Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Orange + Pork = The Perfect Summer Combo!

We're finally getting some summer weather in SF so I decided to make a refreshing dinner to match. I always crave fruit (and beer!) when it's warm out and pork is just the perfect meat to go with it. I bought some HUGE bone-in porkchops the other day and the sauce topped them beautifully! I've finally learned not to over-cook my pork and Greg didn't complain about them at all! In fact, he raved about them! Yea!




Ingredients:


1 medium orange, segmented*
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops (3/4-inch thick)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 c orange juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water
Chopped fresh parsley


*See here on how to segment an orange if you're clueless like me!


Prep:


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and better and brown about 4 minutes per side. Top pork with orange segments. Cover and cook over low heat about 10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove pork and orange to plate.


2. Meanwhile, whisk together orange juice, brown sugar, Dijon and Vinegar. Add orange juice mixture to pan and cook 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in cornstarch mixture until thickened, 1-2 minutes.


3. Return pork to pan and spoon sauce over to moisten. Serve chops topped with orange segments and sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Can't Waste That Orange Zest!

I was planning on making some Pork Chops in Orange Sauce for dinner (post to come!) and didn't wanna waste the zest so I made these Mini Date-Orange Loaves. I substituted Prunes for the Dates and made even smaller loaves so they baked even quicker (about 25 min). I really liked the combination of the citrucy orange and sweet prunes! The pecans also added a nice crunch and texture. These are definitely yummy refreshing treats and perfect for summer!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yummy Fish Adapted from Barefoot Contessa!

I was watching Barefoot Contessa over the weekend and Ina made some Mustard Roasted Fish that I really wanted to try. I did make a few substitutions using what I had on hand but it turned out really good! I had some Sole fillets in the fridge so I used that instead of Red Snapper. I also didn't have Creme Fraiche or Capers so I used Sour Cream and Chopped Dill Pickles instead. I'm sure it tasted different from the original recipe but we loved it! I served my fillets over the rest of the Cream-Style Corn I used in my Muffins, which I jazzed up with Heavy Cream and Parmesan, and it was a quick and yummy dinner!

Creamy and Corny!

Can you believe I've never had Cream-Style Corn? I picked up a Delmonte can over the weekend to make some Creamy Corn Muffins from one of my Cookbooks. I opened the can not knowing what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. I love the texture of the corn and they made the muffins so moist and creamy! I also used buttermilk instead of regular to add some tangy flavor and they came out just perfect and pretty as a flower!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c buttermilk
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c cream-style corn


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease or line 6 muffin cups.


2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together egg, buttermilk, butter and corn. Add to flour mixture, stirring only until combined.


3. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake 15-20 min until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stuffed Meatballs Take 2!

On Sunday nights, I like to make a big meal so we have yummy leftovers for the week ahead. I had a craving for meatballs and decided to make some stuffed ones since we enjoyed my last batch so much. This time, I followed a recipe from Betty Crocker but used a mixture of 1 lb of ground beef and 1/2 lb of sausage cuz I've read that the combination makes for more flavorful meatballs. Instead of spaghetti, we enjoyed some yummy sandwiches and now have LOTS of goodies to look forward to! Look at that cheese oozing out of the meatballs! You KNOW that's gotta taste good!

The Most AWESOME Roast Beef Panini!

Why is this the most awesome Roast Beef Panini? Cuz it's got LOTS of meat, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, Tomatoes AND spread with Hot and Spicy Mayo from Kraft. I'm totally obsessed with trying all their new Sandwich Shop flavored Mayo and can't wait to get my hands on the Dijon Horseradish and Chipotle! This is definitely the perfect Sunday lunch!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boring Looking but PACKED with Flavor!

This pork chop meal might look pretty boring but it was packed with exciting flavor! The combination of Garam Masala and Cranberry Juice sounds unconventional but they were just perfect together! This is one of those meals that hits your tastebuds with so many different flavors. Sweet and a bit tart from the juice and savory from the spices with a real kick! A perfectly easy and quick meal for my baking night!




