Monday, November 30, 2009

Stolen Moment: It's a blog-aversary giveaway!

Ellie over at Vintage Victuals is putting love, care, and occasionally a new spin, into her favorite cherished family recipes - as well as sharing some new ones with her readers too. She is celebrating her "blog-aversary" with a great giveaway too. So check out her blog and prepare to be inspired!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Herb rubbed pork chops and "twice baked" potatoes

I love everything about twice baked potatoes. Everything EXCEPT the process of actually making them. All that scraping and refilling of the potato-y centers, it is just too much for me.
So I cheated last night and boiled 2 medium diced potatoes until they were just tender and flaky, then drained and smashed in the hot pot with a fork until they were smashed, but not totally smooth. Then I added two tablespoons of light sour cream, 1/4 cup 2% milk shredded cheddar, 1 tablespoon of Olivio spread, and 1/4 cup fat free milk. I stirred the ingredients together and divided into two medium ramekins, sprinkling 1/2 an additional tablespoon of the cheddar
over each of the ramekins and adding some diced scallions to mine (no onions for The Hub.)
I placed the potatoes under the broiler just long enough to make the cheese on top slightly brown and crusty.
This got served along side boneless loin pork chops, which I pulled out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and rubbed each side with this rub:
1 teaspoon oil mixed with 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 tablespoon thyme, 1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes, 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper (mixed until it forms a paste and divided between two thin chops)
I let that sit while I tended to the boiling potatoes, and then cooked the chops off for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven on a flat roasting rack.
The chops sat loosely covered with foil letting the juices redistribute while I broiled the potatoes before serving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Seasoned petite sirloin with steamed basil veggies

Ahhhh, beef. It's what's for dinner. A few weeks ago Albertsons had petite sirloin steak packages buy 1 get 2 free, so I have a fair amount in the freezer at the moment. Here I have cut one steak in half and rubbed the juice of one lime, along with a generous sprinkling of garlic powder and parsley flakes into all sides of the pieces:
I left that to marinade on the counter for about 30 minutes while I changed out of my office attire and prepped the veggies. Using a peeler, I made ribbons out of two small zucchinis:
Then I added in a couple handfuls of frozen corn (The Hub LOVES corn, but not so much Zuchini, so this is my way of getting him to eat the squash - I mix it together,) a palmful (about a Tablespoon) of freeze-dried basil, and a teaspoon of Olivo (good for your cholesterol butter substitute):
I set the veggies aside while I seared the steaks in a hot skillet on each side (in picture below,) and then transferred them to a 450 degree oven to finish cooking (The Hub's to medium rare, and mine to rare, respectively.)
While the steaks finish in the oven, I deglazed the pan I seared them in with 1/3 cup Vermouth:
I let this liquid reduce by half over medium heat and then swirled in a teaspoon of Olivo.
When the steaks were done cooking, I let them rest while I cooked the veggies in the microwave, covered for 2 minutes. The steaks got a drizzle of the pan sauce before hitting the table. Mmmm. Red Meat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Asian flavor inspired pork salad

Yesterday morning I took 3 of the scrawniest little boneless pork loin chops I had ever seen and tossed them into a zip-top bag. (Seriously, they came in a family pack with normal-sized chops, but they snuck some real runts in there!)
To the bag I added 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
I smooshed everything around in the closed baggie, mixing it together and distributing it evenly around the chops. Then I set it in a baking dish in the fridge and went off to work.

When I got home I cranked the broiler on high and let it heat up, put the chops on a cooking-spray coated flat rack in a baking pan, put the pan in the oven and switched the temp from broil hi to 450, and cooked them in that nice hot oven for about 20 minutes. they were crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and they had amazing flavor!

As they cooked I tossed together a simple salad with lettuce, carrots, and green peppers, giving the whole thing a shake with Newman's Own Lighten Up Sesame Ginger Dressing.

I cut the chops into bite-sized pieces so I could pile the pork on top of the salad. The Hub said the pork was really good, and then actually asked me "what did you do to make the pork so good?"

