questionshelp! what is your tastiest, easiest main dish…

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Chicken - the kind from the Grocery Store.

I was going to say Pasta but I see that is out. Although I have an awesome Spinach Lasagne that is pretty easy to make, i found the recipe on a box and I added about 12 more cheeses to it. I like cheese.

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I've made a cheesy chicken broccoli bake that's pretty easy and tasty. I don't remember exactly what's in it, but can add the actual recipe tonight if you want.

Also, you could look at allrecipes.com or recipelion.com. There are a lot of other sites out there too. One of my friends makes the "to die for fettuccini alfredo" and it's really good. You could probably easily add chicken to it as well. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/To-Die-For-Fettuccini-Alfredo/Detail.aspx

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What are you looking to make? I have several that are winners if you want them. I have a real good chicken recipe if you would like it let me know.

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I go to AllRecipes.com all the time and search for 5 star recipes containing ingredients I have on hand.

What I'd really like are some recipes that you guys have tried and love. Recipes that you all KNOW are crowd pleasers. And recipes that are super easy.

Here are not-so-uncommon comments on my cooking: "I wonder what she'll burn today?" "Just how much salt did she put in this?" "Where in the world did she find this recipe, and why did she think it would be any good?"

If there are only a few steps, and a few ingredients, I'm generally a pretty good cook. But I'm an adult with ADD, and I've been known to "forget" I'm cooking and go off on a tangent.

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@debbiedunlap: okay first I am glad you aren't close by because I am going to laugh out loud. I had to learn to use a timer that didn't stop until I turned it off. And NO ONE is as bad a cook as my mom, trust me, your children can go live with her. I went off to college to experience good nourishing properly cooked food.

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Irish Beef Entrées

Beef braised in Guinness:
Could there be anything more satisfying than a hearty dish subtly flavored with Ireland's most popular pint - especially on a chilly Autumn evening? Easy to prepare, it tastes even better if it's made the day before and re-heated in the oven for about 45 minutes. Nice served with Colcannon, fresh soda bread and, of course, washed down with your favorite brew.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds chuck or round steak
1/2 lb carrots
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour seasoned with salt & pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 tsp fresh basil, minced
2/3 cup Guinness
1 tsp honey
2/3 cup beef stock or water
sprig of parsley

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Method:
1. Cut beef into chunks
2. Peel and chop the onions; peel and slice carrots into pieces about the size of your little finger
3. Heat the oil and cook the onions until they are soft. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large, shallow, oven-proof dish
4. Toss the beef in the flour and brown quickly in the hot fat
5. Remove the beef and place on top of the onions. Arrange the carrots around the beef
6. If necessary, add a little more fat to the pan and stir in the left-over seasoned flour. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly
7. Add the basil and the Guinness. Allow to cook for another minute or two and then add the honey and the stock. Again, bring to a boil and then pour over the beef, carrots and onions
8. Cover with a lid or foil and cook in a 325 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.
9. At serving time, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serves 4

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Okay here's a great chicken recipe that my family really loves.
Ingredients are:
2T.olive oil
1 glove of garlic
1 cup of dry bread crumbs
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a small bowl mix the olive oil and the garlic. In a second bowl mix the remaining ingredients except the chicken. Dip the chicken in the olive oil mixture first then in the bread crumbs. Arrange the chicken in the pan add any remaining bread crumb mixture on top. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink or juices run clear. Serve it with Pasta or rice and a salad. Hope this helps let me know.

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Perhaps it would be more informal than you have in mind, but you can always go with a "Breakfast for Dinner" theme. Eggs, pancakes, french toast, etc. are super easy and taste great! If there is a Trader Joe's near you, they sell a great Pumpkin Pancake mix (for something extra special). The best part is it's fast and the clean-up is easy. The problem is not everyone enjoys eating breakfast for dinner - I'd have breakfast for any meal, yum!

Bacon seems to be a real hit with most people on deals.woot, if you're one of them it'll be a great addition to your breakfast dinner.

Alternatively, if it's too much of a stretch, just throw some burgers/brats on the grill, add baked beans or some other easy side, and you have a tasty meal.

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My super-easy crowd-pleaser is chicken and beans with a side salad. I just use canned black beans, cooked in the microwave like it says on the can. Then mix some shredded cheese in, it's the "secret ingredient". I like the "mexican blend" shredded cheese.

