My daily journey to new dinner ideas.

I will blog here with my ideas and recipes for dinner on a daily basis. I will try to keep it new and interesting. This is my means of trying make my dinners ever-changing while trying to incorporate a healthy twist.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Patty Parmigiana and Vermicelli

   I haven't been here for two days but I am back now.   Tonight I made another simple meal, I bought premade chicken patties at the store.  I deep fried the chicken patties to get a nice crispness to the coating they have.  I then took them and put them in a greased baking dish and piled mozzarella on top of them.  I let them sit for 5 minutes to cool, because I didn't want to risk over cooking them.
   At the same time I put on a pot of salted water on the stove to boil.  I also combined a jar of mushroom flavored spaghetti sauce and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes in another pot and began it heating up.  Just before the pasta water reached a boil I put the chicken into a preheated 350 degree oven.  The pasta finished at the same time as the chicken and I began to plate it up.  As I said before this was a very simple meal, especially since I usually make chicken parm with fresh chicken breast, but did not have the time to prep it today.   Enjoy, and I will see you tomorrow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Flash from the Past in Meals

   I thought that anyone following my blog at this time just might enjoy to see a video that I created in my near past where I make a Philly Cheesesteak Pizza with a Salad.   The video is in two parts as I had to split it to upload to  It can also be found if you search edentrek at   Enjoy!!

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with Perogies

   Tonight I was unsure of the state of the house as my mother-in-law acted out yesterday, so I wanted to continue with the simple meals.  So I decided to make one of my favorites, a philly cheessteak sandwich and perogies.  I went to the store and bought fresh shaved beef, onions, green peppers, potato-onion perogies, provolone cheese, and sauce.  I diced some of the onion and all of the green pepper to go into the sandwich.   Then I slice the rest of the onion thin to go into the frying pan with the perogies.
   I placed the diced onion and pepper onto my electric griddle to heat them and give them some color.  Once they begin to get color I remove them and set aside.  At the same time I have butter and olive oil heating in the frying pan.  I first throw in the sliced onions, for about thirty seconds then add the perogies.  I stir and flip the perogies regularly to heat them evenly.  Next I throw down some of the shaved beef and add the diced mixture to it spacing it all out evenly.  I don't need to have hot and cold spots on the griddle so this is important.  I keep stirring and flipping the meat until it is fully cooked through but not browned.
   While making sure not to forget the perogies, I get the meat cooked and add a few tablespoons of sauce.  You can use all kinds of sauce depending on your mood.  My wife and mother-in-law like chili sauce.  Flip and stir the meat mixture until the meat is browned then add provolone cheese broken in half on each portion.  I seperate the meat while stirring it around into three even piles.  I make the piles long and narrow and split the cheese to cover each pile completely.  If you have a lid that will cover each pile, now is the time to use it along with a few drops of water.  The water will steam up and melt the cheese but keep it from burning to the griddle right away.  When the cheese has melted down into the mixture scoop it off and fill the roll.  Place three perogies with one sandwich on each plate.  I hope that enjoy this one as much as we did.  See you tomorrow with another meal.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Szechuan Beef Stir Fry with Brown Rice

   Today I had a different kind of influence as to what to make for dinner.  My mother-in-law is on meds that she doesn't believe she needs.  Therefore from time to time she acts out.  Today was one of those days, so I needed to make a meal that would take little prep and little time to make.  This influence lead me to Asian food, something simple that I know how to prepare.  I went to the store and looked around and decided to make a beef stir fry and rice.  So I picked out some stir fry cut meat, and some frozen veggies.  At my grocery store they sell 2 different Asian style frozen veggie mixes.

   I bought one that had onions, peppers, carrots, snap peas, and baby corn.  I then went to the international food aisle and picked up sliced water chestnuts, chow mien noodles, and then looked at the various sauces they had.  I decided to go with a Szechuan sauce.  I then came home sprayed the frying pan, as I don't have a wok, and began cooking the meat.  I then drained the meat and added the sauce.  When the sauce began to simmer I added the veggies.  Now of course while I am doing this, I have the brown rice cooking.  Once the veggies were nearly heated through I added the sliced water chestnuts.  When everything was up to temperature I put rice on my plate and spread it out, then I added the chow mien noodles and spooned the stir fry over it.  This was a simple dinner, very delicious.  Even my mother-in-law agreed.  The whole process took about 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pan-seared Pork Chops with Roasted New Potatoes

   Today I made a simple meal packed with lots of flavor.  The simple part is the pork chops, which I seasoned with salt and pepper and fried them in olive oil.  The new potatoes were a little more involved.  I quartered the potatoes, cut fresh green onions, fresh chives, and fresh shitake mushrooms.  I combined that with salt, pepper, thyme and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a plastic bag.  The bag made it easy to coat everything and mix it up.  I then placed the contents of the bag into an ungreased baking dish and placed it into a preheated 450 degree oven uncovered for 35 minutes.

   While the potatoes were cooking I cut more green onion, shitake mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes to go on top of the salad mix I bought.  I also put croutons on the salads and then put the dressing on.  I then heated oil in the frying pan then added the pork chops.  I cooked the chops for about 8 minutes on each side, making sure they were fully cooked and slightly browning them.  Tonight's meal was very simple to make, packed full of flavor and required very little prep work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Homemade Garlic Bread

   Hello all, today we are making a simple classic meal.  My wife and I worked on this together.  While I made delicious garlic spread to make garlic bread with, my wife mixed up the meatballs.  I used Philly cooking creme(savory garlic flavor), some softened butter and minced garlic.  I mixed it all together then placed it into the food processor to insure a thorough mix.  Then I took the mixture and placed it in a container with a lid and placed it into the fridge.  You want it to chill it for 2 to 3 hours to let the flavors marry and to let the spread set up a little, it will make it easier to spread evenly onto the bread.  I selected a fresh unsliced loaf of Italian bread which I will slice about 1 1/2 inches thick.

