Archives for category: Cooking

 

I love it when the crock pot does all the work.  It really makes for a relaxing Saturday and a quick and easy dinner.  The husband and I have been eating in a lot.  Yes, because the economy sucks, but mostly because our last credit card bill read like the Restaurants section of the local  Chamber of Commerce listing.  We were mostly eating out for lunch, but there’d be the occasional dinner out that was just way too expensive.  Plus, I’ve grown fond of my grocery bills that maybe double the price of one dinner out but will make at least 4 or 5 meals.  It’s fantastic.  And I’m really getting into knowing what is in my food, how it’s cooked, and that it’s fresh.

So, Saturday was a laid back day, I barely had to do anything and we had a delicious meal.  This meal should “marinate over night”.  I repeat:  MARINATE OVER NIGHT.  But the overall effort involved is about the same or less than driving to the restaurant, waiting for a table, ordering something that was good last time, getting it this time and realizing it’s not as great as you remembered….

At least at home if you make something that doesn’t turn out quite right, you usually have something else you can eat instead.  At a restaurant you’re kinda stuck with paying for something you are not loving and then eating at home.  But I promise you’ll love this pulled pork recipe.  It was a little too saucy for us, so I have changed the ingredient amounts to make a less saucy BBQ sauce. 

Jerked pulled Pork with Rum BBQ Sauce

Recipe #: 42

Saved since: 2008

Count: 18 down

Husband’s Rating: 3 out of 5 (due to sauciness)

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 c. BBQ sauce (your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. dark rum

Cook

  1. NIGHT BEFORE: Combine chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Drizzle tenderloin with lemon juice.
  3. Rub spices into tenderloin.
  4. Put in zip-lock bag and MARINATE OVER NIGHT.
  5. DAY OF: Chop onion and place in bottom of the crock pot.
  6. Remove tenderloin from bag and chop into 1-inch cubes.
  7. Arrange cubes over the onion.
  8. Combine BBQ sauce and rum and pour over tenderloin.
  9. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours.
  10. Pull meat into shreds and serve hot.

Source: adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two, Beth Hensperger, 2007.

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It is hot here.  Like rull, rull hot.  And last weekend I finally made a crock pot recipe that I’ve been putting off.  Loved it, but it was spicy.  So I paired it with this cold summer salad that was such a nice contrast to the hot main dish and the hot, hot weather. 

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Potato Salad

Recipe #: 207

Count: 17 down

Saved since: June 2010

Husband’s Rating: 4 out of 5

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. small red new potatoes, sliced
  • 1 ear of fresh sweet corn, cooked
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/8 c. fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1/8 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 tsp. dijon-style mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar

Cook

  1. In medium saucepan, cook potatoes covered in boiling salted water that just covers them.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes or until just tender.  Drain and cool.
  3. Cut corn off cob.
  4. Arrange the potatoes and tomatoes in a serving dish.
  5. Sprinkle with corn and basil.
  6. For dressing, combine oil, red onion, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and shake well.
  8. Pour dressing over potato mixture.

Source: adapted from Ellyn Shull’s Prize Tested Recipes in Better Homes and Gardens June 2010 issue.

I wrote a recipe!  It’s hard and complex and I worked really hard on this flavor profile. 

Just kidding.

It’s simple and fast and I don’t even know where I got the idea, I just know I’ve seen or heard of it somewhere.

Simple, but still really really good.

Grilled Zucchini Planks

1 zucchini makes 4 planks

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika

“Cook”

  1. Cut zucchini into 4 wedges.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. Grill until you want to eat it/

 🙂

I have been pretty good about planning meals a week at a time recently, which has gone well so far.  Sometimes though, I forget about a meeting or get together and either don’t have time to make dinner or we are going to be eating at our meeting.  The night I had planned to make this meal (which sounded delicious), I forgot that our Alumni Association had a Happy Hour and I had a meeting to go to at 6:30.  The husband wanted to go to Happy Hour so when I got home from work I immediately started cooking so that at least I could eat before leaving and he could eat the leftovers.

This meal actually worked out really well for us eating at separate times.  I was able to put the whole meal together for myself and then keep the components refrigerated until the husband got home and he could assemble them all then.  Basically I cooked the orzo, the cream sauce, and the chicken all separately and then assembled.  For the husband I covered the chicken on a plate, put the orzo in tupperware, and the sauce in a separate tupperware.  That way nothing got soggy and he could use as much or as little sauce as he wanted.

As always with orzo, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.  But it was good – creamy, comforting, and faster than I thought.  The husband enjoyed it too, eating everything that was leftover before I got home.  I was so glad it was such a success.

