Sandwiches, Soup, Haluski, and Baked Potatoes: Keeping it Simple

Baked Potato Bar

We make dinner (meals) for more than just keeping people fed it is about friendship, conversation, connection and relationship. As you practice these types of meals you will come to expect them and enjoy creating them.  Do you ever think “I miss you” about the people you see every day?  I do.  It is usually because I was too busy to stop and connect, but bringing back dinner into our lives gives us just a moment to learn about each other and remember each other.  I love it.

Some weeks life is busy, but if we are intentional we can create the one calm place in the craziness of life with a nice meal, albeit simple meal.  This week’s menu is nice and easy. I hope you enjoy it!

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 (unless you are one of my European friends with your tiny little refrigerators – adapt as needed)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  I say Dinner, but any meal will be fine.  Just try to find a time to relax and enjoy each others company over a meal.

The Meals:

Baked Potato and Salad Barbaked potato

Time: 30-1 hour I prefer oven baked potatoes rolled in olive oil and kosher salt with pepper, but sometimes we just don’t have the time and though a master chef would probably cringe, just toss them in the microwave if you are short on time.

Ease: simple

Review: This is a fun thing to do with a group of people.  This week I had nine ladies over for “ladies night out” and I baked potatoes, one girlfriend brought lettuce and everyone else brought toppings.  We had a great (loud) laughter (loud) filled (loud) night.  So, fun. Oh, and we were loud!  Ten ladies laughing and talking and eating-it was great.  We learned about each other and relaxed together.  Hmmm, I think we’re getting it.

Topping Ideas:

Cheese, broccoli, raisins, Craisins, sunflower seeds, mandarin orange slices, salsa, sour cream, butter, croutons, dressings…. The list goes on.  You can go wild with this.

pmleftover potato slicesWhat to do with the leftover baked potatoes? Try slicing them cold and pan frying them until golden brown.  They can be eaten plain or you can top them with cheese, bacon, and sourcream for a baked potato hors d’oevre.

Make soup

Twice baked potatoes: Scoop out the insides and mash with milk or cream and butter, then there are endless options.  Add salsa and cheese with green onions or jalapenos and top with cheese. Horseradish and chives and try topping with Swiss.  Don’t be afraid to experiment, you might start to hope you have always have leftover baked potatoes.

Tupelo Honey’s Chicken and Havarti Sandwich: Adapted from Tupelo Honey Cookbook  (Tupelo Honey  Asheville, NC)tupelo honey chicken sandwiches


1-2 Boneless Chicken breasts

1 cup Marinade: 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2/3 cup soy sauce, 4 cloves garlic finely chopped, 2 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger.

Sliced Havarti cheese


Cranberry Mayo: equal parts mayo and whole cranberry sauce

Romaine Lettuce

Sourdough Bread

I found that thinly slicing the chicken lengthwise into layers made for an easier sandwich.  Start at one tip of the breast and gently slice to the other end in a thin layer.  You should get several slices out of each breast (I used 2 for 4 people).  Once sliced place in the marinade and refrigerate overnight. Cook chicken in a skillet or griddle until done, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place cheese on top of chicken at the end to let it melt.  Lightly butter bread (they recommended sourdough, but we found it fell apart easily and may try caibatta next time) and grill each face.  Remove from grill and assemble sandwiches by sliding chicken and cheese onto bread and top with lettuce and cranberry mayo.

Time: 30 minutes plus overnight marinade, 45 if roasting potatoes

Ease: Simple

Review:  First off, if you ever get to eat in Asheville, NC you will be in for a treat.  Everywhere I have ever eaten was superb.  This Recipe was from a small restaurant called Tupelo Honey, it had a fun atmosphere and great food.  Second, don’t feel like sandwiches can’t be dinner.  This sandwich was a nice warm and hearty sandwich and felt like a full meal.  I served it with Roasted potatoes.

roasted potatoesRoasted Potatoes: Start with olive oil and salt and pepper and then go wherever you imagination takes you.  I have added things like bbq sauce, dijon mustard, onions, steak seasoning, ranch, garlic, rosemary etc.  This dish can be different every time you serve it.  Start the potatoes at the beginning of the meal preparation so that they can cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Generally Roast at 425 degrees until golden brown, turning once.  30-45 minutes.

