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Busy Night Pasta Jambalaya

23 Apr

I thought this past weekend was going to be incredibly busy.  Between a zoo field trip, two baseball games, two gymnastics classes, a birthday party, movies with friends, I assumed we’d have no time to breath.  Well a lucky thing happened.  It rained.  Baseball was cancelled!!!  I shouldn’t feel elated when that happens, after all, the season just started, but I was!  A busy weekend instantly turned into a free weekend.  I capitalized on that immediately!  I read!  I don’t  normally get to read during the day, but I found myself on the couch with The Hunger Games Trilogy.  I finished books two and three over the weekend!  Holy Cow!  Why did I wait so long to read these!  They are wonderfully written.  So many twists and turns.  I couldn’t put them down!  Which meant my family was going to suffer when it came to dinner.  I simply didn’t have time to whip up my usual gourmet meals (you can totally hear the sarcasm in that statement can’t you??).  I had to rely on a quick stand by and a family favorite: Pasta Jambalaya.  I always have these ingredients in my house, you probably do too or can adapt the recipe to fit what you do have in your home.  It’s quick, it’s tasty, it’s perfect for a busy night.

Pasta Jambalaya

Serves 4

1 lb  angel hair pasta

1 tbs olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon cajun seasoning

1 lb Kielbasa or smoked sausage,sliced

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in  a large skillet,  cook onions in olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add garlic and cook for one minute.  Add drained black beans and cajun seasoning.  Cook for about two minutes until black beans just begin to soften.  Add in canned tomatoes, juice and all.  Let mixture come to a boil and add sliced sausage.  Let simmer on low for 10 minutes.  Serve over cooked angel hair.  Top with cheese or hot sauce.

recipe adapted from Cooking Light


Grilled Chicken Sausage with Cream Cheese and Jalapeño Slaw

15 Apr

Summer is in the air. It is sunny today and in the upper 70’s. We are happy. My neighbors are so happy, that they are opening their pool today….on April 15th?? Oh, well, it’ll be their shivering behinds not mine. But I do know where they are coming from. After spring break, we are all just ready. Ready for the pool, warmer weather, and to play outside from morning to dusk. We are ready to catch fireflies, watch butterflies and gaze at the stars. We are just waiting in anticipation for the sound of lawn mowers, sprinklers, and the ice cream truck. Oh the ice cream truck. I do NOT like the ice cream truck, its my dinner time nemesis. Nothing grinds our evening meal to a halt quite like the ice cream truck. Because of course that’s when it comes. I’ll be more specific. We hear the first unmistakable notes of The Entertainer sometime between me telling my daughter to eat with her fork not with her hands and me yelling at my son to stop talking and start eating. This happens almost nightly without fail. It’s uncanny. There’s this slow motion moment where forks pause slightly in mid-air, ears perk up and one of my kids shouts “Ice Cream Truck!!!!”. Now, the truck is several blocks away mind you, but the notes are just the perfect pitch for a child’s sensitive ears. Suddenly it’s chaos. Chairs are turning over, silver ware is rattling, my dog is barking like mad. I’m yelling at everyone to sit back down, but it is futile. They are focused on one thing only. They grab their hard-earned allowance money and run for the curb. And wait. And wait. And wait. Until finally that tinny music coming from those worn out speakers finally approaches. Money and ice cream exchange hands. My children return to the kitchen grinning with satisfaction. Since they are good kids, they promptly put their loot in the freezer and return to their now cold meals. But they eat with a new-found zeal. Victory has made them hungry.

In honor of summer, I decided to get out of the kitchen and grill something easy. I loved this recipe. The cream cheese sounds odd, but it’s a nice contrast to the hot sausage and the spicy slaw. You could certainly omit it if you prefer.

Grilled sausage with jalapeño slaw and cream cheese

1 package chicken sausage ( such as Johnsonville Pork and Chicken Sausage)

2 cups broccoli slaw mix

1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

1 tbs stone ground mustard

2 tbs cider vinegar

3 tbs olive oil

½ tsp salt


very soft cream cheese

Grill Sausage on a pre heated grill for 15-20. In the last minute of grilling, add your hot dogs buns, to toast.

While sausage is grilling, combine broccoli slaw mix, jalepeno, mustard, vinegar and oil. Add salt and pepper, adjusting the seasoning to your tastes. Stir well. Set aside.

Smear very softened cream cheese onto your toasted hot dog bun. Add sausage and pile on slaw mixture!

Grilled Steak with Roasted Tomatoes and Blue Cheese

9 Apr

Did you have a lovely Easter?  How much Easter candy did you eat?  Now, how much did you eat when your kids weren’t looking????  I’ll be honest, I kept a whole bag of the flavored Tootsie Rolls just for myself.  My original intention was to put some into the Easter baskets, but darn it, they just didn’t make it.   I don’t feel guilty about that either.

I could go on about candy, but that’s not what I want to write about today.  We did not have a big to-do  for Easter.  My extended family could not come together.  So we’ll celebrate this Sunday instead.  Since Sunday was a holiday, I felt compelled to come up with a “fancy” dinner for the five of us.  We deserve special meals too right??   A few days ago, my mom had given me two pints of cherry tomatoes.  They were deeply discounted at a produce store.  My mom is a professional discount shopper.  She is retired and has time to frequent every  grocery store in a 25 mile radius!!!  That’s a post for another day.  As I was saying, I was given these tomatoes.   I was tired of salads.  My kids do snack on them, but that’s hit or miss.  So what to do????  Here’s the “fancy” part.  I decided to roast them.  Couldn’t be hard right?  Guess what?  It wasn’t.  It was insanely easy and 100% flavorful!  I thought they’d be excellent as a steak topping along with some crumbled blue cheese. Since I was roasting tomatoes, on another sheet pan, I threw together some diced potatoes and cauliflower tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  This meal came together beautifully.  Everyone asked for seconds.  Even my 3 year old!  Ok, so she hadn’t eaten any lunch (don’t judge me) and was extremely hungry!!  But everyone agreed it was a good meal.  Good enough to share with friends like you.

Right before bed, my 3 year old gave me kisses and wished me a happy Easter.  She asked if the next time we have a fancy meal will it be Easter time?  I thought that was precious. Or was she insulting me?  Perhaps, to  her, my everyday meals are ordinary and bland?  Perhaps I’m not giving her taste buds enough credit?  Perhaps I’m over thinking this?  Regardless, this meal seems fancy, but is easy and tastes amazing.  This meal will impress your friends, your dinner guests, and yes, your own family.  You will be a rockstar.

For the steak:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp Herbes De Provence



2 lbs sirloin steak

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2 tbs crumbled Bleu Cheese.

Combine marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag, add your steak.  Marinate two hours.



For the tomatoes:

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 tbs olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced



Pre-heat oven to 400.  Lay your tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet in one layer.  Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper over the olive oil.  The seasonings can be completely adjusted to your tastes.  Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill steak on a preheated grill for 5-6 minutes per sided depending on your desired degree of doneness and the thickness of your steak.   Be sure to allow your steak to rest for about 10 minutes prior to cutting so that your juices can redistribute.

Top your steak with your tomatoes and crumbled Bleu Cheese, voila!  I told you it was easy.

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