Sunday, June 3, 2012

EASY Black Bean Lasagna

This weekend was the Six Mile Regional Library District's Friends of the Library annual big book sale at the Wilson Park ice rink in Granite City.  There were close to 600 boxes of books; we set the books out on tables for buyers to peruse.  Only 275 boxes of books were left at the end of the sale, which then went to Greenville for their hospital auxiliary's book sale.  Lots of books, audios and videos were sold!  Yea for the Friend's of the Library!!!  The proceeds from this annual book sale help to fund many of the special events for children during the summer reading program.

Sunday I will be going to the Gateway Regional Medical Center's Healthy Women anniversary event. The special guest speaker is Ali Vincent from NBC's Biggest Loser.  It will be interesting to go to the event and see what all they have there.  Because I'll be at this event all day I won't be cooking Sunday dinner.

But - I did cook dinner tonight.  I made Easy Black Bean Lasagna.  I found the recipe in a book I bought at the book sale: Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks: Meatless Meals from March 1996.  Holy Cow! This recipe was incredibly easy and amazingly delicious!!  A few friends came over this evening and everyone loved the lasagna.  I will definitely make it again.  In fact, I have been asked to make it to take when we have our girls' weekend in July.  Ten of us are going to the Lake of the Ozarks for a long weekend and plan to have a blast.

I also made a drink called Incommunicado.  It is equal parts vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, and grenadine mixed with two times the amount of alcohol of cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and I used papaya juice (it calls for sweet and sour mix, which I honestly am not fond of).  It was pretty tasty.  However, there is a reason it is called incommunicado.  Because after a couple of drinks your words get mixed up and it becomes hard to communicate without laughing.

We had a really nice time this evening.  I hope we have a good time tomorrow too.  Have a great week.  I'll let you know all about it when I next cook dinner.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Well, it's Memorial Day weekend and I'm hosting Bunco at my house tonight.  Because of everything going on this weekend I'm not cooking Sunday dinner.  However, I will have Mom and Dad over for dinner Saturday evening and we'll probably have leftovers from Bunco (assuming there will be a few leftovers; if not, then I'll put together something easy and quick).  So, I figure I'll share what's on the menu for our game tonight.

I made dessert first.  Cake balls!  Easy-peasy but a bit time consuming; I followed the directions in the book Cake Pops by Bakerella.  My dear husband, Michael, baked a red velvet cake for me while I was at work.  The cake is a box mix and you just follow the directions on the box.  Last night I crumbled the cake into a large mixing bowl.  The next step is to mix in 3/4 of a 16 oz container of prepared frosting - I used cream cheese frosting.  When those two are well mixed (hint: use the back of a metal spoon and just keep pushing the two together, eventually it will all mix together and kind of look like a dough).  I then used a Pampered Chef scoop to scoop out the same amount of "dough" to roll into balls.  The recipe states there will be 48 balls; well, I must of used a larger scoop because I only came up with 36 balls.  I put the balls on a cookie sheet with wax paper and when all the balls were formed I put everything in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  I then transferred them to the refrigerator - no frozen balls.  I used Baker's premium white chocolate baking squares to coat the balls - I just followed the directions for melting the chocolate that are on the box.  I needed to use 3 boxes of the white chocolate.  Michael tasted one of the balls this morning and announced them "mmmm, good!"

I also made a black bean, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion, and tomato salad.  I made this very easy salad last weekend also.  Here's how I made it.  Open a can of black beans, rinse and drain them and put them in a bowl.  Peel, seed, and chop a cucumber into bite-size pieces; add them to the bowl with the beans.  Seed and finely chop about 1/2 of a medium-size jalapeno; add it to the bowl (be sure to wash your hands really well after handling the jalapeno - you don't want to get any of the pepper oil in your eyes or elsewhere).  Chop about 1/2 of a red onion and add it to the bowl.  I used Cherub grape tomatoes by slicing about one and one-half containers of tomatoes and adding them to the bowl.  For the tomatoes I actually slice the larger tomatoes into 3 or 4 slices.  Salt and pepper the ingredients to taste.  Mix together 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil with 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar (or any flavored vinegar that you like) and pour over the salad.  Gently fold all ingredients together to coat all with the oil and vinegar.  Let sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least one to two hours before serving.

I am getting ready to make Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken to use instead of ground beef in Taco Cupcakes.  I'm switching out the black beans in the taco cupcakes for corn since I used beans in the salad.

I also am going to make Green Rice (Arroz Verde).  For the rice I am mashing up a few recipes: from the May 31, 2010 New York Times, from Rachel Ray, from Oprah, and from Bobby Flay.  The only ingredient I am omitting (because I really, really don't like the taste of it) is cilantro.  I'll use brown rice, spinach, garlic, onion, jalapeno, vegetable broth, and pine nuts.

Michael is making guacamole for us.  He uses a recipe from the Joy of Cooking.  We've used this recipe for years and love it!  We have Tostito scoops for the guac, I made Lipton French onion soup dip, and we have Wavy Lays for that dip.  I picked up a bunch of fresh blackberries that are tantalizingly sweet as well as some green grapes and a fresh pineapple - so we'll have some fruit too.

Oh - and I can't forget the Margarita Shots in a Lime!  Sounds like a fine bunco night with the girls.  I'll be sure to come back and let you know how it all really turns out.

HOLY COW!!! These dishes were all winners.  Everyone raved about how much they liked the food.  Especially the cake balls.

For Saturday dinner (see first paragraph about Sunday dinner) we did have leftovers.  We used the chicken for taco salad.  Because there wasn't much Green Rice left, I made another batch.  And, there were just enough cake balls for everyone to enjoy.  Mom said she thinks the green rice will become a staple at my sister's house - she and they liked it that much (me too).  Looks like Michael and I will be eating this for a few days - we still have leftovers.  It's a good thing everything tastes good.

If you can, take a moment to remember and honor those who have died in service to the United States at 3:00 Monday afternoon.  3:00 your time - wherever you are - one minute of silence in their honor.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's Mother's Day - How About an Encore

When trying to decide what to make for Mother's Day dinner, I looked back to what I made last May.  And, when I read that Mom had said "you have to make that again, soon," I figured that's what we would have today.  Maybe a year later isn't very "soon," but Mom said she was really glad we had this today.  We all liked our dinner very much.  So, I guess you're wondering what I's the menu:

  • Asparagus, Artichoke, and Yellow Pepper Fritatta that I made on May 14, 2011.  The hardest thing about it is chopping up the vegetables (actually that's the hardest thing about everything we had today).  Today I used eight eggs instead of seven.
  • Tomato, Cucumber, Celery, and Black Olive Salad that includes everything except the bread and cheese from the Tomato Bread Salad that I make all the time and first wrote about April 28, 2010.
  • Marsala Glazed Mushrooms that I seem to make every weekend since April 7, 2012.  These mushrooms are truly easy to make and magnificent!
  • Punchbowl Cake from last May; the recipe is included with the after dinner thoughts I posted on May 15, 2012.  There's no cooking involved in this recipe - it's just cutting angel food cake, opening a few cans, thawing frozen strawberries, and slicing a banana.  Oh, but today instead of pecan bits I used health bar bits to top the whole thing.  That was a yummy decision.

Everything was mmm, mmm, good!  And, everyone ate it up.  So, we enjoyed a successful Mother's Day dinner.  Happy Mother's Day!