Tag Archives: sauce

Stick On

When life is hectic, it’s nice to wind down at the end of the day.  Lately, winding down comes mainly in the form of listening to chatter from the Yankees game on TV while hanging out on Pinterest until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.  I’m still spending way more time on the Food and Drink and DIY boards than I should considering the lack of time I have to be making the food and drinks, or the amazing DIY projects I see.  On a recent evening, while peeling myself away from staring at gorgeous wedding photos on the Weddings board, I came across a beef satay recipe that looked so simple and so tasty that it immediately went on the upcoming meal plan.  Of course, I also saw a centerpiece I loved so much that it immediately went on the upcoming wedding plan.  I digress.

The beef satay recipe was perfect for our schedule.  I mixed up the marinade and let the sliced beef hang out in the marinade bath overnight in the refrigerator.  Lane threaded the beef onto skewers and grilled it while I drove home and whipped up the peanut dipping sauce.  I also made rice the night before (waiting an hour for brown rice isn’t in the weeknight schedule) and we had a pretty fantastic meal in no time.  The original recipe included a “sweet hot dipping sauce” that sounded incredible, but I didn’t have ingredients on hand for that like I did for the beef skewers and peanut sauce.  I know beef and peanut butter might not seem like the most obvious combination, but trust me it’s fantastic.  I will definitely make this again, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted about the original dipping sauce.

beef satay

Beef Satay with Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

for the beef skewers:

  • 2 lbs. flank steak, cut into approximately 1-inch wide strips
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 shallots, quartered
  • 1/4 C. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

for the peanut dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 C. creamy or crunchy peanut butter (I used creamy this time)
  • 1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3-6 Tbsp. milk
  • pinch of dried red pepper flakes

Directions:

To make the marinade, combine all of the ingredients except for the beef in a resealable bag or plastic container with a lid.

Whisk until the brown sugar is dissolved.

Add the beef and stir to make sure that all of the beef has been coated in the marinade.

Seal the bag or cover the container and refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to overnight.

When ready to grill, heat the grill to medium-high heat.

While you’re waiting for the grill to be hot enough, thread each piece of beef onto a skewer.  Metal skewers are fine, I use wooden skewers that I soak in water ahead of time (you can also soak the skewers and freeze them in a large resealable bag ahead of time, then pull out the quantity you need before grilling).

Place the skewered beef onto the grill and grill for 5-6 minutes, turning once.  Discard the extra marinade.

To make the peanut sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.

Stir constantly until the mixture is blended and smooth, and the peanut butter reaches a pourable consistency.  Start with 3 Tbsp. of milk and add more, 1 Tbsp. at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Source: beef satay adapted from Chef’s Catalog; peanut sauce Diana Dishes original

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Quiet Storm

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three weeks since I last posted here.  I freely admit that I haven’t done much cooking.  We have been doing plenty of anniversary partying, coffee date with friend-ing, camping, vacationing, amusement park-ing, and drive-in move going.  What we have not been doing plenty of is meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.  There’s been some cooking, just not blog-worthy cooking.  We’ve slathered pork chops with barbecue and grilled them, and enjoyed many a corn on the cob or a burger.  We’ve also enjoyed plenty of meals out either celebrating or due to time constraints.  So, while I’ve been completely neglecting my blogger duties, I have been completely busy loving my new job, loving time with Lane and the kiddos, and celebrating both our own milestones and those of the people we love.

With nothing planned or thawed out ahead of time and with no real plan in hand, I made a great dinner last night that took less than half an hour from start to finish.  The next time I come home from work and decide that it’s faster to order something or head to a restaurant, I am going to remind myself that in the amount of time it would have taken to peel M away from her Kindle and O away from his Legos, we could be sitting down to dinner.  I thawed some shrimp, boiled some water, and got to work.  It did help that I had a hunk of Asiago cheese on hand, so if you don’t I strongly suggest putting a hunk of any sharp Italian cheese on your next grocery list.  Just in case.  If you’re looking for a great macaroni and cheese recipe, you can follow the instructions and skip the shrimp and peas.  I love this pasta with bacon or ham and broccoli as well.

pasta with cheese sauce shrimp and peas

Penne in Cheese Sauce with Shrimp and Peas

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked to package directions and drained
  • 8 oz. sharp Italian cheese (such as Asiago), grated
  • 1 1/2 C. whole milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 C. frozen peas, thawed
  • 12 oz. uncooked large shrimp (25-30 per lb.), peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Directions:

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the shrimp.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the shrimp in a single layer, sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, then flip them and cook for 2-3 more minutes just until they are pink and opaque.  Remove from the heat and keep covered.

