Thursday, November 30, 2006

Great pork chops

Memphis-Style Pork Chops
Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter’s Cookbook Copyright 2003

½ cup bottled chili sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 boneless pork loin chops, cut ¾ to 1 inch thick (1 ¼ pounds total)
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Purchased coleslaw (optional)

1. In a small saucepan stir together chili sauce, molasses, vinegar, and chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Trim fat from chops. In a small bowl stir together basil, paprika, salt, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle evenly over both sides of each chop; rub in with your fingers.
3. Place chops on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until pork juices run clear (160 degrees F), turning once and brushing with chili sauce mixture during the last 5 minutes of grilling. (I broiled mine.) If desired, serve with coleslaw.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 260 cal, 7 g fat, 83 mg chol, 623 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 31 g pro

Sometimes pork chops turn out so good and other times they're just so-so. This was one of those times when they were really good. I didn't grill them since it was gloomy and damp outside. I considered the George Foreman grill but I decided to broil them and that was a smart decision. I cut these chops from the fattier end of the pork loin. They weren't all that fatty - pork is pretty lean these days - but that little bit of extra fat helps a lot. The were perfectly cooked and a bit crispy from being broiled (the contact grill tends to almost steam the chops making them rubbery instead of crispy). I hardly ever use the broiler but I think I'll be using it more often from now on.

The sauce was great. It had the perfect blend of tanginess, sweetness and smokiness. Even my son liked the sauce. I almost kept his plain but he ate an entire sauced chop and asked for more.

Hey, it's the last day to sign up for the November cookbook giveaway. Tomorrow is December! Guess I can start thinking about Christmas baking.

Speaking of cookbooks, here's a little advice. Do not order anything directly from Oxmoor House (Cooking Light Annuals, Southern Living books, etc) unless you want them to keep sending you more books and more bills. I ordered one CL annual from them, paid for it, and then a Southern Living cookbook came. I remember getting the solicitation for the Southern Living book but I didn't think I replied. When it arrived, I thought, well, maybe I had. Now that a third book has arrived that I'm sure I didn't order, I did a little research and found out that this is how they operate. Most people will just pay rather than return the book. Making a simple purchase can have so many strings attached anymore. Apparently they have been doing this for many years and have already been fined by the FTC so I'm sure the fine print was there, I just didn't read it. Live and learn.

Blast From the Past: Honeyed Pork Chops from October 2005. Why haven't I made them again. They were so good.

Question of the Day: How often do you broil food?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cutting back

Dari’s Picante Chicken
The Biggest Loser Cookbook Copyright 2006

1/3 cup plus ½ cup mild, medium or hot picante sauce
4 medium (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of visible fat I used tenders
6 tablespoons light cream cheese from a block, softened
½ cup (1 ounce) finely shredded Cabot 75% Light Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread 1/3 cup of the picante sauce in the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Lay chicken breasts on a cutting board. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness.

Spread the chicken evenly with the cream cheese. Lay the chicken, cream cheese side up, in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Spoon the remaining ½ cup picante sauce evenly over the breasts. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Because I used tenders and they didn't need to cook as long, I didn't cover them.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese evenly over the breasts. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until no longer pink. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

I got this book from the library. It was the perfect choice to select recipes from the week after eating two Thanksgiving meals. I wasn't expecting that much from this cookbook but I was pleasantly surprised. I'll be picking up my own copy. I didn't really know much about the Biggest Loser Diet, even though I've been watching all this season. It's basically a restricted carb, low-fat, high protein diet. You can have four or more servings of veggies or fruits (at least half have to be veggies), 3 servings of protein, 2 servings of whole grain and 200 extra calories. It sounded really restrictive until I saw that a protein serving was 8 ounces and a whole-grain serving was 1 cup (or 2 slices of bread). I still don't understand how anyone can continually lose 20 pounds each week without having surgery as one contestant has been doing.

This was good and relatively effortless to put together. I'm usually tempted to add more cheese than a light recipe calls for but since the 75% Light Cabot Cheddar costs twice as much as the 50% Light Cabot Cheddar, I was able to control myself. The cheese melted fine but did get a slightly weird crinkly texture on top.

I think Costco changed providers, when it comes to their frozen chicken tenders (unless they carry more than one brand but I doubt that). I thought Tyson used to provide them under the Kirkland brand but I noticed this last bag was Purdue. The tenders are much, much smaller. Coincidentally, I had almost finished a bag of Purdue tenders I picked up in the supermarket when I bought these in Costco and the supermarket tenders had a 15% solution added, while the Costco ones only have an 8% solution. I'm not sure but I thought the ones I used to buy had an even lower percentage. I hate change.

