What’s for Dinner? Pampered Chef Lemon Pasta Chicken Toss & Black Bean Pumpkin Chili by Kitchen Treaty

Summertime is full of vacations, staycations, running around and general busyness and can feel like we lose touch with each other, but with all of the parties, BBQs, picnics, pool parties etc.  It provides us with so many different ways to connect. So while summer is different from the rest of the year I encourage you to take advantage of the chance to connect, reconnect and just hang out with one another and build relationships as well as memories, so while this is a busy time remember you are still “Bringing Back Dinner”; food is the tool that gathers us.  Have fun and laugh a lot!

Pampered Chef – Lemon Pasta Chicken Toss

pampered chef chicken pasta

Time: 30 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  I really do like Pampered Chef recipes, they are easy and always look like you worked much harder than y ou did.  This recipe is no different.  It was a quick and easy but still tasty meal.  We made an exchange though; spinach for broccoli.  You could use either vegetable or add something new.  This dish would be easy to play around with.

 

MEATLESS MONDAY – Kitchen Treaty – Slow Cooker Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

black bean and pumpkin chili

Time: 6-8 hours on low

Ease: Simple

Review:  This dish sounds weird, I’ll just say it, but it is really very good!  My family loved it and one of them even tweeted about it  “Let’s just make a deal to put pumpkin in everything. It makes food ten times better.”  You can’t get a much better review!  We were divided on one aspect of this dish – heat.  That is why they make Sriracha sauce.  Just serve hot sauce on the side for those who want a little heat.  Otherwise a perfect meal.

We often think of the slow cooker as a winter cooking device, but it is a great for the summer.  It doesn’t heat up the kitchen and frees you up to run around town all day and not worry about dinner.  Pull out your crockpot and have a great day at the pool!  Dinner will be waiting for you.

 

Share your favorite Summertime meal with us by posting to our facebook page or twitter or instagram using #bringingbackdinner.  We will post your comments here!

What’s for Dinner? Creamy Spinach Pasta, Red Wine Braised Flank Steak Sandwiches & Black Bean Pasta Salad

Black Bean and Corn Pasta Salad 

511 pasta salad

Meatless Monday

Time: 20 Minutes

Simple

Review:  I was a little hesitant to serve a pasta salad as the main dish for dinner, but it worked very well.  It has been in the upper 80s this week here in NC and a nice cool pasta salad on the deck was the perfect dish.  There is room to play around with this dish and add other things you may like,  my husband  added olives and cheese and I added some cheese!  The Rotel gives it the perfect amount of heat.  I think you will find this a great summer dish and perfect to take to a picnic!

Creamy Spinach Ravioli (tortellini) – Pampered Chef Lite

511 spinach pasta

Keeping it Light!

Time: 30 – 40 Minutes

Simple

Review:  OK, we did meatless twice this week!  And everyone lived!  Pampered Chef has some fun and easy recipes that often look like you worked much harder than you did, that’s a win!  However, many of the dishes are loaded with fat, but this dish is from their Lite cookbook and was a healthier take on a nice creamy dish.  I made a couple adaptations; use frozen spinach instead of creamed spinach and add a little milk if not the consistency you would like and use half fat free cream cheese and half low-fat.  It is still a tasty, creamy dish.

Red Wine Braised Flank Steak with Roasted Red Peppers and Gruyere – Tom Colicchio

511 braised flank steak sandwiches

The Indulgence!

Time: 4 Hours

Moderate Skill

Review: Yuuuummmmy!  Review is complete.  OK, well maybe not.  This dish takes time, but part of the time is while it is in the oven and you can go about doing other things.  Many of the dishes by Tom Colicchio take time and loving care, but the results are well worth it.  The only change I made was the cheese, my cheese loving husband somehow doesn’t like Gruyere, so I used Cheddar.  If there are no objections I think the Gruyere is better, but it is still good no matter what.  This is a dish that will redefine sandwiches; sandwiches can be the masterpiece of your dinner!