Ingredients:


2 pork chops (about 1-inch thick)
2 tsp + 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 c cranberry juice
1/4 c chicken broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water
Salt and pepper


Prep:


1. Rinse chops, pat dry, and rub with 1 tsp oil. Mix Garam Masala and garlic powder. Rub spice mixture all over chop.


2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chops and brown well on each side, 2-3 minutes per side.


3. Stir cranberry juice and broth into pan. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until chops are no longer pink in center, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer chops to a platter; keep warm.


4. Mix cornstarch with water; stir into pan. Turn heat up to high and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over chops. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mrs Fields Has Done It Again!

It's Cookie Friday again and I wanted to make something refreshing since it's almost the end of summer. I decided on Lemon Poppyseed Cookies from the good old Mrs Fields Cookie Book and they came out awesome! I didn't have any Lemon Extract so I just added extra zest (2 lemons) and they tasted very lemony. They're disappearing fast in the office!




Ingredients: (2 dozen cookies)


2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
3/4 c (1-1/2 stick) salted butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1-1/2 tsp lemon extract


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 300°F.


2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, lemon zest, coriander and poppy seeds. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.


3. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with electric mixer at medium speed until mixture forms a grainy paste. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add yolks, egg and lemon extract. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.


4. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.


5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookied sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 23-25 minutes until cookies are slightly born along edges. Immediately tranfer cookies with a spatula to a cool surface.

Cheesy and Savory!

It's almost the end of summer (sniff sniff) but there are still plenty of summer produce at Safeway, so I picked up some Yellow Squash to bake with. (I also saw some Cousa Squash which I've never tried before and just might!) These muffins were adapted from Baking Powder's Pepper Jack Zucchini Muffins and were just the perfect savory treats! Below is my version of the recipe.




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c sour cream
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 c grated Yellow Squash (1 small or 1/2 medium)
1/2 c shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease or line 6 muffin cups.


2. In a bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a smaller bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream and oil. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the squash, cheese and parsley. Mix just until combine.


3. Divide the batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins for 16-20 min, until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Putting a British Spin on my Sole

I've been searching for some different recipes (not that I'm tired of the Food Network or anything!) and stumbled upon BBC Good Food. It's a UK food website that has a lot of great recipes and tips. Besides European cuisine, they also feature ethnic dishes like Indian, Chinese and Moroccan. The How to Cook section is especially useful for me cuz it includes a Conversion Calculator which I use for all the ingredients since they're in Metric measurements. It's really fun and interesting to try new takes on food other than the usual American recipes. (Although there's NOTHING wrong with the good old pizza and meatloaf!) One of the recipes I thought looked really yummy was the Panfried Dover Sole with Warm Tomato Compote. I don't think I've ever made Compote before, especially not with fish so I really wanted to try it. It's a recipe by Gordon Ramsay and knowing how successful that guy is (although very mean to his contestants!), how can you go wrong right? It was the perfect weeknight meal, quick and yummy! (Of course, my Dover Sole came in cleaned fillet form so I got to skip the fun steps of cutting the head off and removing the bones!) The Tomato Compote was super simple to make and the Balsamic flavor was just perfect on top of the fish! I served it on top of some Rice Pilaf and Greg love it. I can't wait to try some other recipes!

I Got a Scone Pan!

I love making scones but it does get a bit messy with the kneading and shaping. NOT when you have a Scone Pan though! All you have to do is mix the dough and then drop them into the molds just like muffins! I tested out my new pan with a very basic recipe adding some raisins and pecans to the mix. I also used my food processor to make sure the butter is nicely incorporated for a flakey texture. They were so easy and came out perfectly shaped! I'm foreseeing LOTS of scones in the near future!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fancy French Cooking at Home!

I've been saving this Chicken Chasseur recipe for a while now and finally made it tonight. It's basically the French version of Chicken Cacciatore, which means "hunter-style" with mushrooms and onions. The braised meat came out moist and flavorful and the egg noodles really soaked up the yummy sauce! It was also the perfect stove-top meal for this mini heat-wave we're getting in SF!

