Posts Tagged ‘Dinner’

West African Peanut Stew

West African Peanut Stew is one of the current favorites at our house. It’s a creamy peanut butter flavored thick soup with cooked veggies (any my additions, below). I love it because I love most things peanut and savory, and it’s VERY easy to make and healthy. Molly loves it because it’s peanut butter so kinda tastes like kid food. And Michael likes it because it’s hearty and filling and super flavorful. It’s a great one-pot dinner with all your protein and veggies built in. I’ve also used this recipe recently when bringing meals to families who are gluten-free.

My adaptations are as follows:

1. Use my favorite chicken shortcut and buy a rotisserie chicken from your usual grocery store. Shred the white meat and add at the very end. The meat is already cooked and flavorful so you really only want to rewarm it – it will get tough quickly if cooked too long or too hot.

2. I add a can of chickpeas (drained) for extra protein and umph.

3. As suggested, serve over brown rice or just stir it in for a thicker meal for kids.

4. Since we aren’t hard core vegetarians, I usually use chicken stock since that’s what I keep stocked at our house. Either chicken or vegetable stock is fine.


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About a month ago, I finally made my way through a back issue of Food and Wine that arrived around the same time my baby did…and was sitting gathering dust for a few months. I was hesitant to throw it away because it looked very interesting – an anniversary issue with years worth of ‘best of’ recipes. They did their top 20 recipes for the past (30? I think?) years. Though I don’t often make chicken, I was intrigued by the dish labeled the “Best Chicken Dish” – Roast Chicken with Bread Salad. Considering how many chicken dishes must have been showcased in the magazine over the years, it seemed worth trying.

I made this last weekend when we had friends for dinner. It was amazing. Simply salting (I didn’t have time to add the garlic or thyme under the skin) the chicken overnight produced an extremely crispy and golden brown skin and insanely moist meat. We put the chicken in a cast iron pan on the grill to 500, instead of the oven, since our oven tends to smoke above 425. You pour the pan juices over the bread salad recipe, which is essentially just super delicious croutons. I found them a bit too crispy, and that the chicken didn’t make quite as much pan juice as I wanted. Next time I would add some chicken stock and white wine to the pan juices, simmer a bit, then pour over the croutons so that they are a bit more moist. The flavor, though, was out of this world. If you’re making it for company, be more efficient than I was and follow the ‘make ahead’ directions on the bread salad so that you have very little to do once guests have arrived.

I served it with this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad which is very flavorful, healthy and can also be made in advance. We had a nice Sauvignon Blanc alongside which was perfect. And a pumpkin pie for dessert, to keep it very fall-ish feeling. All around a really delicious and fun meal to serve for a special occasion!

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Tomato Tatin

It wasn’t pretty (I didn’t have the correct size and shape of pan or the correct puff pastry) but it was GOOD…this recipe for Tomato Tatin is a keeper! A tatin is typically a French cake which is made by baking fruit in a caramel sauce with a batter poured over. After it’s baked, you invert the pan onto a plate and the fruit is gooey and golden with cake underneath. The same concept is applied to tomatoes – layered with chopped olives and caramelized onions (I’ll reserve a 1/2 cup next time for another recipe, as there were more than necessary, and I like to use them in salads or on pizzas) and then topped with a pre-made puff pastry. The flavors were awesome, so summery and Provencal. We enjoyed this with my parents as a lovely summer meal with roasted potatoes, cut fruit and an orzo salad. Exactly how we like to eat in warm weather! I will make this again soon and hope it turns out prettier, though I’m confident it will be yummy.

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This is the best new recipe I’ve made in months! Just in time for summer barbeques, but equally great for cold weather months since it’s made in the slow cooker, this one is a real keeper!

The brisket is simply thrown in the slow cooker with a few spices and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. However…I couldn’t find Dr. Pepper the day I wanted to make this (Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are our usual rotation of grocery stores because they are the ones we can walk to) so I used a root beer instead. I am sure the Dr. Pepper is really good but the root beer made such a deeply flavorful, sweet sauce that I will probably do it that way every time!

The mango salsa takes a bit of time to make because of the chopping and various steps. But even according to my husband, it’s totally worth it. As he said, it made the meal. The good news is that you could absolutely do it up to several days in advance and that will take almost all of the time-consuming preparation out of this meal, if you’re serving for company. I would double the sauce next time, as we had a lot of leftover brisket and not as much sauce.

Making the individual quesadillas with the brie took a little bit of time but as long as you don’t have too big a party it should be ok. I used a light brie to spare a few calories and you’d never know the difference.

