~Happy Thanksgiving 2014~

ThanA holiday that’s all about food?  Of course it’s my favorite holiday of the year!

We keep things pretty traditional at our house, using my tried and true Alton Brown method for turkey roasting, bread stuffing from Chef In Training, a wonderful make-ahead mashed potato casserole from Pinch My Salt, and my Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Pinot Noir.  New to the table this year: Pomegranate Glazed Green Beans from Taste of Home:

Pomegranate Green Beans


Lots of wonderful Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and apple cider, pumpkin pie (that my daughter made), apple pie and this gorgeous cherry tart from my sister (yes cooking DOES run in the family):

Cherry Tart


And of course the most important element of all: being with family and friends.

From my table to yours, I wish you peace, good food, laughter, and all the blessings of the season.

Ann Baker

Dinner Is Served


Filed under Uncategorized

Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Pinot Noir

Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Pinot Noir| Dinner Is ServedAdmit it, you’re ready to change up Thanksgiving this year. Am I right? You’ve pinned hundreds of stuffing recipes onto your Thanksgiving Pinterest board, bookmarked all the fun, new ways to cook sweet potatoes in your cooking mags, and spent hours researching different brines.   There is pressure, of course, to stay the course. Not change a thing. Ever.  But this is the year it’s all going to change. Marshmallow yams and green bean casserole be damned, it’s the dawn of a new day!

OK, go ahead and laugh. I’m laughing myself. Why?  Because this is totally me almost every year! I talk the talk but when it comes down to making a big change, I relent just about every time. Part of sticking with the tried and true recipes is practical: big holidays aren’t always the best time for experimentation. I totally get that.  There’s comfort in tradition. “Nana’s Sage Dressing” brings back memories of Nana and that makes everyone happy.

So maybe you’re not ready to change everything, but how about one thing? Like that bland cranberry sauce that is more of an afterthought. Or worse yet, the jellied, can-shaped wonder.

This ginger cranberry sauce with pinot noir has quite a bit of intrigue thanks to the addition of fresh and crystallized ginger, sweet curry powder and pinch of Chinese Five-Spice powder.

Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Pinot Noir | Dinner Is Served

This recipe also gives me a perfect excuse to bring home some of my favorite pinot from Trader Joes.  Added bonus: their VINTJS Pinot from Willamette Valley pairs beautifully with turkey and sides so stock up!

Trader Joe's VinTJ Pinot Noir

Of course you don’t have to stop at Thanksgiving with the cranberry sauce! This sauce is wonderful with turkey sandwiches or spread onto your English muffin. For a quick and festive holiday appetizer, spoon over some brie cheese and bake in the oven until soft and melty.

Interested in another one of my “tried and true” Thanksgiving recipes? Check out my post on THE perfect roasted turkey. I promise on a stack of cookbooks, this is a total winner (like the cranberry sauce).

Raising my glass of pinot to all the Thanksgiving cooks out there.  To making a change (and to leaving the rest as is)!

Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Pinot Noir*

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups cranberries (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon sweet curry powder
  • Large pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cranberries and fresh ginger; stir until cranberries begin to burst, about 3 minutes. Add wine and sugar; boil until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Add crystallized ginger, curry powder and five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.) Serve sauce cold or, if desired, rewarm over low heat, stirring often.

Makes 2 1/2 cups of sauce

*recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

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Filed under Gluten Free!, Salad Dressings & Sauces

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is ServedFunny that as long as I have been cooking, certain dishes continue to elude me. Most often they are the most basic dishes, like meat loaf or ribs. I’ve tried countless recipes and techniques but can’t quite nail it. Lasagna is also a dish I was never 100% satisfied with. Too watery, too dry, pasta not quite right, too heavy, and so on and so forth.  Like Goldilocks searching for the perfect porridge or chair.

Then this past weekend, while flipping through some back issues of Cooks Illustrated, I came across a technique for making streamlined manicotti.  No tedious filling of pasta shells, just spread the cheesy filling over no-boil lasagna sheets, roll up and bake. I had great confidence, being from Cooks Illustrated, the recipe would be fantastic, which it was. What I didn’t expect was to realize that this was the perfect lasagna I’ve been searching for!

