Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two Easy Dinners

Easy Dinner #1 -
I know I've mentioned this dinner before, but since we just enjoyed it for dinner tonight, I thought I'd share with you these pictures! Last week I was perusing the discounted meats at Giant and grabbed a package of "stew meat" for less than $2. While I was grocery shopping yesterday I decided to buy a few different kinds of beans to make chili. One of our favorite ways to eat chili is to create a loaded baked potato. I know my mother-in-law doesn't approve, but you could totally bake the potatoes and let the chili simmer if you needed to run errands. Once the chili has been assembled and the potatoes are in the oven, this is totally a hands-off dinner. I found the stew meat created a little bit of a different texture, but definitely required a longer simmer time than ground beef would have.

Chili with Baked Potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 pkg stew meat (I cut mine into bite-sized pieces)
1 medium-sized can tomato paste
cumin, smoked paprika, garlic salt, onion powder, ground pepper
3 cans of water (I used the tomato paste can to measure)
1 small jar roasted red peppers, diced
3 cans of beans (I used red kidney, small red, and small white)

1. Saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add beef and saute until browned.
2. Add spices, tomato paste and stir to combine. Add water, peppers, beans and simmer until beef is tender (at least 2 hrs).
3. Bake potatoes: Wrap whole russets in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs or until tender when pierced with a fork.
4. To make the loaded baked potato: Slice potatoes in half and mash each half. Top with a generous portion of butter, sprinkle kosher salt and fresh ground pepper over potato halves. Place desired amount of chili, cheddar cheese and sour cream over potato haves and enjoy!

Easy Dinner #2

This is always my go-to meal when I don't have any other ideas. Spicy Italian sausage with peppers, onions, and cherry tomatoes over rigatoni. Typically I grill the sausage, peppers and onions, but I can't seem to get out of my pajama pants to grill. I always pray no neighbors see me when I scurry out to my truck to run to the bus stop (yes, that's right, I'm too lazy to walk to the bus stop and our garage is filled with renovation materials and has no room for vehicles!). So, anyway, I just browned my sausage in the oven and sauteed the onions and peppers on the stove. I also made cheesy garlic bread, a mixed greens salad with homemade blue cheese dressing and whipped up Ina Garden's brownie pudding.

Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Pasta
1 pkg (6 links) spicy italian sausage
1 medium onion
1 small red pepper, chopped
3/4 jar marinara sauce
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3/4 lb rigatoni, cooked al dente

1. Grill or bake sausage until nicely browned and fully cooked. Slice diagonally into bite-sized pieces.
2. Saute or grill onions, red peppers, and cherry tomatoes until browned.
3. Mix remaining ingredients (including sliced sausage) and cook over low heat until pasta is warmed through (less than 2 minutes or the pasta will be overcooked). Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Here are the recipes for the cheesy garlic bread, homemade blue cheese dressing (courtesy of Betty Crocker), and Ina's Brownie Pudding.

Cheesy Garlic Bread
1. Slice french bread horizontally.
2. Spread butter, garlic salt, dried Italian herbs, and parmesan on both sides of the bread.
3. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (I use sharp cheddar). Close sides of bread together, wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Blue Cheese Dressing
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
freshly ground black pepper
3 oz crumbled blue cheese
mix above ingredients until combined

Ina's Brownie Pudding (adapted with the ingredients I had on hand)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla

1. Lightly butter a pie plate.
2. Melt 1 stick butter with chocolate chips in microwave for one minute or until melted. Stir until smooth.
3. In stand mixer on medium speed, beat eggs and sugar for 5-10 minutes, until pale and thick.
4. Add flour and cocoa powder over low speed. Add vanilla and butter/chocolate mixture.
5. Bake at 325 (in a water bath) for exactly one hour. Pudding will be crusty on top and will appear underbaked.
6. I served ours with pureed thawed red raspberries (I added 1/2 cup sugar and warmed the mixture to dissolve the sugar). Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream is a must!


  1. OH YUM. I definitely have to try that pudding!

  2. I'm drooling on my computer over your Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Pasta! I love pasta, and made some this weekend as a lazy meal. (just pasta, frozen broccoli, and sauce) Now I have a use for that open & hardly used jar of Stonewall Kitchen marinara sauce!

    -Katie Ring, Photographer at Stonewall Kitchen