Serve this alongside a great margarita and some chips and guacamole and you’ll be a very popular hostess this summer!

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Roasted Sausages and Grapes

I saw this dish prepared on Barefoot Contessa (by one of her friends from the Italian restaurant she raves about) and thought it looked easy and like it might be surprisingly delicious. I would never have thought to roast grapes, but they were really yummy! The wine and balsamic vinegar gives the sauce some depth and keeps it from being too sweet. I used only hot Italian sausages (chicken sausages, to lighten it up a bit) and the contrast of the heat from the sausage and the sweet from the grape was awesome. I also added half a red onion to the roasting pan, because I love red onions, had one available, and thought it would compliment the flavor. I think it did. Since it was just Michael and I, I halved the recipe. We still had enough left over to make some DELICIOUS sandwiches the next day – sausages, sauce, parmesan, basil and mixed greens on a focaccia roll – YUM!

This was a really fun ‘family style’ meal – you can put the hot roasting pan right on the table and serve people from there, with hearty bread (we had homemade olive bread!) on the side. We also had a very lightly dressed salad with shaved parmesan – something mild that doesn’t fight with the main dish. I would definitely make this again, as I loved the taste, ease, and style of meal. It’s a keeper! I should’ve known Ina wouldn’t steer me wrong…

Although this meal is more hearty and requires a hot oven, I would still consider making it during warmer months. I could definitely see doing an easy light dinner for a group of people during the summer by putting out this dish along with a light salad, selection of meats and cheeses, fresh delicious bread and several bottles of red wine. Those flavors all blend together so nicely and it’s a lovely way to enjoy a leisurely meal with friends on a beautiful evening outside.


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This recipe tastes like spring to me. It’s perfect for summer, really, when you can get fresh sweet corn and basil is everywhere, but I usually cheat and make it a little early just because it makes the warm weather feel like it’s here to stay. Because it’s a risotto dish, it is warm and hearty, so it can be really perfect for a rainy or unseasonably chilly day in spring or summer. Risotto does take a bit of time to make, but it’s not hard, and if you’ve got all your ingredients prepped, it’s not usually too demanding to stand and stir for 20 minutes or so while you sip your glass of wine and listen to the news or chat with guests. It’s also my favorite kind of dinner to make – a one-dish meal!


From Cottage Living


1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 T olive oil, divided

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp pepper

6 basil leaves, cut into thin strips, divided

2 T unsalted butter

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper

4 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. In a large mixing bowl, toss shrimp with 1 T olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and 3 basil leaves. Sauté shrimp in 2 batches, if necessary, to prevent overcrowding. Cook about 1 minute per side, and remove from pan; place on a platter, cover loosely, and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium, and heat remaining olive oil and butter in the same pan. Add onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, 2 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add garlic and red pepper, and sauté, stirring constantly, 1 minute more.

Bring broth to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn off heat, cover, and keep warm.

Add rice to onion mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until grains are well coated and the outsides turn translucent. (Do not let rice brown). Add white wine, and cook 30 seconds or until most of it evaporates.

Add 1 cup chicken broth, and stir constantly until mostly absorbed. Add additional broth in 1-cup increments, stirring after each addition until most of the broth is absorbed. Stop adding broth when rice appears to be saturated. (You may not need all 5 cups of broth). Cook, stirring frequently, 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender and creamy but not mushy.

Stir in corn, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Stir in shrimp and any collected juices. Reduce heat to low and cook until warm, not more than 1 minute. Add a little more chicken broth if risotto gets too dry. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and remaining basil. Season with additional sea salt and pepper, if desired.

Top with remaining Parmesan and serve warm.

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Upon the recommendation of a friend, I tried this recipe from Pioneer Woman (see her site for recipe and lots of great pics). I think it may have been the first I’ve tried of hers, though lots of my friends really love her. It was a VERY simple yet very hearty and delicious and wintery meal that I would recommend.

I did take the extra step of caramelizing the onions, because I do absolutely adore the deep flavor of those sweet onions, but if you didn’t, this would be a very quick recipe. You simply throw the pork butt into a braising pot with apples, onions, some apple juice and beef stock and let it cook away. Once finished, you reduce the cooking liquid to a syrupy sauce that is poured over all. I served this with plain rice but her wild rice recipe looks great, and it would probably be great with some polenta on the side too.

I am such a soup fanatic that I rarely have good meat-based winter dishes that feed a group, so this will stay in my file for such occasions. Bon Appetit!

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