Dusting Off That Cast Iron Pan!

My first attempt at making Skillet Cornbread was very successful so I decided to make another one. I don't use my Cast Iron Pan nearly enough cuz it's just so heavy and I'm always scared I'll burn my hand on the handle again! Anyway, this Tomato Cornbread turned out great and even Greg had a piece (with lots of ketchup of course!). In my opinion, savory cornbread is the best!




Ingredients:


4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 c grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 eggs
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 c buttermilk
1 c grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Melt butter in 9-inch cast iron skillet and sauté garlic and tomatoes until tender, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.


2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in cheese, parsley and tomato mixture.


3. Pour batter into the skillet. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges are crispy and golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting into wedges.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

ULTIMATE Meatloaf!

We LOVE Meatloaf at our house and I probably make it at least twice a month. There's just nothing NOT to love about a big block of meat and it makes perfect leftovers, which is always a plus with me! Since I make meatloaf so often, I'm always trying to find new recipes, so when I saw Tyler Florence make his Ultimate Meatloaf, I just couldn't resist! As with most of Tyler's recipes, I had to make some adjustments, so here's my version of his dad's Meatloaf with Tomato Relish. It turned out moist, flavorful and everything an ULTIMATE Meatloaf should be! I wonder if there will be leftovers...




Ingredients:


Tomato Relish:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c onion, finely diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 c grape tomatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Meatloaf:
2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks by hand
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 egg
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.


2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, and bay leaf until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.


3. Place the torn white bread in a bowl and add the milk. Let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients for the meat loaf together. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork with half of the tomato relish, egg and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Add the soaked bread to the meat mixture. Mix gently only until everything is combined.


4. Transfer meat mixture to the prepared pan and top with the rest of the tomato relish. Bake for about 1 hour, until meatloaf is firm and internal temperature reaches 160°F. Remove meatloaf from the oven and let it cool a bit before slicing.

Lil Banana Bread with a BIG Crunch!

I always wondered why I never saw Banana Bread recipes with Banana Chips in them cuz they seemed to be the perfect match right? So I took matters into my own hands. This is a very basic Banana Bread recipe made into mini loaves and with Banana Chips and Pecans. Crunchy and sweet and super cute!




Ingredients: (1 regular loaf or 8 mini loaves)


3/4 c sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 c (2 medium) bananas, mashed
1/3 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/4 c chopped dried banana chips
16 whole banana chips


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8 mini loaf pans.


2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add bananas, milk and vanilla; blend well.


3. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the banana mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in pecans and banana chips.


4. Divid mixture into prepared pan and top each loaf with 2 whole banana chips. Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dimply Plum Cake

Summer is definitely Plum Season and I've bookmarked this Dimply Plum Cake for a while now. It was perfectly easy to make and was done in no time! I guess my plums must have been bigger cuz I could only fit 3x3 rows in my pan. It came out moist and tasted just like summer!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shortcut to Chocolate Chip Cookies

While searching for a something to make for this Cookie Friday, I stumbled upon these Thick and Chewy Chocolate Cookie Bars. They were described as the "perfect way to satisfy the cookie craving with minimal time and effort" and they really were! Chocolate Chip Cookies in bar form tasted just as good but were so much quicker to make. I managed not to overbake them like I do with so many of my cookies and they came out perfect chewy and soft! They disappeared FAST at the office!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick and Easy and Oven-Free

"Oven-free" is the most important aspect of tonight's dinner since Thursday nights are my baking nights. This yummy bowl of Tortellini was the perfect quick and easy meal! I added sausage and mushrooms to jarred speghetti sauce and stirred in Mozzarella at the end. So simple yet SO delicious!

Out on a Weeknight?

