Thursday, April 4, 2013

Weekly Dinner Menu: April 7 - 13

This week's meals are all coming from one cookbook.  I like to do this a lot.  I have a pretty large collection of cookbooks and I figure that if I have the books I may as well use them.  Sometimes I will pick one book and all of my recipes for a week will come from one book.  This allows us to try a lot of new things and find recipes that I really like (and a few that will never be made again).
This week I have chosen a book from one of my favorite Food Network celebrity chefs, Sandra Lee.  The book is Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking 2, which I picked up at Big Lots for $5.00.  The book is broken into nine chapters:  Italian, Mexican, Asian, BBQ, Comfort Food, Light and Healthy, Slow Cooking, Everyday Dinners and Special Occasions.  I have chosen a meal from 7 of the 9 chapters and have paired some sides, dessert and cocktails with a few.

DISCLAIMER:  I have not tried any of these recipes before.  They are all new to me as well so we will be testing them out together.  Let me know if you try any and what you think.


Servings: 6 to 8, prep time: 20 minutes, baking time: 30 minutes

  • 1 package (16 oz) lasagna noodles
  • 1-1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 oz each) condensed tomato soup*
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp bottled minced garlic
  • 1 container (16 oz) small-curd cottage cheese
  • 1 package (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain.
  2. While noodles are cooking, brown beef in a large skillet over medium heat; drain.  Add onion, tomato soup vinegar, oregano, an garlic.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Lay noodles lengthwise across bottom of a greased 13x9-inch baking dish.  Spread a layer of cottage cheese over noodles.  Add a layer of meat mixture, then cover with mozarella cheese.  Repeat for three layers.  Finish with a layer of cheese.
  4. Bake about 30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is golden.

*NOTE:  I have never made this recipe and after reading some reviews of it, as well as an entire article in the New York Times about it I decided to make a change.  Instead of 2 cans of tomato soup I decided to use a 22 oz jar of our favorite spaghetti sauce.  Still quick and easy and I can only assume tastier than tomato soup.  I do not believe that tomato soup should ever be used as a pasta sauce.

  • salad
servings: 2, prep time:  3 minutes

  • 2 scoops lemon gelato or sorbet
  • 3 oz citrus vodka
  • 3 oz lemoncello
  • Italian Prosecco or sparkling white wine
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

  1. In a blender, combine gelato, vodka, and lemoncello.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Divide between 2 glasses, then add Prosecco to fill glasses.  Garnish with lemon slices.
Crispy Orange Beef
Picture of Crispy Orange Beef Recipe

  • 1-1/2 lbs flank steak, cut into 1-inch strips 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flout
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 10 small dried Thai chiles
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch


  1. For the beef, season flank steak strips with salt and pepper, then toss with flour.  Shake off excess flour.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch vegetable oil to 365 degrees.  Working in batches, fry flour-coated steak strips until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  (Do not crowd pan)  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside and keep warm.
  3. For sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic in canola oil until fragrant.  Add orange marmalade, 1/2 cup beef broth, chiles, and soy sauce.  Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into remaining 1/2 cup beef broth.  Stir cornstarch mixture into simmering sauce.  Return to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until sauce thickens.  Pour over beef and serve.


  • dumpling soup
  • edamame
  • white rice

Grilled Fish in Corn Husks with Rice and Beans


  • 1 box Spanish Rice mix
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 4 halibut fish fillets
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 packet Fajita seasoning mix
  • 4 ears corn with husks
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted


  1. Prepare rice according to package directions, adding beans during last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle fish with lime juice and all but 1 Tbsp fajita seasoning.  Remove husks from corn and cut corn into 3-to 4 inch chunks.  Wrap husks around fish, tying with kitchen string to secure.  Brush corn with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining fajita seasoning.
  3. Grill fish directly over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Turn fish over and grill 5 minutes more.  Grill corn alongside fish, turning frequently.
TIP:  To lock in moisture, soak the corn husks in water for several hours before wrapping the fish.  To grill corn without burning, remove the tip of the corn at the silk end of the ear.  Soak the corn in water for one hour.  Then, grill corn for 15 minutes, turning every 3 minutes.

Cowboy Tri-Tip

Picture of Spice Rubbed Tri-tip Recipe

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Lawry's seasoned pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 lb tri-tip roast
  • kosher salt
  • 1 26 oz jar pasta sacue
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey


  1. Preheat grill for medium-direct heat.
  2. For dry rub, in a small bowl combine first 5 ingredients.  Set aside
  3. Rinse roast with cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels.  Place roast on plate or platter and season with kosher salt.  Rub a generous amount of dry rub into both sides of meat.  Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Repeat rub and rest 2 to 3 times until all seasoning is used.
  4. While meat is resting between rubs, prepare BBQ sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the last 5 ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Set aside.
  5. Grill roast about 20 minutes for medium-rare, turning and mopping with sauce every 5 minutes.  Transfer roast to cutting board.  Tent with foil; let stand 10 minutes.  Cut roast diagonally across grain.  Serve with extra sauce.

Baked Beans
Cornbread Muffins

Thursday-Comfort Food
Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowls

I am going to go one step further and make this even easier...


  • Sourdough bread bowls, for serving
  • 2-3 cans of Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder
  • fresh ground pepper


  1. Bake bread according to package directions.  Cut out top and center of bread to make bowl.
  2. Cook soup according to label directions.  Pour soup into bread bowl.


  • salad

Friday-Slow Cooking
Beer BBQ Chicken


  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 4 lbs chicken breasts and thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup dark beer or ale
  • 1-1/2 cups barbecue sauce


  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown chicken on both sides.  Place browned chicken in a 4-to 5-quart slow cooker.  Add onions to slow cooker.
  2. In a bowl, combine dark beer and barbecue sauce.  Pour mixture over chicken and onions in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high-heat for 3-4 hours or low heat for 7-8 hours.


  • scalloped potatoes
  • green beans

Saturday-Everyday Dinners
Baked Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Pears


  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 pears, peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • olive oil cooking spry
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an 8-inch square baking dish, combine sweet potatoes and pears.  In a small bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar, 3 Tbsp flour and the butter to make a paste.  Crumble mixture over potatoes and pears.  Set aside.
  2. Spray a roasting pan and rack with cooking spray.  Place eggs in a shallow bowl.  Place 1/2 cup flour on plate.  Place bread crumbs and herbes de Provence on another plate and mis well.  Dredge pork chops in flour.  Dip in eggs, then in bread crumb mixture.  Arrange chops on rack in prepared pan and coat lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Bake pork chops alongside sweet potatoes and pears for 20 to 30 minutes or until chops are cooked to desired doneness and sweet potatoes and pears are tender.

Another cook book exploration next week.  Stay tuned.

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