Archive | September 2013

Smothered Pork Chops

This recipe from Betty Crocker is a “shortcut” recipe that I thought would be good to try for a weeknight meal: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/smothered-pork-chops/3b7c04cd-e15b-49ad-a010-165856395b67

I’m not a big fan of having to cut meat away from a bone to eat it, though I will.   However, the best price for pork chops last week was on these: 2013_0928September20130012  So boneless it was!  Past experience has taught me that when a specific canned product is called for in a recipe, half the time my grocery store won’t have it.  But look what I found!  2013_0928September20130015  Surprise, surprise!  No substitution necessary this time!  I proceeded with the recipe as directed and came up with a meal that looked like this:  2013_0928September20130017  The only problem I had with this recipe was that the can of soup didn’t contain anywhere near as much onion as I thought it should have.  If and when I repeat this particular recipe, I will slice up an onion, caramelize it, and toss it in with the soup.  That should fix it up quite nicely!

Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

A couple of evenings ago I decided to finally try this Pinterest find: http://www.thecafesucrefarine.com/2011/12/three-holiday-must-have-recipes-day-2.html  After all, I love avocados, don’t you?

The first step in preparing this salad was to make those Candied Spiced Almonds, and I’ll admit I was a little leery of that one.  Sometimes these candied nut recipes work beautifully for me, and other times they fail miserably.  The first scary part?  Melting some sugar in a nonstick pan.  Just sugar.  I’m thinking, “Is this going to work right?  Am I going to burn it?”  Well, here it was, starting to melt just like it ought to: 2013_0928September20130003  Then after adding the rest of the ingredients in, I wasn’t truly certain when to stop cooking.  I know these things can burn pretty easily, so this is the point at which I decided to toss in the almonds: 2013_0928September20130005  I didn’t prepare a full pound of almonds, just one of those small packages of sliced almonds you find in the baking aisle.  So I only fixed half the sugar mixture.  And I added just a pinch of cumin, because we don’t like a strong cumin flavor here at our house.  we prefer just a hint in the background.  I then spread the almond slices out on my oil spritzed foil and let them sit while I put together the rest of the salad.  What do you know?  They set up quite nicely!  2013_0928September20130008  I probably should have spread them out a little more before the sugar hardened, though, because some chunks didn’t break apart all that easily.

For the salad greens, I chose to omit the cilantro (another “not a favorite” at our house) and just bought a bag of mixed greens:  2013_0928September20130007  After shaking up the dressing ingredients, slicing the avocados, and plating it all up, I had on my hands a rather tasty salad: 2013_0928September20130010   I’ll be making this one again sometime, for sure!

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cheddar and Bacon

Another recipe from ALL YOU magazine: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/twice-baked-sweet-potatoes-50400000130493/

When I was growing up, you couldn’t get me to try a sweet potato.   My dad always told me I’d like them because (as they’re name implies) they’re SWEET.  “Like eating candy,” he said.  Well, it turns out he was right, but I was in my twenties before I was brave enough to give them a chance.  Now I love them and am happy to incorporate them into a meal any time of the year.

Now, I don’t have a working microwave oven at this point in time, and even if I did, my previous experience “baking” a regular old potato in the microwave oven tells me that I’d prefer to use my regular old oven anyway.  Thus, instead of microwaving the sweet potatoes, I baked them for an hour at 400 degrees (as instructed in Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious”).   I have also taken to preparing bacon in the oven, again at 400 degrees.  I haven’t timed the bacon, but it’s probably about 10 minutes or so when I start checking it every minute or so since it goes so quickly from “almost ready” to “burnt to a crisp”.

The recipe tells us that the filling will mound up very high, and here is what my potatoes looked like before topping with cheese and baking: 2013_0925September20130127   The final result looked like this: 2013_0925September20130134  It was mighty tasty, and the only thing I might do differently the next time I make these is omit the tomatoes, as I didn’t think they were necessary.  In fact, I think I’d like these a little better without them.