Blast From The Past: Balsamic Chicken from January 2006. An unattractive but good chicken recipe.

Question of the Day: Do you watch reality shows?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baba's cheesecake, sort of

The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook Copyright 1997, 1998

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together and pat onto bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform cake pan. Prepare filling.

2 eggs
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs and softened cream cheese together. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add topping.

½ cup sugar
1 cup sour cream I used lite because that's what I had
½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients and put on top of cake; return to oven for 10 minutes.

My husband's grandmother has several recipes that she seems reluctant to part with. I've had no luck at all figuring them out on my own, except for her cheesecake. This recipe was extremely close, if it had been cooked another 5 minutes and I left out the crust. Personally, I like a crust with my cheesecake.

Funnily enough, I made this cheesecake for my family on Thursday and on Saturday, when I had Thanksgiving with my husband's family, Baba made her cheesecake and somehow we (me, my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law) actually pried her cheesecake recipe out of her. It was very close to this one, same ingredients but different amounts (and no crust). I just found it kind of ironic that she gave it up as soon as I figured it out on my own. And no, I did not get the macaroni salad recipe but now I at least have hope that I might someday.

By the way, this is a great cheesecake. I think it just needed another 5 minutes in the oven to be perfect. I think fancy, flavored cheesecakes are great but plain cheesecake is best. Paula Deen did include a fruit topping recipe with this in the cookbook but I didn't use it.

I don't think I have any more Thanksgiving recipes. Maybe I'll blog about the pie I made that wasn't that spectacular. I'm not sure yet. The dinner rolls came out good for a first try but I never got a picture. I brought home a few leftover rolls to photograph but the cat chewed through the ziploc bag and ate them.

A Blast From The Past: Sausage and Mushroom Pasta from February 2006. We had this last night. It goes over very well in our house. I used turkey kielbas and Dreamfield penne last night.

Question of the Day: Do you like cheesecake? Plain or fancy?

Sunday, November 26, 2006


French Silk Chocolate Pie
Easy Pies With Pillsbury Pie Crust Copyright 2004

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces
1 cup butter, softened (do not use margarine)
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 pasteurized eggs or 1 cup fat-free egg product I used the egg product
½ cup sweetened whipping cream

Chocolate curls, if desired

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Make pie crust as directed on box for one-crust baked shell using 9-inch glass pie pan. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
2. In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat; cool. In small bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in cooled chocolate and vanilla.
3. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on high speed 2 minutes after each addition; beat until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Pour into cooled baked pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls. Store in refrigerator.

While I was eating this I kept thinking it reminded me of something but I couldn't pinpoint what it was. It wasn't until I was copying the recipe that I figured out that it tasted like chocolate frosting. I only tasted it after eating a full Thanksgiving meal so it's hard for me to judge this fairly. Something so rich would stand better on it's own, not on a table full of other pies after a heavy meal.

So my sister found my blog. What the big deal, right? This isn't after all, it's just a bunch of recipes. I would have shared it with my family except they have a history of mocking my hobbies. I know a lot of my readers are also food bloggers and you're probably scratching your head and wondering what's so embarassing about a food blog - there are probably thousands of them all over the world afterall. Well, I didn't think polymer clay was a ridiculous hobby either but I believe the phrase 'you really need to get a life' came up when I dabbled in that.

It wasn't as if I heard 'I found your blog, it's great' or anything like that. It was more of a whisper and then as soon as I left the get-together and then walked right back in for something I forgot, they were already talking about it. My other sister had that scrunched up face that signals she about to say something I don't want to hear (such as, 'you really need to get a life') so I just high-tailed it out of there.

I hope they got a good laugh and moved on. For the first time in almost 15 months, I'm not excited about blogging. I feel a little self-conscious right now. Every sentence I type suddenly looks silly. But I don't want to be one of those bloggers that disappears into thin air so I'll keep going.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One of those so-so dishes

Chicken Dijon
The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook Copyright 2006

3 tablespoons butter
6 skinned and boned chicken breasts I used tenderloins
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
1 medium-size sweet onion, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. My chicken was still sort of frozen so it didn't brown - too much liquid. Whisk together broth and remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

This was one of those dishes that was fine, not awful, but not that special either. It would have been better if I had good Dijon mustard in the house but when I went to make this I realized I had a brand that is okay for adding a tablespoon here and there but not my favorite for starring in a recipe. It was a simple recipe that I made out of ingredients I keep on hand so it scored extra points for that.

