default dinner: Italian sausages & sweet roasted peppers

[28 Feb 2007 | By | 18 Comments]

sweet peppers

So what is a default dinner you ask? Here is a hint: another default dinner is the Buttermilk Parmesan Chicken.

Here is the answer: a cheesy way for me to say: ‘even a kid could make it,’ or ‘5 minutes of effort for 50 minutes of praise,’ or ‘meals that make themselves,’ or my favorite: ‘weak-night’ meals—for nights when you are out of time, energy and ideas to answer ‘what’s for dinner?’

Default dinners are how I describe the 10 [or so] meals that I—or you, or anyone else—come back to time and again, week after week, night after night. It is a standard list of entrees that I keep making because I already know they are fail-proof meals for my family.

I was taken with the idea that my 10 are different from your 10 are different from your neighbors or sister’s or friend’s 10. It made me realize there are a lot of delicious standbys—defaults if you will—that grace the tabletops of people like you and I: people in a hurry, with a full schedule, trying to balance everything, perhaps raising children, working too many hours and maybe playing too few. Some nights we may be inspired to pull 25 ingredients together to perform a masterpiece meal. But probably not every night, in fact I am thrilled if that happens once a week (most likely for a dinner party).

So when I am not performing a chef-worthy marathon or aiming for an ‘honorary mention,’ I am cooking one of my favorite, easy, brainless, faultless meals. (Thanks to this blog and my perpetual curiosity, I am always pushing myself to try to lengthen, add to and adjust my default dinner list: by trying new recipes and asking friends for theirs).

Entrees that make the cut become default dinners. Honestly: I probably make anywhere from 2-6 new recipes for every one that appears on this blog. No, I don’t blog about all my mishaps or what this recipe ‘could have been.’ I post recipes that are worthy of my table, make the grade and gain small-time notoriety on my own humble default list.

In fact, this recent addition to my default list sort of came as a surprise. It turned out great, much better than I could have hoped for. AND of course, it meets the default requirements of taking little to no time, little to no thinking, and minimal ingredients:

Sausages & Sweet Roasted Peppers
Italian sausages
6 oz. – 1 lb baby bell peppers
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Cut sausages in half lengthwise. Slice baby bells into halves or thirds. Place on cookie sheet; lube all with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Place sausages cut side up. Roast at 450 for 35 minutes.

Note: baby bells are mini sweet bell peppers, and now come in a small container with mixed red, orange and yellow baby bells. They are so sweet and yummy when roasted! Pull out a bottle of fruity red wine, maybe add in a green salad and a lovely baguette.

Default disclaimer: sometimes the 5 minutes will mean the macaroni and cheese or sausage lasagna are already made and waiting in my freezer. Though at one point it took a little extra time and more than a few ingredients, it maintains its safe spot on my default list because 1. I usually make multiple at a time (so I can eat one and freeze a few), 2. when it is time for dinner, the work is already done (no thought, no time required), and 3. my family loves it.

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  • Scott at Real Epicurean said (28 February 2007 at 2:57 pm):

    Yum. I just love Italian sausages!

    Great site, by the way.

  • Kristen said (28 February 2007 at 8:31 pm):

    That is a great “default” dinner! We have a few of those in the rotation every month as well, but nothing that looks nearly this delicious!

  • Lydia said (1 March 2007 at 5:19 am):

    I love to hear you talk about 10 dishes that we make over and over. I believe almost everyone has just that number of default dishes. They are the ones you go back to, partly because they are easy, but also because you’ve made them so many times that you become really expert at making them — and they taste delicious. Practice makes perfect!

  • Erika said (1 March 2007 at 6:47 am):

    That is a great thought that everyone has a different 10 default dinners. Sounds like someone needs to organize a blogging event. Imagine all the default dinners out there in the blogosphere!

  • doodles said (1 March 2007 at 8:21 am):

    this too is one of my very favorite “go to dinners”. Yours looks yummy!

  • Jennifer said (1 March 2007 at 10:34 am):

    Yum! I have to try this sometime. We buy Italian Sausage from Costco monthly because it’s delicious and so inexpensive! Plus I love bell peppers!

  • aria said (1 March 2007 at 11:25 am):

    mmmmm you cannot go wrong sausage and peppers and a nice italian bread. mmmmmmm!

  • janelle said (1 March 2007 at 12:49 pm):

    Scott: me too! And thanks!

    Kristen: Now I am curious…

    Lydia: I so hear you!

    Erika: you made my day; I am on it! Wait for news of the default dinner event!

    Doodles: I like the name “go to dinners”

    Jennifer: Let me know if you try it!

    Aria: …and a glass of wine…

  • mooncrazy said (1 March 2007 at 1:30 pm):

    I like the name “default dinner”, clever and this looks yummy and nothing better than the aroma of sausage and peppers cooking.

  • Julie at Bad Home Cook said (1 March 2007 at 1:44 pm):

    MMMMM! That looks mighty tasty, Janelle…I’m tempted to try my hand. I love peppers.
    As for the default dinner option – I love your idea. I’m sensing a nice blog event here….”The Ten” Default dinners from me to you….or some such…I’d participate. …but does Carl’s Junior kids’ meals count as a default dinner?….

  • peabody said (1 March 2007 at 4:33 pm):

    I think we all have default dinners. People are always surprised….I think they think I could elaborate meals every night.

  • Joanna said (2 March 2007 at 3:58 am):

    Hi … thanks for your kind comment … love your blog, really wish I’d found it sooner. Next week, with Ilva from Lucullian Delights, we are starting a new event, healthy heart food, you may be interested – watch out for it … what we’re after is to share people’s default recipes which are healthy and delicious (and quick!)


  • Jennifer said (2 March 2007 at 12:57 pm):

    I’ll definitely post up a review if I make this one! :)

  • sher said (3 March 2007 at 8:34 am):

    I think that would be a great favorite here in my house. Sausage and peppers are delectable.

  • Donna said (3 March 2007 at 4:55 pm):

    Congratulations on your growing comment list…
    Yet another creative way(s) to talk about food:
    default dinners and menu ammo…makes me smile.
    Our latest ‘default’ thing is keeping the crock pot going a la DAD … probably wouldn’t make either a photo or a gourmet standard, but it works on a rainy, tired day…and he baked three loaves of bread today as accompaniment and to avoid going to the grocery store.
    I am adding the ammo menu and the default concept to my archives…

  • Anne said (29 July 2007 at 4:03 am):

    Great concept. Perhaps you might like to visit Quick Easy Dinner Recipes for some more inspiration!

  • Natural Leap said (27 September 2007 at 6:57 pm):

    Great blog, wonderful recipe can hardly wait to try it. So glad I stumbled on your blog…Di

  • janelle said (28 September 2007 at 2:27 pm):

    mooncrazy: thanks!

    Julie: lol! Event, eh? Hmmmm…

    Peabody: well, then we have them fooled, eh?

    Joanna: so glad to have met you. I am going to go check out your other blog/event!

    Jennifer: Cool—thanks!

    Sher: I hope so, that would make me quite proud:).

    Donna: Crockpots are underrated:). They can make divine food!

    Anne: Thanks for the tip!

    Natural Leap: me too!