Just in a slightly different form.

The pasta is melt-in-your-mouth tender, the cheese filling light and airy and the fresh tomato sauce takes just 15 minutes to make but is bright and fresh. As with all recipes, I made several modifications and proclaimed the dish “blog worthy.” So browse through some of the photos, if you wish, or dive straight into the recipe and all it’s cheesy, tomato goodness!

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is ServedYou don’t need many ingredients or time to make a delicious tomato sauce. I upped the amount of garlic from the original recipe and also gave the sauce a shot of tomato paste at the end to thicken it a bit.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups } Dinner Is Served

The filling contains all the traditional ingredients you’d expect in a cheese filling, along with fresh herbs.

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is Served

And assembly could not be easier.  Just soften the no-boil noodles in a little boiling water, spread some filling on each one, combine with the tomato sauce and bake.

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | Dinner Is ServedSunday supper at its very best!

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups | DInner Is Served

Cheesy Manicotti Roll-Ups *

Tomato Sauce

2 (28-ounce) cans petit cut tomatoes, with their juice

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2 TBS minced garlic

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


1 TBS tomato paste (optional)

2 TBS chopped fresh basil leaves

Cheese Filling & Pasta

3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

2 cups grated Parmesan/Romano blend cheese

2 1/2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

2 TBS chopped fresh basil

16 no-boil noodles (prefer Barilla® brand)

Preheat oven to 375°

Heat oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, but not browned (1-2 minutes). Stir in tomatoes and about 3/4 tsp salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. If you want a slightly thicker sauce, stir in tomato paste. Sauce can be left chunky or, if you prefer a smoother tomato sauce, puree a bit using an immersion blender. Stir in fresh basil, adjust seasonings, and set aside.

For the cheese filling, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese, 2 cups of the mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper and herbs in a large bowl. Adjust seasonings.

To assemble, pour 1-inch boiling water in a 13×9-inch broilersafe baking dish. Add noodles, one at a time, completely submerging them. Let noodles soak until pliable, separating then with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels. Discard water from dish and wipe dry.

Spread bottom of baking dish with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Using a large spoon, spread a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle, leaving top quarter exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining noodles and filling. Top pasta evenly with remaining tomato sauce, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for bubbling, about 40 minutes.

Remove baking dish and adjust oven rack to 6 inches away from broiling element. Heat broiler. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese blend.  Broil until cheese just begins to brown, about 4 minutes.

Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

*Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated


Filed under Entree - Pasta, Sunday Supper

Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices

Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices | Dinner Is ServedI am looking out at my back yard on an absolutely glorious day here in Chicago and thinking “How could anyone not love Fall”?  Beautiful leaves, a bit of chill in the air and yet still warming sun. Apples, cider, pumpkins and squash.  And soup!  And squash soup!

If you’ve been anywhere near Pinterest or thumbing through the pages of food magazines, you’ve undoubtedly come across many recipes for and variations of squash soup. No surprise here, as winter squashes are infinitely versatile, at home in both the savory world (think curried squash soup) and the sweet (think pumpkin pie). This recipe, which I will say is my all time favorite, straddles both worlds with a  blend of sultry spices traditionally found in pie recipes:  Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices

It also calls for a trio of winter squashes, each adding a unique texture and flavor to the soup, including one that may be new to some of you: Kabocha Squash. Epicurious online describes kabocha as “The New Squash” in a recent article. This may be the first time I am actually ahead of the trend!Kabocha Squash

Butternut SquashAcorn Squash

The most challenging part of any recipe which calls for winter squash is, of course, is cutting the squash in half (check out this article from The Kitchn for tips on how to accomplish this task safely and effectively). But once you’ve managed this labor of love, the rest of the soup prep is a breeze!  Just season and steam roast in the oven, sauté some onions and simmer everything together with chicken stock and the spices, then take the whole thing for a spin in the food processor along with a little cream.