To prepare the cheese sauce, warm 1 C. of the milk in a medium saucepan.

While the milk in the saucepan is warming up, whisk the remaining 1/2 C. of milk with the flour in a small bowl until there are no lumps.

When the milk in the saucepan is just starting to release steam, whisk in the flour and milk mixture and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until the mixture resembles heavy cream.

Reduce the heat to low and add the grated cheese, a handful at a time, stirring until the sauce is smooth after each addition.

Continue until all of the cheese has been added to the sauce and stir until the sauce is creamy.

Stir in freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Stir together the cooked shrimp, pasta, and peas.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir to evenly coat the pasta mixture with cheese sauce.

Makes 6 generous servings.

Source: pasta and cheese sauce adapted from The Kitchn.

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Versatile Freestyle

Having a handful of versatile ingredients on hand makes it easy to decide what’s for dinner on the rare occasion that I have a gap in the meal plan.  Because I meal plan and like to make just one trip to the grocery store per week (or longer), gaps don’t happen very often.  On days when there’s four inches of rain falling and I really want to skip the trip to the grocery store, gaps happen.  Gaps also happen when life gets in the way of my regularly scheduled “programming.”  Just this weekend, the meal plan went right out the window when soccer was cancelled on Saturday.  The weather promised to play nice, so we made a spur of the moment decision to visit Brooklyn.  I spent Sunday celebrating my cousin’s upcoming wedding at a great bridal shower.  By the time I came home (there was a total of eight hours of travel round-trip involved for me), dinner was the remnants of Friday night’s pizza.  Gaps happen.  Meal planning wasn’t always my “thing.”  Especially when I lived alone, I would go to the grocery store and buy a few things that I considered to be staples and then half of the excitement would be how to put them together when I felt like having an actual meal.  Now I meal plan because while I think it’s an adventure to stare at an open refrigerator while trying to visualize whether or not I have this or that other ingredient, we try to keep dinner time more consistent.

Life happens, the plan isn’t always perfect, and this is where my single-girl foraging skills, some basic ingredients, and creativity are a life saver.  Okay, so by “foraging” I really mean “standing in front of the open refrigerator like I used to,” but that foraging procured a jar of roasted red peppers that I had on hand to use as a sandwich topping, and a bag of tortellini that I had hanging around to use for a tortellini salad.  It didn’t take long for me to decide to turn that jar of peppers into a sauce, use it to top the tortellini, and avoid venturing out to the grocery store in the pouring rain.  I’m glad I made that decision.  This was a tasty dinner that took almost no time to prepare.  I added shrimp as an afterthought because I felt like the tortellini needed a protein to make it a more substantial dinner.  Okay, so I rarely need an excuse to add shrimp to anything, but shrimp wasn’t part of the initial plan here.  I’m glad I added it in, it cooks very quickly and was perfect for scooping up the sauce.  Chicken would have been great here as well.

roasted red pepper sauce tortellini with shrimp

Tortellini with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. bag cheese tortellini
  • 7 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained (or roast your own red peppers)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C. milk or heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:

Boil the tortellini in a large pot of water according to package directions, until al dente.  Set aside.

Blot as much excess moisture as you can from the roasted red peppers using paper towels.

Place the roasted red peppers and garlic into a blender and puree for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Pour the red pepper mixture into a small sauce pan and stir in the oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken.  Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally while preparing the shrimp.

To prepare the shrimp, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the shrimp, then add them to the heated skillet in a single layer.

Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the shrimp are pink on the outside and opaque inside.

Add the milk to the sauce and stir to combine.

Cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through, then add the tortellini to the sauce and stir to completely coat the tortellini.

Top the tortellini mixture with the cooked shrimp (you can add the shrimp to the sauce as well and stir it in with the tortellini).