Ok call us old but we don't usually go out on a weeknight anymore BUT on special occasions (like a friend's birthday), we can be persuaded. Last night we met up with some friends at a new place in the Mission called Hogs and Rocks and had a great time! The place had a really good vibe and we got some very yummy appetizers. (Sorry no food pictures, didn't wanna be weird in front of people I just met!) One of my favorites was the Pimento Cheese served with toasted baguette. We also ordered some Octopus, which came out in these cute little cast-iron skillets, which I thought was very unique and very tasty. It had some type of vinaigrette on it with pickled jalapenos. Of course, you can go wrong with wings and fries, which were SO good dipped in their housemade Aioli! Drinks were flowing and we met some very fun people! We were home around 10 and that's LATE for us!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Easy and Cheesy!

I LOVE biscuits and these Cheeesy Biscuits were awesome! They baked in no time and filled my kitchen with the yummy smell of CHEESE! Drop biscuits are just so much easier to make without having to knead and roll out the dough. Call me lazy if you want but I like to enjoy my treats without making a mess in the kitchen! I added fresh parsley to my mix and of course, didn't skip the "optional" Parmesan topping. I mean, WHY would anyone do that???

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Version of the ULTIMATE Lamb Curry!

Tyler's Ultimate is always on in the background while I'm getting ready in the morning and a while back, he made some Lamb Curry that I knew I wanted to try. However, Tyler's recipes are usually pretty complicated (it's the ULTIMATE after all!) so I had to make some adjustments. This is my version of his Lamb Curry and it was REALLY yummy! A lot of spices but luckily I keep a pretty stocked pantry. The kitchen smelled AMAZING and the meat was so tender and flavorful from the braising! I served my chops over good old couscous and the entire meal cost less than $10 since the lamb was on sale!




Ingredients:


2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground curry
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 bay leaf
2 lamb shoulder blade chops, (bone-in, 1/2-inch thick)
1/4 c onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c beef broth
1 c tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c Greek yogurt, plain
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped


Prep:


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add curry, cloves, cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, chili and bay leaf. Toast for 2-3 minutes until golden and aromatic.


2. Season lamb with salt and pepper then add to the pot. Brown 5 minutes on each side and remove to a plate. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth and stir with a wooden spoon to pick up the brown bits. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add beef back, reduce heat to a simmer and cover with lid.


3. Cook for 20 minutes until the lamb is tender, flipping them half way. Remove chops to serving platter. Turn heat up to medium-high and boil the sauce until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in yogurt and pour over chops. Garnish with parsley.

Yummy Good-4-U Muffins

I love snacking on dried apricots cuz they taste like candy and I never even knew they were good for me! According to WHFoods, apricots are full of Beta-carotene for a healthy heart and Vitamin A to protect your eyes AND when they're dried, they contain even more of those nutrients! What a winner right? Combined with oatmeal, these muffins make the perfect breakfast to start a healthy day!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c buttermilk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 c finely chopped dried apricots
1/4 c chopped pecans
1 Tbsp old-fashioned oats


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray or line 6 muffin cups.


2. In medium bowl, mix flour, oats, the baking powder and salt. In small bowl, mix brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg with a whisk until blended. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Fold in apricots and pecans. Divide evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon oats.


3. Bake 23 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Serve warm or cool.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Quick Bread from my Pantry

This recipe was adapted from Beth Hensperger's The Best Quick Breads Cookbook. I say "adapted" cuz I made a few substitutions using ingredients I had in my pantry. The recipe called for a cup of fresh cranberries and I used half a cup of dried instead and it also called for walnuts but I only had pecans. The end result was great and I just love it when I already have all the ingredients!




Ingredients:


1 c yellow cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 dried cranberries
1/2 chopped pecans
2 large eggs
1 c buttermilk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted


Prep:


1. Peheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.


2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the cranberries and pecans.


3. In a small bowl, mix the eggs and buttermilk with a whisk. Add to the dry ingredients and pour the butter over the top. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened and thoroughly blended.


3. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minues, until golden brown around the edges and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Chicken + Blueberries? Oh YEA!

I bet you don't usually think of combining chicken and blueberries but imagine moist pieces of meat drizzled with a thick and tangy sauce. Is that starting to sound better? I braised some chicken thighs in a sweet and tangy broth made with blueberries, balsamic vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard, then thickened the sauce to pour over the meat. Served that over some couscous to soak up all the yumminess and you've got the PERFECT summertime dinner! Quick and easy and just BURSTING with flavor!