Last, comes the fun part with soup: the garnish. I love the original recipe’s call for adding some of the pie spices to crème fraiche and swirling it in. Toasted bread croutons are another possibility, although I tend to like the simplicity of fresh chives. This recipes yields quite a bit so unless you’re feeding the masses, plan on leftovers you can bring to the office for lunch and make your co-workers insanely jealous!  Remember too that squash based soups tend to thicken, so feel free to add a little chicken stock or water before reheating.

Until next time, enjoy the glory that is fall!Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices

Roasted Squash Soup with Pie Spices *

  • 1 small kabocha squash (about 3 1/2 lbs) – halved and seeded
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs) – halved and seeded
  • 1 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/2 lbs) – halved and seeded
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 8-oz. container crème fraiche (or sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350°. Season squash halves with some salt and pepper and place, cut side down on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Pour 1 cup of water onto each sheet. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. Carefully remove foil and let squash cool slightly. Using a dish towel, hold each piece of squash and scoop out the contents into a bowl.

While squash is cooling, melt the 4 TBS butter in a large casserole or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8  minutes. Add the spices and continue sautéing for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock; increase heat and bring to a boil. Add the squash and heavy cream.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor (or alternatively use an immersion blender).  Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper and any additional spices, if desired.

Blend a pinch of each of the spices into the crème fraiche.  Serve soup, hot, in bowls and garnish with crème fraiche.

Serves 10

* recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine



Filed under Gluten Free!, Soup

Announcing a new Gluten Free! category here on Dinner Is Served

Gluten Free! from Dinner Is Served

Because gluten-free cooking is important to so many people today, I’ve decided to create a new category here on Dinner Is Served for all of my gluten free recipes.  Going through my recipe archives, I’ve posted 55 gluten-free recipes over the years *pats self on shoulder.  Just go to the Gluten Free! category on my home page for a listing of recipes.

Please keep in mind that I have labeled these recipes as such based on my basic knowledge of gluten-free cooking.  I do realize that some ingredients which are normally considered to be gluten-free, may in fact contact contain some trace elements of gluten or have issues with cross contamination.  If you have severe dietary restrictions, then of course you’ll want to pay close attention to the ingredients that you are using.

Happy healthy eating from Dinner Is Served!


Filed under Gluten Free!

Plum Sauce with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar

Plum Sauce with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar |  Dinner Is ServedYou may be wondering why I am posting a recipe for a just a sauce.  As in “Where is the rest of the meal? Have you lost your mind, Dinner Is Served?”  I swear on a stack of Julia Child cookbooks, there were many other things that went with this meal: grilled pork tenderloin (which was served with the plum sauce), jasmine rice and glazed carrots with agave nectar and garlic chives. Oh it was very beautiful and delicious and nutritious.

Unfortunately, I have no photos from that meal.

Chalk it up to the struggles of someone who works full time (like me) and blogs on his/her spare time.  Meaning nights and weekends.  Trust me, when it’s 7:30 at night and I’m tired and the family is starving, NO ONE is going to wait around for me to take photos!

Fortunately, I did snap some nice shots of the sauce alone.  Which honestly, it was the sauce that made the meal in the first place. So, assuming you all know how to season and grill a pork tenderloin or a pork chop (or lamb chop or chicken breast), then we can just get right to this lovely summer sauce which is made with just three ingredients and (bonus time here) FAT FREE!

We’ll start with some glorious plums, which happen to be at the peak of season right now:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | Dinner Is Served

MMmmmm…I have serious love of summer fruit:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | Dinner Is Served

Chop these beauties up and add a little balsamic vinegar:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | Dinner Is Served

Then simmer on the stove for about ten minutes until the plums have softened:

Plum Balsamic Sauce with Basil | DInner Is Served

Puree, strain, and toss in some chopped fresh basil, a little salt & pepper.  DONE!  And now the fun begins: what to serve this with?  I can think of many many things:

  • Grilled Pork tenderloin, pork & fruit kabobs, pork chops, ribs
  • Turkey burgers
  • Grilled chicken thighs
  • Grilled lamb chops
  • Cornish game hens
  • Roast duck breast
  • Broiled salmon

You’re going to have a ton of fun with this one, trust me.  Until we meet again… :)

Plum Sauce with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 pounds ripe purple plums, pitted and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, bring the plums and vinegar to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to moderately low. Cook the plums, stirring often, until tender, about ten minutes.