I live with 5 guys, and that's their favorite dish. It's really really really basic, but tasty.

When I'm at home, my dad cooks from this: http://www.amazon.com/Challenge-Ingredients-Minutes-Dinner-Table/dp/0743266382

Five ingredients, thirty minutes, all really delicious stuff.

[Edit] Found that book for a good price, added as a deal: http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/871aa1c7-b5d1-4d5d-a081-d3c733b9c307/the-530-challenge-5-ingredients-30-minutes-for-7-09-3-99-shipping

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@hobbit: "...especially on a chilly Autumn evening?" I though it was spring?
I'm home sick, today's excuse for my mistakes, have you been using your TARDUS and forgot when you are?

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Breaded chicken cutlets with your choice of sauces:

As many chicken breasts as needed
Flour
Eggs
Breadcrumbs
Frying pan with hot oil
Some seasonings - salt/pepper/red pepper flakes/etc - your taste!

1) Pound the chicken with a meat mallet til they are about 1/2" thick
2) Beat the eggs (I'd say probably one egg per 3-4 breasts)
3) Mix the breadcrumbs and your seasonings - I like to use some red pepper flakes, some salt, some finely grated parmesan cheese, and some oregano. This truly is up to you
4) Rub the chicken with flour (I find it's easiest in a bowl)
5) Coat the chicken in eggs
6) Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs
7) Fry the chicken, doesn't take long, when the breadcrumbs are browned they are done

You can keep the chicken warm in your oven or toaster oven for an hour or 90m before serving if needed - 200°.

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@emhodew: I copied it from somewhere else and didn't edit? I had posted it elsehwere a year ago I think. I can't find my lasagne recipe, but really I got that off a box, it is veggie lasagne, minus all the veggies I don't like cooked zucchini.

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I just thought of another of my favorites! A fun and easy dinner is to make your own pizza(s). You can get pizza dough all ready to go from Trader Joe's (and probably other stores) for $.99 each. It's super easy:

1) Spread dough on a cutting board (oil it first to prevent sticking)
2) Add any sauce you want - There are plenty of no-tomato sauces including Alfredo (yum!) and others.
3) Add toppings - cheese, chicken, pepperoni, sausage, etc.
4) Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes (or whatever the dough says)

And, you could have two pizza doughs ready to go and have your guests participate in putting the toppings on their pizza (or just have them pick the toppings).

Really easy, and VERY TASTY!

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How about Chicken Marsala (to go with the chicken theme; made this last night):
Serves 2
2 Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lb of mushrooms
1/2 cup Marsala Wine
2 tbs of butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

1.Heat olive oil in large saute pan
2.When oil is hot, dredge both sides of chicken breasts in flour, shake off excess and place in pan. Flipping only once, brown both sides of chicken, then remove from pan.
3.After draining most of the oil, throw in mushrooms with the Marsala wine. Saute for a few minutes.
4. Add butter, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid reduces by half, ~5 minutes
5. Place Chicken back in pan and cook till heated through. Transfer to serving plate(s), pour sauce and mushrooms over them and serve.

I like this a lot, and only takes 20-30 minutes to cook.

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Also have an Orange Chicken or Orange Beef recipe - made the same way, you pick which meat you'd rather serve.

1 lb of chicken breast or sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 TBSP light soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
1 large carrot, cut into short thin sticks
2 scallions, thinly sliced
rice noodles or boiled rice to serve

1. Place the meat strips in a bowl and sprinkle with the orange rind and juice. Marinate for about 30 minutes.
2. Drain the liquid from the meat and reserve it.
Combine the meat, soy sauce, corn starch, and ginger.
3. Heat the oil in a preheated wok or large frying pan,
then add the meat and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until lightly colored.
Add the carrot and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Stir in the scallions and reserved marinade liquid,.
Cook, stirring constantly, until boiling and thickened.
Serve hot with rice noodles or plain boiled rice.

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Bacon Wrapped Rabbit

1 (2 1/2-to-3 pound) rabbit, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
2 bay leaves, broken into flakes
4 branches fresh thyme
4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
8 to 10 slices (1/2 to 3/4 pound) thinly sliced bacon.

