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December 30, 2011

Food and Wine Nacho Burgers

Burgers are a popular food in my house. Not plain tasteless burgers, but burgers that are thick and juicy and full of toppings. Turkey, chicken, beef, veggie, you name it, my family will devour it with zealous. In the summer I make burgers approximately once a week, but in the fall and winter I scale back my burger making. It has been months since I've tried a new burger recipe and I figured it was about time to try a new one. The January 2012 issue of Food and Wine Magazine had a recipe for Nacho Burgers that looked full of flavor and perfect for a cold weather burger recipe.

This recipe has 6 ingredients in the salsa, 7 ingredients in the cheese sauce and 7 ingredients in the burgers. The  recipe takes 35 minutes of total time and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients with the exception of the blue corn chips which I didn't notice I needed before preparing the recipe. One thing that the recipe neglects to mention is to add the milk gradually to the flour and butter in the cheese sauce. If the milk is added all at once the cheese sauce won't thicken properly. I found that my sauce took a little longer than five minutes to fully thicken and another 5-10 minutes of cooling. I chose to grill my burgers on an indoor grill since it is winter and honestly I find it much easier. Additionally I made my burgers smaller since half of them were for my kids. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These burgers turned out delicious. The burger recipe is your basic burger recipe, it is the sauce and salsa that make this dish so yummy. The cheese sauce is the best part of the recipe and was very popular with my three-year-old. It also re-heated well the next day with leftovers, and even worked with the veggie burgers I had in the freezer. A great fall/winter burger recipe with delicious toppings.

For the recipe go to Nacho Burgers.

December 29, 2011

Eating Well Warm-Potato Salad with Bacon-Mustard Dressing

Potatoes are one of my favorite foods. Growing up every Sunday my dad would get up early and start fried potatoes. Those fried potatoes to this day are one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had. I have tried to duplicate them in my own house and they never seem to be as good as the ones my dad made. My dad and husband have told me that I'm too impatient with the potatoes and flip them too often and too soon. They are probably right, they are both way more patient than me. Instead of obsessing over perfecting fried potatoes I have fallen in love with trying new types of potato salad. Not the store bought overly mayonnaise based varieties, but real homemade potato salad. Eating Well Magazine recently had a recipe for Warm Potato Salad with Bacon Mustard Dressing, which looked easy and low in fat and calories.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time and makes 10 servings. All the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding any of them at my local grocery store. The fingerling potatoes cooked quicker than the recipe suggests so make sure to turn them frequently in order to prevent burning. I let my potato salad cool slightly before serving, my husband wasn't a fan of the salad being hot when served. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The dressing on this potato salad is delicious. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory and makes a great compliment to the potatoes and apples. The best part of this salad is that it only contains 129 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving. Even my two boys enjoyed this salad, including my currently very food picky three-year-old. There are more than enough servings to take to a party or potluck or for multiple family meals.

For the recipe go to Warm Potato Salad with Bacon-Mustard Dressing.

December 28, 2011

Food and Wine Keema Beef Curry

When my oldest son was around two-years-old he became obsessed with spicy foods. One day I walked into the kitchen and discovered him eating a habanero pepper like an apple. Even I have a hard time with unseeded habaneros, but not my son. He loves spicy food. My husband shares my oldest son's love of spicy foods, especially curry. They have been known to go out to the Indian restaurant in town, just the two of them to indulge their cravings. I try to cook curry at home at least a couple of times a month and recently the January 2012 issue of Food and Wine magazine had a recipe for Keema Beef Curry, which looked delicious and easy to prepare.

This recipe has 16 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of total time and makes 4 to 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. I ground my own beef and used homemade chicken stock. The texture on home ground beef is better and the beef quality can be better controlled than any I can buy pre-ground at my local grocery store. I found that the potatoes took longer than the 15 minutes suggested by the recipe, closer to 20-25 minutes. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My family loved this recipe. It made more than enough for a meal for my family of four, plus enough leftovers for an additional meal. I served the curry over rice and added Greek yogurt to my youngest son's plate to cut down on the heat. This is a very easy recipe that I will definitely make again in the future.

For the recipe go to Keema Beef Curry.

