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Main Dishes…

Scallops for People Who Hate Scallops
Chicken with Olives, …or Without!
Fajitas (beef, chicken, or shrimp)
Citric Poultry
Nothing-In-The-House Chicken
Basic Lasagna
Pasta Primavera
Mom's Sausage and Peppers
Spaghettini con Piselli et Funghi
Pasta Carbonara
Veal or Chicken Marsala
Really Easy Chicken Breasts
Easy Italian Chicken Stuffing
Spaghetti Harlot’s Style

Scallops for People Who Hate Scallops

One day I had a friend to dinner, and I hadn't planned it that way. In full accordance with Murphy, it was the day I planned on grocery shopping. In further compliance, all I had in the freezer was cheese ravioli and a container of scallops - and my friend didn't like scallops. Umm… no sauce, no veggies other than frozen spinach, … guess I've got to get inventive with scallops! Well, the flavor of this dish was so mild, my friend loved it!

You will need…

1 bag frozen cheese ravioli
3/4 to 1 lb. Scallops
1 package frozen spinach
a handful of uncooked barley
olive oil, butter, garlic
grated romano cheese

Start the water for the ravs.

In a good-sized frying pan (or a wok), melt some butter, oil, and garlic together (at least enough to coat the ravs when you're done). Throw the scallops in (even if they're frozen) with any liquid that's in the container, and the barley.

When you throw the ravs into the water, throw the spinach in, too (I didn't have a dishwasher at the time; can you tell?)

Once the ravs and scallops are done (scallops are cooked when their centers aren't shiny anymore), drain the ravs and spinach (together), and toss everything in a big bowl with as much cheese as you can tolerate. (Of course, if you don't have a dishwasher, throw it all in the pan you cooked the ravs in.)

Chicken with Olives, …or Without!

You can't kill this recipe! Once, my guests called at the time I was expecting them to arrive to say they'd be an hour late - and the chicken had already been cooking for a half-hour! I just lowered the heat a touch and it still came out perfect!

You will need…

Chicken legs and thighs (this isn't as good with white meat)
Red wine vinegar
Dried mint
garlic
green olives (unless you don't like olives)
some of the juice from the olive jar

In a glass baking dish that's a bit taller than the chicken pieces, lay the chicken flat. Pour in enough vinegar to come halfway up the sides of the chicken. Pour in enough water to cover them. For each serving that you're making, add 1 tbls mint and 1 chopped garlic clove. Then add another tbls mint and another chopped clove "for the pot". Cover and ignore for an hour.

Cook at 425 for 45 minutes. Uncover, throw in some olives (like 1/4 cup for every 2 servings) and a tablespoon of the juice. Cook uncovered another 15 minutes or so.

Cheating tips: If you stick it in the fridge, it can marinade all day.

Fajitas (beef, chicken, or shrimp)

This recipe's great in the summer because it takes little time and no oven!

For the meat part, you will need…

Beef or chicken (cut into strips) or shrimp (peeled)
1 can cheap beer
1 small bottle lime juice
fresh cilantro (chopped)

a chopped onion

Throw everything in a glass dish and let it sit for an hour. Stir-fry the solids with a bit of the liquid. That's it!

Cheating tips: If you stick it in the fridge, it can marinade all day. And, yes, you can use parsley instead of cilantro.

For the beans part, you will need…

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can red beans (drained and rinsed)
about 1/4 cup chopped chilies
a little oil

Coat pan lightly with oil. Throw everything in a frying pan and simmer until warm. (You will want to start this before the meat)

Cheating tips: You can use a can of chopped chilies instead (just drain them first).

For the rest, you will need…

Fajita shells
Shredded cheese (I prefer an extra sharp cheddar)
Chopped veggies (tomatoes, lettuce, olives, whatever)
Salsa, sour cream, etc.

Stick each in its own bowl.

Citric Poultry

If you hate dry poultry, or want a main dish with a hint of sweetness, try this!

You will need…

A bird, whole (i.e.: a turkey, roasting chicken, Cornish game hen, whichever)
Oranges
Fresh mint
salt and pepper

Cut oranges in half, put a little mint, salt, and pepper on each half, and shove inside your bird (one half for a game hen, as much as you can fit for other birds). Add some salt and pepper to the outside of the bird and arrange some mint leaves on top.