1. Put everything except the bacon in a sealable plastic bag. Seal the bag, shake to distribute the seasonings and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

2. Thirty minutes before dinner, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Quickly rinse the spices off the rabbit with cold water. Blot the pieces completely dry with paper towels, then blot the bacon dry. Wrap each rabbit piece in a slice of bacon and place them seam-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the bacon crisps and the rabbit is no longer pink, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

Note: It’s easiest to have a butcher cut the rabbit into pieces for you; just call a day or two ahead.

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I marinate chicken in italian dressing over night, then just cook the chicken, then simmer the sauce with the chicken after its cooked for 5-10 min. goes great with rice.

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For every day dinner (but probably not for this), you ought to look at impossible pies. Bisquick, egg, milk, and whatever fillings you want. They can be really easy, you usually put everything together (maybe a bit of frying first), and then bake. And they're pretty forgiving if they bake a few minutes too long.

There are a ton of them here: http://www.recipegoldmine.com/pieimp/pieimp.html

But they're not fancy. They're glorified casseroles.

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I also believe in dining out. Big advocate of that. No clean up, no complaints about your cooking.

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If you have a crock pot:
roast- 1/2 lbs per person
potatoes- 1 large 2- medium per person
carrots- one small bag baby carrots for 4 people
2 boxes or cans beef stock or broth
1 lipton onion soup mix
2 cloves garlic minced
any spices you like (pepper, nature's seasoning, cajun seasoning, etc...) except for salt.

Water to cover meat.

Throw it in a crock pot on low for 8 hours. Tada! You are a great cook.

cut up potatoes unless you use small red potatoes.

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Looking over all of these suggestions, it's going to be difficult to choose which to make tomorrow.

Reading these recipes makes me realize I'm totally in a cooking rut. The things I tend not to ruin (or are quick and easy, or that I generally have the ingredients on hand for) we have over and over and OVER again.

I will be printing these out and trying every single one. (Maybe not the rabbit. I'm not very adventurous, and I wouldn't know where to get a skinned rabbit anyway.)

Thanks for all of these suggestions, and PLEASE feel free to send me more recipes. My family probably thanks you more than I do!!

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Steak, why would you even consider something other?

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@carljpark: Did you miss the part about her level of distraction? :) She would cook it as tough as shoe leather if she forgets about it.

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@hobbit: Spinach Lasagne sounds YUM! Especially with more cheese in it! Can you find your box and send me the recipe, including whatever cheesy modifications you make?

@reemus: Fettuccini Alfredo is one of my favorites at the Olive Garden. Will definitely try this one. Will grill up some chicken to go with it. Though I do sneak in a few vegetarian meals, generally my hubby thinks all meals should have meat.

@hobbit: Beef Braised in Guinness - This sounds like good old-fashioned good eating that I grew up with. HAVE to try this one soon!

@homeschoolmom44: Your Parmesean chicken recipe is very similar to a Parmesean chicken recipe that is one of my family's favorites. I was actually thinking of making it tomorrow. But if I make mashed potatoes, the chicken doesn't create any gravy, so I'd have to buy canned gravy. Not so good.

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@flappysquirrel: Breakfast for dinner is an excellent idea. However, when I make breakfast, I TOTALLY trash my kitchen. I don't know how. I don't know why. But I always completely wreck the kitchen with breakfast. It's a gift. @hobbit, quit laughing at me!!

@lissadelsol: Your chicken and beans sounds like it could become one of my go-to meals. I think black beans may be my favorite food, with cheese a very close second. I think I'll grab a copy of your dad's favorite cookbook. Sounds right up my alley.

@dcalotta: Breaded chicken cutlets - YUM! I buy the Perdue thin-sliced chicken breasts, so this would be super quick and easy. I haven't breaded and fried chicken in years. (It's truly amazing how much I've forgotten over the years. Where does the mind go?)

@flappysquirrel: My husband will once more think I've hung the moon if I make these pizzas. Definitely something I can have on hand for a quick, happy dinner.

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@twerp02: Chicken Marsala - Ooooo!!! Had something like this at Caraba's once. Delish!! And it's quick to make, too?! Awesome!

@twerp02: Orange Chicken - My daughter made something similar to this just the other evening. Was quite yummy over rice.

@myrlin: Bacon Wrapped Rabbit - Can I substitute chicken for rabbit?

@spike1313: "Italian Chicken." Awesome! TWO ingredients!! I can handle that!!

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@sfeitler: My husband loves Bisquick. Me, not so much. I can see this being a fabulous idea for those times when I'm out of town for a day or two. He'd be thrilled that I made something "special" just for him.