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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The Gravy Train

I know that with Easter coming up many people have ham on the brain and so it’s easy to wonder why I’m over here blabbering on about turkey.  I have hosted and attended Easter dinners where both ham and turkey were popular offerings so it doesn’t seem fair for ham to have the whole show.  Lamb and lasagna have long been traditions for one family I celebrated Easter with for years, without a ham in sight.  Not only in my family, but in other families that I’ve celebrated holidays with, it seems like the goal is for the host to serve enough food that we could be trapped in the house for weeks without needing to worry about nourishment, so long as the refrigeration holds.

As I mentioned yesterday it’s possible that you want to make a small turkey dinner without tying up (or even turning on) the oven, whether or not you’re entertaining and whether or not it’s a holiday.  Turkey for no reason at all always seems to taste a little better than turkey for Thanksgiving or Easter, I think.  It’s also possible that you’re serving a big turkey dinner and would rather not deal with having to whip up a gravy from pan drippings while your guests wait and the turkey is quickly moving from “well-rested” to “ice cold.”  It’s entirely possible to make delicious turkey gravy without roasting a whole turkey, and without keeping your guests waiting. Make-ahead turkey gravy solved the gravy dilemma for me at Thanksgiving, when fried turkey plus crock pot turkey breast equals zero pan drippings for gravy.  It’s every bit as fantastic as gravy you make after roasting a whole turkey, and roasted turkey wings take most of the responsibility for that.  Make-ahead gravy does take some planning ahead as you’ll make a turkey stock and that stock will need to refrigerate for at least two hours (but better to let it sit overnight) before proceeding.  At first, the gravy may seem very thin but have no fear- it will thicken considerably and quickly once it’s off the heat.  You can add a small amount of cornstarch mixed with water if it isn’t thick enough for you, but (as I learned the hard way when making this in the past) a little cornstarch will go a long way toward thickening this.  It’s a pretty forgiving gravy, though and if you over-thicken it, thin it out with some chicken or turkey stock until it has a nice, pourable consistency.

turkey gravy

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Ingredients:

to make the turkey stock:

  • 2 turkey wings
  • 4 ribs of celery (including leaves), roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 C. water

to finish the gravy:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 C. turkey stock, strained and defatted (from ingredients above)
  • 1/2 C. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, roast the turkey wings, celery, onions, and garlic for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and add the water to the turkey and vegetables (if you used a roasting pan, pour the vegetables and turkey into a large pot, add the water, and then proceed).

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the mixture over low heat for 1 hour, uncovered.

Strain the stock over a bowl with a minimum 4 C. capacity, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Remove the fat that has accumulated on top of the stock.

In a large pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes to cook out the flour taste.

Whisk in 2 C. of the turkey stock and cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

If the mixture does not thicken enough (give it at least 20 minutes on the stove and remove it from the heat for 5 minutes before deciding if it’s thick enough), dissolve 1 tsp. of corn starch in 1 tsp. of cold water and slowly whisk it into the gravy.

Whisk in the milk, cider vinegar, and salt to taste.

Makes 2 1/4 C.

Source: Noble Pig

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Pushed & Pulled

Home improvement projects manage to occur in groups for me.  It started on Friday when I decided I would finally deal with the vent cover in the living room that’s loose only to end up removing the first floor vent covers and scrubbing them.  Over the weekend we decided we’d finally get around to hanging stuff on the walls.  It was high time we got around to doing that, seeing as how we just finished discussing where we wanted to hang these items.  Just finished discussing it in October, that is.  Then, Lane replaced the toilet flapper and well, I couldn’t be outdone.  Around Thanksgiving, we acquired four chairs that we figured would work well with the dining room chairs we already have.  After giving them a scrubbing and replacing the hideous vinyl that was covering the chair pads, anyway.  So through the entire holiday season I kept saying that I’d get to these chairs.  Then I waited almost three more months, for good measure.  Armed with an Exacto knife and a scrubbie sponge (and various other implements that said “I mean business”), I managed to remove the aforementioned hideous vinyl (both layers), staples of assorted sizes, and a quantity of upholstery nails that could keep a Home Depot stocked for ten years.  So to recap, I now have sparkly clean vent covers, stuff on the walls, flappy flappers in the toilets (they’re supposed to flap, right? I don’t fix toilets . . .), and a total of eight dining room chairs that I love.