Cook according to the type and size bird you have (look it up in your basic cook book). It'll cook a little longer than an unstuffed bird.

Cheating tips: Other citrus fruits can be used in combo with the oranges or alone (although I haven't tried using grapefruits yet!).

Nothing-In-The-House Chicken

It seems that anytime I'm overdue to go shopping, I'm eating rice and beans for dinner. Normally, this is not a problem, but what do you do when you're having a guest for dinner? In this situation, I find that I always have three things on hand - an open bottle of red wine, cream of something soup, and chicken pieces. So here's what I did...

Preheat oven to 400. Arrange chicken pieces in a glass baking dish. Add enough wine (red or white) to go half-way up the pieces. Spread some condensed cream soup (cream of broccoli, cream of mushroom, whichever) on the pieces, then add the remainder to the wine. Sprinkle with pepper, cover with foil, and bake for about an hour.

Cheating tips: If you don't have wine, use half red wine vinegar and half water.

Basic Lasagna

Cheryl, I know you're going to ask me to put this recipe here anyway, so I'm beating you to the punch!

You will need…

1 lb. lasagna noodles
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. hamburger
about a quart of sauce (like 2 jars, but don't get the chunky kind)
2-3 lbs. riccotta cheese
1 lb. mozzarella cheese - shredded
some grated cheese

Take the sausage meat out of its casing and fry it with the hamburger.

Cook the noodles with some olive oil in the water (to keep them from sticking later). Drain well.

Do this rather quickly, or your pasta will stick and tear...
Spread enough sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan (looks like a 9x13 baking dish, but a little larger and deeper) to coat the dish.
Arrange a layer of noodles so the pan bottom is covered.
Drop some meat and riccotta on the layer, add a bit of sauce to loosen it, and smoosh it with a spoon to make sure you've covered all areas.
Sprinkle the other cheeses over it.
Repeat this (noodles, meat/riccotta/sauce, other cheeses) until you either run out of pan or stuff.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Cheating tips: Yes, I've used the no-cook noodles. Just be liberal with the sauce, as some of the liquid gets used by these noodles.

Variations: Any ground meat can be substituted in. Or remove the meat and use sliced veggies (zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, ...). Or use both.

Pasta Primavera

This is a household staple. It's super easy, easily adjusted for the number of eaters, and flexible in its ingredients.

You will need…

pasta (spagetti, small shells, whatever)
1.5 - 2 cups veggies per person, cut into strips
(I suggest using a combination of zucchini, red pepper, and baby carrots)
IF you want meat with this: one handful of peeled shrimp OR one chicken breast (cut into strips) per person
IF you don't want meat: about 1/2 c. of pine nuts or walnuts per person
Olive oil, butter (about 1Tbls each per person) Garlic (to taste), spices (I suggest basil (1/2 - 1 tsp), oregano (1/4-1/2 tsp), and thyme (1/4-1/2 tsp))

Start the water for the pasta.

In a deep frying pan, heat olive oil, butter, and garlic over medium heat.

Throw in veggies, protein (meat or nuts), and spices. Stir-fry until everythings cooked.

Toss with the pasta.

If you didn't use shrimp and the pasta looks dry...
- if you don't care about fat, add more olive oil
- if you do care, mix some warm broth (boullion & water works fine) with cornstarch until it thickens a bit, then pout into pasta

Mom's Sausage and Peppers

Here you go, Tim! Note: this is best made a day ahead of time and reheated when serving.

You will need…(for 4-6 servings)

2.5 lbs. sweet Italian sausage cut into bite-sized pieces
6-8 large green peppers (or green and red mixed) cut into strips
1 cup chicken broth
2-4 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium onion cut into strips
1/2 cup red wine
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
olive oil, basil, oregano

Put about 3 tbls. olive oil in a warmed dutch oven (large pot) and heat on medium. Throw in sausage and stir them occasionally until browned.

Add the broth, garlic, onion, and wine. Cover and ignore for 20-25 minutes.

Add tomatoes, paste, about 1 tbls basil, and 1 tsp oregano. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Arrange peppers on top of all this. Increase heat to medium, cover, and ignore another 15 minutes or until peppers are a little soft.

Note: When choosing tomato paste, don't use Hunt's. Hunt's is sauce with some liquid removed; paste is made from the meatiest part of the tomato - right next to the skin.