December 27, 2011

Family Circle Chipotle-Mango Pulled Pork

This is my favorite time of the year. I love when the weather gets colder and my kitchen heats up with slow roasted cooking. Don't get me wrong, I hate having to wear multiple layers and still being cold and my heating bills going through the roof. However, there is something so comforting about cooking in the fall and winter. As everyone has heard me say multiple times, I love my slowcooker. I pretty much use it at least twice a week all fall and winter. I have also shared many times my family's love of all things pork, so any dish combining the two is perfect. The December issue of Family Circle magazine had a recipe for Chipotle-Mango Pulled Pork which combined my family's favorite meat and my love of all things slow cooker related.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 23 minutes of prep and 8 hours of cooking time and makes 8 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store, which the exception that I was only able to find a 8 pound bone-in pork shoulder, which I had cut in half. I actually prefer using bone-in pork shoulder, the bone adds an extra level of flavor to dishes. I served the dish over polenta, my family isn't big fans of grits. For the chicken broth I used homemade stock, I prefer the flavor to the store bought variety. I followed the remainder of the recipe as stated.

I really enjoyed the flavor from the mango and chipotles. The combination of flavors was pleasant and added a flavor dimension to the pulled pork. The recipe states that it makes 8 servings, but there was enough for at least three meals for my family of four. With only 12 grams of fat and 346 calories, this dish is a great and easy weeknight meal.

For the recipe go to Chipotle-Mango Pulled Pork.

December 26, 2011

Taste of Home Seeded Butternut Squash Bread

I have been on a bread kick lately. Approximately five years back my mother-in-law gave me her old bread machine. I used it like crazy until I broke it after about a year of use. Instead of buying another one I taught myself to make my own bread from scratch. I quickly learned that kneading and baking bread can be very therapeutic and relaxing. Now I make bread at least twice a week and will never go back to buying store bought bread again. Since I make bread so frequently I am always looking for new recipes to try. The December/January 2012 issue of Taste of Home magazine had a recipe for Seeded Butternut Squash Bread which looked delicious and different than the usual bread I make.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of preparation plus rising and 20 minutes of baking and makes 18 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. I chose to use pepitas since they are now readily available in my area and everyone in my family loves the taste. The dough is very sticky and it is tempting to add more flour, but refrain, it ends up fine with the amount of ingredients specified. I did find that my bread took longer to bake in the oven than the suggest 18-23 minutes, I would guess approximately 30 minutes total. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I loved the butternut squash in this bread. It gives the recipe a sweet undertone without having to add a lot of sugar. My husband thought that the bread was a little too sweet for his tastes. After sitting in the fridge overnight this bread made a great breakfast with melted butter than both my boys and I enjoyed. This recipe would be a great side for a brunch with eggs or other breakfast foods. I will definitely add this to my Easter brunch menu.

For the recipe go to Seeded Butternut Squash Bread.

December 23, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Curried Chicken Stew

I love my slowcooker. I know I have stated this many times before, but I can't express my love enough. There is nothing better than placing ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and coming back in the evening to a fully cooked and delicious meal. With two active and growing boys I appreciate anything that saves me time and money during the hectic week. I also appreciate how inexpensive slowcooker meals tend to be, they are normally a fraction of the cost of other recipes. One meal that my family loves in or out of the crockpot is curry. My husband would probably live on curry if I let him. I have had a hard time finding curry recipes for the crockpot that have been up to my expectations and I was interested when the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine had a recipe for Curried Chicken Stew, which only cost $2.08 per serving and looked very simple to prepare.

This recipe has 10 ingredients (if using all optional ingredients). It takes 8 hours on low to cook in the crockpot and 20 minutes of prep and makes 4 servings. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local grocery store and I made no modifications to the ingredients. For the curry paste I used a jar of yellow Thai curry paste that I already had in my fridge. As I always do I cooked this recipe on low in my crockpot, I prefer to cook low and slow in my slowcooker. For the carrots I used baby carrots since they were on sale and saved me a little bit of prep time. I chose to serve the stew over rice and sprinkled it with raisins and pistachios. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My husband was very impressed with this stew. He was surprised that it was able to come out as well as it did in the slowcooker and he ate his serving and all the leftovers the next day. The recipe states that it makes 4 servings, but it served my family of  four, plus enough for leftover in my husband's lunch the next day. I loved how easy this was to make and how well the flavors came together. Overall, a great new recipe for the crockpot.

 For the recipe go to Curried Chicken Stew.


