Just in case you don't think there is any rhyme or reason to this dinner blog, here it is: It's a rotating week. Monday Beat the Blues Comfort Food; Tempting Tuesday; Casserole Wednesday; Tasty Thursday; Featured Friday (where I feature a special person and their recipe); Saturday Side Dish; Sunday Soups/Scoops/Specials. Each week I'll be blogging on a different day, so there's something new about every eight days.

NOTE: This blog will be changing. Stay tuned for a new look and routine of when I will post.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Taking a Break

It's been a busy October and it's going to be an even busier November, so I am taking a break from posting any new recipes. I'll check back in at the end of the month. But don't forget to check out my regular blog: Present Letters.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beef & Barley Soup

The other day when I was making Pepper Steak, I had used extra meat from a nice beef tenderloin. I buy whole tenderloins and cut it into filet mignon’s as it’s so much cheaper that way. You have to do a little bit of extra work, but… hey why not? I can’t throw the scraps away—I say scraps because they aren’t filets, just hunks of meat. I save them for stew or soups. A few of the bigger nicer hunks I used in the Pepper Steak.

For the soup, I took the smaller pieces with a little fat, threw them in a pot with some butter until the meat browned.

I added some water to fill the pot, 1 cup of barley and simmered it. Seems like it needed something else, so I chopped up a big onion

(and saved half of it for Beef Stroganoff that I plan on making later). I added half the onion, sprinkled in some garlic powder and poured a little Kitchen Bouquet in for some added color and flavor. It still needed something, so I added a package of Grilled Portabella and Onion soup mix. I was going to have it for lunch, but it was so beefy, I dumped it into the Beef & Barley.


Rating & Type: E/B

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spinach Salad

Spinach salad may not be something you think about eating in October, but why not? Spinach salad is something you can create to your taste. I did another spinach salad in the spring with strawberries and nuts. But there’s something about the warm bacon dressing that makes it a real spinach salad, to me anyway.

I usually buy bottled bacon dressing that you can heat up and pour over your salad. This time I didn’t have any on hand and after having gone to two stores earlier, I didn’t want to go out again, so I decided to make some. I looked up some recipes—none which seemed right. There was only one that you warmed up, but I didn’t like the rest of it, so I combined what I liked and made my own.

Lynn’s Warm Bacon Dressing

6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ c bacon crumbles
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped onion

I combined all the ingredients and cooked it on low until the ingredients blended nicely and I was ready to pour it over the salad.

I put the baby spinach leaves in a large bowl,

added portabella mushrooms, 2 hard boiled eggs,

roasted pecans (I sautéed them in a little butter),

and some more bacon crumbles. I added the dressing and mixed well. This was one of the most tastiest spinach salads I’ve had and my husband agreed.

Another thing I decided to do next time I make this is to use real bacon replacing the bacon grease with the olive oil. I think Trader Joe’s apple smoked bacon would make a nice addition to this recipe.

Spinach leaves

Rating & Type: EE/V or P

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Macaroni & Cheese

Growing up my mom made macaroni and cheese, homemade of course, with elbow macaroni.

When we moved into our stepmother’s house after my mom passed, my little sister Ruthie and I made Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

As I grew older and had children of my own, I’d make homemade macaroni and cheese and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese—as kids like that.

When I started to date current husband, we went to his folks on occasion. Maurine (mother-in-law) was ‘famous’ for her macaroni and cheese (and her potato salad). She used what she called “macaroni macaroni” noodles. Long macaroni noodles—like thick spaghetti hollowed. You could drink through the noodle like a straw. I never knew they made such a noodle—and it does make good macaroni and cheese. It’s what I use now… unless I don’t have any on hand and want to make mac and cheese, then I might use any kind of noodle.

My husband’s folks are no longer living, but when the rest of the family gets together, you can bet there’s usually Maurine’s version of mac and cheese.