Ingredients:


2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c chopped onions
1 tsp dried thyme
1 c chicken broth
1 c fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard


Prep:


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Dredge chicken in flour and add to pot, skin-side down. Brown for 5 minutes, flip and brown 5 minutes on the other side. Remove from the skillet.


2. Add onions and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions began to brown, 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Stir in blueberries, vinegar, honey and mustard. Add chicken back and turn heat down. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.


3. Remove chicken to serving platter. Turn heat up and boil sauce until syrupy, 3-4 minutes. Serve sauce over chicken.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Nights were made for Enchiladas!

Whenever I make pulled pork in the slow cooker, I always freeze a portion since it makes so much meat and I just love the fact that I can pull it out whenever I need it. On Sunday nights, I like to make a big batch of something that's a bit more time-consuming so we can have left-overs during the week when things are more hectic. One of my FAVORITE meals to make is Pulled Pork Enchiladas! Doesn't the name just make you drool? I mix the meat with a can of refried beans and chili peppers, then roll them up in corn tortillas, topped with lots of sauce and CHEESE. Our favorite Enchiladas Sauce would definitely be La Victoria followed by Trader Joe's brand. I can't say that Enchiladas are very photogenic but they're sure tasty and make GREAT left-overs!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Because Everyday is Special!

It doesn't have to be a special occasion to spoil yourself with some yummy Eggs Benedict! It was another foggy Saturday in SF so I decided to cheer us up. It's been a while since I made Eggs Benedict and I just can't believe how easy it is now! I used to be so intimated with poaching eggs and would literally go through about half a dozen before I got it right! I guess practice makes perfect right? McCormick's Hollandaise Sauce Mix also makes my life so much easier. I can honestly say that it tastes just as good as made-from-scratch sauce and believe me, I've made them plenty of times! My secret is adding a bit of Dijon Mustard at the end to give it that tangy goodness we love!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Drunk and Peachy!

No, not me but these pork chops are! I've been experimenting with the combination of fruit and meat lately and have been really pleased with the results! These pork chops paired so well with the peach flavor and braising them in beer was a great idea! The sauce was sweet and savory with just the right amount of kick from the red pepper. With all the summer produce on sale, it's just the perfect time to experiment with them. I served my chops over some good old couscous and it was a quick and yummy meal!




Ingredients: (2 servings)


1 Tbsp olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops (about 1/2-inch thick)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 peach, cored and cut into chunks
1/4 c onions, diced
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 c lager beer (I used Sierra Nevada)


Prep:


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Add to pot and brown 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.


2. Add peach, onion, honey, mustard and pepper flakes. Cook until onions are golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.


3. Add beer and scrape up brown bits with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, add chops back and turn heat down. Cover and simmer until chops are cooked through, 5-7 minutes.


4. Remove chops to serving plate. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Spoon over chops.

Double Orange Cookies!

These cookies come from my Mrs Fields Cookie Book and they're "double orange" cuz they have Mandarin Oranges AND Orange Marmalade in them. They're super refreshing with chunks of mandarin everywhere! Soft and chewy and perfect lil summer cookies!




Ingredients: (4 dozen cookes)


2-3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c orange marmalade
1 (10oz) can mandarin oranges, drained and chopped


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 300°F.


2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.


3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the butter and sugar to form a grainy paste. Add the egg and orange marmalade, and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mandarine oranges, and blend at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.


4. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake 24-25 minutes or until the bottoms of cookies begin to brown. Transfer with a spatual to a cool, flat surface.

Me and My Girls!

Just a pretty picture of me and my closest girls (Kat, Kanika and Helen)! BFF's for more than 10 years and a soon-to-be sister!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cute Little Oatmeal Raisin Nut Bread!