Puree the plum mixture in a food processor. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the puree into a nonreactive bowl. Stir in the basil, pepper, and salt.  Season to taste and let cool a bit before serving over your favorite grilled food.


Yields: About 2 cups sauce


Filed under Gluten Free!, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal, Salad Dressings & Sauces

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Fresh Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad

The first comment my co-worker made when sampling this dish last week was “Oh my god, this is amazing!  Are these tomatoes from your garden?”  I thanked her for the compliment, then sadly had to admit, that no, they were store bought tomatoes.  It’s a bit of a sore subject for me this summer, as photos of tomato harvests come in from friends on Twitter and Facebook.  We’re talking bushels of glorious red, ripe tomatoes, some coming from gardens a mere couple of blocks away.   And yet here in my little back yard, for reasons I cannot explain, my tomatoes have been a total bust.

Bakers Acres

As you can see above, it hasn’t been all bad.  I’m in basil and kale overload and those cabbages are looking pretty darned beautiful.  Guess I’ll just have to accept the fail and move on, right?   Which, I am MORE than happy to move on to this completely awesome dish that works with any kind of tomatoes, garden grown or not.  I mean, just look at this glorious salad, made with just about everything I love on the planet:

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad| Dinner Is Served

If you’re thinking “To heck with the chicken, I just want this salad,” I can’t say I blame you.  The flavors are so bright and complimentary.  In fact if you tossed in some grilled bread, you’d have an almost perfect panzanella (making mental note to try that next time).  

Of course, this versatile salad goes with just about anything that will be coming off your grill right now: shrimp, swordfish, flank steak, and yes, chicken!  Speaking of that chicken, let me state for the record, that this spice rub is fun and unique and definitely worth a try:

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad | Dinner Is ServedIt’s worth grilling a few extra breasts, then refrigerating them to use in a salad or a wrap the next day.  And the salad (assuming there’s any leftover), will keep for a few days as well in the fridge.  One of those “gift that keeps on giving” kind of meals I love making.  Teen tested, co-worker tested and approved too!  Now off to check out kale and cabbage recipes!

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad

Spice Rub:

2 tsp dark brown sugar

2 tsp crushed or finely chopped fennel seeds (see Note>)

1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1 tsp. Kosher salt


2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or any type of fresh tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped)

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

2 TBS drained capers

2 TBS (or more to taste) torn fresh basil leaves

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 TBS fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Vegetable oil

Combine ingredients for spice rub in a small bowl. Pat chicken breasts dry; drizzle both sides with a little of the vegetable oil and rub in.  Sprinkle both sides with the spice rub and let stand about 10 minutes.

For the salad, combine all ingredients in a small glass bowl.  Add additional lemon juice, olive oil, salt and/or pepper as desired.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Oil grate or spray with grill-grade non stick spray. Place chicken breasts on grill, smooth side down. Grill for about 4 minutes, or until grill marks have been achieved. Reduce heat to medium, then flip chicken over.  Cover grill and continue cooking until chicken is just cooked through and juices run clear, about 5 additional minutes depending on thickness of breasts.

Transfer chicken to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for a few minutes.  Slice and serve with salad.

Serves 4-6

Note> If you have not yet purchased a Mortar & Pestle , this recipe is the perfect excuse to add one to your kitchen!  Perfect for grinding spices (like the fennel seeds), crushing garlic or even making pesto or guacamole (in the traditional way).  Alternatively spices may be finely chopped by hand or in a coffee grinder that has been designated as a spice grinder.  

