Moved! Check us out at www.DishesMenLike

Meal Plans with lots of taste in little time.  That’s what you’ll find at the new website for this blog, now known as DishesMenLike.  Also, nearly all the recipes on this blog will be listed on the new site.  So come on over!

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 107 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 90 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 192mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 239 views. The most popular post that day was About Us.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for amylu chicken burgers, marion cunningham’s custard-filled cornbread, corned beef and coke, corned beef in coke, and burgers by amylu.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


About Us September 2009


Corned beef in Coke – Lucky or not? March 2010


Organic switcheroo pays off May 2010


Weeknight Meal Plans February 2010


Cola corned beef brisket and oh, that cabbage … March 2010

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We’re moving …

… to  Still unpacking the content on the new site but when we’re done, you’ll find links to every recipe on this site plus a snazzy new design and other fun stuff.  So Join Us!

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Winging it without the cooktop

When the cook top goes on the fritz, a bit of ingenuity is in order.  A little more than a week ago the ignition switches on all six burners  suddenly started clicking furiously in the middle of the night. The racket was stopped only by shutting off the power. The repair man returns tomorrow to fix a faulty ignition switch, just in time for the holidays. Meanwhile I’ve winging it on our meal plan, relaying on the microwave and oven more than usual. Along the way we stumbled upon some tasty surprises:

Copycat pesto works for Meatless Monday

Sundried tomato pesto — A huge jar of sundried tomatoes is taking up more real estate in our refrigerator than I usually allow for a non-essential ingredient. My in-laws gifted the jar on their last visit and I’ve been searching for a quick and easy way to make haste with the batch, especially since the boys aren’t too crazy about them. Thus, there I stood in the market on Day one of our Cooktop Breakdown, pondering a menu change, when I spied a jar of Ciba naturals Sundried Tomato pesto. One look at the label and I knew what I’d be making … the perfect topping for roasted spaghetti squash:

INGREDIENTS: Organic extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, organic sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, walnuts, fresh garlic, rice vinegar, kosher salt, rosemary and black pepper.

Along with sole fillets with a Parmesan “Caesar” glaze, on a bed of fresh spinach, we ended up with a Meatless Monday meal more elegant than most.

I felt myself winging it as well the next evening since timing was tight before heading to a school concert.  Luckily Metropolitan Market came to the rescue with a Sicilian stuffed pork tenderloin that was so scrumptious I retrieved the packaging from the trash to study the ingredients:  Pork tenderloin stuffed with pesto, garlic, balsamic vinegar and topped with slices of provolone cheese and pancetta. I roasted it in a cast oven skillet with some chunks of yam. Serve an arugula salad with fennel and pomegranate on the side. At this point my husband wondered if we really missed the cooktop all that much.

The rest of the week’s meals weren’t quite so fancy — Zatarain’s Dirty Rice; Chicken with Green Curry Sauce.  By the weekend, when we had friends over for a holiday dinner, I resorted to igniting a burner or two with a lighter to regain some sense of normalcy at the stove.

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Rebounding with last-minute penne

So what happens when you walk into the kitchen with a half-baked plan? You end up baking something else altogether.  I was all set to whip together a quick green curry with chicken and eggplant, but I neglected to check the pantry beforehand. No coconut milk. Green curry was off the menu. But what to make? I was fixated on eating that eggplant.

Last minute penne with eggplant and more

The good news is it’s entirely possibly to start cooking at 5:45 and still produce a decent meal when you have a pressure cooker. With the clock ticking, the game plan went something like this:

— Start a pot of water on to boil; add whole grain penne

— chop up the eggplant, sprinkle with kosher salt (and pat dry about 5 minutes later); chop up half an onion, two cloves of garlic

— heat olive oil and a splash of red wine in the pressure cooker; add the eggplant, onions and garlic. Add a jar of puttanesca sauce. Top with the lid and cook for 12 minutes at low pressure.

— When time is up, add 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes and  2 T. capers to the sauce; mix in the drained penne and a cup of arugula.

— Put the pasta in a casserole; top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20  minutes.

— Listen to husband rave. 😉

It all worked just fine until son #1 returned home:

“Why did Mom put cheese sticks on the pasta?”

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Insta-meals will do for holiday chaos

There’s something about that crunch period between Thanksgiving and Christmas where every best-laid plan goes haywire. Including meal plans, of course. I’ve been out for weeknight holiday events; the boys have been immersed in final preparations for robotics competition. That leaves my husband wondering what’s for dinner in a bigger way.

Last week’s plan was so uninspired that it was barely scribbled on a card: shrimp and black bean quesadillas (they cooked); two rounds of that scrumptious turkey chowder I mentioned in my last post; pizza and salad.  I finally made it to the stove Friday night with an ad hoc concoction of  broccoli, ham, pancetta and pine nuts over pappardelle. Not bad!

This week’s plan hasn’t been much better. Quick salmon burgers and sweet potato fries before dashing to yoga on Meatless Monday; a quick Brazilian black bean and ham s0up for Tasty Tuesday. Last night I headed out to my monthly business dinner while the guys dined on hot dogs and beans (yep, that happens) – not exactly keeping with the theme of Whole Grain Wednesday.  Tonight I’m thinking about an adaptation of that chicken and eggplant dish, in green curry this time. Taking my chances on doing it in the pressure cooker. Guess I’d better get cracking!


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Two keepers for the Thanksgiving season

By now you know I took a holiday in the kitchen last week. But I did stumble upon two amazing recipes that will forever be stashed in my Thanksgiving file, along with all my various November issues of Bon Appetit, Food&Wine and Gourmet dating back to 1994.