December 21, 2011

Eating Well North Country Braised Chicken

I have always been an active person. Growing up I was active in swimming, dancing, gymnastics, basically you name the physical activity and I was ready to try it. My eating habits have been mostly healthy as well, with periods of my life being vegetarian and vegan. When I got married I quickly realized that my husband and I were polar opposites in the healthy lifestyle boat. To him healthy was only eating 4 pieces of bacon instead of 6. Now don't get me wrong, I love bacon also, but I'm more of a one or two piece person and nothing more. When my husband and I were married around two years and I was pregnant with my first child my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I was 2500 hundred miles away and my son was nine days old when my mom passed away. This was the second woman in my family to pass away from cancer, my grandmother died before I was born. I quickly decided that I needed to change the way that I was creating food for my family and I started cooking as many things as I could from scratch. It has been a gradual process with my husband. I have gotten him to the point that meat is normally an ingredient rather than a centerpiece to a meal and he even asked for me to start making tofu once a week (score!). The one ingredient I have had a harder time convincing him to eat more frequently is chicken breast. My family prefers chicken thighs and I am always struggling to find a recipe using breasts that will be enjoyed. Last month I started receiving a new magazine, Eating Well, and I was excited to find a recipe for North Country Braised Chicken, that used chicken breast, and was low in fat and looked delicious.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. The total time is 45 minutes, with 30 minutes being active, and makes 8 servings. I had to go to multiple stores to find all the ingredients for this recipe. I was unable to find rutabaga at any of my local grocery stores, but was surprised to find that my local super store had them readily available. For the thyme I chose to use fresh instead of dry, I prefer the flavor when it is easily available. I had just bought a new dutch oven, so I was excited to try it out in this recipe. The one change that I made to this recipe was the cooking time. I found that my rutabaga took a lot longer to cook than the suggest 20 minutes, probably closer to 30-35 minutes to get to be fully tender. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

With only 5 grams of fat and 268 calories per serving, this recipe is very healthy. My two boys had never had rutabaga before and I was unsure if they would even eat any of it. It turns out I had nothing to worry about, they loved it. The rutabaga and pears had a sweet flavor and their tastes blended together perfectly. With 26 grams of protein, this recipe is healthy and delicious and might just convert my family to eating more chicken breasts.

For the recipe go to North Country Braised Chicken.

December 19, 2011

Food Network Magazine Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts

I am not one of those people that can limit themselves on nuts. The whole idea of eating 10 almonds for a serving doesn't fit with my snacking personality. I'm lucky that I am constantly moving and burning calories, so I look for high protein snacks that will tide me over until my next meal. As I've stated before I tend to eat 6 smaller meals throughout the day, instead of three large ones. I am drawn towards sugar, so I try to find protein snacks that will satisfy my sweet tooth while providing energy. As I was looking through the December issue of the Food Network Magazine I came across a recipe for Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts, which looked like a great sweet and savory protein snack.

This recipe 11 ingredients. It takes a total of 35 minutes, 10 minutes of which is active, and makes 8 to 10 servings. I thought that I had chipotle powder in my cupboard, but when I got ready to make the recipe I discovered that I did not. Instead I substituted Ancho chili powder, which I do relatively frequently in recipes. I chose to combine all my ingredients in a bowl and then pour onto a baking sheet. This way all the nuts were evenly coated. Make sure to watch the nuts while they are in the oven. I probably turned the nuts about every 8 minutes in order to prevent burning. I would not suggest turning down the heat though, the temp needs to be high enough to caramelize the brown sugar. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The sweet flavor from the brown sugar combines nicely with the savory flavors from the rosemary and chili powder. This recipe makes a lot of nuts, so it would be great as a party snack. If you are making it for your family I would suggest cutting the recipe in half unless you have two growing boys like I do. I served this as an after school snack to my oldest and he loved it. Overall, an easy sweet and savory snack.

For the recipe go to Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts.

