steaks, baked sweet potatoes, grilled asparagus

Tuesday: Prosciutto and Smoked Gouda Panini, Hearts of Romaine Salad

Sandwiches and salad sounded good and easy for mid-week. If you need something else, try some oil and vinegar potato chips, home fries, or parmesan crisps on the side.

Wednesday: Potato-Crusted Red Snapper, Corn and Tomato Salad, Pain D'Ail

Don't be intimidated by long-named recipes. Sometimes the easiest recipes take longer to say than to make. Tonight's menu might seem involved, but the hardest part will be the bread (which will take about 10 minutes in a breadmaker). In a pinch, substitute store-bought garlic and herb french bread.

Pain D'Ail

3 cloves garlic
2 T. butter

1 1/4 cup water

3 1/8 cups bread flour
1 T. gluten (omit if you can't find it, but its inclusion yields a nice texture)
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt

2 1/2 t. bread machine yeast

Peel garlic and press into the butter. Mash together.

Place all ingredients into the pan according to the order in the manufacturer's instructions. Add garlic butter with the liquids. Program for french bread, crust set to medium. Press start.

When baking cycle ends, remove immediately and place it on a cooling rack. Cool to room temp before slicing. (Or if you have an electric knife, you can slice it while still hot..YUM!)

Thursday: Hot Italian Sausage and Tomato Pasta, simple salad, bread

Try using the leftover Pain D'Ail. Slice, spread with plain yogurt or a small amount of butter, and top with freshly grated parmesan or asiago. Toast under the broiler a few minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Friday: Farmer's Frittata, fresh fruit

Saturday: Pizza Night

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Today is Mothers' Day, and so far I've gotten to sleep in (all the way till 8:15- about 3 hours past my usual alarm time!), gotten snuggles from my kids, homemade "pearl" bracelets, and fresh flowers. Not a bad Mothers' Day so far! Now I'm enjoying my coffee (thank you, Keurig) and menu-planning, which is a chore for some, but I actually enjoy pouring over Cooking Light magazines, scouring the internet recipe sites, and leafing through my many cookbooks. I love trying new recipes even more than savoring old favorites. Last week's calzones and beer-battered fish were each new recipes, and we all enjoyed them very much!

Lots of new stuff in store for this week, too!

Sunday: Daniel said he won't allow me to cook today. Sigh. Well, okay then. I guess we're going out!

Monday: Salmon Burgers, fruit salad, green bean fries

Green Bean Fries
1 lb fresh or frozen green beans (if frozen, thaw first)
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1-2 t. kosher salt, less or more to taste
black pepper, to taste, optional

Heat oven to 275. Toss beans, oil, and salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 275 for 1 hour or until crisp. they will be shriveled and ugly but somewhat onion-ring-like.

Tuesday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry-Avocado Salsa, cous-cous, steamed edamame

Nothing's easier than a grilled pork tenderloin, and it yields a juicy, flavorful base for the fresh salsa. For easy sides, serve it with commercial cous cous and steam-in-the-bag edamame.

Wednesday: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers, crusty french bread

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

6 bell peppers, any color (look for boxy looking ones as these make the best stuffing peppers)
1 lb soy crumbles (such as Morning Star)
2 T. chopped onion
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 t. salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 15oz can tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Cut peppers in half through stems, leaving stems in tact. Remove membranes and seeds, and rinse. Cook peppers in boiling water 5 minutes. Drain.

Cook soy crumbles and onion in nonstick skillet 8-10 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in rice, salt, garlic, and 1 cup tomato sauce. Cook until hot.

Heat oven to 350.

Stuff peppers with soy mixture. arrange open side up in baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers.

cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 min. Sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

(For variation, add 2 t. italian seasoning when you add the tomato sauce, or substitute commercial bottled marinara for the tomato sauce.)

Thursday: Chicken and Strawberry Salad, Buttery Baguette Slices

This one starts with a rotisserie chicken--easy! I don't have cashews, so I'll probably substitute almonds or sugary pecans. For the side dish, use the leftover french bread from Wednesday and slice. Layer flat on a baking sheet and broil 1.5 minutes. Turn over, lightly butter, and broil 1.5 min longer.