1 Comment

Filed under Entree - Poultry, Gluten Free!, Good to Grill!, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is ServedI appear to have a complete obsession with potatoes lately.  For the life of me, I can’t tell  you why they have been popping up here on my blog page with such regularity other than the fact that I have always loved potatoes and keep coming up with new and different ways to enjoy them!  I also love grilling summer vegetables, so it just seemed natural to bring these two together with some fresh herbs and a tangy mustard vinaigrette dressing.   I also wised up and FINALLY (after, what, 20+ years of serious cooking), purchased a gorgeous, stainless steel Weber® grill pan.  I can already tell we’re going to be best friends for life:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is Served

I also made a decent sized batch of my favorite Mustard Vinaigrette dressing using a nearly empty jar of TJ’s Dijon mustard.  Just add the ingredients to the jar (minus the mustard of course because it’s already in the jar) and give it a few good shakes.  This vinaigrette will keep for a good two weeks in the fridge and is perfect not only for salads, but grilled vegetables and as a marinade.

Food prep here is quick and silly simple.  Just par boil some potatoes for about 15 minutes

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Drain and while the potatoes are cooling, cut up some fresh summer zucchini, or any other kind of squash of your preference.  Toss with some olive oil, garlic salt and pepper:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Cut up the cooled potatoes and repeat with the garlic salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then onto the grill it goes, until lightly charred.  Toss with just enough of the dressing to flavor the salad and serve immediately warm, or you can also serve at room temperature.

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Served this last night with a fabulous Red Wine & Coffee Marinated Sirloin Steak from Fine Cooking Magazine and a nice Cotes du Rhone from Trader Joes (2013 Laurent DuBlanc).  All in all, one fine meal.   I love you, potatoes and new grill pan.  BFF’s 4EVER ♥

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

1 TBS Dijon mustard

3 TBS white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 3/4 pounds of new potatoes, scrubbed

2 medium zucchini squash

Fresh herbs (basil, thyme, tarragon or parsley)

Garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a glass jar.  Cover and shake until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until just barely tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cool water.  Set aside to cool.

While potatoes are cooling, slice zucchini crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces, then cut each piece in half.  Toss with some olive oil,  garlic salt and pepper.

Cut small potatoes in half or quarter if large.  In a separate bowl, toss with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.  When hot, add zucchini and potatoes.  Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Remove from grill and place in a serving bowl.  Toss with a few TBS of the vinaigrette and some fresh herbs.  Season with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Or, cover loosely and serve at room temperature.


Serves 6


Filed under Gluten Free!, Good to Grill!, Salad Dressings & Sauces, Salads, Side Dishes - Potatoes

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Gardens are funny things.  You check in on them every day (as you should), making note of what needs to be pruned, fertilized, or various weeds that threaten to take over.  And then one day out of nowhere, you’ll notice that HOLY COW…you suddenly have an abundance of something and you need to use it immediately!  Anyone who has grown cherry tomatoes or zucchini know this phenomenon well.

Such was the case with my sweet basil this year.  It took off in the blink of an eye.  Mind you, I am not complaining one bit.

Sweet Baril

The obvious comes to mind of course: pesto.  But  I’ve already give you: Ultimate Basil Pesto.  I’ve also done a very awesome Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomatoes.   Are you tired of pesto yet?  Yep, I thought not.  So let’s go another round, this time with roasted potatoes.  Specifically, some very fun and colorful ones like this:

Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted initially with a little olive oil, salt and pepper:

Roasted FIngerling Potatoes with Pesto | Dinner Is ServedWhile the potatoes are roasting, just throw together a very simple pesto sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, shallots and olive oil (no pricey $$$ pine nuts in this recipe):

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Which, when combined, look like this:

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Can we pause a minute to admire the glory that is basil pesto? ——– Ahhhh.   So anyway, after an initial roasting, the potatoes are tossed with this piquant mixture then roasted a bit more.  Your kitchen will smell like heaven on earth at this point.  Just sayin.   Then just before serving, the final touch of awesomeness: some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano:

Pesto Roasted FIngerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served.

 If you’re wondering whether you have to use multi-colored fingerling potatoes for this recipe, the answer is a resounding “no”!  You can use anything you have or like, although I do happen to think that thin-skinned potatoes are the real ticket to success with this kind of roasting.  As for things to serve with this dish, the possibilities are endless.  Basically whatever comes off your grill this summer (steaks, beer can chicken, sausages, ribs…) will go will be happy sharing a plate with these savory spuds.