December 18, 2011

Womans Day Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I have a definite soft spot in my heart for sweet potatoes. Regular potatoes are okay, I like cooking with them, but sweet potatoes are delicious. Growing up we only had sweet potatoes once a year and they were usually covered with marshmallows. It wasn't until I was an adult that I started experimenting with using sweet potatoes in stews and recipes. Now I normally eat them about twice a month. My two boys have fallen in love with sweet potatoes fries, but every recipe I have tried has been soggy and lacking in flavor. The November issue of Woman's Day Magazine had a recipe for Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes that combined the flavors of cinnamon, cayenne, brown sugar and Parmesan cheese and looked delicious.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes a total time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, 15 minutes of which is active, and makes 8 servings. All the ingredients are basic and I already had in my pantry cupboard or were readily available at my local grocery store. Tossing the sweet potatoes in a bowl with the ingredients made for nicely coated and even potatoes. I ended up only using one very large baking sheet since my disco era oven can only barely fit one pan. Make sure to stir the sweet potatoes to prevent burning, I stirred mine multiple times during the 60 minute cooking time. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I loved how this recipe turned out crispy and delicious. Many sweet potato recipes I have tried in the past have ended up soggy or lacking a distinguishable flavor. I was impressed with how nicely coated and crisp these sweet potatoes were. My two boys loved this recipe and ate over half the dish by themselves. The recipe states that it makes 8 servings, but I found that this was a very large recipe. It could easily be cut in half for a family of four. Overall, a great sweet potato recipe that is full of flavor.

For the recipe go to Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

December 17, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Edamame Hummus

I'm a snacker. I've never been one to eat three large meals, instead I eat 6-7 small meals every couple of hours throughout the day. This has been the way I have eaten as far back as I can remember. Growing up I was heavily involved in dance and swimming so I got used to eating small meals to keep my blood sugar steady and my stomach from feeling heavy. I'm lucky that I have a high metabolism, but it also has the effect of making me want to snack all the time. It seems that my two sons have inherited my love of snacking and by the time my oldest comes home from school he is more than ready for a snack. I am always looking for snacking options high in protein and I was interested when I ran across a recipe for Edamame Hummus in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

This recipe has 6 ingredients. It takes one hour and fifteen minutes, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 6 to 8 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. I did add more than the suggested amount of Tahini, probably twice as much since I love the taste. Make sure to taste the hummus after it has been salted before adding more lemon juice. The salt makes a significant difference in the taste so wait to taste for additions until after the hummus has been salted. I allowed the hummus to sit in the fridge overnight to allow for the full flavor to come out. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The nutty flavor from the edamame is delicious in this recipe. My husband was particularly found of this recipe and ate more than half by himself. It was a great after-school snack for my oldest and held his energy and hunger until dinner. I liked that this recipe offered a different spin on traditional hummus and a great source of protein. This will definitely be a recipe I will be making again in the future.

For the recipe go to Edamame Hummus.

December 14, 2011

Taste of Home Apple, Blue Cheese, and Bibb Salad

My family isn't a salad family. For whatever reason I rarely remember to buy or make salad. Growing up my mom made salad with almost every dinner and I always ran to the salad bar at restaurants. Somewhere between moving out of the house and having kids I stopped eating salads. I will still occasionally order a cobb salad at restaurants, but for the most part my love of salad has diminished. The main culprit seems to be the lack of taste of most homemade salads. I find salads to be either overly sweet or just ho-hum. Recently, the October issue of Taste of Home magazine had a recipe for Apple, Blue Cheese, and Bibb Salad, which looked delicious and different from ordinary salad recipes.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and makes 9 servings. I had to make a few modifications to the ingredients due to their lack of availability at my local grocery store. I was unable to find bibb or Boston lettuce, so I substituted baby greens. I had no problems finding any of the remaining ingredients. For the vinegar I used white whine vinegar and golden delicious for the apples. I toasted the mustard seeds on a pan on the stove, watch out they burn easily. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The taste of this recipe was delicious. My husband really loved this salad, he even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. I served the salad alongside a chicken dish and the combination worked well. The salad would also work well with beef. The combination of apples and blue cheese was perfect and very popular with everyone in my household. The one change I would make to the recipe is to cut down on the amount of olive oil, maybe to 1/3 cup instead of a 1/2. Overall, a great salad recipe, that even this normally non-salad eating blogger enjoyed.

For the recipe go to Apple, Blue Cheese, and Bibb Salad.

December 12, 2011

Family Circle Root Vegetable Gratin

I have a slight obsession with root vegetables, I absolutely love them. The fall/winter season is one of my favorite times of the year since root vegetables are so easy to find and there are numerous new recipes to try. My two boys are just beginning to appreciate and eat parsnips and turnips, so I have been looking for more ways to incorporate them into my family's diet. Hence, the McDonald's plate in the photo. As I was looking through the November issue of Family Circle magazine I ran across a recipe for Root Vegetable Gratin, which looked delicious and a great way to use root vegetables.