It's pie and dinner roll making day. I won't start until later. I want everything to be as fresh as possible. Grocery stores are open tomorrow if the rolls don't turn out that well!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving (or a Happy Thursday, if you're not in the states)!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A simple sandwich, no stumps needed

Iowa-Style Loosemeat Sandwiches
American Sandwich Copyright 2004

1 pound twice-ground beef I used the regular grind
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1 (12-ounce) can or bottle of beer (do not use light beer)

In a medium frying pan, brown the beef over medium-high heat, then drain it in a colander. Return beef to the pan and stir in the onion flakes, pepper, salt, sugar, mustard, and beer. Simmer, partially covered, over medium heat until liquid is evaporated, about 30 minutes.

4 hamburger buns I used whole-wheat buns
fresh onion, chopped
prepared yellow mustard

Spoon beef into buns and serve immediately with condiments. Be sure to give everyone a spoon so they can scoop up any stray beef that escapes.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

This week is all about convenience and nothing seemed simpler than these loosemeat sandwiches. I've never had a loosemeat sandwich before so I have no idea how authentic these were but they were good. The meat mixture was more understated than the 'barbecue' sandwiches that are the typical ground beef sandwich of this area, but the condiments added punch.

I got this cookbook from the library and it's actually quite nice, for a cookbook with a schtick. The book includes one sandwich for every state. I actually flipped to Iowa expecting to see the pork tenderloin sandwich, but Indiana claimed the pork sandwich.

The book also contains the anecdotal history of the sandwiches in it. For instance, the pork tenderloin sandwiches were supposedly originally made by a guy who had most of his fingers cut off in an accident, and the stumps were perfect from tenderizing the meat. I know, I know, your mouth is watering now, isn't it?

Blast From the Past: Barbecue from September 2005. This is how we make our loosemeat sandwiches 'round here.

Question of the Day: If you live in the U.S., can you guess what your state's sandwich is, according to this cookbook?

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Healthy Breakfast Muffins
Cakes 1,001 Classic Recipes From Around The World Copyright 2003

1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups wheat bran
¾ cup milk
¾ cup apple juice I used cider
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ cup raisins
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin pan or line with foil or paper baking cups. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda into a large bowl. Stir in the bran. Beat in the milk, juice, egg, honey and oil. Stir in the raisins and crystallized ginger. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Cool the muffins on racks.

These were disgusting, so why I am blogging about them? Because they were fine (in a healthy, fiber-filled kind of way) except for the crystallized ginger, which apparently I don't like (REALLY don't like). I tried eating around the ginger but tiny pieces kept sneaking up on me. I like ginger in other forms, even ginger candy, but crystallized ginger is just not for me. I can file it with goat cheese under 'yuck'.

I should have gone with my gut instinct and made these without the ginger. They would have made for a nice, guilt-free breakfast muffin but I had to ditch them.

Thanks for the comments letting me know there are still people around. I wasn't just fishing for comments, I know people get busy this time of year and I was just curious who was still around. I don't know what my schedule will be like this week. I won't be posting Thursday. I still haven't planned this week's meals yet and it's Monday morning. I know I'll have a few pies to post about after Thanksgiving.

I went to Costco Sunday. I planned on going Wednesday morning but I got it out of the way. Now I can spend Wednesday making pies.

Blast From The Past: Sour Cream-Bran Muffins from June 2006. These were incredibly delicious but not very healthy.

Question of the Day: I'm making rolls for Thanksgiving. Should I make them Wednesday night or get up super early on Thursday? We have to travel 2 hours, so making them just before dinner is not an option. I have no idea how long homemade rolls stay fresh.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Good, but not good enough

Toffee-Oat Bars
Cookies 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes From Around the World Copyright 2004

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup old-fashioned oats

Chocolate Frosting
6 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, cut up

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 11x7-inch baking pan. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy. Add the egg yolks, beating until just blended. I added a dash of vanilla too. Mix in the dry ingredients and oats. Firmly press the mixture into the prepared pan to form a smooth, even layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Cool completely in the pan. Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Spread the chocolate mixture over and let stand for 30 minutes until set. Cut into bars.

It's been awfully quiet around here. I hope that blog readers are just busy and not bored. I have to admit that cooking has not been my primary activity lately. There's just too much going on this time of year.

This was a test run of a candidate for this year's cookie trays. At first, I thought these bars were too greasy and not firm enough but I enjoyed them after refrigerating them. They won't be on my Christmas cookie trays but they didn't go to waste. I think I've eaten 3/4 of the pan by myself in just 5 days.