 

Have you tried any dishes from Bringing Back Dinner?  If so let us know by posting a pic on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #bringingbackdinner

What’s for Dinner? Breakfast! Tacos, Pitas, Grilled Tilapia & sausage & peppers

Ever wonder “what am I going to make for dinner?” or think “I hate planning meals”? That is what Bringing Back Dinner is all about. Helping you come up with easy meals to make each week and reminding you of the importance of dinnertime. A chance to build relationships, catch up on the day, share our hearts, and just be. A chance to bring back dinner into our lives.
Each week bringingbackdinner.com reviews 3-5 recipes telling you how long it takes, how hard it was, and gives it a review so that you know how it will turn out and if you want to give it a go while also encouraging you to take advantage of meal time to develop relationship and build memories. Enjoy!

The Process: For a full explanation visit “The Process” page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

breakfast

This week was a pretty laid back week for meals, pita sandwiches, tacos, etc., but this doesn’t mean its not dinner or that you should feel guilty.  Remember to skip the pre-made meals, for the most part, and use fresh ingredients so that you are still giving your family healthy meals, even if they are simple.  That said, sometimes we just need to grab a mix, I’m not going to judge.  Do what you need to do to make dinner happen so that you can sit down with your friends or family and just enjoy dinner.

The Meals:

Breakfast for Dinner! Sometimes it is just for the fun of it: breakfast dinner

Time: 30-45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I love breakfast, but I really love breakfast for dinner!  You can make this as simple or complex as you desire!  Personally I used box pancake mix (yep, I admit it.  Sometimes I do!) and added pecans, oats, and wheat germ to beef them up a bit!  So good. When I don’t use a mix from the store I like Alton Browns, which makes a great pancake, plus it is economical to make your own mix.

If you plan breakfast for dinner try waffles, crepes, an omelet bar etc.  Just be creative and have a good time!

Crispy Tacos Picadillo- Martha Stewart Living
tacocrop

Time: 40-45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I’ve mentioned before that we love tacos! Truth.  We love them almost any way we can get them and never get tired of them.  I have given this recipe before and probably will again.  It is just a good recipe.  Easy to make and the flavors are so much better than a packet.  Don’t be afraid to cook from “scratch”.  You can do it, even if your friends and family do faint.  Give this one a try, you will be glad you did.

Pita Pocket Sandwiches
pita

Remove the meats and make this a Meatless Monday meal!

Time: 10 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: One of our favorite quick dinners is Pita Pocket sandwiches.  They are so easy and can be customized per each person’s taste.   I usually set out bowls with chopped lunch meat (your choice), baby spinach, lettuce, red onion, tomato, cheese (sometimes I have several choices) etc.  Set out mayonnaise, mustard, Ranch dressing, and Italian Dressing or your favorite dressings.  To serve place the bowls on the table and let each person build their own.   It is hard to find, but the best dressing, in my opinion, is the Golden Italian dressing from Winn-Dixie.  Remember that a quick meal doesn’t mean you still can’t take a minute to get caught up with each other.  Take the time to ask about each person’s day!  This is fun when you have a crowd.  Invite your friends and have each person bring their favorite salad topping, it will work well in the pita.

Peppers & Onions with Kielbasa – Hubby Makes Dinner!

peppers and sausage

Time: 15-20 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Sometimes when I am going to be away during dinner time my husband cooks, he is actually a good cook too!  He and the kids love kielbasa and it is often the dinner of choice.  Here is what to do:

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and cook sliced kielbasa until lightly browned on each side.  Remove from pan.  Add green peppers and onions to the same pan and cook until tender, it may caramelize a bit which is even better. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add to pasta, potatoes, etc. and enjoy.  You can jazz this up by adding things like jalapenos, Cajun seasoning etc.

Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Butter, Capers, and Orzo – Bobby Flay

tilapia

Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: My husband and I recently had a night at home all to ourselves!  We made this dish with a nice glass of wine on fine china.  It was a great night and great dish.  This dish has a lot of flavor and looks complex, but is actually a very easy dish to recreate.  We cooked it on a charcoal grill using a grill pan, the flavor was nice.  My husband made yummy noises the whole meal!  Approve!!  You could also bake this if you don’t have a Grill.

Bringing Back Dinner Tip: Highs and Lows

Looking for a way to find out about each other’s day?  Try asking each person to tell you their highest point of the day and their lowest point of the day.  You will be surprised what you learn.  This works well with friends too.  Really listen to what they have to say.  Be excited over the highs and have compassion over the lows.  It may not seem low to you, but if it was the lowest point of their day it is probably a big deal.