This recipe has 16 ingredients. It takes two hours of prep and cooking time and makes six servings. The prep on this recipe took me slightly longer than the 25 minutes suggested, I find that it takes me a while to prep butternut squash. I was easily able to find all the ingredients at my local grocery store and didn't have to make any modifications to ingredients. I found that even after sitting for 10 minutes the gratin was still not completely thickened. After sitting overnight in the fridge the thickness was much better than when I first served the recipe. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys were big fans of this recipe. Root vegetables are always a hit in my household and this recipe was no exception. The recipe states that it makes 6 servings, but I found that it made more like 8-10 when served as a side dish. I would suggest allowing the gratin to sit longer than 10 minutes in order for it to fully set. Overall, a great fall dish.

For the recipe go to Root Vegetable Gratin.

December 10, 2011

Family Circle Apple-Sausage Stuffing

I'm lucky that my husband will normally eat my food without complaints. However, the one complaint that he frequently voices about my culinary skills is my lack of ability to make a dish more than once. My husband claims that if he likes a dish and tells me how much he enjoys it, he will never see it again. I think he has now gotten to the point that he never tells me if he loves something for fear that it will never make an appearance at the dinner table again in the foreseeable future. The one exception to this rule is the holidays. I am pretty stuck in my ways about what I like to fix at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Every once in a while I will try a new variety of mashed potatoes or biscuit, but the main food categories still remain. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving this year I decided to experiment with new side dish recipes and came across a recipe for Apple-Sausage Stuffing in the November issue of Family Circle magazine, which looked easy to prepare and a great new way to make a traditional holiday side dish.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes approximately at hour to prep and cook, and makes 8 servings. All the ingredients I was easily able to find at my local grocery store. I used homemade chicken stock and whole-wheat bread which I made the day before to save time during dinner prep. Since I don't salt my chicken stock I had to add a larger amount of salt than if I had bought store bought stock. I found the stuffing to be too dry with the amount of chicken broth stated in the recipe, I would suggest adding additional stock until the stuffing looks sufficiently moist. As written the stuffing was too dry for my family's liking. I would also suggest making sure that your cubes of bread are small enough for them to get toasted adequately. Normally I would always use homemade bread, but this recipe I think might actually work better with store bought. I found that the consistency of the homemade bread didn't work as well as I would have liked. Part of that could have been due to the fact that 10 slices of homemade bread can be vastly different than 10 pieces of store bought. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I liked the combination of the granny smith apple and the sweet sausage in this stuffing. It lent a nice sweet/tart taste to the overall flavor of the stuffing. I think I would have preferred white bread for the bread cubes. The whole-wheat was a little over powering to the rest of the flavor. White bread would allow the flavor of the granny smith and sausage to shine through more effectively. Overall, this recipe would work well as a side dish for poultry or pork and takes very little prep. 

For the recipe go to Apple-Sausage Stuffing.

December 9, 2011

Everyday Food Basic Bread Stuffing

I love to cook large holiday meals. With a very large family on my mom's side of the family I grew up thinking that holidays were about making huge amounts of food. I learned to cook at a very young age and I remembering helping my mom in the kitchen as far back as I can remember, especially during the holidays. I have never been a big fan of turkey or ham, no matter how hard I have tried. I find them both bland and boring. However, I love holiday sides. One of my favorite side dishes during Thanksgiving and Christmas is stuffing and I was interested when the November issue of Everyday Food magazine had a recipe for Basic Bread Stuffing, which looked simple and perfect for entertaining.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes a total of one hour, 35 minutes being active and makes 8 servings. All the ingredients were simple and easy to find at my local grocery store. I make my own chicken stock, which added time to my prep, but was worth the effort. Since I don't salt my stock I had to add more salt to the stuffing than if I had bought the store bought variety. The original magazine recipe had add-ins for walnut-herb and chorizo-almond stuffing. The online recipe leaves these out, but any number of add-ins would work. I used smoked oysters for my add-in, since my husband requested it specifically for Thanksgiving. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I like how simple this recipe is and how little effort it takes to prepare. Siince the basic recipe has so few ingredients, it makes a great base to add whatever other ingredients you wish. I love making homemade stuffing and adding personal touches like smoked oysters, fresh herbs or an unusual meat. Overall, a great versitile recipe that can easily be modified to add desired additional ingredients.

For the recipe go to Basic Bread Stuffing.