Asian Shrimp Salad

This past week I picked more than one recipe from the October 2013 issue of ALL YOU magazine that recently arrived in my mailbox, and this one looked like something my husband would like: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/asian-shrimp-salad-50400000130484/

The only thing I did differently was that I used just a pinch of dried ground ginger instead of using fresh.  I also wasn’t sure exactly what “Asian Vinaigrette” was, but I had a bottle of “Asian dressing” already in my refrigerator, so that’s what I put on the salad: 2013_0925September20130123  I don’t like fish and seafood, so I can’t give you my personal opinion on this one.  However, I asked my husband how the flavors were and he paused long enough to say “pretty good” before shoveling the rest of his salad in his face 😉  He also had no complaints about taking the leftovers to work for his lunch the next day, so we must have a keeper here.

Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars

Recall a couple of posts ago, when I mentioned a “Cooking for 2” magazine that my 10 year old chose some recipes from?  He also chose a dessert, and I decided to try it out: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Chocolate-Chip-Caramel-Bars

I rarely ever use semisweet chocolate chips anymore, opting for the bittersweet instead: 2013_0925September20130115  And I didn’t have 2% milk since my husband drinks skim and who wants to buy even a pint of 2% when all you need is one tablespoon?  I did have some half and half left over from a previous recipe, so I used that instead.  Worked just fine!

This is one of those recipes that instructs you to “cut in” cold butter.  Which means I got to pull out my pastry blender: 2013_0925September20130117  I got mine from Pampered Chef, back when I bought almost every product they made.  That was years ago and I seriously doubt they’ve come up with any new gadgets that I “just have to have”.  But I am still pleased with my old purchases 🙂

I doubled this recipe and baked it in an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish, leaving the baking time the same: 2013_0925September20130118  We were all happy with these (except Mr. Super Extremely Picky, who wouldn’t even try one).  My husband’s comment was that they tasted even better after he ate them than while he was eating them (?)  and my other 3 children were very pleased to find these bars in their lunch boxes this week!

Penne With Roasted Red Pepper Marinara

For a “not-too-time-consuming” recipe after an evening taking children to their dental appointments Monday evening, I chose to try out this one from my latest issue of Fitness magazine: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipe/penne-with-roasted-red-pepper-marinara/

As usual, I chose not to spend the extra money on the whole-wheat variety of pasta, and instead bought this: 2013_0925September20130102  And those “low sodium” crushed tomatoes?  I’ve seen a few brands of crushed tomatoes, but none labelled “low sodium”.  I also chose to buy one larger jar of roasted red peppers (not quite 14 ounces, but I decided it would do).  2013_0925September20130096  I used the dried rosemary, and the recipe doesn’t say to crush it, but I did anyway.   In fact, that’s about the only time I use my mortar and pestle, is for crushing rosemary:  2013_0925September20130099  It didn’t take long for everything to come together, and soon I was serving this for dinner: 2013_0925September20130107  Oops!  I forgot to shred some parmesan cheese over it!  But you know what?  We enjoyed it anyway 🙂

Snickerdoodle Bread

I saw this lovely looking bread recipe and thought, “Who doesn’t like cinnamon & sugar?”  Well, other than my 3rd son, who shall be forever known as “Mr. Super Extremely Picky”.  This bread, I thought, would make a tasty breakfast one morning: http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/202009055/snickerdoodle-bread/

Now, I once before tried either this or a very similar recipe, but was unable to find the cinnamon chips called for that time.  Undaunted, I decided to try again.  I can always omit or substitute if necessary.  My Kroger still didn’t have these, but I did have reason to head over to WalMart (which didn’t carry these last time I was looking for them), but lo and behold!  Look what I found: 2013_0925September20130091  We’re in business now!   But for one thing.  The recipe calls for 4 mini loaf pans.  I don’t own 4 mini loaf pans.  I used to own one, but that was years ago and once it started showing wear and I was married with children, I gave it to the kiddos for their play kitchen.  (When would I ever fix something in one itty bitty loaf pan?)  I have no desire to go buy 4 mini loaf pans, so my debate with myself was, one loaf pan or two?  I ended up going with one: 2013_0925September20130093  I knew this would most likely have to bake for an hour or more, but I set the timer for 45 minutes and started checking then.  I don’t recall whether I took the loaf out of the oven at an hour or closer to an hour and 10 minutes, but this is what a slice of it looked like: 2013_0925September20130114 (sitting on a pretty pink paper plate left over from my daughter’s birthday party)  The texture was all wrong.  I think I needed to bake it longer.  Or better yet, split it into two loaves so it wouldn’t need as much time.