@pyxientx: Love my crockpot. Haven't made a roast in ages. Love this recipe!

@carljpark: The only way I can have a steak not taste like a shoe is to take @hobbit's advice and go to a restaurant!

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I'm going to second pyxientx. If your fear is "forgetting" than nothing beats a slow-cooked or non-cooked meal.

My favorite slow-cooked meal is Chicken and Dumplings. Admittedly, I use an All-Recipes recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Cooker-Chicken-and-Dumplings/Detail.aspx. But you can always tweak it by adding carrots, celery or subbing in cream of mushroom for one of the creams of chicken.

Another possibility is to do a nice salad. My favorite easy salad is a pear, gorgonzola and walnut on a spring mix with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It's easy enough that I wing the proportions and it always comes out great.

Last suggestion, which may be for the long term, is to find a slow-cooked feijoada recipe. What's nice is that it's not much more difficult than any other slow-cooked recipe, but it comes across as a bit fancier (if only because its Brazilian). The biggest trick is finding good linguica or chorizo. Fresh orange slices put this over the top.

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@debbiedunlap: @homeschoolmom44: has left for work, but as she said, she doesn't serve this with potatoes, but rather rice or noodles.
I prefer it with noodles myself. No sauce, just a bed of flat or spiral noodles.

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Some other simple ideas, which might be a bit less appropriate for tonight.

A) Grilled bacon-wrapped scallops on a skewer. Really, all you need to do is wrap the scallops, lightly salt and pepper them, and grill them.
B) Not for this evening, but if you're in-laws are not coming, then a decent Gazpacho recipe. All you have to do is clean, cut, (possibly blend), and chill the veggies. No cooking required!

Sorry for being short on details, but most of my easy meals don't use recipes!

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Thai Red Curry. It's easy as Hamburger Helper, and wows everyone. The hardest part is getting good Thai curry paste. If you have an Asian grocery nearby, go there and they'll have all kinds of different ones. My favorite brand is Mae Ploy. While you're there, pick up a can of coconut milk; Chaokoh is a good widely available brand.

Start by cooking some rice. While the rice cooks, make the curry. Open the can of coconut milk without shaking it, and scrape the solid part (that's coconut oil) out into a large skillet on medium heat. Let that heat up, then add about 1/4 cup of curry paste (more if you like it spicy). Stir the curry paste around in the skillet until it starts to smell good, then add the coconut milk and whisk until the curry paste is fully dissolved. Add in 3/4 pound of the protein of your choice and simmer until cooked. Then add 1/2 pound of veggies and simmer those until cooked. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime, and serve with the cooked rice on the side.

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@arguendo: debbiedunlap doesn't eat seafood, but this does sound tasty.

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Here's a dish that's easy, great for company, and you can make ahead, always gets compliments.

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

1 lb. rotini pasta (tri-colored makes it more colorful)
2 large chicken breasts, grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces (Easier: buy roasted chicken and cut up)
1 bottle Italian dressing
one block sharp cheddar cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
1 green pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
1 yellow or orange pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
a bunch of small carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
1 container of grape tomatoes
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small can sliced olives - serve on the side

Cook pasta as directed on box. When done, rinse in cold water. While pasta is cooking, chop vegetables. In large bowl, combine chicken, vegetables and cheese in extra large bowl. Add half bottle of dressing, and mix well. Add more dressing to taste. Serve with dinner rolls or crackers. Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.

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@debbiedunlap: Have you read the crockpot 365 blog? Lots of good recipes (she used her crockpot every day for a year, and has also added a few recipes since), and some snarky commentary--and she posted both good and bad recipes, and told you the result (good, bad, meh) in her posts. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com

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http://blog.ruhlman.com/2010/01/america-too-stupid-to-cook.html

The article is excellent, but you can skip straight to the recipe. For a side, stick some asparagus in the oven in the last 15 minutes or so, covered with melted butter and chopped garlic. Take out before it's entirely wilty.

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Easiest dish I know to make is another crockpot recipe.
3-4 lb roast beef either top or bottom round
1 packet of brown gravy mix
1 packet of good seasonings Italian dressing mix
1 up of water.
Place beef in bottom of crockpot, put other ingredients on top of beef, cover, turn on low, cook at least 7 hours and you're done.
I serve with boiled potatoes and carrots but you could do a nice salad, a loaf of bread and potatoes.
If you want to cook the potatoes and carrots with the beef add another cup of water.