There is a limit, however, to my productivity.  When I’m fussing around the house and making sure the cat isn’t crawling into the vent where I’ve just removed the cover so that I can scrub it (who does this?!), I can’t be hovering over the stove at the same time.  Well, unless it needs to be taken apart and cleaned as well, but in that case I probably shouldn’t be making dinner on it at the same time.  So on days when big or little home improvements take over, it’s nice to throw a few things in the crock pot and have dinner ready when I’m done with all of the insanity home improvement.  Enter crock pot pulled pork.  Pork chops, onions, barbecue sauce.  Throw those three things into the crock pot, shred, and serve on hamburger buns or in tortillas or taco shells.  I could go on and on with serving suggestions but those are my favorites.

crock pot pulled pork

Crock Pot Barbecue “Pulled” Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless center cut pork chops
  • 1 C. your favorite barbecue sauce 
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

Spray the inside of a crock pot with non-stick cooking spray or line with a crock pot liner.

Spread the onion slices evenly across the bottom of the crock pot.

Place the pork chops onto the onion slices.

Pour the barbecue sauce over the pork chops.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove the pork chops and shred using two forks.

Return the shredded pork to the crock pot and stir it in with the onions and sauce.

If needed, add more barbecue sauce.

Serve as desired (but I strongly suggest serving this on sandwich buns).

Makes 6-8 servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Across the Universe

After Friday’s blizzard, I am happy to have some good news today.  We’re twelve days from the Eighty-fifth Academy Awards and I have a new lineup of movies and recipes to share for this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature.  This year, I limited the films to those that have at least been nominated for an Oscar.  In years past, this has been a popular feature and I’m thrilled to do it again for a third year.

This year’s first film is one of my guilty pleasures, Pleasantville.  The 1998 film finds teenage siblings David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) transported into the fictitious 1958 television show Pleasantville.  In Pleasantville, David and Jennifer pretend to be Bud and Mary Sue Parker, characters on the show.  I won’t give away why it happens in case you haven’t seen the film, but slowly the characters on Pleasantville change from black and white to color. The town fathers dislike the changes to the town and begin to create rules including a ban on going to the library or using paint in colors other than black and white.  Pleasantville was nominated for three Academy Awards.   In the categories  for Best Art Direction- Set Decoration and Best Costume Design, Pleasantville lost to Shakespeare In Love.  In the Best Music, Original Dramatic Score category, Pleasantville lost to Life is Beautiful.

pleasantville

There are various scenes where Betty Parker (Joan Allen) who is the sitcom’s mother figure holds up plates full of pancakes or Rice Krispie treats to the camera.  This is reminiscent of a real 50’s era sitcom when blatant product placement was a common form of advertisement.  As a nod to the film centering around a 1958 sitcom I made a tv dinner classic, Salisbury steak.  Salisbury steak doesn’t have to be the hardly identifiable meat slab drowned in something that can only loosely be called gravy that used to be a tv dinner staple.  This is a much more modern and tasty take on the classic.  The onion gravy for this is amazing and so easy to make and the steaks cook in just ten minutes which makes this great weeknight comfort food.  In keeping with tv dinner tradition, I served this with mashed potatoes and peas and there wasn’t a plate on the table that wasn’t clean by the time the meal ended.

salisbury steak

Salisbury Steaks

Ingredients:

for the steaks:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 C. seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp. dry ground mustard
  • 1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, for frying
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, for frying

for the gravy:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 C. beef broth (plus more if needed for thinning)
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. corn starch mixed with a little water to make a thin paste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the steaks except for the olive oil and butter.

Knead lightly until thoroughly combined.

Form into 6 equally portioned, oval shaped patties.

Heat the oil and butter together over medium high heat in a large skillet.

Place the steaks into the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip the steaks and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until they are no longer pink in the middle.

Remove the steaks from the pan and pour any extra grease out of the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and put the onions in the pan.

Cook, stirring, for several minutes until golden brown and somewhat soft.

Add beef stock, Worcestershire, and ketchup to the pan and stir to combine.

Cook, stirring, for several minutes while the mixture reduces.

If needed, add 1-2 teaspoons of the cornstarch mixture to the skillet to thicken the gravy slightly (you don’t want the gravy to be very thick, so only add up to 2 teaspoons if needed), or add more beef broth if the gravy needs thinning.

Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Place the steaks in the pan with the gravy.

Spoon the gravy, including onions, and let them simmer for a few minutes until heated through.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

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