Spaghettini con Piselli et Funghi

This is a fabulous quick dinner in the summer. The mint makes it quite refreshing.

You will need…

1 lb. pasta
1 stick butter
1 med. onion - chopped
1 lb. fresh mushrooms - sliced
1 clove garlic - well minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh mint - chopped
1 box frozen peas
½ c. grated parmesean cheese

Start the water for the pasta. Saute garlic, onion, and peas in the butter until much of the liquid is evaporated. Add mushrooms and mint. Keep warm until pasta is done. Toss pasta with cheese and olive oil, then add the peas stuff and serve.

Pasta Carbonara

Warning: this is NOT low fat!

You will need…

1 lb. pasta
¼ lb. prosciutto or bacon - cut into small bits
2 eggs - beaten lightly
3 cloves garlic - pressed or crushed
½ pt. heavy cream
½ c. parmesean or romano cheese
3 Tbls olive oil
½ stick butter

Start the water for the pasta. Saute the meat and garlic with half the butter and oil. Add the cream and bring to a boil (slowly or you’ll burn the cream). When the pasta’s done, toss with the remaining butter and oil and also the cheese. Pour cream mixture over pasta, add the eggs, and mix well. Serve immediately.

Note: the eggs will cook from the hot pasta.

Veal or Chicken Marsala

This is one of those dishes that’s rather simple yet impresses the sh** out of people! This is also a good meal to do when you’re aggrivated (you’ll see why).

You will need…

8-10 thin veal cutlets or boneless chicken breasts.
1 c. flour
3 Tbls olive oil
½ stick butter
1 clove garlic - diced
1 c. marsala wine
1 small onion - minced
½ lb. fresh mushrooms - sliced

Beat the living daylights out of the meat. Literally! Place each piece on a cutting board and pound it as thin as you can (if you don’t have a meat pounder, cover with wax paper, get your hammer, and go to town).
Coat each piece of meat in the flour. Saute onion and garlic in the oil and butter until the onion is clear. Add meat and saute lightly on both sides - set aside in a warm dish (keep a dish in a warmed oven for this). Saute the mushrooms in the pan a bit, turn up the heat, add the wine, and bring to a boil. Add the meat and cook a bit more. Done.

Really Easy Chicken Breasts

I just tried this tonight and totally fell in love with it! It’s SO simple and tastes wonderful!

You will need…

boneless chicken breasts - about 6 halves
1 stick of butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. fresh mushrooms - sliced
1.5 c. scallions - sliced into 1" pieces
1 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1 c. moo
½ c. wine

Saute scallions and shrooms in half the butter and all the oil. Turn up the heat and add wine. While wine is evaporating, dip the chicken in milk then in breadcrumbs. When the wine’s almost gone, spoon into the bottom of a buttered casserole dish. Place chicken over the stuff and dab with the remaining butter. Bake for 30 minutes at 400.

Easy Italian Chicken Stuffing

This works great in chicken, game hens, or any poultry. It also works well with cube steaks (see bottom of recipe).

You will need…

1 box frozen chopped spinach - well drained
1 c. bread crumbs
½ c. romano cheese
1 egg
½ stick butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic - minced well
1 small onion - minced

Saute onion and garlic in the butter and oil. Add spinach, crumbs, cheese and mix well. Cool, add the egg, and mix again. (The easiest way to mix this is to use your hands.) Stuff where you please.

Variation: Take some cube steaksand pound them a bit. Spread some of the stuffing on each piece, roll each one up, and fasten with a toothpick. Place in a baking dish with a bit of sauce on the bottom, top with a bit more sauce, and bake at 350 (for 20-30 minutes? I haven’t done this variation in a while, so use your best guess.)

Spaghetti Harlot’s Style

Even if you HATE anchovies (like I do), try this dish! It’s one of the best pastas I’ve grown up with!

You will need…

½ c olive oil
1 chopped onion
3 garlic cloved - minced
4 anchovy fillets - minced into itty-bitty pieces
2 c. chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 can black olives - halved
2 Tbls capers - rinsed
2 tspn red wine vinegar
2 Tbls basil
1 lb pasta

Saute the onion and garlic in oil. Add the anchovies. Add everything else and simmer while you cook the pasta. Throw it all together.