Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Giveaway (CLOSED)

To celebrate my blog's two year anniversary and as a thank you to my readers, I'm giving gifts! I wish I could give away dinner for 4 or something along those lines, but shipping hot meals across the country is a little difficult. The next best thing I could think of was to use my other favorite hobby to create two aprons to give away.

The first is a hostess apron made from one of my favorite Heather Bailey fabrics. It ties at the waist, and the ties are long enough to wrap around and tie in front, if you prefer. I'm hoping this will bring a touch of early spring to the lucky cook who wins it! (The second apron will be given away next week.)

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post before Sunday, March 1 at 11 pm (PST). The winner will be randomly selected and announced along with my Menu on Monday, March 2nd. Sorry, this giveaway is open to US addresses only. Good luck!

3/2/09: Thanks for all of your comments! I've used to choose the winner and I'll be posting it soon!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Birthday Gifts

This Wednesday marks the two year anniversary of Dinner's on Me! To celebrate, I've decided on three gifts. The first gift is to myself: I'm going to take the week off. Ha ha! I wish it were that easy! I do still have to cook something, but I won't be doing a menu for the week. I've also had my nieces and nephews staying with us for a few days while my sis-in-law is in the hospital having her baby. So I've been kept busy making all kinds of kiddie comfort foods: mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, spaghetti & meatballs, choc chip cookies... oldies but goodies! You just can't beat the classics, right?

The other two gifts are for my Dinner's on Me readers. I have two aprons to give away! I'll officially post the give-away on Wednesday (the blog's official birthday) along with some photos. Stay tuned, and have a great week!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove (either minced, or pushed through a press)
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/2 tsp brown sugar (some low end balsamic vinegars can be a little bitter)

Combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic in a blender. (I use my immersion blender with the whisk attachment.) Leaving the blender on low, slowly pour in olive oil and process until ingredients are combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to about 1 week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
serves 6-8

2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
olive oil (about 2 Tbsp)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon dried Basil
6 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth ok too)
a total of 24 to 28-oz of jarred roasted red peppers, liquid drained**
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste**

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onions, celery and carrots. Saute vegetables for 7-10 minutes until the onions are translucent and carrots are tender. Add garlic, dried Thyme and dried Basil and cook for 3-4 more minutes.

Add broth, red peppers, cream, Tabasco sauce and Parmesan cheese. Bring to a simmer for 4-5 minutes to let everything heat through and to allow Parmesan cheese to melt.

Using an immersion hand blender, puree soup until it is smooth. (Or you could use a regular blender, working in small batches --always be careful when using a blender with hot liquids.)

Add salt to taste. Serve with cubes of toasted baguette bread and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.

**notes: I used two jars of peppers that were 12-oz each. I have also seen larger jars in the store that are between 25-28 oz each. Use what you find, or what's on sale! Also, I would add salt last, and a bit at a time. The amount you need to add will depend on the broth you use (some have more salt added than others) and the Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Week 86 Menu

Monday - eat out
Tuesday - Manicotti & green beans
Wednesday - Mughlai Chicken
Thursday - salmon of some kind - not sure yet
Friday - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup, cornbread muffins
Saturday - eat out (Gloria's Little Italy, here we come!)
Sunday - Robyn's Roast (crockpot)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy Does It

After a week like last week (oh and let me tell you, my kitchen woes continued on through the weekend!) I decided to fill my menu this week with some of our old favorites. Hopefully I'll have better luck.

I did try a new recipe Monday night with some success. The original is simply called "Chicken Noodle Soup" but in this week's menu I renamed it "Tortellini Soup with Chicken Meatballs" -- a more descriptive title for a lovely little soup. If you're tired of your same ol' chicken noodle soup, give this one a try. I made mine a bit different for the following reasons: 1) I didn't need 8 servings of soup 2) I didn't have fresh thyme or fresh parsley on hand, and 3) I couldn't find chicken sausage links so I just used regular chicken sausage, country style.

Our verdict: Mr. DoM and DoM Jr. loved this soup. I loved the flavor, but next time I'll make the meatballs smaller. This time I made them with a 1tsp scoop, but I think I would prefer a 1/2 tsp size meatball.

Here's what I made:

Tortellini Soup with Chicken Meatballs
4 servings

1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 lb chicken sausage (do not get the maple kind - apple sausage, or country style ok)
2 Tbls grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 of a whisked egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
1 rib celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
6-7 cups chicken broth (FYI: 1 can of broth = not quite 2 c.)
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/2 of a package of cheese tortellini (I used Buitoni)
salt & pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

For meatballs: In a large skillet, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine sausage, egg, onion, thyme, parsley and Parmesan. Mix gently with your hands (if you smoosh the meat too much, you'll have tough, compact meatballs). Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the same skillet to medium-high heat and add a little more oil. Use a small ice cream scoop to make meatballs and drop them into the skillet. Cook meatballs until browned on all side. Remove from heat and set aside.

For soup: In a medium pot (mine is a 5.5 qt), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaf and thyme. Saute 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Add chicken broth and parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Add meatballs and tortellini. Simmer until meatballs are cooked through and tortellini is done, about 5-7 minutes.

Serve. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Yes, the bag of chocolate chips is already open. I had to try just one. Or maybe two.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Week 85 Menu

Monday - Tortellini Soup w/ Chicken Meatballs
Tuesday - Southwest Chicken Salads
Wednesday - Robyn's Meatloaf & baked potatoes
Thursday - Hungarian Chicken, rice & salad
Friday - pizza
Saturday - Happy Valentine's Day! (we're eating out, along with everyone else in this town!)
Sunday - Vegetable Frittata & smoothies

This week's treat: S'mores Truffles

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mistakes, Mishaps and Stupidity

I'm not quite sure what happened to me this week. It seemed like every time I stepped into the kitchen another debacle was imminent. By Friday I had given up on trying to cook and we settled for fast food.

Monday: I managed to make a REALLY salty Roasted Red Pepper soup. Everyone else loved it and licked their bowls clean, but I couldn't slurp a bit of it.

Tuesday: I tested a new recipe for some filled valentines day cookies. What a mess. The dough stuck to everything and the cookies never browned properly in the oven. Plus the filling was not good. When I went to work on dinner, I realized that I had not actually bought any steaks for our steak & polenta meal. Duh.

Wednesday: Tacos for dinner. How hard can that be? Well, I browned the ground beef and went to look for the seasoning packet. I looked and looked. I was convinced that I had several in our pantry & food storage. Not a single one to be found. So I grabbed some spices and came up with my own version and it was not bad.

Thursday: I pulled the rest of the cookie dough out of the fridge to try and fix it. It was still awful. The ones I did bake off ended up as little white rocks. Later when I went to start dinner, I realized that I neglected to buy the ham for our Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes. I must have really not read my shopping list at all this week. What is wrong with me?

Friday: I tested a recipe for a cute little version of valentines cupcakes. They made a big mess and were not worth the work. Later, I accidentally dumped half of a box of couscous all over my freshly swept kitchen floor and then decided enough was enough... Taco Time here we come!

Here's to hoping that next week will be a better one!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week 84 Menu

Monday - Roasted Red Pepper Soup & Rustic Pan Bread
Tuesday - Steak Kabobs & Creamy Polenta
Wednesday - Tacos
Thursday - Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes (we never ate this last week)
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Oriental Chicken Wraps
Sunday - French Toast & fruit