Thursday, January 29, 2009

CEiMB - Sage-rubbed Pork Chops with Warm Apple Slaw

Jennifer of Jen B's Cooking Carveout Breach of the Recipeace hosted this week's CEiMB recipe, Sage Rubbed Pork Chops with Warm Apple Slaw. I had checked this recipe out previously and was really excited about making it. GREAT pick, Jennifer!

Jennifer is a lawyer in my office and we have a good time collaborating over recipes, what's good, what's not, what takes too much time, etc. One of the first things you learn about Jennifer upon meeting her is how much she loves her three cats. Jen was not a cat person until one day three little kittens showed up on her doorstep. She has shown great mothering instincts toward the kittens, and has grown to love them even though she is allergic to cats. I tease her a lot about them. What are friends for if not to tease and torment?

Here kitty kitty kitty.
Tom, Oskar, and Beasley. Aren't they cute?

These pork chops were so good! I actually cannot wait to make them a second time. Loved the slaw. It was a quick and easy recipe and very impressive I thought. I'll definitely be making this recipe for dinner guests the next time I find the energy to clean the house. I seem to be having dust issues since we renovated the kitchen. I dust, the dust returns. I dust, the dust returns. And lots of sneezing going on in this house!

Here are the beautiful chops before cooking them. You rub them with garlic, fresh sage, and freshly ground pepper. The fresh sage had such a wonderful aroma.
The slaw was huge until it cooked down. Then it was just the right amount. I used a bag of precut cabbage and carrots.

Served it right up with some fresh green beans and a glass of Asian Pear Green Tea. A delicious and healthy dinner!

For those of you interested in how my first violin lesson turned out, let me just say that it was hard and when I got home I was frustrated and this is what I "wanted" to do to my violin, but thank goodness I restrained. I'll try again next week!!
Recipe:
Sage Rubbed Pork Chops with Warm Apple Slaw
2007, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved
Serves:
4 servings

Ingredients
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
4 (3/4-inch) bone-in pork loin chops (about 8 ounces each)
1 large onion
1 large Granny Smith apple, cut in 1/2, cored
1/2 head green cabbage, cored
3 large carrots
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Combine the 3 teaspoons of the fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Rub this mixture all over the pork chops and let the chops sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion, apple and cabbage and julienne the carrots (very thin sticks). Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan until hot but not smoking. Add the chops and brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove. Carefully wipe out the pan. Heat the remaining teaspoon oil over moderate heat and add the onion, apples and remaining teaspoon fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is soft and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrots, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue cooking until the cabbage and carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and return the pork chops to the pan burying them in the vegetable mixture. Cover and cook just until the pork chops are just slightly blush in the center, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
To serve, arrange the warm slaw on individual plates and top with a pork chop and pan juices.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD - Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

Heather of Sherry Trifle chose Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread. Check out her blog to grab the recipe! Thanks Heather! Also head over to Tuesdays with Dorie to see what the other bakers came up with for this week's challenge.

So, I've got my very first violin lesson coming up this week. I'm hoping by next Christmas I will be able to play twinkle twinkle little star (Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman) or some other song written for children. I think Mozart actually wrote twelve versions of it, so maybe if I cannot learn the original one I can move on (not up) to a simpler version! Don't laugh, it's possible.
All was quiet here at the southern/yankee house this weekend. And by the way, calling my DH yankee is a pet name - not meant to offend any of you northerners at all. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE that he is from the north and his accent just makes me melt every time I hear him talk. Sometimes I lay awake at night just worrying that he might accidentally pick up my southern drawl.

Almost finished with book four of Twilight and not loving it so far. Loved all the first three, but this one is getting creepy. Rented and watched two movies this weekend, The Martian Child (wonderful feel good movie) and Lust, Caution (foreign with sub-titles, explicit sex scenes, not for the faint at heart). I taped the Miss America pageant and was planning to enjoy it Sunday afternoon, but then the yankee says to me over morning coffee and newspaper "Miss Indiana won the pageant." I said, "oh thanks honey. Now I don't have to watch it and try to figure out who is going to win! I will now have two extra hours today to do something more fun."
I was not excited this week about the gingerbread (maybe because I was not excited about much of anything this weekend) (or maybe because I think of gingerbread as a fall dessert), but decided to make it a happy adventure by baking it in my wonderful new ramekins that I got for Christmas. I wonder who actually thought up the idea of a ramekin. Someone who had a little batter left over and thought, "hey, wish I had a small dish to cook this up in, and maybe call it a ramekin!" Why would you name a dish a word that sounds like a relative to a male sheep? It sure doesn't look anything like a sheep or ram. A better name for it might have been babybumpkin or tinycrock.
I added golden raisens, walnuts, and bittersweet chocolate chunks to half of the batter and left the other half plain. I left out the fresh ginger. I forgot to sift in the confectioner's sugar and it was a tad lumpy because of that. But it still tasted soooo good!
My DH ate an entire kin to a ram dish of cake and loved it.
Coming up on Thursday of this week, pork chops with apple slaw. Check back and see how that turns out. And if I'm not too humiliated, I'll fill you in on how my violin lesson went!
And now, for all you Losties, here's a little something something to keep you going today!