Photos by lwburbach please feel free to contact me for permission to use photos.

What’s for Dinner? Sloppy Joes, Quinoa Enchilada Bake, & Chicken Parmesan Soup

valentines dayI hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!  Here in Greensboro we had a crazy snow of , wait for it…around 7 or 8 inches!  I know, all you mid westerners are laughing at us, but the whole city screeched to a stop and it was beautiful.  You would think this would mean I cooked more, but no.  I planned my meals as usual (5 of them) and then it snowed!  By Valentine’s Day we were all ready to get out a little and as a result I made three of the meals I had planned and then we ate out and had frozen pizza.  Even though things didn’t go as I planned it was still a successful week.  Remember the point isn’t just getting everyone fed, it is to enjoy each other’ company, to talk, to listen and just be!

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake – Twopeasandtheirpod.comquinoa enchilada

Meatless Monday

Time: About 45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Try this, try this, try this.  Maybe you are not so sure about this quinoa stuff, maybe it seems to exotic-not to worry.  It easy to cook with and wonderful.  We loved this dish, it was full of flavor, easy to make, and felt fresh and clean!  I think it will become one of your family favorites.  It would be a great dish to make for a covered dish or for company.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup – Nature Box
chicken soup

Time:  4 hours in crockpot or 45 minutes on the stovetop

Ease: Simple

Review: Sometimes I look at a recipe and think “really? There isn’t much to this, is it going to work?” and sometimes I’m right, but I’m glad to say that this recipe proved me wrong.  It is very basic and really very good.  The next day everyone wanted the leftovers to take to work, I thought we’d have a brawl in the kitchen.  Worse, there weren’t any leftovers! Everyone just thought there were. (I am not a member of Nature Box, but found the recipe online)

This isn’t spaghetti like or even tomato soup like, it has it’s own flavors.  It is filling and simple.  You could make this on the stove top if you don’t have a slow cooker.

Sloppy Joes – Ellie Krieger, the Food Network
sloppy joe

Time: 30 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I am a firm believer in making things from scratch!  It is a great way to cut down on the sodium and preservatives that are in pre-packeged meals and once you start you will realize that it really doesn’t take much more, if any more time and you get the added bonus of knowing that you have made a meal that is better for your family or friends and maybe they will even think you are amazing in the kitchen.  Plus, you can’t beat the taste.

I have review this recipe by Ellie Krieger before, it is a staple in our home.  That said it is worth bringing back around.  Don’t be afraid, it is almost as easy as opening a can, but the flavor is so much better.  Note: our family prefers it without the beans.  You can try it both ways and see what everyone thinks.

Table 16, Downtown Greensboro NC

Valentine’s Day my wonderful man took me to Table 16 in Greensboro, NC.  It is wonderful.  I am most impressed by the complexity of the dishes,  yet nothing seems to get lost or is over worked.  You can taste each spice and they complement each other well.  We’ve been twice and are still impressed.  The service was great and they have a nice wine list.  If in Greensboro I suggest you give it a try.  Table 16 is located downtown, so allow extra time to walk around and take in the sites!

 

Photos by lwburbach. Feel free to use photos, but please link back to this blog.- Thank you.

Looking like food truck food this week: Sandwiches, Dumplings, Noodles & Soup

abroccolirabeSo, here is the deal…I thought this week’s blog would be about Bringing Back Dinner going healthy, umm well maybe not so much, we ended up looking like we ate off a food truck all week.  Next week?  There are just so many yummy things to make! In reality the meals this week could be much worse and the Picture of the broccoli Rabe is to show that we at least ate something green this week.  That is a start, yea?  Maybe?  I tried, but at least I get another chance each week!

Don’t let someone like Anthony Bourdain know this (he is pretty vocal about wanting meat & fat, though if you let him know it wouldn’t matter since we’ve never met and he couldn’t care less what I say), but I really like the challenge of making fatty, rich foods healthier and have no one realize the difference when they eat it, that said I’m all for a little sausage, cream, butter, and bacon too.  Balance and moderation are key!