   While I was working on that my wife took 3/4 lbs of each ground chuck and ground pork.  She added about tablespoon each of parsley, oregano, basil, minced onions, and fresh ground Italian spices, 2 eggs and about 1-1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs.  She then mixed it all together using her hands.  Unlike when you make hamburgers you want to mix strongly.  With hamburgers you don't want to over work the meat to keep the moisture, but with meatballs you want to break up the ground texture of the meat.  We took the meatballs after formed and placed them into a baking dish, then put 1 inch of water in as well and covered it loosely with foil.  We placed the baking dish into a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes.  By baking them in water you will render most of the fat out and keep moisture in the meatballs.  We then cooled the meatballs to go into the sauce later.
   You don't need to cool the meatballs before placing them into the sauce I did because I had to make the spread ahead of time, and this way we both had something to do.  If you don't have an oven you can do this in the microwave using a microwave safe baking dish and cover it with wax paper.  In the microwave you will cook them for 10 to 15 minutes on high.  Either way you go be sure to drain the meatballs thoroughly before placing them into the sauce.  In our case we will also have one more step before bringing the sauce together.  We like sauteed peppers and onions in our sauce, so before we begin heating the sauce we will saute diced onion and green pepper in a frying pan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tomorrow's dinner plan

For tomorrow night we have discussed what everyone is hungry for.  We have determined that tomorrow is good day for an old favorite.  This is one of the few meals that we repeat in this household, because we all like it.  We will be having Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner.  I will pick-up 3/4 of a pound of each ground beef and ground pork and make the meatballs from scratch.  One thing we will be doing differently this time though is, I will be searing the meatballs then baking them.  Usually we sear them and put them into the sauce to finish cooking.  This is very good for flavor but not as healthy as much of the fat will end up in the sauce then.
   By baking the meatballs we will be able to separate the fat out before placing the meatballs into the sauce.  This will give us a less greasy sauce, making it healthier.  However because I am making the meatballs from scratch we will not have to sacrifice taste in the process.  I will incorporate fresh basil, oregano, and garlic into the meatballs so that they will have plenty of flavor.  I will post more on this tomorrow, along with the portions of the recipe.  I will also post a photo of the finished dish.  I will see you all tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grilled ham steaks with maple brown sugar glaze, green beans with toasted almonds

Tonight I was cooking on a tighter budget than usual, so I started by seeing what I have on hand.  Luckily there was plenty of canned vegetables to choose from.  There was also a prepackaged pasta side dish.  The biggest bit of luck I had then was the fact that there was a nice sized piece of ham in the freezer.
   Next item on the shopping list is the pantry items that were available.  For me this is usually the easy part, because something in my day will leave me yearning for a particular taste.  Today it was not very cold out but the ground was covered with a fresh layer of snow.  Quite a contrast from yesterday's spring-like day.  With the temperature being warm and rising throughout the day it created a very foggy uninviting day.
   The weather leaves me wanting something warm and inviting.  I chose to go with something sweet and salty for the main dish.  I took the ham out of the freezer and thawed it.  I then sliced it into nice 1/4 inch thick steaks, and seasoned both sides with salt and pepper.  I set these aside for the moment to get the next thing started.
   My wife was willing to lend a hand tonight, so I asked her to make the pasta side for me.  That would leave me free to make the veggie dish and something to go with the ham steaks.  In the cupboard I found sliced almonds, which immediately made sense to go with the two cans of green beans I had also found.  I took some butter and olive oil and put them into a frying pan on medium heat.  While the pan was heating I cut the almonds into smaller pieces, just once or twice through the pile with a sharp knife.  Once the butter melted and began to foam, I added the almond chunks.
   At the same time I took a small sauce pan put some brown sugar, molasses, and some maple syrup.  I added a couple tablespoons of water in as well to dissolve everything.  I put this pan over medium heat and continued to stir it and the almonds at the same time.  I adjust the heat up and down on the syrup to allow it to foam but not burn.  You will have to occasionally stir this to prevent burning,  but you can still do other things at the same time.
    I then fired my electric griddle for the ham steaks.  I let it get hot first, then place the steaks on, as the ham is fully cooked I am trying to caramelize the outside.  Then I turn down the heat to warm and cover it with some foil, this will trap in the heat and moisture so the ham doesn't get dry.  Now I turn my attention back to the almonds.  When they begin to brown I add the canned green beans with the liquid and turn the temp up a little.  This will boil off the liquid and steam the green beans.  When most of the liquid is gone it is ready.
    Don't forget I also had syrup going.  When the syrup thickened enough to coat a spoon I turned off the heat on it to allow it to thicken even more.  At this point I plate the ham steak, some of the pasta side my wife made and a portion of green beans and almonds.  Then I spoon 2 tablespoons of syrup on and spread it out over the steak, and then add one more spoon full.  This was a very light dinner, it was warm and inviting with it's aroma and appearance.  It seems a little involved but I assure you it was very simple.  Since I used things that I had accumulated in my pantry and freezer there was no money spent today.  For me this can be very important as I am on a limited budget, that is more limited on some days.
   My wife and my mother-in-law both enjoyed this meal as did I.  Tomorrow I will not be cooking, I will be away at chorus practice with my wife.  So, I will see you all back here on Wednesday.  I may post some ideas for Wednesday tomorrow.  I will be blogging about what I cook for dinner once a day, I am hoping that people will give me new ideas and things to try.  I prefer to cook everything from scratch and when I do, I will include the recipes that I use.  Hope to see you all soon.