Cook a package of Macaroni Noodles (I can only find these noodles at Schnucks—here in St. Louis, MO). Butter a casserole dish, add a layer of noodles, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with hunks of cut up Colby cheese, dot with a little of butter and repeat. Top the noodles with some slices or shredded Colby cheese, dot with butter. Add milk—enough that when you tip the casserole dish you will see the milk starting to appear. Maurine always liked to use more milk, so give it an extra splash if you want. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about a good hour, or longer, until golden brown and bubbly.

Some folks like the top of this to be crunchy, which I’m not a fan of, however even leaving the lid on makes a crunchy top. But you could take the lid off the last 10 minutes of cooking for any extra crunch.

Macaroni Noodles
Colby cheese
butter, salt and pepper

Rating & Type: E/V

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feature Friday—Becky Povich

A big welcome to Becky Povich as my Feature Friday guest. Becky claims she doesn’t cook much, so I told her she could share anything she wanted. Becky sent me her favorite meatloaf recipe that she received from her niece, Renee. Becky says, “It’s the best meatloaf I've ever had!” I’m definitely going to have to give this recipe a shot.

We all know what meatloaf looks like, so Becky shared pictures of her homemade recipe book instead. How cute is that?

Here’s the front cover, the spine and the inside.

And now for the recipe.

If you have trouble reading the recipe card, here it is:

Grandma Berry’s Meat Loaf
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 ½ pounds ground beef
2 eggs
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. sage (didn’t use)

3 T. brown sugar
4 T. ketchup
1 tsp. dry mustard

Soak 2/3 cup bread crumbs in a little milk. Add beef and remaining items. Put loaf in pan and cover with sauce.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

A while ago, Becky had sent me some pictures of her ice cream cone cupcakes that she made when she was about 10 years old. The photo of the cupcakes aren’t the ones Becky made (they’re from the cookbook) although I’m sure Becky’s were just as cute, if not cuter. If you read my dessert blog, I had written about my ice cream cone cupcakes made from a silicon mold. I think Becky’s would be better because you put the batter in the cone and bake it. No worries about the cones falling over like mine did. As Becky said, “You can eat the entire thing—no mess, no dishes.” And look at that sweet Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls Becky received from her mother. I just love it.

Becky has a fun sense of humor, a generous heart and is working hard on her memoir. I’m glad to have met Becky through St. Louis Writers Guild, and that we’re now friends.

You should check out Becky’s blog as there’s something there for everyone, and she always has a cool quote to go with her blog post.

Thanks Becky! And I look forward to trying your meatloaf!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


It's Tasty Thursday.

Just so you all don’t think I always cook cheap or make comfort food or easy easy dishes, here’s something I’ll share. I prepared a French dinner for my husband for our anniversary. And since I wrote all about it and took pictures along the way, you can view it here if you’d like.

Otherwise you can just sauté the scallops in a little butter, squeeze a little lemon juice on them and you’re good to go. That’s not how I made them for this French dinner, but how I’ve made them before.

Bon Appetite!


Rating & Type: NE/F

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Egg Salad

It’s Wednesday Casserole day. So why am I telling you about egg salad. Let’s use our imagination and pretend this is a cold casserole. Could be, couldn’t it? I mean, who wants to eat a casserole in this hot weather? Okay, I would. What won’t I eat is more the question.

Boil those eggs. Depending on how many you are going to feed will depend on the amount. It’s just my husband and me, but he LOVES egg salad. He tells the story of how he grew up on egg salad, that they were poor and ate egg salad all the time. I would think you’d hate egg salad if that’s all you ate growing up.

I usually boil at least 6 eggs. I found a trick peeling eggs. After you’ve boiled them, run cold water over them. Take the egg and roll it so that the shell cracks and keep it in the water for at least an hour. Then peel your eggs.

Chop them up. Add enough mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip) to moisten the eggs, along with some pickle relish and salt and pepper, according to your taste.

Pile it on the bread and dig in. Something that would be good on it is a sliced home grown tomato. Mmmmm.

Pickle relish

Rating & Type: EE/V