One final note before I get to the recipe, which I promise I will do.  Try making them ahead of time, reserving a little of the pesto.  Just before serving, toss with the reserved pesto and parmesan cheese.  So simple and delicious!


5 TBS olive oil

2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 large or 3  medium garlic cloves, peeled

Nonstick vegetable oil spray or nonstick aluminum foil

2 1/2 # fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Blend 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, basil, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until smooth.  Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper (can be made up to a day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate).

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with nonstick foil.  Toss the potatoes with remaining 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl to coat.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  Roast potatoes until almost tender, about 35 minutes.  Pour pesto over potatoes and toss to coat.  Continue roasting potatoes until golden brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl.  Add cheese and toss.

Serves 6


Filed under Gluten Free!, Meatless Mondays!, Quick Easy Weeknight Meal, Side Dishes - Potatoes

Thai Beef with Basil

Thai Beef with Basil |Dinner Is Served

One of the great pleasures of gardening is being able to grow and use ingredients not often found at the supermarket.  Case in point…Thai Basil.  A few months ago I planted some straggly looking plants from the garden center into this whiskey barrel, along with some other herbs and annuals.  Thanks to an abundance of rain and warm, humid days, my Thai basil is flourishing.  Time to start cooking!

Thai Basil

My husband’s absolute favorite Thai meal is Thai Beef with Basil. I will admit to not being a big fan of super spicy food, but when you combine the basil with the heat, something magic happens.  It’s an absolutely brilliant combination and is so easy to make at home in a jiffy, starting with fresh ingredients like hot peppers and ginger: Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner Is Served

A simple savory 30-minute marinade with fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar:Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner is Served

Tossed with thinly sliced steak:

Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner Is Served

Stir fried with onions slivered garlic and the finishing touch: fresh basil.  LOTS of it.  Seriously, you almost can’t add enough basil to this dish:

Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner Is Served

And the perfect salad to round out the meal: my “Cool as a Cucumber Thai Salad

Cool as a Cucumber Thai Salad | Dinner Is Served

This meal will both heat you up and cool you off all at the same time! Enjoy all the best that summer has to offer my friends.  Ok, and one more photo of the basil.  Just…because.

Thai Beef with Basil | Dinner is Served

Thai Beef with Basil

3 TBS Asian fish sauce (aka Nam Pla or Nuoc Nam) (see Note>1)

1 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS brown sugar

1# beef round or sirloin steak (preferably thinly sliced) (see Note>2)

1 TBS plus 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil

1 large sweet onion (about 1#), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices

3 long red or green chilies (such as serrano or fingerhot), seeded and thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger

2 cups loosely packed fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves (large leaves torn into smaller pieces)

Cooked jasmine rice (or any other long grain rice)


Place meat in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.  Then remove and slice against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

In a shallow dish or bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar.  Whisk to combine.  Add meat; toss well to coat.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to an hour.

In a skillet or wok, heat 1 TBS of the oil over high heat until very hot.  Add beef mixture along with marinate.  Cook, stirring frequently, just until beef is no longer pink (about 1-2 minutes).  Transfer beef and accumulated juices to a bowl and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tsp of oil to the wok.  Add sliced onion and cook, stir-frying, until tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in chilies, garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Return beef to skillet and add basil.  Stir until heated through and basil is just beginning to wilt.  Serve over jasmine rice.

Serves 4

Note>1 – Fish sauce sounds exotic but it’s almost everywhere these days and is an essential ingredient in Asian cuisine.  Technically you can store it at room temp, but I like to play it safe and store mine in the fridge where is seems to stay fresh for a very long time (as long as one year!)

Note>2 – Another advantage to this dish: you can use an inexpensive cut of meat, like the top round!  As long as you slice it thinly against the grain, it will be every bit as tender.  Look for meat that has already been sliced thin, sometimes labeled as “sandwich steak”  It’s perfect for stir frying.

Thai Beef with Basil| DInner Is Served


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