I bought this book after enjoying the cake version (Cakes: 1,001 Classic Recipes from Around the World) so much. It's much the same but not quite as exciting and mouth-watering as the cake version.

A Blast From The Past: Snickerdoodles from last Christmas. These are definitely going on my cookie trays again.

Question of the Day: Is anybody reading this?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yummy breadsticks

Pepperoni-Cheese Sticks
Betty Crocker Reduced-Fat Bisquick Copyright 2000

2 ¾ cups Reduced Fat Bisquick
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz) I used Cabot 50% Light Jalapeño cheddar
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 package (3 ¼ ounces) sliced pepperoni, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped I was lazy and used garlic powder
1 cup grated fat-free Parmesan cheese topping I used regular grated Parmesan in the green can - I had it leftover from another recipe

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 cookie sheets. Stir all ingredients except Parmesan topping until dough forms.
2. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls into Parmesan topping. Roll in topping to coat. Roll into 8-inch breadsticks. Place about 1 ½ inches apart on cookie sheets.
3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 20 breadsticks.

I halved this recipe and that was plenty. You don't have to be exact when halving it. I just guestimated and my dough was a little too wet to roll so I just added more Bisquick. My breadsticks are a little bit ugly but that was just laziness on my part. The dough wasn't hard to roll, I was just rushing and trying to do too many things at once, as usual.

These were really good - very flavorful. I was a little hesistant about the chopped onion but that was probably the best part. I served this with a freestyled pasta dish. It was a nice change from garlic bread. I just happened to have everything on hand to make these. I love when that happens.

Gosh, Thanksgiving is one week away. I may have to put my blog on the backburner during the holidays. I won't stop posting but if I miss a day or two, don't worry about me. I think I'll put the Blast From The Past on hold too. That will save me a few minutes each day.

Question of the Day: Are you in the holiday spirit yet?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Easy peasy

Easy Tacos
The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook Copyright 1999

12 taco shells
1 pound ground chuck I used lean ground beef
2 to 3 teaspoons Chili Seasoning Blend*
¾ cup water
¾ cup finely chopped onion
3 cups shredded lettuce
¾ cup finely chopped tomato I omitted this
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) finely shredded Cheddar cheese I used Cabot 50% Light Jalapeño Cheddar
¼ cup taco sauce
¼ cup sour cream I used lite sour cream

Heat taco shells according to package directions; keep warm. Meanwhile, brown ground chuck in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles (I got confused and threw the onions in with the meat); drain. Add Chili Seasoning Blend and water; stirring well. Cook over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Spoon meat mixture into shells; top with onion and remaining desired condiments.

*Chili Seasoning Blend

3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
¾ teaspoon ground red pepper

Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container up to 1 month.

I have a slightly more complicated taco seasoning recipe but I have to say that this one was just as good. I feel foolish thinking about how many times I bought taco seasoning when I have a cupboard full of spices.

I decided to make tacos because I was trying to use up what I had on hand. I had everything to make these tacos except the shells and the lettuce. I usually make nachos or taco salads because hard tacos can be difficult to eat. I ate the first one neatly but the second one fell apart in my hand. I'm not sure what went wrong but both tacos were delicious.

Tonight is menu planning night. I think, with the holidays coming, I'm going to try to stick to the simplest of recipes for the next few weeks.

A Blast From The Past: Beef Tacos from May 2006. This was a more sophisticated taco recipe but frankly I preferred the Easy Taco recipe.

Question of the Day: Do you own many different spices? Do you buy spice blends?

Question of the Day:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sampling one of the giveaway cookbooks

Pork Steak Diane
Company’s Coming 30-Minute Weekday Meals Copyright 2005

13 ½ oz. can of evaporated milk
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cooking oil
sprinkle of pepper
4 boneless pork loin chops (about 1 pound), trimmed of fat I had 6 small chops
1 tbsp. hard margarine or butter
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. brandy
¾ tsp. parsley flakes

Stir evaporated milk into flour in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Sprinkle pepper on both sides of each pork chop. Heat cooking oil in large frying pan on medium. Add chops. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side until desired doneness. Transfer to a large plate. Cover to keep warm.

Melt margarine in same large frying pan. Add onion and garlic. Heat and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant.

Add Worcestershire sauce and brandy. Heat and stir for about 1 minute, scraping any brown bits from bottom of pan, until liquid is evaporated. Stir flour mixture. Add to onion mixture. Heat and stir for about 3 minutes until sauce is boiling and slightly thickened. I added a pinch of salt. Add chops. Turn until coated with sauce. Cook for about 1 minute until heated through. Remove chops to large serving platter. Drizzle with sauce from pan. Sprinkle with parsley.
I served it over mashed potatoes.