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Mediterranean salad with pomegranate and prosciutto

The first: Mediterranean salad with pomegranate and prosciutto.  The recipe jumped out from Bon Appetit circa 2008 when I realized I had most of the ingredients on hand: arugula, mint (not yet frozen in the garden), a pomegranate (I buy them just because they’re pretty and remind me of my grandmother; she had a tree in her yard when I was little); and prosciutto.  The only questionable ingredient was fennel.  Time to dig through the snow and see if my fennel plant had been fertile enough to yield a bulb.  It wasn’t.

Luckily we stopped by Pike Place Market the next day during an outing to see the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. I picked up the remaining ingredients for our day-after-Thanksgiving dinner of  “Scampi fra diavolo” – a clever way of making shrimp both garlicky and spicy. The recipe was just a few pages away from the pomegranate salad recipe in the old Bon Appetit. Together, the two made a welcome departure from the previous day’s turkey feast.

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The chowder is amazing (this photo, not so much)

The second Thanksgiving keeper was another extracted from an old issue of Bon Appetit – 2007: Turkey Chowder with Wild Rice, Crimini and Pancetta. It actually took me a couple of days to get my act together on this one.  First, I had to strip the turkey carcass and precook the wild rice.  Then I made turkey stock in the pressure cooker (first time making stock in the PC – 30 minutes under pressure, done. Excellent!) And then finally assembled the chowder which was sinfully rich and chunky with carrots, celery, rice, mushrooms, turkey, corn.  Thumbs up all around.  Which is a good thing since I’ll be out tomorrow night and the guys will be enjoying round two!


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A headstart for Thanksgiving Dinner

I just stumbled upon Mark Bittman’s list of 101 recipes to give your Thanksgiving feast a head start the day before.

I have my eye on the Thai winter squash soup. Looks easy enough to whip together this evening.  Then I’m hanging up my apron for a few days. On Thursday you’ll find me heating up a turkey dinner from PCC while indulging in my annual tradition – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade .  Sinful, I know.  I can’t wait. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sneaky cooking works like a charm

I’ve seen those cookbooks that advise moms to trick their kids into eating their vegetables. All sorts of subterfuge is suggested to camouflage the undesirables as cutesy shapes or mask them under heavy sauces.  I never went for that plan. If the kids don’t recognize the veggies on their plate when they’re young, why on earth would they ever choose to eat them when they’re older?

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Howls of despair for roasted cauliflower, or maybe it was the advanced algebra test?

Funny how you can change your tune when those sweet little kids get bigger and noisier and you’re asking them to clean their plates on Meatless Monday and Whole Grain Wednesday. Last week started out particularly rough when I joined pan-grilled salmon with a most amazing recipe clipped from the Wall Street Journal: Andrew Carmellini’s Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt and Mint. “BUT MOM … YOGURT DOESN’T GO WITH CAULIFLOWER!!!” Son #1, stressed from a pending algebra test, found it too much to handle. My explanation that the combo would be  commonly found in Indian cuisine fell on deaf ears.

On Tasty Tuesday I braced for another eruption — the guys don’t like eggplant, but it’s one of my favorite vegetables.  The old sauce trick worked. Red curry chicken with eggplant and basil was just the right recovery from our trauma on Meatless Monday. (My recipe was clipped from an old Pioneer Organics newsletter, but this one is similar.)

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Eggplant's a winner in red curry with chicken

Emboldened by my success with eggplant, I pushed ahead to Whole Grain Wednesday. I hid quinoa in a version of beef picadillo, a dish we’ve often enjoyed  with rice. This time the family didn’t miss a bite, though a widely touted whole grain was a key ingredient in the meal. I’ve found a new hero in Lorna Sass. Her cookbook, Whole Grains Every Day Every Way, demystifies the world of whole grains. And as with her pressure cooker recipes, Lorna’s ideas for cooking with whole grains are tasty and fairly easy to pull off on a weeknight.

Thermal Thursday featured a quick kale and sausage soup in the pressure cooker. Well, isn’t everything quick in the pressure cooker? By Friday I had energy leftover to assemble a “date night dinner” with my husband.  The boys were busy while we indulged in rosemary-rubbed lamb chops and red potatoes thanks to a great recipe from an All-Clad pan-grill cookbook. Fresh steamed brussel sprouts made a colorful side but the real winner? A bottle of  fine red wine tucked away for safe keeping five or so years ago. I wondered if we should save it longer for a special occasion. “I think we should celebrate getting through the week without any major disasters,” my husband noted.  That’s good enough for me!


Date night dinner on Fun Friday - lamb chops, red potatoes grilled with rosemary


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Making food fast at home


Risotto in the pressure cooker - my new favorite fast food

Sometimes there’s just no time left to spend in the kitchen. Evening events filled up our calendar last week so dinner had to be simple and/or fast.

For Meatless Monday, we relied on a stirfry (and ignored the boys’ standby complaints about tofu). Tuesday was easy thanks to leftovers from the Spicy Pork and Apricot Stew that my husband made on Sunday (that’s his day to cook so this time, we made a super big batch and froze three-quarters of it for future meals).  Wednesday was a boxed chicken enchilada dinner (not so good) for the guys while I dined on roasted autumn vegetables over pumpkin polenta at my business dinner (cringe). Thursday I was off again while my husband made penne with marinara sauce and ground beef for the boys.

By now you may think I should be featured on this website and you’ll nominate my husband for this one, especially because he complained not one whit.  I managed to redeem myself in the kitchen on Friday. Thanks to the pressure cooker I had just en0ugh energy left to whip up butternut squash and sausage risotto.  This version by Rick Rodgers was easy enough and tasty; the texture not as appealing as the last version with ham and peas by Lorna Sass. The risotto was a comforting way to wrap up a hectic week of eating on the run.

Still I marvel at the fact I’ve cooked dinner only two out of last seven nights. Hmmm, not a bad change of pace from my perspective!


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