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My easy curry chicken is always good:
cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Cook in margarine or oil. Also you can add chopped onions if you want (maybe 1/4 cup). Then add 1-2 tablespoons of curry powder depending on how hot you want it. Cook another minute or 2, then add a can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of water. Thats it. If it is too "solid" you can add some more water. Serve over rice or noodles. I serve with a raw onion to go on top and I also like to put a few raisins on top but my husband only likes the onions.

If you want to get fancy you can add more stuff,like carrots or potatoes or apples or celery, cut in small pieces and cook along with the chicken. But this is optional.
Ann

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@debbiedunlap: You could probably substitute chicken, but that defeats the point of serving bunny on easter.

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@twerp02: Funny, I was going to add this to the list. I guess I taught you well.

Love,

Mom

PS I see you are stealing all my recipes! At least you can cook!

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@pyxientx: I have a similar crock pot roast recipe, but with a few small differences.
In a big frying pan, medium heat, with a little olive oil (1-2 tbsp), add chopped onion (i use 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion), sprinkle with a LITTLE salt (approx 1/8 - 1/4 tsp), stir often until carmalized, scoop out of pan into crock pot.
Next put your roast into the pan, brown both sides (you want crust to add flavor). Add to crock pot.
Then throw in 2 stalks chopped celery, carrots (i use the peeled baby carrots) and potatos (cut to bite size). Add pepper, a spoonful of chopped garlic and a tbsp of worcestershire sauce, fill the pot with water until it's covered by about an inch, turn the crock pot on medium and walk away. I generally start the night before as I like to give it lots of time to cook. The meat is very tender, and you can't forget about it because the house gets filled with yummy smells. The advantage to this is everything is done the night before, just add dessert and rolls.

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Also a suggestion for using salt.

NEVER shake directly over food, it is too easy to oversalt that way. I shake into my palm so I can see how much and then sprinkle over food.

Also, since i love black pepper far more than salt, I like to switch the shakers, and put salt into the one with fewer holes and pepper into the one with the most holes.

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@attilathemom: Aren't you using a pepper grinder? We never use pre-ground pepper. In fact I forgot you can buy it that way and had to think about what you meant about switching shakers. Pepper will go stale once it is ground.
I agree with your tip about the salt though.

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@hobbit: If you find your box, I would like to see the spinach lasagna, please.

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when I get home I promise to post it.

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okay - My Lasagne
1 16 oz box of lasange noodles
2 cups fontina cheese
2 cups mozzerella
1 cup feta
3.5 cups ricotta (I use skim but whole is okay too)
1 cup monterey jack cheese
1 cup parm
3 packages of frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup canned mushrooms
1 egg
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbs flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp oregano
garlic to taste
turn oven to 375
cook noodles according to package, let sit in cool water.
combine crumbled feta, grated fontina, grated mozzerella, grated monterey jack, spinach, 2.5 cups ricotta, egg, mushrooms and onion.
place layer of noodles in pan
spread mixture on noodles, repeat process ending with noodles.
in a sauce pan combine the rest of the ricotta, nutmeg, oregano, broth, flour and garlic. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a near boil. Spoon sauce over noodles
sprinkle with parm
cover loosely with foil. Bake for 45 minutes
uncover and broil for up to 5 minutes.
serve with Foccacia

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@hobbit: oops, you're right! i'm actually awful at food constraints. i once had a vegan come over for dinner and was simply pulling my hair trying to figure out a recipe that didn't have cheese or milk in it (most of my vegetarian recipes do...)

on the topic of salt... fwiw, i used to be a kosher/sea salt skeptic, but after i tried it, i have to say that it is amazing. it's easier to control the amount, and, to me, it really does taste batter. also, if you're one who cares about plating, it also looks better. quite important too if you're making bloody mary's (i know tomatoes... gah!)

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@hobbit: Looks DEEElicious!! With all this cheese, it just has to be!! Thank you!!

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Here is my simple menu for tomorrow evening:

Parmesan Chicken
Green Bean Bundles
Salad
Panera Bread
Homemade Dark Chocolate Cake w/Peanut Butter Icing

THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!! If anyone wants to join us for dinner, just give me a call. :)

P.S. I really will be making most of these recipes in the very near future. So many yummy ideas!