Serves 4.

Since this is one of the cookbooks I'm giving away in November, I thought I should cook something from it. I really liked this recipe. The sauce was creamy and wonderful and you can really control the cooking of the pork, which is important with boneless pork loin. You don't want to overcook it.

I enjoyed this even though I really haven't been enjoying food lately. Too much mindless eating. I haven't been letting myself get hungry. I never do well when I have too many days off in a row but my mini-vacation is over now so hopefully I can get back on track.

This cookbook does give the metric measurements too but I was too lazy to copy them here. Sorry.

A Blast From The Past: Barbara's Pork Chop Dinner from September 2005. This was one of my first recipes and it was a good one.

Question of the Day: What are your Thanksgiving 'must have' recipes? Do you have anything besides the traditional foods on that day?

Monday, November 13, 2006

No cooking this weekend

Café Rico
Mexican Family Favorites Cook Book Copyright 1983

1 cup hot coffee
1 oz. coffee liqueur
3 Tbsp. evaporated milk
1 tsp. light brown sugar
dash cinnamon
whipped cream (or marshmallow cream)

Use an oversized coffee mug. Combine all ingredients in the order given. Top with whipped cream or marshmallow cream.

Serves 1.

I used to love to get a 'fancy' coffee after dinner out in a restaurant but I didn't like forking out the arm and leg they usually charged for them. If you keep a few liqueurs at home in your liquor cabinet, you can easily and cheaply mix up one of these coffees any time you like. You can use flavored syrups if you don't want the alcohol. If you want a buzz, use decaf!

I never got around to cooking anything this weekend. That's a rarity. I walked out of Costco empty-handed this weekend too. What is happening to me???

I found this gem of a cookbook in the bookstore a couple of weeks ago. Just $6.95 for a basic spiral bound pictureless book that is loaded with authentic Mexican-American recipes. I'm sure not every Mexican-American family cooks exactly like this but the author's family does and that's good enough for me. The book is in at least it's 27th printing so that says something.

A Blast From The Past: Sautéed Shrimp and Vermicelli from November 2005. Because of my son's food allergies, we don't make shellfish around here anymore but I'm thinking about trying this with chicken. It was so good and and so simple.

Question Of The Day: Do you drink alcohol or abstain?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nothing fancy

Spanish Rice and Meatballs
365 Favorite Brand Name Hamburger Copyright 1997

6 slices bacon I just used a couple of slices
1 pound lean ground beef
½ cup soft bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup sliced celery
2/3 cup uncooked white rice
1 ½ cups water
1 can (14 ½ ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces I used a can of diced tomatoes
1/3 cup Heinz 57 Sauce
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 green bell pepper, cut into ¾-inch chunks

In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; removed, coarsely crumble and set aside. Drain drippings reserving 1 tablespoon. In a large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, egg, salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Form into 20 meatballs, using a rounded tablespoon for each. In same skillet, brown meatballs in reserved drippings; remove. In same skillet, sauté onion and celery until tender-crisp; drain excess fat. Add rice, eater, tomatoes, 57 Sauce, ¼ teaspoon pepper and hot pepper sauce. Cover, simmer 20 minutes. Stir in bacon, meatballs and green pepper. Cover; simmer an additional 10 minutes or until rice is tender, and liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

This wasn't bad. The Heinz 57 sauce stood out so if you don't care for it, I think it could be replaced with something else (maybe chili sauce?) or left out. It was fine for a weekday meal.

I really have to buckle down this week and work with what I have on hand since I've started Christmas shopping and I need to cut back on spending in all other categories. Last night I bought my son a little kitchen playset in the grocery store. It's so cute. He loves that stuff at school but I didn't think he needed an expensive kitchen playset at home. This one is small but has sound effects and comes with all the accessories. I think it will be a good tool for teaching him about his peanut allergy (we can practice 'reading labels').

I'm off work today and I don't go back until Tuesday. I'm getting my house in order for the holidays. I have to get to work on that so no Blast From The Past.

Question of the Day: Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No need to go to Red Lobster

Cheese-Garlic Biscuits
Betty Crocker Reduced-Fat Bisquick Copyright 2000

2 cups Reduced-Fat Bisquick
2/3 cup fat-free milk
½ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Heat oven to 45 degrees.
2. Stir Bisquick, milk and cheese until soft dough forms. Drop dough by 9 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Stir together margarine and garlic powder; brush over warm biscuits.