Friday: grilled steaks, baked sweet potatoes, grilled asparagus

I can never get enough steak, and thanks to a very generous neighbor, I have an abundance of my favorite meat in my freezer. (But not for long!)

Saturday: Pizza night

Monday, May 3, 2010


Each year on May first, I think MAY? As in, MAY we please have April back because I'm not ready for MAY!

Sunday: grilled steaks, steamed broccoli, baked potatoes

Nothing fancy here, just your good ole' meat-n-potatoes!

Monday: Grilled Salmon, fresh salad, homemade bread

For the salmon, I sprinkle it generously with lemon pepper seasoning (actually my favorite is the Citrus-Basil rub from Pampered Chef), and place it in a greased fish basket. Grill over med heat about 8 minutes, or until opaque and flakes easily.

Tuesday: Cavatappi with Spinach, Beans, and Asiago

This is by request from my 6 year old. Why not? It's easy, it's cheap, and it's healthy! It's a one dish wonder (all food groups met with one entree') so I don't serve any sides with it. Crusty french bread or garlic breadsticks would be good with it though, or maybe fresh sliced tomatoes if you can find ripe ones.

Wednesday: Jambalaya, fruit salad

This is an easy dish, and I make it with either pasta (orzo or penne, macaroni would work in a pinch also) or rice interchangeably. Since it's pasta on Tuesday, I might go with rice!

Thursday: Grilled Chicken breasts, sautee'd zucchini and yellow squash medley, baked sweet potatoes

For a variation on an old standby, try making a tangy glaze for the chicken:

3 Tablespoons fruit preserves (apricot or raspberry are my favorites, but cherry, blackberry, or even marmalade would work too)
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine above ingredients and use the mixture to baste chicken frequently while it is on the grill.

Friday: beer-battered fish, corn bread, raw veggie tray

My dad gave me some fresh caught fish, and I'm inspired to have a Friday Fish Fry (without the frying of course).

My favorite cornbread recipe is from the Quaker White Corn Meal box:

Easy Corn Bread
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt (optional, I omit it)
1 c. skim milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten (or 2 egg whites, beaten)

Heat oven to 400. Grease 8 or 9 inch pan. (I use a 10 inch cast iron skillet.)

Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil, and egg, mixing just iuntil dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

My husband likes this with maple syrup, my kids like it with honey.

Saturday: Grilled Pepper, Onion, and Sausage Calzones, spinach salad

I thought I'd try making these for our neighborhood meal swap. To freeze, follow the steps until the baking. Bake at 500 for just half the time, then cool, wrap tightly, and freeze. When ready to reheat, thaw completely, unwrap (let them thaw wrapped to avoid condensation on the dough), and finish baking at 500 for the other half the time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I've got a lot going on this week in the kitchen! Two cakes and a baby shower means that firstly my grocery money is going to some specific ingredients and secondly my cooking time and energy will be not be as available for meals. So, I'm going to try to keep it simple and stick to what I already have.

Monday: Grilled Chicken Breasts with slow roasted tomatoes, asiago, and fresh basil, steamed broccoli, steamed brown rice

(For the chicken, roast the tomatoes in the afternoon, then after you grill the chicken, drop some tomatoes on each breast, sprinkle heavily with grated asiago...broil them a few minutes so the cheese melts and the tomatoes warm up, then toss some tiny ribbons of fresh basil on top and serve.)

Here's a simple way to make pretty basil ribbons:

Tuesday: pancakes, fresh fruit

Wednesday: Frozen meal swap meal

Thursday: out

Friday: grilled steak, baked potatoes, steamed edamame

Saturday: pizza

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's gonna be a good eating week!

With the change in the weather comes a change in my cravings. I find myself drooling over salads and lighter fare, and shelving the soup and casserole recipes of winter. Let this week's menu entice you to dust off that patio furniture, refill the gas tank in the grill, and dine al fresco!