I encourage you to make any adaptations you would like to recipes to try to find a way to have the best flavorful mouthful of food while meeting your dietary needs.  It can be done, so if you think you have to watch your fat, sugar, salt etc. and therefore will never have a decent meal again, never fear your taste buds are safe.  In the next few weeks I will add a note to reviews where I’ve at least made an attempt to secretly make it healthier, I’ll let you know if it worked in regards to flavor and texture and if it made it more difficult.  I will even let you know if anyone said “hey! is this heaaallthy??”  So, set the table and play with your food! Enjoy.

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals: Note, this week there are many adaptations.  Read the reviews for ingredient lists and changes.

Empanadas – Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely

aempanadas

Time: 40 Minutes to 1 Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: I would like to try this recipe “as is”, but admit I didn’t.  I like the general idea of this recipe and used ground beef instead.  I used Creme Fraiche in place of cream cheese just because I had it on hand and I have an interesting item called Tomato Powder, it is dehydrated tomatoes and you can use it to make tomato paste or sauce, but i like to just sprinkle it in or on dishes for a little tomatoey zest.  I added about a heaping teaspoon to the mixture.  The results were very nice.

Gyoza  – Adapted from Yo Sushi Cookbook

aeggrolls2

Time:  30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  When we were in London we discovered this fun restaurant called Yo Sushi.  It has conveyor belts that bring colored bowls around for you to choose from.  Each bowl is a different price.  It was fun and we truly enjoyed the food.  The one item we liked the most was the gyoza (dumplings).  I tried to find an online recipe, but no luck.  In the end I found a cookbook from Yo Sushi and bought the book and I highly recommend it.  It asks you to use authentic Japanese ingredients and is really worth it to find them and think of the entertainment you may provide to the shopkeeper  as you try to locate the ingredients-we sure did!  Keeping it fun!

 I couldn’t locate an online recipe here are the ingredients I used: 2 dried shitake mushrooms soaked in warm water for 10 minutes (reserve liquid to moisten wrappers with), 7 oz of minced chicken, 1/2 leek trimmed and finely chopped, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger root, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tbsp cornflour.  Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  For instructions on cooking the gyoza visit this link for a recipe from Sandra Lee, it was similar in method.

Note: this is actually a pretty healthy dish the main thing is to watch the salt if adding dipping sauces.  I like to use 2 Tbsp rice vinegar mixed with 3 Tbsp soy sauce and 2-3 drops sesame oil.  Mix well and serve with gyoza.

Meatball Subs

amballsub

Time: 45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This dish is a great dish when you are looking for something easy and filling.  For an extra easy meal I’m not above using pre-made spaghetti sauce and there are some really good ones out there, but I am comptlely against frozen meatballs.  They are awful and take as long to bake as the real thing-so make the meatballs.  As for the meatballs I used 1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 pound of ground beef combined with 1/2 cup bread crumbs, an egg, a dash of milk, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Mix well and roll in to balls that will comfortably fit the bun you will use.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Heat the spaghetti sauce in a medium sized pot and add the finished meatballs, mix well.  Fill sub with 3-4 meatballs, top with a little additional sauce.  Top with provolone or your favorite cheese and broil until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately to avoid soggy bread.

Broccoli Rabe, garlic & Pasta

abroccolirabepasta

Meatless Monday

Time: 20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Well, speaking of Anthony Bourdain, he made something like this on the ABC show “The Taste”.  I looked for a recipe online, but didn’t find exactly what I wanted.  He made it look like a simple dish you through just throw together and many of the recipes made it a lot more complex.  In the end I just did what he said to do.  I sauteed garlic in oil (about 5 cloves), added in about a scant tsp of red pepper flakes and sauteed until colorful and fragrant, then add the chopped broccoli rabe, they usually come in bunches, one bunch served 4.  Remove any leaves if still attached when you purchase it.   Cook until just tender, but still has a little bite to it – about 3-5 minutes.  Meanwhile cook pasta.   Once the the Broccoli Rabe and pasta are done toss together and add salt and pepper to taste and top with a nice cheese.  I chose grana padano.

I will say everyone in my family was surprised by this dish.  They looked at it and said “is that it?” took a bite and said “mmmm, hey this is good!”  So to redeem myself in my earlier omissions of fatty food I admit I served this with sweet Italian sausage that I crumbled and browned.  I put in a bowl on the side to let people choose to go whole hog or not! Pun intended.