I love my Williams Sonoma Muffins Cookbook and one of the recipes I've been meaning to try was the Oatmeal Raisin Bread. I mean, who doesn't love that combination right? I made mine into mini loaves and also added some chopped pecans. So I guess mine should be called Oatmeal Raisin NUT Bread! Since mine were mini loaves, they baked much quicker and only took 25 minutes instead of the 45-50 in the original recipe.




Ingredients: (6 mini loaves)


1-1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 c raisins
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 chopped pecans


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease mini loave pan.


2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, oats, raisins, brown sugar, baking powder, bakin soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, oil, applesauce and buttermilk. Stir just until moistened, 15-20 strokes. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix.


3. Spoon the batter into prepared pan. Bake until the top is well browned and firm, 25-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the loaves should come out clean.

What I've Learned About Making Mistakes

One of the most important things I've learned from cooking is that it's ok to make mistakes. In fact, sometimes you can even make a dish better by doing something wrong! When I first started cooking, I was SO afraid of messing up that I would actually toss entire dishes out cuz I added a wrong ingredient! I would read a recipe over and over again just to make sure that I don't miss a single step or measurement. Nowadays, I'm much more comfortable in the kitchen and have learned some tricks to "fix" my mistakes or make substitutions. Tonight's dinner was a great example! When I first saw this recipe for Meatloaf Pie, I immediately knew I wanted to make it. I checked that I had all the ingredients, including the Evaporated Milk, and told Greg that I was making it for dinner! So what went wrong, you ask? My Carnation Evaporated Milk came in a can of 12oz NOT the 5oz called for in the recipe. I didn't notice and added the whole can. WHOOPS! The mixture was VERY wet and I knew something was wrong. The thought of tossing the whole thing out and making pizza did come to mind but I REALLY wanted Meatloaf Pie. So what did I do? I improvised by adding another cup of breadcrumbs and it totally worked! The breadcrumbs soaked up a lot of the liquid making it the right consistency again. The pie came out moist and totally delicious! This is the perfect meatloaf recipe on a weeknight cuz it only takes 30 minutes to bake up instead of the usual hour. I also really liked the cheesy ketchup layer on top!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Forgot How Much I LOVE Peanut Butter!

It's been a while since I've had the good old PB and I forgot how much I love it! This recipe was adapted from the PB and J Muffins recipe from the 250 Best Muffin Recipes cookbook. I changed mine up by substituting the jam with raisins cuz I'm one of those weird people that actually don't like the combination of PB and J (don't ask!). I love the rich PB flavor in these muffins and they definitely make a yummy portable breakfast!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c smooth peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 c whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 c raisins


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line or spray 6 muffin cups.


2. In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, egg, milk, vanilla and butter. Stir in the dry ingredients and raisins.


3. Spoon into muffin pan, filling 3/4 full. Bake 20 minutes, until brown on top and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Parsley Overload!

Can someone please tell me why fresh herbs come in such huge bundles? I mean, they only last about a week and I can never seem to use them up fast enough. Anyway, I bought some parsley over the weekend and so I made Parsley Cheese Scones. I haven't made scones in a while and was really craving some. These turned out great even though I was a bit doubtful since the dough was REALLY sticky! I guess I should've learned by now that a sticky dough equals moist scones huh? Having a food processor mix my dough really makes my life easier too!




Ingredients: (8 scones)


2-1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
1 egg
1 c whole milk
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and baking powder. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


3. Add the egg, milk, cheese and parsley. Pulse until mixture comes together, about 10 pulses.


4. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and pat into a 10-in circle.


5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes and cut into wedges.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Night Chicken Paprikash

Braising is my favorite way of cooking chicken thighs. It keeps the meat moist and cooks them in less than 30 minutes. Since I had some bell peppers left over from making my Cheesy Bell Pepper Loaves, I decided to make Chicken Paprikash. If you're unfamiliar with this dish, it's a popular Hungarian recipe and was traditionally served with Spaetzle, a type of homemade dumpling. Nowadays in America, many recipes serve the chicken over Egg Noodles, which is what I did. It was a hearty and delicious meal. Very simple and perfect on a Sunday night!