Good and Good For You, my friend...
Good AND Good For You.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick and Lighter Roasted Chicken and Veggies

I feel compelled to tell you that my first final EVER in culinary school (before I added "drop out" to those words, natch) was roast chicken.
We drew our final meals out of a hat, and I got super lucky. What could be easier than Roast Chicken, right? It is still one of my favorite easy "wow" meals to make for guests.

I got a B. Some day I will tell you the story of why, but now is not that time.
Roasting a whole chicken is easy peasey and perfect for a family or a dinner party, but kind of "too much" for just me and The Hub on a Sunday evening, so I improvise a smaller version using b/s chicken breast and veggies (in this case I used just ONE of those freakishly giant chicken breasts I had in the freezer - but two normal sized b/s breasts would be great.)
To start, I mix 1/2 teaspoon Thyme, 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into 1/4 cup flour and 2 teaspoons corn starch (corn starch really REALLY helps things get good color in the pan, trust me):
Then I coat the chicken breast, which I have cut into chunks that are two or three bites each, in the mixture:
I heat a NON COATED (non-stick pans just don't brown as well, sorry) pan coated in cooking spray over medium heat on the stove until I can feel the heat when I hold my hand open about 1/2 inch over the pan's cooking surface, and I brown all sides of the chicken giving it plenty of room for each piece - do two batches if needed:
I just brown each side, I don't cook through. Then I lay the chicken on top of some small diced potatoes and carrots sprayed with cooking spray in a roasting pan, and pop them into the oven to cook at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until the veggies reach desired tenderness (the chicken holds moisture since you browned it, locking in the juices, so you are ok to do this.

While that is cooking, I drain the fat out of the pan I browned the chicken in, add 1 tablespoon of Olivo (since The Hub has that high cholesterol situation) and melt it down... then I add 1 tablespoon (same amount as the fat, or fake fat in this case, notice the proportion for a roux folks,) of flour to the melted Olivo and whisk it together to form a sort of Roux (because I can now, m'kay?)
It looks a little different than a normal Roux, shiny and almost broken like this:
It is ok, it will still work. Cook that out for 2 minutes or so over medium heat stirring it so it loses the weird flour flavor and starts to loosen the pan crud left from the chicken and then pour in 1 cup liquid (I used water mixed with just a scant 1/8 teaspoon of chicken bullion sprinkles) into the pan and really scrape with a metal utensil to lift the chicken bits and incorporate the Roux.. stir and stir over the heat until it looks like this:

Then, if you are my family, you are done... if you are married to a picky guy like The Hub, strain to take out the bits that came up from the pan, like this:
Then, when the veggies are tender, pull everything out of the oven:
Assemble on a plate by making a pile of the veggies, placing some chicken pieces on top, and ladling the pan gravy over the top of the chicken so it drips down onto the veggies, like the pic at the top of the post. Oh. Yeah.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Chop 2 cooked chicken breasts into small pieces. Add 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese shreds, 1/2 block of neufchatel cheese (softened) and 1/2 can of Enchilada sauce. Stir ingredients together and add 1/4 teaspoon-1 teaspoon adobo paste (optional, for spicy heat) to mixture and spread into two burrito-sized whole grain tortillas, roll around filling and place in baking dish. Pour remaining Enchilada sauce over burritos and sprinkle with 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese shreds and bake in 350 degree oven until sauce and cheese bubble.

mmmm.. creamy but spicy. So good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Last Days of Gourmet

Back when the term "Drop out" was not yet associated with my Culinary School experience, and I was just a lowly culinary student toiling away in the kitchen, I loved Gourmet Magazine with a passion. The day it arrived in the mailbox of my sketchy little studio apartment was like a mini version of Christmas each month.

Alas, Gourmet is no more.
Here, one member of the Gourmet team says good-bye to the spaces and the people that have become his home during 8 years of work at the Magazine.