I know. . . .I'm baaaad to the bone, but he's hot.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CEiMB and BB - Chicken Cacciatore and Easy Sticky Buns!

In the Barefoot Bloggers group, Melissa of Made by Melissa chose Easy Sticky Buns from Ina Garten's Back to Basics and the recipe is on page 240.
Recipe: EASY
Results: Phenomenal
I had all the ingredients already in my pantry so set-up was a snap. Be SURE to try these.

Frozen puff pastry is like the best thing to ever happen to my food stock. I use it on my chicken pot pies, desserts, and now Ina has shown me I can make sticky buns with it! I LOVE it.



It is easy to roll up, and then you just cut them into spirals and put in your muffin pans on top of the butter, brown sugar, and pecan mixture and bake. Then you get these fabuloso buns!
And NOW for CEiMB!!! Drum Roll. Drum Roll.


This week in our Craving Ellie in My Belly group *I* got to choose the recipe!!! Don't EVEN think it is easy to choose! It is such a big responsibility, plus there are so many good recipes to choose from and so many considerations. What appeals to many, would be easy on the budget, and really tasty? After tossing all that around in my head, a few loose nuts and bolts flying around in a normally blank atmosphere, I developed a headache and had to stop and eat a sticky bun. Then I finally just made an executive decision and chose the Chicken Cacciatore. As luck would have it, some friends were coming over for dinner and I thought they would be the perfect taste testers.

My post today has no structure or continuity whatsoever. So in keeping with that, before we talk cacciatore, let me tell you I first served a great fruit dip along with some pineapple, apples, grapes, strawberries, and pretzels. I wanted to show off my new chips and dip dish that my friend Heather gave me for Christmas. The dip recipe came from a friend on GreatCooksCommunity.com. It was a mixture of sour cream, cool whip, instant lemon pudding, and amaretto. It was delicious with the fruit, but I personally liked it best with the pretzels! It is so good you could just eat it with a spoon! And we did after the fruit was gone.
Now then, back to the CACCIATORE. The recipe was very easy to follow and the chicken was very tender. I did add an extra can of crushed tomatoes because the sauce seemed a bit watery. I served it with Ellie's Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Shallots as a side, along with a green salad, some parmesan potatoes, and garlic bread.
It made a healthy looking plate, didn't it? Lisa, don't take ALL the potatoes!! Wait, this one is lacking the cacciatore sauce. Sarah, where is your sauce? And this is the ONLY picture I got of the cacciatore! Bummer!
I would highly recommend you try this, even in the middle of the week on a work night.

Finally, for all you who love crock pot dishes, try this link for some great recipes. http://www.50plusfriends.com/cookbook/crockpot/index-5b.html



Chicken Cacciatore

Cook Time:
35 min



Serves:
4 servings


Ingredients



4 skinless chicken breast halves on the bone, about 2 pounds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped and juice reserved

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste


Directions


Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a saute pan over moderately-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the onion and pepper, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and juice, oregano, red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and simmer the mixture covered for 10 minutes. Return the chicken breasts to the pan and simmer, covered, until the chicken is just done, about 20 minutes longer.


Monday, January 19, 2009

TWD - Berry Surprise Cake

I wouldn't say I had the best cooking weekend I've ever had. Friends came Friday night for dinner and I served chicken spaghetti. It was delicious except it was not warm enough from the oven. Everyone was very gracious about it, but being the perfectionist that I am, I was frustrated with myself. I'm sure you have all been there, right?

Then came Saturday and more friends were coming for dinner. I decided to make this week's TWD cake to serve them as dessert. I got all my ingredients together. Thankfully, my good friend Cathy of The Tortefeasor had given me some Chambord last summer to use in another recipe so I was prepared liquorically speaking for this one.
I had heard horror stories about how this cake was turning out or not turning out and I was determined to have mine work. The first mishap of the day was discovering I needed an eight inch pan and all I had was a nine inch one. So it was off to the store to find the right pan. Found one at T.J. Maxx. You gotta love that store!

I ended up making this cake TWICE.

The first time I proceeded to follow Dorie's instructions as closely as I could. I put the eggs in the hot water, timed them three minutes, then transferred them to a nice cold mixing bowl where I proceeded to whip them at a low speed. After five minutes, they had not tripled in size, nor did I have a ribbon that would hold for ten seconds. Finally my brain kicked into gear and I cranked up the beater to medium speed (where it should have been in the first place) and pretty soon the eggs looked okay. So I cooked CAKE NUMBER ONE.


The cake did not rise much and when I took it out of the pan I knew it was too dense and too shallow to try and cut a pocket out of it. Determined, I proceeded to wash all the dishes and start again.
This time I heated the eggs in the same mixing bowl I would use to whip them. I whipped them on medium speed for five minutes and they fluffed up perfectly and held a nice ribbon for at least ten seconds. I carefully added the dry ingredients and barely folded them in. I baked the cake and it looked great. I used strawberries for the berries because they did not have any fresh looking raspberries (which is what I really wanted to use).


