Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lighthouse Lasagna

My good friend Lauren is a busy mom of two little guys who works full-time and always seems to get dinner on the table for everyone. She is my hero! She posted this recipe on her blog recently and I thought, if Lauren can do it, then so can I! And I'm glad I did because it was really good. It kind of reminded me of this recipe with the scallions and cream cheese and pasta, but was also different enough that I will definitely be making both again.

Of course I wanted to make two pans of this so I could freeze one so I found myself stretching some of the ingredients and decided I would add more next time. I adjusted the amounts below so that you can make two pans as well. Chuck and I both enjoyed this a lot, the first time AND out of the freezer!

Lighthouse Lasagna
amounts adjusted from Lauren's Kitchen
Makes 10-12 servings

1 - 1 1/4 pounds ground meat
1 small can tomato paste
14 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of Kosher salt
12 ounces egg noodles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 8x8 baking dishes or one 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Saute the meat in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, breaking it up to crumble as it cooks. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, and salt. Fill the tomato paste can with water and add it to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles, then return them to the pot and add the butter, stirring until melted.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese, and scallions. Spread a little sauce and meat mixture in the bottom of (each) dish. Top with a layer of noodles, then spread half the sour cream mixture and half of the meat sauce (a quarter of each if you are using two baking dishes). Repeat the layers and top with shredded mozzarella.

Bake 35-40 minutes until lasagna mixture is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Chuck loves to make jambalaya so when I asked him if he wanted to make dinner one night I knew this would be on his list of options. He did some recipe searching online and found one that could go into the slow cooker. This was very tasty with all the different proteins and had a good flavor, especially served over rice.

He didn't change anything from the original recipe (and I love that it's called Colleen's Slow Cooker Jambalaya!) except for the ingredient amounts. Although we must eat a lot because he portioned it out for 6 people and it would be a stretch if that amount fed 4 in our household. Also, the cayenne pepper makes it REALLY spicy, so if you don't like spice, tone that down or omit it completely. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

I apologize for the lack of descriptive pictures for this post - we were too busy getting dinner on the table to stop for a shot. This was a great, staple shrimp scampi dish. It was buttery, garlicky, and fairly easy to make. You do have to make it right before serving, but if you have everything prepped in advance, you can cook the shrimp and sauce in almost the same amount of time it takes the pasta water to boil.

The whole dinner spread (pasta second from top).
We didn't need the cooking water at the end, but save some anyway in case your pasta is too dry. Enjoy!

Thanks to Meg for making this delicious dish.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oregano, Feta and Tomato Salad

This recipe caught my eye on an episode of Barefoot Contessa because of the big chunks of cheese. I love any and all types of cheese, and the more flavor it can add to a salad, the better.

I wouldn't recommend assembling this too far in advance. If you are in a time crunch right before serving, you can cut the tomatoes and cheese, but keep them separate, and add the arugula right at the end. You may want to add a little more oil and vinegar than the recipe calls for in order to get a little more flavor.

Oregano, Feta, and Tomato Salad

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tex Mex Corn Chip Chili

I find myself constantly saving new chili recipes to try then never getting around to making them because of the long ingredient lists. This recipe from the Rachael Ray magazine looked easy enough to make on a weeknight, with almost no chopping, and 3 cans of beans and tomatoes contributing a lot of the flavor. Chuck even said that he likes this better than my regular 6-Hour Chili, and while I don't necessarily agree with him, this one came close.

I used ground turkey instead of ground beef with great results, and I simmered it for about 45 minutes to thicken the sauce before adding the cilantro and cheese; but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly as it states. And if you aren't serving the whole pot of chili right away, I probably wouldn't add all the cheese it calls for, instead just add more cheese as you reheat it. This was delicious with sour cream and we dipped our corn chips instead of serving the chili over them. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beef Sirloin Tips with Smokey Pepper Sauce over Herbed Polenta

This was a delicious, quick, and easy weeknight dinner that I will definitely be making again. With only a few steps, you get a hearty and comforting dinner. The polenta recipe is a favorite of mine from Giada that I have adapted for 2 people. You can change the herbs around depending on what you're serving alongside it. The recipe I use is from Giada's Family Dinners but I found one on the Food Network site that's pretty similar so you can view it online.

I didn't change anything from the original beef recipe besides buying already-cut stir-fry meat, but I wrote it out for you below because you have to be a registered user to view it on the Better Homes and Gardens site. Also, the flavor from the barbecue sauce is very strong because it reduces so make sure you use one you really enjoy.

Beef Sirloin Tips with Smokey Pepper Sauce
from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tip steak
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or paprika
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (12- to 16-ounce) jar roasted red and/or yellow sweet peppers
1/2 cup hickory or mesquite flavor barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, if desired

Trim meat and cut into 1 inch chunks; sprinkle with paprika. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat, brown 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain fat, keep warm.

Meanwhile, drain roasted red peppers, reserving 1/2 cup liquid from jar. (If you don't get 1/2 cup, just add water to the liquid to equal 1/2 cup.) Add peppers and liquid to skillet after draining fat from meat. Add barbecue sauce. Cook, uncovered, 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently until sauce is thickened.

Return meat to skillet, heat through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately over herbed polenta.

Herbed Polenta
amounts adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
Makes 4 servings

2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
coarse ground black pepper, to taste

Bring chicken broth to boil in a large, heavy pot. Add the salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and cook about 15 minutes, until mixture thickens and cornmeal is tender; stirring often.

Remove from heat and add cheese, butter, herbs, and pepper. Stir until butter and cheese melt, serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2nd Annual Duet Birthday Dinner

You may remember that my sister Meghan, good friend Carrie, and I cooked dinner last year for our mothers, who share the same birthday. This year Carrie and her mom Susan are coming up from Virginia again so we can have a weekend-long celebration.

This year's menu is reminiscent of last year's but also has some new and exciting dishes. The first appetizer, Salsa Parmigiana, is one of my all-time favorites and I can't wait to share it with you. The black-and-white cookies and dessert were at the request of one of the birthday girls, and I'm pretty sure they will be on the menu for years to come!

Happy Birthday ladies!
Duet Birthday Dinner


  • Shrimp scampi over linguini
  • Grilled filet mignon
  • Roasted vegetables with Romesco sauce
  • Tomato, oregano, and feta salad
  • Fresh bread