Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This is another recipe (yes, another one) from Betty Crocker's Dinner Made Easy cookbook. I think this is my favorite cookbook right now; it's filled with tasty, simple recipes that can be made with ingredients I typically already have on hand. I made a few changes to this one; the original recipe called for the pork to be coated with sesame seeds and broiled, and also used regular garlic in the sauce. I skipped the sesame seeds, but to provide the same nuttiness I used roasted garlic cloves in the sauce, which was out-of-this-world good.
I've mentioned my love affair with cream cheese before, and I was excited to try it in this new application. It made the sauce wonderfully tangy, paired perfectly with the garlic, and provided a subtle sweetness. I served the pork with roasted cauliflower -- chopped, slathered with olive oil and salt and pepper, and cooked at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes -- and Joe even put the sauce on that, which he said was delicious.
I couldn't believe how quickly this came together and how good it tasted. I'll definitely be making this one again!
Pork Loin Chops with Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce
Source: adapted from Betty Crocker's Dinner Made Easy cookbook (2009 edition)
1 pound boneless pork loin chops
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves roasted garlic, finely chopped
4 ounces (half a brick) cream cheese
1/3 cup milk
1. Season pork liberally with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chops in olive oil until juices run clear.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped garlic cloves and saute for about 2 minutes.
3. Add cream cheese and milk to the garlic and stir until cream cheese is melted and sauce is hot, 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste (I went heavy on the pepper).
4. Serve sauce over pork chops.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Anyway. Christmas is over, and it's time for Joe and me to get back to eating normal food in normal quantities. This is another recipe from Betty Crocker's 2009 Dinner Made Easy cookbook, and it was really good. Joe really liked it, and I thought it was quite tasty myself. The rice took about 20 minutes longer to cook than what the recipe indicated, though, and I thought that was pretty annoying. But otherwise, a delicious meal. I'd recommend making this on the weekend, since the prep and cooking time is kind of extensive and not really conducive to weeknight cooking (at least for me). I did add some hot sausage to feed Joe's carnivorous appetite; it would have been good with ground beef or chicken, too.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
These cookies have a fabulous texture and the perfect balance of flavors. They're nutty and salty and sweet in equal parts. If you like the flavor of butterscotch but want an alternative to oatmeal scotchies, if you like nuts in cookies but you're sick of using the same old walnuts, this cookie is for you. I know I'm posting this kind of late, but seriously, if you're still baking for Christmas (like I am; I'll be in the kitchen again tonight), I would strongly encourage you to give these a try!
(Also: Since this recipe calls for less than a cup of cashews, I didn't want to buy an entire tub because they're just too expensive! So I went to our local convenience store and picked up a couple of the individual serving-sized packages. It was the perfect amount!)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped salted dry roasted cashews
2/3 cup butterscotch-flavor pieces
Monday, December 22, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I received my 2009 edition of Betty Crocker's Dinner Made Easy cookbook in the mail, and when I was leafing through it this recipe caught my eye. It just seemed so...strange, and I bookmarked it because I was curious how the flavors would work together. Carrots and grapes? Honey, balsamic vinegar and orange juice? And cinnamon? I was intrigued.
I put a lot of faith in Betty, though, especially since one of her previous cookbooks gave me this home run. And once again, she didn't disappoint me! This dish was absolutely delicious. The flavors all worked together so well. The grapes give the dish a subtle sweetness, and the carrots echo that sweetness in addition to adding a nice earthy flavor. Joe and I both really enjoyed this, and it came together very quickly. I served it with mashed potatoes for soaking up the (delicious) sauce.
The recipe below reflects the changes I made to the dish. The original recipe calls for the chicken to be poached in the sauce, but I much prefer chicken that's crispy on the outside, so I pan-fried it first.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Stephanie calls this the most delicious frozen pie she's ever tasted, and I have to say that I agree with her. This pie is ohhhh so good. We both loved it. And what's even better is that it literally took three minutes to make. It's so creamy and decadent and rich; I just can't rave enough about it. Definitely try this one! I didn't make my own crust (a graham cracker pie shell works just fine for this), but I've included Stephanie's crust recipe below. Warm mulled cranberries would be delicious on top of this, and would make it a perfect holiday dessert!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Last night, this meant I made sloppy joes (mom's way, which uses fresh onion and green bell pepper, and ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire and hot sauce rather than Manwich) and her "scalloped" potatoes. This is what I grew up thinking scalloped potatoes were, because that's what Mom always called them. It was only when I became an adult and started cooking more that I realized these potatoes are nothing like the typical definition of "scalloped" potatoes. But that's what I'll always call them. And last night, they were a creamy, cheesy pile of warm memories -- just what I needed to help me remember her.
