Monday, June 30, 2014

Panko crusted?

Dining with a Dinergirl is currently on vacation.  Here is some panko crusted toes from the beach to tide you over....

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A new take on the old TV Dinner Entree

Remember when you were a little and frozen tv dinners were all the rage?  The aluminum foil pan that you would bake in the oven, take the out and sit in front of the tv using TV trays.  Remember those days?  Well you probably would've had to grow up in the 70's  to experience this dinner treat.  Note how great this looks when plated with egg noodles and green beans topped with blue cheese.

Now days it is a little plastic dish you throw in the microwave and in about 3 minutes you have your dinner, thanks to Stouffers or Lean Cuisine.  Will this dish reminds of what you would find in the freezer aisle way back when.  Salisbury Steak, minus the apple pie or chocolate cake square in the corner.  But this dish has something the old TV dinners didn't have.....tons of flavor.

We had these Monday night and I took the leftovers out to my mom for her dinner.  She called last night and said that whoever cooked these could cook for her anytime.  The beef was delicious ans has great seasoning, but I really think the gravy made it.  

Salisbury Steak Redefined
2 pounds ground beef
Salt, pepper and granulated garlic (we use Penzey's granulated garlic)
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 1/3 cups cold water

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut ground beef into large chunks and season liberally on all sides with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Add seasoned meat to hot skillet and let sear for several minutes before turning. Add onion slices around the perimeter of the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

Once the meat has seared on one side, gently flip so that it can sear on the other sides as well. If you try to mess with the meat too much it will crumble. By letting it sear on the top then bottom it will keep its shape.

Gently stir and turn onions as you sear the meat. Once meat is seared on all (or most) sides, push the meat and onions to one side of the pan. Tilt pan slightly so that the pan drippings come to the empty side of the pan. Whisk flour into pan drippings and cook for 1-2 minutes or until slightly browned. Set skillet back down flat and reduce heat to low.

Add brown gravy packet to a small bowl then whisk in water. Slowly pour gravy mixture into skillet and stir to incorporate. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until meat is cooked through.

Serve over egg noodles.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sweet Dream Lemon Cake


As the summer warm weather as finally hit us it is time to break out the lemon dessert recipes.  Anything lemon in the summer is a great refresher on a warm summer day. One of my favorites is a Cooking Light recipe for Lemon Bars with a great shortbread crust.  But I think I have found another favorite that is quick and easy to make. 

This recipe takes a cake mix and transforms it into a Sweet Lemon Dream cake.   The one issue I have is that recipes call for an 18.25 oz. cake mix but mixes are now only 15.25 oz, so it is like not getting the full cake you deserve.  And it is not just cake mixes.  Seems everything in the grocery store is shrinking while the prices increase.  

So give this cake a try.  Keep it in the refrigerator to make it even more refreshing and enjoy it with a great Chardonnay too! (Ok only have the wine if you are of legal drinking age!)
Sweet Lemon Dream Cake

1 (18.25 oz ) box Vanilla Cake Mix
Eggs, oil and water that is required for the cake mix
1 can lemon pie filling
1 tub lemon flavored frosting
1 8 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed
The juice  and zest of 1 lemon 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non stick cooking spray.  Prepare cake mix as directed on the back of the box.  Pour batter into the baking dish.  Spread lemon pie filling over the batter.  ( The lemon pie filing will sink to the bottom of the pan because it is heavier.)

Bake at 350 on center rack for 35 to 40 minutes until cake springs back to the touch.  Let cake cool completely.  In a bowl combine lemon flavored frosting with Cool Whip, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Mix with hand mixer until combined.  Spread over cooled cake.  Refrigerate until chilled and keep leftovers in refrigerator.   Enjoy,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Seared scallops with roasted potatoes


It was a Friday afternoon and the same old question came up.....What do you have planned for dinner?  Well honestly, I didn't have a plan, but hubby did.  There are a couple of easy roasted potato recipes out there that have just a few ingredients and flavors that pack a punch.  One is using the Lipton Onion Soup mix and this recipe using Hidden Valley Ranch dried dressing mix.  Hubby thought that these roasted potatoes would taste good with a scallop dish we have been making for a few years now.  

Roasted Potatoes
2 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (1 oz.) packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch®, dressing mix

  • Place potatoes in a gallon-size Food Storage Bag and add oil; seal bag. Toss to coat. Add Dressing & Seasoning Mix and toss again until coated. Bake in ungreased baking pan at 450°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are brown and crisp.
Now for the grilled scallops with roasted red peppers.  These scallops were created by hubby too.  When we can find some good sea scallops on sale, we the season them with a little salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.  The scallops are them threaded on a scewer with roasted red pepper slices.  The grill is prepped by brushing it with olive oil to avoid sticking on the grates.  Carefully put the skewers on the grill and after 2 minutes turn using a set on barbeque tongs.  Grill for at least 2 more minutes or until done.

So working together we pulled off a pretty good dinner!  That is what team work in the kitchen is al about!  What is your plan for dinner?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A far off adventure and the desire to return

American cemetery in Normandy

The Cathedral in Reims, France

To get to this post has taken as much time as it took me to travel to Europe, but I finally made it on both counts.  For someone who likes to travel, it sure took me a long time to see the countries of some of my ancestors.  My passport has some new stamps in it and I have explored 5 new countries.  Our entire family went on our daughters class trip.  It was a World War II tour starting in Munich, Germany and ending in London, England.  In between were stops in Luxembourg, Belgium and France visiting battle sites, memorials and American cemeteries.  It was a whirlwind adventure in 10 days time.