Makes 9 biscuits. Per biscuit: 130 cal, 5 g fat, 0 mg chol, 370 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 4 g protein

You gotta love the biscuits at Red Lobster. But you can save yourself time, money and calories by whipping up this lighter version at home. They're just as yummy and a snap to make.

I've had this pamphlet-style cookbook for years. I think it came with a box of Reduced-Fat Bisquick. I've been passing it over for quite some time, since it's small and easy to miss but I picked it up last week and thought, gosh, this has some good recipes in it. This one is somewhat pedestrian and honestly, one I used to make quite often, but it's still worth blogging about since maybe I'm not the only person who forgot how good and easy this recipe is.

A Blast From the Past: Cavatappi with Pepperoni from January 2006. I think I might make this soon, using Dreamfields or whole wheat pasta. I need fast meals between now and Thanksgiving.

Question of the Day: How often to do you go out to eat?

I really need to work on my waffle presentation

Honey-Bran Waffles
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat bran
2 tablespoons fine-ground cornmeal (optional) I added this
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
¼ cup honey (or maple syrup) I used honey
Pinch cream of tartar

1. Heat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, wheat bran, cornmeal (if using), salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, butter, then the buttermilk and honey or maple syrup. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and whisk very gently until the buttermilk mixture is just incorporated ( a few lumps should remain). Toward the end of mixing, fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.
3. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, spread the appropriate amount of batter onto the waffle iron and cook until golden brown, about 3 ½ minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, serving the waffles immediately or holding them in a 200-degree oven until they are all cooked.

I know this picture isn't very appetizing but trust me, these were good waffles. Although, can you make a bad waffle? I've enjoyed all of the waffle recipes I've tried so far. I like waffle recipes that have a bit of sweetness in the batter so that I don't need to top them with anything. That's one reason my pictures are so boring.

I can't make enough waffles to suit my husband. I make a batch on Saturday mornings (while my husband is hunting) and my son and I eat 1-3 of them between us and then I put the big stack of leftovers in a ziploc bag in the fridge. My husband eats them all later, in only 2 sittings. I know he would like me to have waffles for him all week but that's just not going to happen.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is in just over 2 weeks and I haven't decided which pies I'm going to make yet.

A Blast From The Past: One-Pan Whiskey-Flavored Pork Chops from September 2005. A great recipe that I had completely forgotten about.

Question of the Day: Are you already planning for the holidays or will you wait until the last minute?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

November Cookbook(s) Giveaway

I really wanted to offer a book this month that I could afford to send anywhere. I also wanted to offer something with a holiday theme. I wasn't able to find one book that met both these requirements so this month I'm offering two books.

The first book is small but mighty. It's called 30-Minute Weekday Meals and it's from a popular line of books, Company's Coming, that honestly I had not heard of previously. I'm probably in the minority as there are over 100 books in this line. I chose this book for a few reasons. First of all, it's small enough to be mailed in an envelope. Second of all, it has metric measurements for everything. It also has an interesting variety of quick meals and a nice spiral binding so it will lie flat as you follow a recipe.

Everyone can enter to win this book. I'll send it anywhere on the planet.

The second book is Christmas With Southern Living 2001. 2001 is long gone but the recipes and decor and craft advice in this book are timeless. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, you can still enjoy the recipes. The calendars for November and December 2001 are probably not of much use now but the rest of the book is still relevant.

This is a hardcover book so I'm going to have to stick to U.S. mailing addresses for this one.

This is how it works - just leave a comment on the giveaway post letting me know which of the cookbooks you're interested in - if you're outside the US that can only be 30 Minute Weekday Meals but if your mailing address is in the US, you can try to win both. I just need an e-mail address (if your profile links to an e-mail, you don't need to type it out, I'll find it). Entry is open until the last day of the month. First chance I get after that, I'll draw the winners. There will a drawing for each book. Then I'll contact the winners for mailing addresses and then I mail them! I'll pay the shipping, of course.

****Wendyb532 was the winner of the Southern Living book and Laura's Mom won the 30-Minute weekday meals****

Too much sour, not enough sweet

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken
Fry Light, Fry Right! Copyright 2004

½ c. unbleached or all-purpose flour
½ c. cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
1 lb. chicken tenders, tendons removed, cut into bite-sized pieces and patted dry with paper towels
1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks in juice (do not drain)
2/3 c. Heinz chili sauce
2/3 c. red currant jelly
1 c. celery hearts, sliced crosswise I just used the bottom part of regular celery - I'm not sure if that's the same or not
1 green pepper, stemmed, seeded, quartered, and sliced into ¼-inch-thick strips (about 1 ¼ c.)
1 tbsp. canola oil
Canola cooking spray