Italian Chicken Over Orzo with Lemon Thyme Cream Sauce

Recipe #: 87

Saved Since: May 2010

Recipe Count: 16 down

Husband’s Rating: 5 out of 5

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. uncooked orzo
  • Lemon Thyme Cream Sauce (see recipe below)

Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Boil orzo in salted water according to package directions and drain.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Mix flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish.
  5. Dredge chicken in the mixture, shaking off any excess.
  6. Cook chicken cutlets until golden brown and crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Place cooked chicken on a baking sheet and transfer to oven.
  8. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through.
  9. Remove from oven and cover tightly with foil until ready to serve.
  10. While chicken is baking, Make Lemon Thyme Cream Sauce.

Lemon Thyme Cream Sauce

Source: adapted from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures, originally from Food Network.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Cook

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring often until translucent.
  3. Add the wine to the saucepan and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half.
  4. Add the cream and the thyme and reduce heat.
  5. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half.
  6. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Assemble the dish: Stir the sauce into the orzo and top with the chicken.

Source: adapted from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.

 

We bought a grill!  Prior to this purchase we had a Little Smoky charcoal grill that is about 1 foot tall and you have to basicaly kneel next to it to grill.  It holds approximately 1 & 1/2 burger patties.  I was so excited when the husband decided to buy a gas grill because we normally use a grill pan for “grilling” which does an okay job, but it’s not the same.  One of the first grilled meals I chose was a Beer Burger which I first called “Jamaican” because used Red Stripe [it was the only beer sold in a single bottle at the grocery store].  When I told the husband, he said to call them “Ja’makin” Beer Burgers like “you’re making” beer burgers, so there you go.  We are kind of special here. 

Anyway…

Have you ever had a food epiphany?  I have had a few since I really started cooking because there were several things I had never even tried before (I can be pretty darn picky).  But no food epiphany so far has rivaled the one I had when I ate this Beer Burger.  I am amazed at what beer can do to the flavor of a burger.  I hate beer, I really do.  But in a burger?!?  Holy wow it’s the best thing I’ve ever had.  I will never grill a beef burger without beer again!  Hooray Beer! <– Also husband’s input.

We made this with Baked Oven Fries and Grilled Zucchini Planks (recipe soon to follow).

“Ja’makin” Beer Burgers

Recipe #: 59

Saved Since: July 2009

Count: 15 down

Husband’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef (85/15)
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. beer (use Red Stripe for “Ja’makin” burgers 😉
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

Cook

  1. Heat your grill to medium-high.
  2. In a bowl combine beef, onion, beer, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and garlic.
  3. Form into 2 large or 3 medium patties.
  4. Cover and grill patties 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked to preferred doneness.
  5. Toast buns and add preferred toppings.

Source: as seen on Sweet Savory Southern, originally from Betty Crocker, Grilling Made Easy.

 

When I saw this post on Annie’s Eats, I couldn’t agree with her more.  I have struggled to find a good oven baked fry recipe that is so delicious I am just head over heals.  Annie always has really great recipes on her site, so I trust her judgement and tried these.

Oh. My. Gosh.

DELICIOUS is not even the word.

It takes a few steps, but it’s so worth it.  We made these with “Jamaican” Beer Burgers and Grilled Zucchini Planks (Recipes soon to follow).

Baked Oven Fries

Recipe #: 102

Saved Since: Feb. 2010

Count: 14 down, 192 to go

Husband’s Rating: 5 out of 5

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into wedges
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 475F.
  2. Put potato wedges in a large bowl and cover with hot water.
  3. Let soak for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Put 2 Tbsp. canola oil onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Coat the pan evenly with oil using a pasty brush.
  6. Sprinkle the pan evenly with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with towels.  Wipe out the bowl so it is completely dry.
  8. Put the potatoes back in the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.
  9. Arrange the wedges on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  10. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes
  11. Remove foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes.
  12. Using a metal spatula and tongs, flip each potato over in a single layer.
  13. Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Rotate the pan again as needed for even browning.
  14. Transfer the fries to a paper-towel lined plate to soak up excess oil.
  15. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed and serve warm.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

I made this quick  meal the other night and it was a huge hit with the husband.  As I was cooking I wasn’t sure it would turn out well because it seemed to be missing a component that would hold everything together.  There is no real sauce or even anything that is very thick which is what I prefer.  Husband and I thought that putting a layer of shredded cheese in the middle as well as on top might help.  We also tossed around a few ideas for different dishes using similar ingredients and flavors.  I will get around to that eventually I’m sure 😉

Overall though this is delicious and if you like beef, cheese, and peppers, you’re going to love this. 

Taco Pasta Casserole

Recipe #: 98

Saved Since: May 2010

Recipe Count:  13 down, 193 to go

Husband’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Serves:  2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 1 c. dry penne pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 & 1/2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 c. multi-colored bell pepper strips
  • 3/4 c. salsa (your heat preference)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  3. Drain and put in a square baking dish.
  4. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onions until softened.
  6. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until browned.
  7. Add the taco seasoning, tomatoes, and bell pepper strips.  Saute until vegetables soften.
  8. Add salsa and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the ground beef and vegetable mixture over the pasta. 
  10. Toss lightly to incorporate and top with shredded cheese.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese melts.
  12. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures