Sunday, May 11, 2008


Before I retired, I had to find a solution for getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour despite a job that required me to work long hours and a commute that was one hour each way. I also took into account the many evening meetings that would keep me from making dinner at all. While Larry was single for many years and could feed himself, I knew that his menu would be severely limited (hot dogs, fishsticks, take-out Chinese being his best dishes). My plan of attack was two-fold: I developed a number of dishes that could be on the table in 30-45 minutes for those days when I got home at a reasonable hour; and, recipes that could be made ahead with either enough leftovers for a second night or a completely different dish from essentially the same ingredients. Of course, this meant that I was usually doing some cooking on Saturday night or Sunday morning, but that sure beat racing home from work and not having any time to decompress before starting in on dinner. I'm including recipes for each of these approaches.


Italian-style Stuffed Peppers and Meatloaf
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 eggs

6 cubanelle peppers
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup cooked rice (white or brown)
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt, pepper
1 cup lukewarm water

1 package onion soup mix
1 can tomato soup

Place ground beef in a large bowl. Add both eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well. Gradually add the cup of lukewarm water and mix until it has been completely absorbed. Divide this mixture in half.

Into the first half add the garlic, grated cheese, cooked rice, 1/2 can tomato soup, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove stem and seeds from the cubanelles and and place on a microwave-safe dish. Cook at full power for about 5 minutes. Be sure to drain on paper towels, then stuff each with 1/6 of the mixture. Top with the other half of the tomato soup. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Into the second half add the onion soup mix. Be sure to mix well. Add pepper (probably won't need salt). Shape into a loaf. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Voila! Two night's worth of dinners that reheat in the microwave.


Italian Wedding Soup
1 small onion, grated
1 egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1 slice of crustless white bread torn into small pieces
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 lb. lean ground beeft

12 cups chicken broth (commercial is what I use)
1 lb. escarole, chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated cheese

To make the meatballs: Stir the onion, egg, bread, and garlic together. Add the cheese and beef. Add the salt and mix well. On a baking sheet, shape into 1 inch meatballs.

To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the meatballs and the escarole and simmer about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese together. Stirring the soup in a circular motion, gradually add the egg mixture into the swirling broth with a fork so that thin strands of egg form (about 1 minute). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This recipe makes enough for 2 nights. On the first night, I serve the soup as the main course with a salad to start and garlic bread. On the second night, I serve the soup as a hearty appetizer and follow with a panini or a pizza.

The meatloaf and the soup freeze well and will keep in your freezer for 3 months.

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