Sunday: hamburgers with homemade buns, marinated tomato salad (see last week's post for recipe), fruit salad, and roasted potato wedges

Monday: OUT to eat

Tuesday: Carne Asada wraps, spanish rice (such as lipton) make extra meat and peppers for a later meal

Wednesday: Shrimp Risotto with Arugula and Toasted Garlic, crusty french bread

Thursday: Carne Asada Nachos

Leftover meat and veggies from Carne Asada Wraps
1/2 bag tortilla chips
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups preshredded cheddar or mexican blend cheese
1 med. tomato, diced
1 bag Shreds
1 c. sour cream
1 small can sliced black olives
jalepenos, optional

Heat leftover meat and veggies in microwave for about a minute. Arrange tortilla chips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with cooked, leftover Carne Asada meat and vegetables. Top with cheddar or mexican-blend cheese. Sprinkle black beans over cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until meat is hot and cheese is melted.

Top heated nachos with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Dot with sour cream. Sprinkle olives over the top. Serve outside, if desired.

Friday: Oriental Chicken Salad

1 lb chicken, grilled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 bag coleslaw mix
4 green onions, chopped
2/3 C. Newman's Own Light Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing
1 large can mandarin oranges, drained
1 C. crisp chow mein noodles

In a large bowl, combine chicken, coleslaw mix and green onions. Drizzle dressing over salad mix and toss to coat. Divide chicken salad onto 4 plates, top with oranges and noodles.

Saturday: Pizza Night! Grilled Pizza, spring salad, grilled garlic bread:

Cooking pizza on the grill is easy and delicious. It's one of our favorite outdoor meals.

First, decide what kind of pizza you like. My personal grilled favorite is pepperoni, roasted red bell peppers, and asiago. Next, prepare the dough. I've never tried this with refrigerated pizza dough, like Pillsbury, but I'm sure it would work. Another convenience dough that would work is frozen bread dough, thawed. I prefer homemade because it's easy and tasty, and I can control the consistency to my liking. I can also alter the flavor if I want an herbed dough or garlic dough or something along those lines.

Homemade dough:
Pizza Dough
1 1/3 c water (tepid)
1/4 c. olive oil

3 1/2 cups flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt

2 t SAF yeast or 2 1/2 t. bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl, liquids first, yeast last. Mix with dough hook on 1 or 2 for 10 minutes or until dough ball is tacky to touch but doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. Spray dough ball and inside of bowl with cooking spray, turn to coat all sides of dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place in warm, draft free place to rise 40 min.

freeze dough ball, or shape dough and make pizza.

makes 2 thin 12", 1 14" deep dish

Once the dough is ready, or while it is on the last 10 minutes of its second rise, preheat the grill on high. Prepare your pizza ingredients and tools on a tray:

1/2 cup olive oil and a pastry brush
1 jar pasta sauce, or 2 cups homemade (I prefer pasta sauce to pizza sauce as it has more flavor), large spoon
1 C. roasted red peppers
1/2 c. pepperoni
2 cups (or more or less depending on your preference) mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded asiago (or parmesan)
Pizza Peel (not required but it sure makes the process easier)

I prefer to roll out my dough inside, then bring it out, but you can roll it out outside too, on a cookie sheet.

Reduce grill heat to med-high. Brush one side of a pizza round with olive oil. Carefully place the dough, oil-side down, directly on the hot rack, avoiding known hotspots. Close the grill for 3-5 minutes. If you don't know your grill, you will want to peek at the dough often to make sure no spots are charring. A little black is good, but you don't want to eat coal. When the dough is brown, brush the top with olive oil. Using your pizza peel, flip your pizza. While the bottom side is cooking, arrange your toppings, sauce first, then mozzarella, meat and veggies, and finally asiago. Close the grill another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Using your peel, remove from grill. Let stand 5 minutes, then cut and serve. I usually have to do two pizzas, so I cook them one at a time.

If you're making grilled garlic bread too, thickly slice a loaf of fresh french bread, homemade or otherwise. Butter each side, lightly, and sprinkle with garlic powder and dried italian herbs, if desired. Place on top rack of grill while pizza is cooking. Check frequently, when bottom is browned, turn over. When both sides are browned, remove from heat and keep warm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Where Have I Been?

A long hiatus from Dinner Diva! We have been eating, I promise, and I've even been planning and cooking. I just haven't been blogging. Speaking of eating, I have 47 pounds of Easter Candy to give away before I turn it into 97 pounds of excess Diva. Any takers?