Haluski : or Guy Fieri (Originally from the Frugal Gourmet) pmhaluski

Time: 30 minutes- 1 hour depending on the recipe you use.

Ease: Simple; 3 main ingredients and full flavor

Review: I first tried this recipe from the cookbook “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors” and largely still use this as my guide.  The ingredient list is the same, but the cooking method different.  I saute (or caramelize depending on time) the onion then add the cabbage and cook it until tender, but still full of color.  While this is cooking boil the pasta and toss together at the end.  I don’t know how to explain why this is so yummy, but it is.  Simple and good.  My family likes the addition of kielbasa, but to keep it vegetarian you can skip it.  My son requested this for this week.  Good choice.  FYI: They don’t even like cabbage and love this.

Tortilla Soup: Chef Wolfgang Puck
tortilla soup

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: This was a nice comfy soup. This was also a special request for the week-from my husband.  I confess I used frozen corn instead of corn on the cob and skipped the part where you add the cobs to the broth. It was still very good.

Cheese Board and Veggie Traycheese & Veg 2

My husband looooves cheese, I mean loves it!  So if I suggest we have a variety of cheeses and meats with crackers he is more than happy.  I also like to add in a veggie try.  Try adding things like salami, pepperoni, or even just rolls of lunch meat.  One quick addition is cream cheese topped with spicy pepper jelly; sounds so-so, but is really good.  If it makes you feel better cheese boards or on the menu of high end restaurants, so throw in a nice glass of wine, light a fire and relax.

Time: 5-10 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Let’s face it, there are days when you say “I don’t want to cook”!  That’s OK, it doesn’t mean you still can’t have a nice time together and I know I stress the importance of the table, but I mean the table to sometimes be any place you gather together over a meal.  This night we chose the living room.

cheese & Veg fire

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.

Beans and Rice, Spoonbread, and Brunswick Stew – Southern Comfort Food

beans soakingOne of the things I love about being a southern girl is the food.  Foods that make you feel warm and content, foods you can linger over and foods you can share.  I’m sure this is true of every region, but a girl has to stay true to her roots. Besides, if it weren’t “all that” Country music would loose half their songs, you know precious odes to fried chicken, collard greens (well, I loose points here, ewww) and that precious amber colored liquid gold in a glass- sweet tea!  I think Country music is onto something here.

Even if you don’t like sweet tea (I really can’t understand this,but…) I think you’ll like this week’s menu filled with what we call “stick to your rib” food.  As the weather gets colder and the days shorter there is something oh so comforting in a nice bowl of stew or beans.  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:

red beans and riceRed Beans and Rice Louisana Style:  Chef: Judy Walker adapted from Pableaux Johnson’s Monday Night Red Beans.

Time: 1 1/2-2 hours plus soaking time.  If you are short on time try using low sodium rinsed canned beans and cook 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

Ease: Moderate – not rated simple because of the steps involved, but is definitely doable.

Review:  I have had red beans and rice my whole life and like it any way I can get it.  I enjoyed this version of this, but the greatest praise came from my husband, who lived in New Orleans for a while.  He said it was the best beans and rice he thought he’d ever had and that it was Louisiana worthy.  My husband tells me that there are no bad restaurants in New Orleans, just some not as great as others.