Bullion, Belgium

Big Ben, London England

I was asked a question at dinner the other night if I could go back to anyplace I have visited again, where would that be.  I have thought about that a lot.  We do like to revisit places we have been.  Probably one reason is that we had such a good time there before we would love to "redo" that trip again.  Not the same way, new experiences, but we know where everything is.  So I answered this question with a stop we made on our recent trip to Europe....LONDON!  Our trip was fantastic, we got to see a lot of historic places, but didn't get the quality time they deserve.  Munich was very cool to see, but just one small area, Bavaria.  Luxembourg was a quick drive through and worth a trip back.  Bastogne Belgium was quaint and worth a trip back too. 

 Now Paris would be my second place I want to go back to.  It was very beautiful but there was not enough time to soak in the Parisan ambience like sitting on the sidewalks sipping French wine.  It was London that capture my attention and desire to see more.  Was it because I could understand then residents?  Was it because we quickly breezed through churches and buildings that require time to fully appreciate them?  Probably.  London will be my first stop on a multi day two city visit, someday.

Baravia, Germany - The Fairytale castle


My family

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chinese 5 Spice Chicken - Yum

I have a subscription to a magazine called Fine Cooking.  With our love to try new menu items and being in a dinner club, this magazine has been a great tool.  Our little man's favorite meal came from here.  That is the pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto with caramelized lemons that I believe was one of  my first blog post.    this recipe was one we have made a couple of times before as well, but never blogged about it.  It has such good flavor and makes your kitchen smell delicious.  And barbecue season is in full swing, right?  So put away you jarred sauce, and breakout of the hum drum chick off the grill and add some spice to your life...More like 5 spices!

  • 2 Tbs. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 large, 10 medium, or 12 small), trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil; more for the grill
  • 3 Tbs. chopped cilantro
  • Mix the five-spice powder, the 1 Tbs. sugar, the garlic powder, and the salt in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1 tsp. sugar.

  • Put the chicken in a shallow pan, drizzle with the vegetable oil, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken; toss and rub to coat thoroughly.

  • Prepare a hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill with all burners on medium high for 10 min. Clean the hot grate with a wire brush and then lubricate it with an oil-soaked paper towel. Put the chicken on the grate and grill (covered on a gas grill or uncovered over a charcoal fire) until one side has dark grill marks, 5 to 6 min. for large thighs or 4 to 5 min. for medium and small thighs. Turn and continue to grill until well marked on the other sides and cooked through, 5 to 6 min. longer for large thighs or 4 to 5 min. for medium and small thighs.

  • Move the thighs to a serving dish. Drizzle with about half of the soy mixture, sprinkle with the cilantro, and toss to coat. Let rest 4 to 5 min., tossing once or twice. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with the remaining soy mixture passed at the table.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Back to Basics - Paula Deen Chicken and Rice Casserole

Awhile back we had a bunch of full roasted chickens left after a dinner and we didn't know what to do with them, until hubby had the idea of taking all the meat off and freezing it into 3 lb bags to be used for casseroles.  We picked three pounds because it seemed that all the recipes we were using called for about that much.  When he finished prepping the bags we had 3 bags of chicken for us to put in the freezer and 1 bag for each of our mothers to use.  
So a couple of weeks ago we had a night off  from sporting events where we could have one of those casserole nights. We scoured the binder of recipes and found the Paula Deen Chicken  and Rice casserole that we made a few years ago.  Hubby checked the pantry for ingredients and made shopping list that he could grab during the day.   When I came home from work, the casserole was already in the final prep phases and ready for the oven. 
My one concern was the water chestnuts.  I am not a fan of them, but hubby left them whole so I could find them easily and push them aside.  So my plate look like a little kids plate at the end of the meal with a pile of water chestnut cast to the side. For our daughter, she had a pile of the dark meat from the chicken.  She is not a fan of that.  So when preparing this, adjust to your taste preferences.
This casserole makes a lot, so there were plenty of left overs.

Chicken and  Rice Casserole


2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cups diced, cooked chicken
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (6-ounce) box long-grain wild rice, cooked according to package directions (allow time for this to cook before preparing dish)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
Pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat butter or oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients to bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined.

Pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grilled green beans

Need an easy vegetable side dish with a quick clean up?  Try grilling fresh green beans in foil while your chicken or steak is cooking right next to it.

We have made this recipe for a number of years now.  It is very easy to throw together and can be changed up by switching out spices and seasonings.   You can even take them with you to a picnic or as a side dish if camping already for grilling.

You will be amazed how easy and tasty this will be.  

Grilled Green Beans 

12  to 16 ounces of fresh green beans

4 to 5 garlic cloves smashed with skins on

 1/2 jalapeƱo pepper, diced small

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and fresh grounded per to taste

On a large piece of aluminum foil spread out beans, sprinkle with garlic cloves, jalapeno's.  Drizzle oil and season with salt and pepper.  Close up foil around beans and transfer to grill.  Cook for around 20 minutes, rotating packet every 5 minutes.  When you're move beans, be carefull of steam.