1. In a medium-sized shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Stir with a fork to blend well; set aside.
2. Place the egg and water in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add the chicken pieces, stir, and set aside.
3. Place a large saucepan over high heat and add the pineapple chunks (including juice), chili sauce, jelly, celery, and green pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
4. While the sweet-and-sour sauce is simmering, place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and spread evenly with a spatula.
5. Use a slotted spoon to remove about a third of the chicken pieces from the egg mixture (letting the excess drain off) and transfer to the flour mixture. Turn the pieces in the flour mixture to coat well, then carefully and quickly place the flour-coated chicken pieces in the hot oil in the pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Let the chicken pieces brown for about 4 minutes.
6. As the chicken browns on the bottom, generously coat the tops with canola cooking spray. Use a spatula to flip the chicken pieces to brown the other side, breaking the pieces apart from each other, if necessary. When the chicken in cooked through (about 3 more minutes), remove to the simmering sweet-and-sour sauce. I finished cooking the chicken in the oven, just to be sure it was cooked through. I didn't add the chicken to the sauce. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 1-2 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat and serve over steamed rice.

I was semi-pleased with this. I loved the chicken. It was plain but it reminded me of the frozen chicken tenders I buy for my son, that I make for his lunch. (I've been wanting to freeze up a batch of homemade tenders for him but I never get around to it.) I do think it was comparable to the deep fried chicken usually served with sweet and sour sauce. No, not the same, but a really good substitute.

The sauce seemed kind of pungent, not as sweet and smooth as the sweet and sour sauce I'm used to. Adding the chicken to it may have rounded it out, but I wasn't sure that would happen and I wasn't completely sure if this was something my husband would like so I left the sauce separate. Both my husband and I poured it over top of the chicken and my son ate his plain. The sauce wasn't bad, just not something I wanted the chicken swimming in.

This had plenty of peppers and celery and tomato from the chili sauce so this is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays this week.

A Blast From The Past: Stir-Fried Chicken with Chinese Cabbage from January 2006. I haven't cooked from my Food and Wine cookbooks in a while. Those are great cookbooks.

Question of the Day: Do you make 'Chinese' food at home?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oh yes I did

Chocolate Buttermilk Pie
The Ugly Binder from Food TV (Sandra Lee)

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 pre-made store-bought (9-inch) deep dish pie crust
Pre-made whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Place the chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt over low heat, stirring constantly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt until well combined. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the sugar mixture and mix with an electric hand mixer or whisk vigorously. With a rubber spatula, stir the melted chocolate into the batter.

Pour batter into the piecrust; you will have about 1 cup of left-over batter. I put my crust in a 10-inch pie plate and didn't have any leftover filling. Place pie in oven on middle rack. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until the pie is crisp on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of moist chocolate on it. Mine was done in about 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving. If not eating immediately, refrigerate pie. This pie can be served warm or chilled. Garnish with store-bought whipped cream just before serving.

Yes, I made a Sandra Lee recipe. I'm not ashamed to admit that I made a Sandra Lee recipe. Seriously, I haven't seen her make too many recipes that I felt the need to try myself but I do watch her show. She may not be a from-scratch cook but she's certainly enthusiastic about what she does. I know many people poke fun at her but I'm sure she's too busy counting her money to care.

I don't own any of her cookbooks but after I saw her make this pie I printed the recipe off of the Food TV site and stuck it in my ugly binder. I had a pie crust and some buttermilk so I decided I would take this for a test run, to see if it was worthy of making the Thanksgiving line up.

This was a good pie (heck, I ate about half the pie over the course of the weekend) but I think it may be too intense for my Thanksgiving crowd. It's a great pie for chocolate lovers but I think I'll look for something else in the chocolate category for Thanksgiving.

My dishwasher is fixed! Thankfully, the repairman is a genius. Even he was shocked by what he had to do (basically tear the entire thing apart and fix the motor) but it's fixed. He was there for a while so I'm not looking forward to the bill but it was either that or replace a 2-3 year old dishwasher.

A Blast From the Past: Key Lime Pie from June 2006. I'm considering this one for Thanksgiving although I would probably use bottled key lime juice instead of fresh, for convenience.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite pie?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yummy pork chops

Mom’s Smothered Pork Chops
Delicious and Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes Copyright 2002

¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
4 to 6 pork shoulder butt chops, about 2 to 3 pounds I used loin chops
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup tomato-based chili sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard

1. On a plate, combine flour, salt and black pepper. Dredge pork in mixture, coating both sides.
2. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork, in batches, and brown on both sides. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
3. Add onion to pan, adding more oil if necessary, and cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for minute. Stir in chili sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Bring to a boil.
4. Pour sauce over pork. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours. (for loin cut reduce cooking time to 4 to 5 hours on LOW or 2 to 2 ½ hours on HIGH)

Serves 4 to 6.