Sunday: Grilled Steaks, Marinated Tomato Salad, Roasted Potato Wedges, and Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Marinated Tomato Salad:

3 Cups tomatoes (yellow and red cherry work best)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 english cucumber, diced

1 C. Olive Oil Vinaigrette (any brand)

3 T. feta cheese

Mix tomatoes, onions, and cucumber with the vinaigrette. Marinade several hours in refrigerator. When ready to serve, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Monday: Sweet Orange Salmon, Garlic-Roasted Asparagus, Brown Rice Pilaf

Tuesday: Flank Steak and Asparagus Stir Fry, rice

Wednesday: leftovers or frozen entree from meal swap

Thursday: Chicken Nuggets, Steamed Corn

Friday: Spaghetti, bread, salad

Saturday: Pizza Night

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back In The Saddle Again...

I've been given the green light to use my left hand again, but only a little and only if it's comfortable, which not much is. So with the (limited) use of my left hand, and the opening of the farmers' market, I fully intend to reclaim my kitchen and prepare most of this week's meals myself. I've been absolutely spoiled by my neighbors and friends, and by my doting husband, who tries really hard but doesn't know where anything goes, and while I'm extremely grateful, I'm ready to take care of my family again!

Monday: Beef and Barley Soup, Whole Wheat Crackers

Did I mention that it snowed here this weekend? Well, that put me in the mood for soup, and since I haven't made this one yet this winter, it sounded really good. It's a breeze to throw together, and tastes great. Don't tell anyone that it's healthy; they'll never know!

Beef and Barley Soup

1T. olive oil
1.5 lbs sirloin steak, cut into 1 inch cubes

4 C beef broth
1 C water
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. pearl barley
1 bay leaf
10 oz frozen green beans
1 can diced tomatoes
10 oz frozen peas

In large pot, warm the olive oil. Add beef cubes, and cook about 8 min, or until browned on all sides.

Stir in beef broth, water, onion, celery, carrot, oregano, black pepper, garlic, barley, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Stir in green beans, tomatoes, and peas. Simmer, covered, until meat and veg are tender, about 15 more minutes. Remove bay leaf.

6 servings of 2 cups each. From Eating For Life

Tuesday: Shrimp Stir Fry, Rice, Egg Rolls

Wednesday: Pasta Primavera, Crusty French Bread

At physical therapy this week, I was browsing a Family Circle magazine. Regular readers know I don't venture much beyond Cooking Light, but in FC, there was this fabulous-looking recipe for Pasta Primavera that I just have to make! I think I can, I think I can....

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday (vegetarian): Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa

No I can't chop. Yes I can use a food processor!

Saturday: Pizza Night

Sunday (vegetarian): South of The Border Hashbrown Bake, fresh fruit salad

Breakfast for dinner? ALWAYS good!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 3/15

My new Cooking Light magazine came today. As I eagerly turned the pages, my mouth began to water as the pictures of fabulous food fanned by. I asked the editors nicely, but there was no listing of "meals you can make one-handed" in the table of contents. Oh well, maybe next month...I'm afraid I'll still need it. As far as two handed meals go, this week's are gonna wow you!

Monday: Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Spring Salad, Oven Fries

Simple but different than the every day. If you don't have a knife in your kitchen that you are actually afraid of because it's so sharp, get one. Then use it to pocket chicken breasts. (I love my Wusthof!)

For the oven fries, select 1 to 1 1/2 med sized baking potatoes per person. Wedge each into 8-12 wedges, then toss with about 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 2-4 t. salt (kosher if you have it) in a large ziptop bag. (Optionally add 1 t. black pepper to the bag.) Roast at 400 for 45-60 min, or beginning to brown, and soft when stuck with a fork.

Tuesday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers, Spring Salad, Fresh Italian Bread

Budget Tip: buy a larger tub of fresh salad and serve it twice or more in one week. Organic is better for a lot of reasons, but the lesser-known bonus is that it stays fresh longer.

