Sunday Dinners

Sunday dinners are important.  They are a way to celebrate the Sabbath, family, friends, and simply connections with other people.  Meals can be elaborate and time consuming to prepare or simple and quick.  I can remember the wonderful smells of Sunday pot roast dinners.  Often my mother served those roast beef dinners in the dining room on the good china.  Nonetheless, I also recall Sunday dinners of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches eaten off mismatched, everyday dishes at our kitchen table. 

 

Perhaps what that means is that food isn't, and shouldn't be, the main focus of our Sunday dinners.  Yes, food is important.  Everyone needs to eat, and eating is one of life's greatest pleasures.  Nonetheless, the food is merely the connecting agent, the adhesive, the goo, the mortar that helps us bond in our effort to satisfy our need to be in community with other people.  What you cook is important, but it's the act of sharing a meal with others that's the most critical element--the bricks--of the relationship-building process of the Sunday dinner.  So go ahead and cook something good.  Just keep in mind that sharing food with others--sometimes even strangers--will be essential for satisfying your broader hunger for fellowship.

So, what to cook for Sunday dinner?  You'll find plenty of possibilities in my blog posts, and I'll post some menus here periodically.  I'd also welcome your thoughts, ideas, and recipes for easy and special Sunday dinners.  Please see the "Share a Recipe" page if you'd like to share your own favorite Sunday meal.

September 16, 2017

Baked Turkey Cutlets Parmesan Dinner – Serves 4

These are fantastic when you need nutritious, tasty comfort food fast.  The turkey cutlets cook in less than 15 minutes, and they are crunchy, cheesy, and delicious.  You can boil some pasta while they bake or serve them with some crunchy Italian bread, which you can warm in the oven alongside the cutlets.  Zap some broccoli in the microwave or toss romaine lettuce with some basil, tomatoes, shredded Parmesan cheese, and a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, and you've got a nice salad to go with your meal.  Still hungry?  See the recipe for biscotti that follows!

 

Baked Turkey Cutlets Parmesan

4 turkey cutlets (about 16 ounces), sliced thin (about ¼ inch thick)

olive oil or cooking spray

¼ cup of seasoned breadcrumbs (preferably whole-wheat)

¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese (from the green canister is fine)

½ teaspoon of dried basil

1 cup of marinara (or tomato) sauce

¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

Parsley (optional)

 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Combine the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese in a large plastic bag.  If they are dry, moisten the turkey cutlets with a bit of water.  Add them to the plastic bag and shake the bag well to coat them.  Place the cutlets on the prepared baking sheet.  If any coating remains in the bag, sprinkle it evenly on top of the cutlets.  Mist the cutlets with olive oil (or spray them with vegetable oil cooking spray).  Bake the cutlets for 5 minutes.  Turn them and bake them for 5 minutes more.  Spread ¼ cup of marinara sauce on each cutlet.  Sprinkle each with a little basil, and divide the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses among the cutlets.  Return the cutlets to the oven for another couple of minutes until the cutlets are cooked through and the cheeses are melted.  Sprinkle the cutlets with parsley if you like and serve them. 

Quicker Dark Chocolate Biscotti -- Makes about 24

To serve with your after-dinner coffee (or milk), how about some quick cookies?  These take advantage of a convenient cake mix, so are quicker than the traditional version of biscotti.  They're great when you've had a busy Sunday but want a nice dessert.  Best of all, the biscotti taste really good--alone or with ice cream or sherbet.

1/4 cup of canola oil

3 tablespoons of milk

2 eggs

1 regular size dark chocolate/fudge cake mix (usually 15-16 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, and eggs until frothy.  Stir in the cake mix, cinnamon, and chocolate chips until everything is well blended.  Form two logs, roughly 10 inches long and about an inch or two wide and tall, on the prepared cookie sheet.  You don't have to be too exact here, as the cookies will spread a lot.  Just make sure you leave at least 4 inches between the logs.  It will be easier to form the logs if you dampen your hands with water periodically while you shape them.  Sprinkle the tops of the logs with a little sugar and cinnamon, if you like.  Bake the logs for about 30 minutes until firmish on top (you can dent them a little with your finger, but they shouldn't be squishy).  Let the logs cool for about 5 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Cut the logs crosswise into slices 3/4 -1-inch wide, and turn the slices cut side down on the cookie sheet.  Bake the slices for 10 minutes, then flip them over and bake them another 10 minutes.  Let the biscotti cool for 10 minutes before eating them and, after they've cooled completely, store them in an airtight container or plastic bag. 

September 10, 2017

Beef and Polenta Casserole Dinner – Serves 6+

This is definitely a comfort food casserole.  Creamy polenta—seasoned with a bit of onion, steak seasoning, and cheddar cheese—forms the base of the casserole.  The polenta is topped with a hearty ground beef and vegetable mixture and more cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.  The casserole comes together quickly, bakes in only 30 minutes, and is wonderful with a green salad, microwave-steamed broccoli, and garlic bread.  Want dessert?  How about fresh fruit or ice cream?  I've included a recipe below for a refreshing pineapple-orange ice cream, if you'd like to try making your own frozen treat.

Beef and Polenta Casserole – Serves 6+

4 ½ cups of water

1 tablespoon of minced dried onion

½ teaspoon of salt

1 cup of plain yellow cornmeal

½ teaspoon of Montreal steak seasoning (or Canadian-style)

½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 teaspoon of olive oil

16 ounces of lean ground beef (93 percent lean)

1 medium chopped onion

1 medium chopped zucchini (about 2 cups)

1 chopped red bell pepper

1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained

1 6 ounce can of tomato paste

2 teaspoons of dried basil

½ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a medium casserole dish (11x7 inches or 3 quarts) with non-stick cooking spray.  In a medium saucepan, bring the water, dried onion, and salt to a boil.  Gradually whisk in the cornmeal until smooth.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk the cornmeal mixture occasionally for about 10 minutes or until it becomes thick and creamy.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the steak seasoning and ¼ cup of the cheese.  Spread the polenta in the prepared casserole dish. 

 

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the oil, and, when the dish is hot, add the ground beef and brown it for about 10 minutes.  Add the onion, zucchini, and pepper and sauté them with the beef for about five minutes more or until the meat is done and the vegetables have softened a bit.  Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and dried basil.  Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and the mixture thickens.  Pour the beef mixture over the polenta.  Sprinkle on the remaining cheddar cheese and the Parmesan.  Bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until it's brown and bubbly. 

Pineapple Orange Ice Cream – Serves 8+

 

1 ½ teaspoons of unflavored gelatin

1 ½ cups of orange juice

½ cup of honey

3 cups of half and half

1 can (16-20 ounces) of crushed pineapple in juice (undrained)

 

Combine the gelatin, orange juice, honey, and half and half in a medium saucepan and whisk them together over medium heat to dissolve the gelatin and honey.  When the mixture steams and barely bubbles around the edges, remove it from the heat and stir in the can of crushed pineapple.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours.  Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Serve the ice cream immediately or put it in a plastic container in the freezer.  Once the mixture is hard frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before serving it.  Alternatively, you can partially freeze the mixture in a large pan, break up the mixture into chunks, and whir the chunks in a blender or food processor until mushy.  Freeze the mushy mixture again until it firms up and then let it thaw in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before serving it. 

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