Pork loin can be risky in the crockpot but the author said I could use loin chops so I did. It was a close call. It was almost too dry but it didn't quite pass the point of being enjoyable. The sauce was excellent so that helped a lot.

I'm really enjoying this cookbook. The author also wrote 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. I have to get my hands on that one.

I'm still washing dishes and I'm tired of it! Hopefully it will get fixed Saturday.

P.S. I'm posting this early because I'm still having trouble with my other computer. Have a nice weekend!

A Blast From The Past: Barbara's Pork Chop Dinner from September 2005. This was one of my first recipes and the probably my biggest success cooking pork loin chops in a slow cooker.

Question of the Day: Do you have a dishwasher?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A quick post before this computer croaks

Oven-Fried Lemon Marinated Chicken
Fry Light, Fry Right! Copyright 2004

1 tbsp. soy sauce
¾ tsp. salt, divided
¾ tsp. pepper, divided
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic (or 2 cloves garlic, minced)
1 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. condensed chicken broth
½ c. lemon juice
2 tbsp. grated lemon peel I just added slices of the rind to the marinade and then discarded them before cooking
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts I used tenderloins
canola cooking spray
½ c. unbleached flour (plus more if needed)
1-2 tsp. paprika to taste
Fresh parsley and lemon slices for garnish (optional)

1. Combine soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper with the garlic, canola oil, broth, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a large zip-top plastic bag. Mix with a spoon; add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x9-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
3. Combine the flour, paprika, and remaining salt and pepper in a medium b owl or another plastic bag. Remove the chicken from the marinade, setting the marinade aside. Add the chicken to the flour mixture, coating each breast completely. Arrange the chicken in the prepared pan and spray the tops of the pieces with cooking spray.
4. Drizzle ¼ cup of marinade over the chicken and bake for 20 minutes, uncovered. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and bake for 20-30 minutes more, until done. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley, if desired.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 200 calories, 29 g protein, 9 g carbs, 5 g fat, 68 mg chol, 3.5 g fiber, 811 mg sodium

This is supposed to be a healthy knock-off of Lemon Chicken that would be ordered in a typical Chinese restaurant. I've never had that version of Lemon Chicken but, from my experience with Chinese food, I doubt this is very similar. However, it was very good. It didn't have the crunch that real fried food has but it still worked for me. It was quite tangy so I paired it with some sweet glazed carrots, which balanced the sharpness. My son really enjoyed this too.

This cookbook offers healthier versions of many 'bad' foods. I'm looking forward to trying more of these recipes.

That's it for today. This computer is hosed. I'll probably be computer-less for the rest of the day from the looks of things.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And the winner is.............

Anette! Congratulations, Anette. You won the October cookbook giveaway. I'm e-mailing you right now.

As for the rest of you, there's always the next one. I should be posting the November cookbook in a few days.

Cluck cluck

Hunter-Style Chicken
Living The G.I. Diet Copyright 2004

¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound skinless chicken drumsticks
1 pound skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms, quartered I used sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

1. Sprinkle the salt and black pepper over the chicken pieces. Heat half of the oil in a large, shallow pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.
2. In the same pot, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, oregano, and basil, and cook until the vegetables are beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir the vegetables to deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is starting to fall off the bone, about 45 minutes.

6 servings.

You might know this as chicken cacciatore. Apparently cacciatore means hunter in Italian. What an odd name for a veggie-packed dish. And do they hunt chickens in Italy?

This was really heavy on the vegetables which was great. I had leftovers for lunch of just pasta (I made some Dreamfields penne with this) and the vegetables. This was supposed to be my ARF/5-A-Day submission this week but I dropped the ball and didn't get this post loaded yesterday.

How do people get by without a dishwasher? I had a ton of dishes to wash last night. You can bet we'll be using fewer dishes until the dishwasher gets repaired. I don't really mind washing dishes but I only have one small dish rack.

I almost forgot. I have to do the cookbook drawing today. Stay tuned for the winner's name.

A Blast From the Past: Butterscotch Pie from November 2005. I'm starting to think about Thanksgiving pies. I know this one is a definite (it's my brother's favorite).

Question of the Day:? Are you responsible for any cooking on Thanksgiving?