Mom's "Scalloped" Potatoes
2-3 pounds golden potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a Crock pot, combine mushroom soup, milk, cheddar cheese and salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes and onions.
2. Cook over low heat 6 hours, or until potatoes are tender.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Grandma D's Nutter Butter Santas
2 packages white baking chocolate, chopped
1 package Nutter Butter sandwich cookies
red colored sugar
32 white chocolate chips
64 miniature sweet or semisweet chocolate chips
32 red hot candies
1. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate, stirring occasionally.
2. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate. Place on wire racks. For Santa's hat, sprinkle red sugar on top part of chocolate. Place one white chocolate chip off-center on hat for pom-pom; let stand until set.
3. Dip other end of each cookie into melted chocolate for beard, leaving center of cookie uncovered. Place on wire racks.
4. With a dab of melted chocolate, attach semisweet chips for eyes and a red hot for nose.
5. Place on waxed paper until chocolate sets.
Anyway, this disaster of a kitchen last night had a purpose: One of my co-workers and his wife just had their first baby, a little girl, and his first day back to work was today. I remember very clearly what those first weeks were like with a newborn in the house, and the last thing I felt like doing was cooking. Joe and I relied on food from the neighbors, meals I'd frozen for us, and take-out for a good month or so after Andrew was born. So I decided to make some food for them to enjoy. I made our family's favorite comfort food casserole, some insanely delicious brownies (someone made brownies for me after Andrew's birth, and they were all I wanted to eat), and some pumpkin bread.
The pumpkin bread was a new recipe, which was taking a risk, but it turned out wonderfully. This is one of the most moist and flavorful quick breads I've ever made. It has the perfect balance of spices and it's simply just delicious. I had a couple of pieces from the loaf we kept for ourselves for breakfast this morning, warmed up and slathered with tons of butter, and it was absolute Heaven. I hope the new family enjoys it as much as I am!
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans because I had them on hand)
Monday, December 8, 2008
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk or low-fat sweetened condensed milk
Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
2/3 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate (I used a full cup of white chocolate chips)
Saturday, December 6, 2008
It seemed like the perfect day to lounge around and cuddle, and after a few errands this morning, that's exacty what my son and I did for the rest of the day. We took a nap, we played, we napped some more, and we cooked a big pot of hearty soup to combat the chilly weather.
I had this soup on our menu last week and just didn't get around to making it then, but I'm glad I decided to fix it today. It was delicious and exactly what I was craving on a winter day like this one. It reminds me a lot of a cabbage and potato cream soup that my mom used to make, but I really liked the addition of bratwurst (casings removed, so it's really just like sausage).
I made a few changes to the recipe, which are reflected below in purple. To me, soup just isn't soup without some kind of stock and a couple of bay leaves, and I think without those additions (plus salt and lots of pepper) this would have been way too bland. I couldn't have made it without Andrew's help, of course:
Joe and I both really enjoyed this soup. It's a delicious winter soup, and absolutely perfect with buttered bread for dipping! As much as I'd like to keep the leftovers for myself, I'm taking them to my dad tomorrow. He's a huge cabbage fan and I think he'll really like this!
Bratwurst, Potato and Cabbage Soup
16 ounces bratwurst, casings removed
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used golden potatoes, so I left the skin on for texture)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups water (reduced to 1 cup)
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces Swiss cheese, diced (I used shredded mozzarella because I didn't have Swiss, and it tasted fine)
2. In the same pot, saute onions and potatoes for a few minutes in the bratwurst drippings. Add sausage, water, chicken stock and bay leaves to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for another 20 minutes.
3. Add 2 1/2 cups of the milk and heat slowly to just under a boil.
4. In a separate small bowl, mix the flour with the remaining milk, and add to the pot slowly, stirring constantly, so that the flour does not clump. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. When the mixture in the pot thickens, add the cheese and stir off and on until the cheese has melted.
Friday, December 5, 2008
So. I feel like if I post this (because writing anything on one of my blogs is like writing it in stone, of course), I will actually buckle down and force myself to get baking. Yes, I am totally in denial that Christmas is almost here. Without further ado, here is the list of Christmas cookies you can keep an eye out for coming up soon:
- oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies
- tiramisu cheesecake bars
- buried cherry cookies
- grasshopper squares
- Mom's Buckeyes
- Irish creme delights
- salty-sweet butterscotch cookies
- oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies
I have some other holiday desserts planned, too, plus some baking to do for a co-worker who just had his first baby, but I think if I pace myself I'll be fine. Look for the first two recipes on Monday, since I've committed to baking two dozen cookies for our holiday cookie exchange at work.