Category Archives: Cooking

Menu for the week, 1/17/10

I haven’t posted a menu in a while, so here goes…also, Robby is in a football coma at the moment (Colts/Jets game followed by the Saints/Vikings game), so I’m bored. :)

Last week’s menu was entirely inspired by Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine. Most of her recipes are kind of weird-sounding, but there are always at least one or two keepers in each issue. I especially love the fact that most of her recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less; a definite lifesaver on weeknights. Best of all, she publishes all of her recipes on her web site, so I can share them with you!

Sunday, 1/17: Marinated flank steak, mashed potatoes, and salad

Monday, 1/18: Tahini-battered chicken with tabbouleh (note: tahini is sesame-seed paste. I found in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s. Also, I substituted couscous for the bulgur wheat, and it tasted just as good).

Tuesday, 1/19: Whole wheat pasta arrabbiata with arugula, rolls, and salad

Wednesday, 1/20: I work until 10pm on Wednesdays, so Robby was on his own this day…

Thursday, 1/21: Sizzling beef and scallions (this recipe required a LOT of chopping and was different than I was expecting; it was more like fried rice with beef strips. Robby liked it, though.) After dinner on Thursday, I made an almond bundt cake using the cookbook and pan that my sister-in-law Ashley got me for Christmas. Robby and I enjoyed eating our cake while listening to the rain and watching season 1 of Gilmore Girls on DVD. It was a great evening. :)

Friday, 1/22: Tex-Mex corn chip chili (I have made this many times and it is by far my favorite chili recipe. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. This time, I left out the tomatoes since I didn’t have any in the pantry, and it turned out fine; I just simmered it for less time.)

Saturday, 1/23: Creamed chicken with gnocchi dumplings (I ended up not making this because we were tired after spending all day helping our friends move. We went to Burger King for dinner…the horror! :) I’m going to try to make the recipe sometime this week.)

Quick and easy side dish: Carrots and potatoes

I hate making side dishes. It always feels like extra work on top of making a main dish. I found this easy method for cooking carrots and potatoes that makes it much easier to add a great side to pot roast, pork chops, or chicken.


  • 8 small red potatoes
  • 1 c. frozen sliced carrots
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Rinse potatoes and cut into quarters.
  2. Combine potatoes and carrots into a microwave-safe dish
  3. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover dish with plastic wrap and give it a little shake to combine the ingredients.
  5. Microwave on high for 10 minutes and serve. So easy!

Quick and tasty dinner: Empanadas

Adapted from a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine. Makes 4 large servings.


  • 1 can refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1 16-oz. can refried beans
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. Unroll pizza dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into four equal-sized pieces.
  3. Stretch each piece of dough into an approx. 6-inch square.
  4. Spread 2-3 tbsp. beans onto each empanada. Top with 2 tsp. salsa and a bit of shredded cheese.
  5. Fold dough over and press edges to seal shut.
  6. Brush each empanada with a bit of olive oil and place on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until empanadas are golden brown.
  8. Serve with chips and salsa. Also good with a side of corn.

Weekend dessert: Cheesecake marbled brownies

Wow, were these ever a hit in the Stephenson household! Robby took one bite and told me he thought he’d died and gone to heaven. :) They’re a little more work than making brownies from a mix, but so worth it. Here’s the recipe, adapted a bit from Smitten Kitchen:

Brownie ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/4 c.) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour

Cheesecake ingredients:

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease an 8″ square pan
  3. Heat butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, just until melted.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
  5. Whisk in flour until just combined.
  6. Spread mixture in baking pan.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together cheesecake ingredients until smooth.
  8. Pour cheesecake mixture over brownie batter, and swirl together with the tip of a dull knife.
  9. Bake approx. 35 minutes, until edges are puffy and the center is just set.
  10. Cool, then store in refrigerator.

Quick and tasty dinner: Pasta with homemade sauce

Until I tried it, I had no idea how easy it is to make your own pasta sauce. Seriously, there are only 3 steps, and the hardest part is chopping up some garlic! Here’s the recipe, adapted from the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine:


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28-0z. can diced peeled tomatoes, with their juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta


  1. Heat the olive oil, parsley, and garlic in a skillet over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and lower the heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Let simmer until the tomato juices have evaporated. This should take about 20 minutes.
  4. While the sauce simmers, boil water and cook the pasta.
  5. Drain the pasta and serve with the sauce, plus salad and rolls to finish it all off.