Ingredients:


1 Tbspolive oil
2 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Salt and ground pepper
1/4 c chopped onions
1/2 c bell peppers, sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp paparika
1 c chicken broth
1 c chopped tomatoes
1/4 c sour cream
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Hot cooked wide noodles


Prep:


1. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high until sizzling. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.


2. Add onions and bell peppers; cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and paprika and stir for 1 minute. Add broth, scraping up brown bits. Add tomatoes and return chicken, skin side up, to pot.


3. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Stir in sour cream and parsley. Serve immediately over noodles.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not Your Average Panini

The Ferry Building is constantly packed with locals and tourists, so even though we live nearby, we seldom get to check it out cuz of all the crowds! Once in a while though, especially when it's nice out, I like to take a walk there and check out all the special items. My FAVORITE place to stop in is Cowgirl Creamery! It's a specialty cheese shop that had been featured on Giada's Weekend Getaway and they have an incredible collection of cheese, ranging from cottage cheese to crème fraiche, as well as other soft and hard cheeses. I don't know much about all the varieties but I know I love CHEESE and THIS is the place to get anything I can possibly dream of! These panini featured one of their soft cheese spread with flecks of green chili and spicy goodness. I also added sun-dried tomatoes and Dijon Mustard for a perfect and easy Saturday lunch!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheesy Bell Pepper Mini Loaves!

I bought some beautiful red bell peppers on sale and remembered wanting to try this recipe for Chile-Cheese Bread. Since I wanted to share some with my mom and she doesn't like spicy things, I left out the jalapeno and green chile and just used a cup of chopped bell peppers instead. I also used buttermilk for that extra tangy flavor and they turned out really yummy! Since I baked mini loaves, they only took about 30 minutes. Cheesy and loaded with vitamins, who could ask for more?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's Cheesy, Yummy and Actually Good for You?

Salmon with Parmesan Horseradish Crust and Dijon Cream! I found this recipe on the Wisconsin Cheese website and knew I wanted to make it! I mean, salmon encrusted with Parmesan and Horseradish? How can that NOT be good? It's also a pretty healthy dish, which is definitely a bonus! I found that the cream wouldn't reduce on low so I turned the heat up to medium and it worked like a charm. I served the salmon over couscous so that it could soak up all the yummy sauce. Such an easy and perfect weeknight meal!

Would You Like a Raisin Bran Flower?

Browsing around the Everyday Baking website, these Raisin Bran Muffins caught my eye. I had some cereal left over that was just the right amount for this recipe so I decided to give them a try. I personally LOVE Raisin Bran cereal so these muffins were just perfect for me! I also like how the recipe used half whole wheat flour, which makes them healthier. I always love it when I can feel good about eating some baked goodies!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

6 Chicken Thighs for How Much?

When I see a good deal, I just know it and the deal of the week were these Foster Farms Chicken Thighs. Fresh, never frozen, no hormones or steroids, 100% natural with no added salt, chemicals or artificial taste enhancers and only $2.50 for 6 of them! I mean, yes they were on sale cuz they needed to be cooked ASAP but I have no problem with that! I found this recipe for Braised Mediterranean Chicken over Polenta a while ago and have been wanting to try it. We've been on a Polenta/Grits kick lately so I thought it would be perfect for dinner. It turned out AMAZING! I left out the zucchini since we just had it last night and added some mushrooms instead. I also used a can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes with Sweet Onions instead of the fresh. It made my sauce a bit watery so I boiled it to let it thicken up after the chicken was done. It was the perfect combination with the Polenta! You know I'm always happy to find a great deal, especially when it turns out so YUMMY!

Another Savory Zucchini Bread

The Zucchini Cheddar Bread I made turned out really good so decided to make another version of this savory treat. I decided on this recipe for Zucchini Bread with Roasted Red Peppers and Feta but left out the peppers cuz my Feta was already flavored with Basil and Tomatoes. It turned out just as good as the Cheddar one if not better! I love the combination of zucchini and Feta! It's definitely the kind of bread you can have any time of the day and all the veggies make me feel good about eating it!

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