My friends came, we ate, and everyone could not wait to taste the cake. I must say, the cake was beautiful. As I was cutting it, I explained to them that it was not normal cake. It was diva egg cake. We all took our first bite, and the silence in the room was deafening. It had a coarse consistency and was flavorless for the most part. Again, I'm thankful for gracious friends who ate without complaining and even asked for a second piece. I personally could not even taste the filling that much. I'm curious to hear how everyone else's turned out.


The next day, the yankee and I sat down to watch a movie and decided to try another piece with a cup of joe. I will admit we both liked it better the second day.


I'm glad I made it, loved the challenge, and thanks to Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen for choosing it. Get on over to her blog and check out the recipe. Don't take my word for it - try it for yourself. maresfoodandfun.blogspot.com


But for me, I would give it a C+ and probably never make this cake again. If I am going to put time and effort into it, I prefer something with a bit richer flavor.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CEiMB - Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Chocolate

This week Amanda at Beckett Bakes It chose Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Chocolate for us to try. Amanda and I work together and it is really fun to discuss our cooking creations/disasters together! This recipe really turned out to be a very elegant main dish I thought. Because there are only two of us eating at home right now, I thought the sauce sounded like too much, so I quartered the recipe and did not cook it quite as long maybe as I should have. Also, I cooked the tenderloin a bit longer than the recipe called for because I do not care for my beef that rare. I used a cabernet for the wine and left out the carrots and rosemary from the gravy.

I served that puppy right up with my savory corn muffins from TWD's choice that was earlier in the week, and some mixed steamed vegetables (carrots, squash, zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli). It was a great combination.

The yankee raved about it as he was chowing down.

I got a bit too close too fast to the food with my camera, and the lens steamed up so my photo might not be crystal clear.

It was a great recipe and I will definitely try it again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWD - Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

This week's recipe on TWD (Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins) was chosen by Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake, one of my favorite blogs to read! Head over her way and check out the recipe.

Let me just say, "you had me at muffin."
I'm a huge muffin fan and especially anything that looks like, tastes like, or feels like cornbread in my mouth gets an A-plus from me. I always say a muffin tastes so much better when a little batter spills here and there. Don't you say that too?
My DH did not care for them so much. That's because he is not a fan of red bell pepper and he said that is all he could taste in them. I am not sure how he missed the wonderful taste of the corn and the jalapeno and just the batter itself, but he baffles me sometimes.

These muffins completed me. They were delicious.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CEiMB - Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame, and Tofu

This week's CEiMB was hosted by Running with Food and she chose Fried Rice. I love being in this group because it makes me cook things I never would have thought about cooking and I feel good knowing they are healthy dishes. I can't tell you how much I loved this recipe! It was easy to make and so good to eat.

I left off the tofu, however, and used chicken instead. I wasn't sure if I would like the edamame, but it was interesting. Next time I make this, and there WILL be a next time, I'm going to add water chestnuts and snow peas.
I cannot wait to see how everyone elses on CEiMB's turned out!

The DH and myself ate two platefuls each I am ashamed to admit. Hogs we are.

Here is the recipe - try it!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Directions
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TWD - French Pear Tart

In our group, Tuesdays with Dorie, we were very lucky this week because Dorie Greenspan herself chose our recipe! It is such an honor for her to take the time to do that for us. Thank you Dorie!
Check out everyone's French Pear Tart at TuesdayswithDorie.wordpress.com.

I wanted so badly to do a great job on this recipe if for no other reason than respect for Dorie.

Of course, there is always some drama at my house. First, I have no tart pan. Second, there was the "time" factor. There was also the "I had a sick husband at home and I was trying to take care of him" factor. In taking "care" of him, I had to drag him around all day Saturday and Sunday in the rain to shop because we have a deadline to get a few things done. Poor thing, I did take bottled water, cold meds, and a windbreaker for his protection from the rain. (I'm at least thoughtful while subjecting him to possible pneumonia). He was a real trooper. Also, I still had Christmas presents lying around the house that I needed to find a place for. Is that a problem for anyone else? You get these wonderful presents, and then, where do you store them if it is something you aren't going to use frequently? Always a problem for me. I am a very organized person, with a house full of very disorganized closets!

Last factor, but maybe the most important, I'm reading the Twilight books. If you are reading those, then you understand how difficult it is to put them down and do anything else!!!! I also HAD to go see the movie this weekend so that was another couple of hours of my time. I didn't feel seeing the movie was even optional - I just HAD to see it. I am mid-way of the second book, and again, I cannot put it down.

So I made a french pear pie instead of tart. I used a purchased pie crust (oh no, slap me), that I already had in the freezer. Unfortunately, it was a deep dish crust. I think a thinner one would have worked better.
This recipe was incredibly easy. I thought I placed my pears the way the recipe said to do it. I might be wrong.

The yankee says it is his favorite thing I have made in TWD!!!! He was literally going on and on about it! Always makes my heart proud to know I've pleased him with a food!
As you can see, my crust falls apart when I slice each piece, but it tastes good anyway!

Photos were taken in a rush as well so . . . . forgive me! I'm going to make it a new year's resolution to slow down and smell the roses more often.