Wednesday: Steak and Grilled Vegetable Panini, Sautee'd Zucchini, raw carrots

I like to leave a plate of carrots and sliced peppers out on the counter while I cook. It gives me something to munch, and keeps the munchkins at bay too. Kids won't eat raw veggies? A bowl of grapes works too.

Thursday: Sweet Orange Salmon, Steamed Edamame, Wheat Pilaf (such as Near East)

This is my favorite salmon recipe. I serve it often because it is a quickie to prepare and I never have leftovers. It's one of the ones I know I won't have to encourage the kids to eat; they'll devour it. serve with fresh orange wedges to complete the color palate of the meal. Gorgeous!

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Grilled Pork tenderloin, Quick Skillet Asparagus, Buttery Red Potatoes with Parsley

I love the flavor of an unmarinated pork tenderloin on the grill. A dusting of salt and pepper, and the grill does the rest.

Quick Skillet Asparagus
4 t olive oil
1 lb med asparagus spears, trimmed
1/2 t. lemon rind
1 t. lemon juice
1/4 t. salt

Heat large skillet over med-high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Add asparagus; cook 3 min. or until crisp tender and browned, stirring frequently. Transfer to a serving platter. Add rind, juice, and salt, tossing to coat.

Buttery Red Potatoes with Parsley
1-2 lb baby red potatoes or small red potatoes, washed
3 T butter
1 T dried parsley

Boil potatoes until done, about 20 minutes. Drain and toss with butter and parsley until butter is melted and potatoes are well-coated with both butter and parsley.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 3/11

Okay, okay. I promised you a menu, and here it is, albeit late. I have no excuse, because all I do is sit with my left arm elevated and on ice, and my right hand typing just as fast as it can peck out the words. Thankfully, our homeschool curriculum and lesson plans are online, too, and I'm fairly adept at barking orders (aka "teaching") from my perch on the chair. I wish I could join you in the kitchen this week as you make these fabulous meals night by night. But, alas, there's only so much I can do one-handed, not much of which is very useful.

Thursday: Red Beans and Rice I made this one up because it contains foods on the "bone healing foods" list, and, once I figured out how to open cans with one hand, it was very easy to make!

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 T olive oil
1 each red bell pepper and green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans red kidney beans
1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 T cajun seasoning, or to taste

Heat oil in nonstick pan over med heat. add peppers, garlic, and onion; saute until peppers are tender-crisp. Add beans, tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer 10 min or until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in rice; serve hot.

Friday: Grilled Chicken breasts, Rice-a-Roni, Steamed Edamame

Try marinating the chicken in commercial bottled LIGHT salad dressing several hours before grilling.

Saturday: Pizza night

Sunday: Shrimp-Fried Rice


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 2/28

Well, I'm back from my ski trip and I've got some news. I've become a statistic! I'm an injured ski tourist! Sadly, the shattered wrist I've suffered and have since had to have repaired with a metal plate and no fewer than ten screws was not a result of some harrowing, ultra-dangerous, death-defying stunt on an evil-sounding slope called something like Skid Row, but a rather less adventurous endeavor: ice skating. On skin-tone rental skates no less. Talk about losing cool points! But have faith, my hungry blog readers. I will claw my way through the haze of 4 syllable long pain killers to scour my cookbooks. I can't cook, but I will fight the urge to pass out, mouth agape and leaking drool and instead will collect mouth-watering recipes and compile a creative, healthy, easy-to-fix menu for you. I won't let you down. Maybe I can earn cool points back as the one-armed blogger.

Sunday: Steak, shrimp, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli (sounds great...can someone cut my steak for me?)

Monday: Poppyseed Chicken Casserole, salad, french bread

1 box spaghetti or angel hair noodles
4 chicken breasts w/bones
2 can cream of chicken soup (low fat)
16 oz sour cream (low fat)
1 stick butter or marg
1 stack Ritz crackers

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

While pasta is cooking, cook chicken (broil, boil, bake) and debone. (Alternatively, buy a whole rotisserie chicken at the grocery and debone)

Combine soup, sour cream and a generous amount of poppy seeds.

Melt butter in pan and crumble crackers and add to pan and brown. (Crumble crackers while still in sleeve to prevent a big mess) Add poppy seeds when crackers are brown.