Tips & Adaptations: The andouille sausage is pretty hot, if you have heat sensitive people at your table try serving on the side, but still cook your onions in the grease from the sausage.  I have fans of parsley and green onions and dislikers as well; if you do, just serve those on the side too.  I didn’t have Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning and used Emeril’s.

spoon breadSpoon Bread

This is not a main dish menu item, but needs to go with the beans.  I especially like the leftovers for breakfast, hot and dripping with butter. Butter is a must for this dish, Paula Deen herself would approve.

sloppy joeSloppy Joe’s:  The Food Network   Chef: Ellie Krieger                                                (from the Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a healthy life)

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:   I can’t rave enough about this dish or this cookbook.  Though the recipes above may not show it, I enjoy trying to make meals more healthy, but full of flavor and  Ellie Krieger excels at this! I have never been a fan of the packets or cans for sloppy Joe and therefore thought I didn’t like sloppy Joe, but this changed my mind.  It is quick, simple, and tastes great.  It will become a go-to meal for you. We do not put the beans in it, but that is a personal preference.

brunswick stewBrunswick Stew: Lynchburg Eats

Time: 2 1/2 hours or 6-8 in crockpot.  I suggest making this on the weekend and re-heating for a quick meal during the week.

Ease: Simple, don’t let this one fool you.  It looks to easy and too plain, but is packed with flavor.

Review: When I was growing up it was common to find Brunswick stew at festivals in town and always cooked all day long in a big giant cast iron cauldron.  MMMMM, so good.  There seemed to be an unspoken agreement between the stew and the weather and it always drizzled and was just shy of cold.  Perfect!  This recipe is pretty darn close to those traditional stews.  This is a great rainy day, sleepy Sunday night dinner.

Tips: Take the time to get those family recipes written down before it is too late!  This is a prime example of not doing so.  My grandmother made this in huge batches each year and put it in small containers in the deep freeze where we could then enjoy it all winter long.  However…no one ever got the recipe.  She once told me her secret was V-8 juice, so I added part broth and part V-8 juice and felt the results were nice.  In regards to the meat, Brunswick stew was originally made with squirrel, but I’m not going out to snag or bag any squirrels any time soon,like ever, nor do I expect you to.  Use any meat you have or desire.  I used a pork tenderloin that I had in the freezer, it had been roasted first, then I cut into the desired bite size.  We were very pleased with the pork.  Be creative and use any meat you’d like even squirrel, if that’s your thing.

fiesta tortillas

Sweet BBQ Chicken Tortillas : Adapted from Great American Cookbook – 1994

Time: 30-45 minutes  I will often cook the chicken in the microwave and use Pampered Chefs stoneware covered baker. The chicken is ready for the recipe in 6-10 minutes.  Microwaving it cuts the time closer to 20 minutes.  The stoneware keeps it from being too dry.

Ease: Simple

Review: I first discovered this recipe in 1994 and have made a few adjustments over the years.  This adaptation is my family’s favorite.  This is a great recipe to make when you are in a hurry or just need to throw something together, maybe unexpected company.

sweet potato & RavioliRavioli with Sage Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Shallots

Time: 1 hour (prep & cooking combined)

Ease: Simple

Review: I searched the internet for a dish like this and couldn’t find what I was looking for so, this is what I ended up with.  If you can’t find it, make it. I was pleased with the results, the blend of the flavor of the shallots with the sweet potatoes was pleasant.  There were no leftovers.   I encourage you to experiment, you may surprise yourself.

snaps new potsFinally, To make sure you have had the full southern experience I have added snaps and new potatoes.  Snaps is what we call southern style green beans and let me be perfectly clear here,  Snaps are not meant to squeak against your teeth, they should be mushy and overcooked and have fatback, bacon or Streak o’ lean in it.   Now green beans may be steamed, roasted, grilled or squeaky, just don’t call ’em snaps.

I recently asked the butcher for fatback and he just looked at me and said “what??”, oh, Lordy mercy what has the south come to.  If this happens to you pick an extra fatty piece of bacon, it’ll work just fine. Below are a few recipes to choose from.

Green Beans with New Potatoes: Paula Deen

Southern Style Green Beans: Emeril Lagasse

White Trash Cooking Green Beans & New Potatoes: Insightful Nana

Southern Style Green Beans: Deep South Dish

Ya’ll come back now (naaooah), ya hear (heaa).

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.