Mushroom Soup (Chanterelle Soup)

amushroomsoup

Time: 20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I made this soup a few weeks ago, but didn’t feature it strongly.  I love this soup and could eat it every day!  It is quick, easy and tasty.  Do try it!

A few weeks ago when I made this I shopped for exotic mushrooms since we were having company.  For us-nah, good ole button mushrooms on sale 2 for $4.00 and they worked great!  Either way the soups is good.  My husband said he thought he liked it better!  This is great sitting on the couch or at the table with a nice salad and glass of wine.

Tip: try adding a splash of brandy before serving  you could cut back on the fat by trying milk instead of cream.  Good vegetarian dish.

 

Photos by lwburbach. Feel free to use photos, but please link back to this blog.- Thank you.

Pasta, Leftover Turkey Potpie & Pork Loin Double Duty

pasta cameraThanksgiving week was a crazy week!  A wonderful week, but crazy just the same.  We had so much fun celebrating birthdays and Thanksgiving, seeing friends and family and decking the halls! So this past week we decided to keep it simple.  Brought out the crockpot, did 30 minute meals and even used paper plates one night. But, we still enjoyed each other and that is the point.

Just because dinner is simple doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice freshness or taste.  Don’t grab a mix or pre-packaged dinner;  Fresh, real meals are within reach. Enjoy!

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan (or pick some meals from here)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy

The Meals:

Pasta buffetpasta bar


Time: 30 minutes, allow extra time if you heat each person’s individually

Ease: Simple

Review:  Sometimes simple can be pretty fun, even fancy!  We like to make pasta and cook squash, zucchini, peppers and onions, sausage (try different types) and mushrooms individually and then place each in their own bowl – buffet style.  Then have a dish of alfredo sauce and one of marinara sauce and you are set.  You have two choices at this point 1. have everything warm and ready to serve at the same time or 2. let people choose the items they would like and have one pan for red sauce and one for white ready on the stove or grill, then toss in their ingredients and heat together each plate separately.   Similar to what you see served at a catered meal.  It is fun and takes very little time.  So the next time you have that last minute dinner party just throw together this simple buffet, add in a salad and sit down and enjoy your guests.

Leftover Turkey Potpie:  The Pioneer Woman  Chef:  Ree Drummandbaking potpie

Photo 14Time: 1 hour

Ease: Simple to moderate (depends on whether you use a store bought crust or make it yourself)

Review:  Wow, The Pioneer Woman is awesome!  My husband liked this so much he said we should do it every year.  This recipe was easy to follow and simple to make (and yes I used a store bought, roll out crust.  But  hey,  she said she wouldn’t judge).  Our turkey this year had sweet Italian sausage under the skin and this was a nice added flavor to our potpie.

Apricot Chiptle-Glazed Pork Tenderloin:  PBS Food  Chef: Jenna Weber
Photo 22Photo 21

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This dish could not have been any more simple: make the glaze, brush it on, and broil.  Voila!  Do not be afraid of the broiler, I know I have been in the past.  This recipe worked exactly like it said it would.  Just don’t put the meat too close, I used the second groove in my oven and it came out perfectly.

Tip:  Often pork loins come with 2 pieces.  Depending on the size of your group, try cooking one and saving the other one for the next night’s dish: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos

Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos Justatatste.com  Chef: Kelly SenyeiPhoto 28

Time: 6-8 hours in the slow cooker and 15 minutes when you get home.

Ease: Simple

Review: My family loves tacos, tacos of any kind and this taco did not disappoint.  It was juicy and full of flavor and was ready within minutes of walking in the door.  Can’t beat that!

Tip:  I used a pork loin because I had one left from the day before.

Hotdogs, I know-but I love them so.

P1080965Ok, I know hotdogs are not exactly fresh or wholesome, but I love them.  I mean I really love them, especially with slaw. You know coleslaw-white, mayo based coleslaw.  I even like hotdogs from convenience stores. I like them broiled, grilled, boiled, and on the rotator at the store.  They are quick and yummy and I won’t judge you for them if you don’t judge me.

I hope you enjoy this week’s meals.  Remember that you can have meals in minutes without sacrificing freshness, wholesomeness and taste. OK-minus hotdog night, but come on…It’s a hotdog, everybody loves a good hotdog from time to time.

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones I Have created.  Thank you.