Spray casserole dish with Pam. Mix noodles, chicken and sauce until well combined. Put crackers on top. Sprinkle a few more poppy seeds if desired.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Tuesday: Something new! Cuban black Bean Patties with pineapple rice


Wednesday: White Bean Soup with peppers and bacon


Thursday: pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit

no recipe needed for this one!

try throwing in some mashed banana and choc cips in the pancake batter

Friday: simple fish dinner

tilapia, lightly breaded and baked
spinach salad
brown rice pilaf

Saturday: pizza night!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 2/7 and 2/14

Well, this week and next I'm going to be blissfully absent from my own kitchen. Not that I mind cooking, you know I don't, but it is very nice to take a break from it now and then. And it's especially nice to be taking a break from cleaning it, which I really do mind doing. But, I'm happy to prepare a menu for my faithful readers (thank you!) And, if there's anyone close by who wants to trade cooking for cleaning...well, you know where to find me. ~D.D.

Monday: Stuffed Pork Chops, steamed broccoli, crusty french bread

Stuffed Pork Chops
4 Pork Loin Chops, 1 1/4" thick
1/2 lb pork sausage (or turkey sausage)
1 C. onion, chopped
1 cup cornbread, crumbled and dried
3/4 C. shredded apple
2 t. fresh thyme, minced, or 1/4 t. dried thyme
1/3 C. apple jelly
1/3 C. apple Juice
1 1/2 T. lemon juice

Cut a slit in each chop with a sharp knife, the length of the fat side almost to the other side, but not all the way through. Refrigerate chops while preparing stuffing. Cook sausage and onion in large skillet until sausage is brown, drain well. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Return to skillet and and stir in cornbread, apple, and thyme. Spoon 2 T. of apple juice over stuffing mixture and toss to combine. Spoon 2 T. stuffing into each pork chop pocket, use toothpicks to secure stuffing in pockets. Set aside remaining stuffing. Place chops on a rack in a roasting pan. In small saucepan combine jelly and lemon juice. Cook over low heat and stir until jelly melts. Brush chops with glaze and bake, uncovered, in a 375 oven for 20 minutes. Brush chops again with glaze, and add the remaining stuffing around the chops. Return to oven for another 20 minutes.

Tuesday: Raspberry-Balsamic Glazed Chicken, Wheat Cous Cous (commercial, such as Near East), Spring Salad

Raspberry-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Wednesday: Taco Soup, corn bread (Thanks to Joanna, one of the meal swappers, for this recipe!)

Taco Soup
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 package taco seasoning
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can ranch style or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
1 can hominy
Brown hamburger and diced onion together. Drain. Add all other ingredients and simmer.

Thursday: Tilapia with Cilantro Butter, baked sweet potatoes, steamed asparagus


Friday:Broccoli and Double-Cheese Calzones, salad


Saturday: PIZZA NIGHT (of course!)

Sunday: Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad


One of my favorite ways to make garlic bread is to make the bread from scratch first (which is super easy and only uses about 4 ingredients). If you aren't a bread baker, buy bakery-quality french bread. Slice it in half lengthwise, and spread thinly with plain fat free yogurt. (I know it doesn't sound appetizing, but take my word for it.) Dust with garlic powder--a little goes a long way. Toss a light sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan over the bread, and bake at 350 for 10 min. Then turn the broiler on for 2-3 min or until nicely browned on top. Easy, tasty, and relatively low in fat!

Monday: Hearty Beef and Potato Stew, Commercial dinner rolls


Tuesday: Kung Pao Chicken, Rice, commercial dumplings

Kung Pao Chicken

Wednesday: Spinach Salad with spiced Pork and Ginger Dressing, commercial flatbread (another one of CookingLight's Dinner Tonight features...looks great!)


Thursday: Out to Eat, Take out, or Leftovers (You know, back when we lived in Mississippi, we lived on Dover Drive. Our neighbors from another street liked to call us Leftover Dover, because we ate leftovers every few nights. They didn't. We've stayed in contact with them and I'm happy to report that they, too, now eat leftovers regularly. They admit it's a great time and money saver.)

Friday: Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy, breadsticks, salad


Saturday: Pizza Night!