December 8, 2011

Bon Appetit Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins, and Breadcrumbs

I figured when my oldest son started kindergarten this fall I would have a lot more time during the day to bake, clean and prep dinner. It turned out I was wrong. As soon as my son gets on the bus for school my youngest turns into a one child force of destruction, that mommy spends the rest of the day cleaning up after. By the time my oldest gets home from kindergarten, I am worn out and still have dinner to try to prep while my two sons tear through the cupboard looking for snacks. I have become adept at getting a main dish on the table by the time my husband gets home at 4, but a side dish has proved more problematic. To alleviate the dinner time stress I have been looking for side dishes which are quick and easy, and I was pleased when I saw a recipe for Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins, and Breadcrumbs in the November issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes approximately an hour of prep and cooking, with 15 minutes being active, and makes 8-10 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. I chose to leave out the anchovy paste since I was cooking for my two children and they can be finicky. The recipe states to use one head of cauliflower, but I found that was not enough and two would be more effective. I used homemade chicken stock, which I make without salt so I had to add more salt than if I had bought the store bought variety. I prepped most of the recipe in the morning saving me a significant amount of time at dinner. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The breadcrumb mixture is this recipe has a great taste and I have used it again as a pasta topping. The cauliflower came out crisp and delicious, with the capers adding a nice slightly salty touch. The fact that most of this recipe can be prepped in the morning is great for a weekday meal, saving a great deal of time in the evening during dinner prep. Overall, a great way to get a vegetable side dish on the table without a lot of work.

For the recipe go to Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins, and Breadcrumbs.

December 7, 2011

Woman's Day Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Thyme-Roasted Apples

I live in a pork family. My boys and husband could do without any type of meat with the exception of pork. Growing up my mother really only made pork chops and I always liked sausage more than bacon, so it was a big change when I got married and realized how much my husband was in love with bacon. Over the years since we got married I have learned to make a variety of pork dishes and have come around to sharing my family's obsession with all things pork. The November issue of Woman's Day magazine had a recipe for Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Thyme-Roasted Apples, which looked delicious and combined multiple varieties of my family's favorite food.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes a total of 35 minutes, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local grocery store and I didn't have to make any substitutions. I did find that the apples got overdone when they were in the full 18 minutes. We ended up only eating the part of the apples that were not burnt. I would recommend putting the apples in for only part of the cooking time or turning them halfway through. Make sure to let the pork rest for the full five minutes, it makes it come to temp and does make the pork more flavorful. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The pork in this recipe turned out absolutely delicious. It was moist and perfectly cooked thanks to the prosciutto wrap. The apples got overdone, I would suggest either tossing half way through the cooking time or putting them in for only part of the time. Overall, a great and easy pork recipe that was a definite hit in my household.

For the recipe go to Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.

December 5, 2011

Woman's Day Beef Soft Tacos with Pineapple Salsa


Since my oldest started kindergarten this year, I seem to have less and less time to spend on meal preps. I always thought that as soon as one of my sons was in school, my days would get much easier. Boy was I wrong! My oldest gets home from school at 3 and my house turns into utter chaos as I try to get dinner on the table by the time my husband comes home from work at around 4. Since my husband starts work at 7 we eat a lot earlier than most households. I have tried switching out dinner time later, which just led to both my boys and husband eating way too many snacks and skipping dinner. One of the best solutions I have found is making a slow cooker meal at least once a week. This way I have one day where I don't have to run around trying to finish things up and have time to spend on homework etc. The November issue of Woman's Day magazine had a recipe for Beef Soft Tacos with Pineapple Salsa, which looked like a great combination of citrus and beef and a great way to save time on dinner prep. 

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 8-10 hours of cook and prep, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did have to make a major modification to the ingredients due to lack of availability at my local grocery store. I have never seen flank steak, so I chose to substitute flat iron steak instead. Honestly, that is one of my husband's favorite cuts of beef, so he was very happy with the change. Additionally, I always braise my meat before I place it in the crockpot. The flavor and juices are locked in and it really does make a difference in the resulting taste. I always use my crockpot on low. There is nothing wrong with using your crockpot on high, I just find that I like the flavor of meat more when it has been on a lower temp for a longer amount of time. I chose to add the ancho chili powder, since it is now readily available in my area and I love the flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written. 

As with most taco recipes, this dish was well received by my family. I loved the pineapple salsa, it gave the beef a great flavor. The flat iron steak was a delicious substitution and turned out tender and moist. I chose to seed the jalapeno since I was cooking for kids, but the recipe would well with the seeds left in as well. Overall, a very easy crockpot recipe, perfect for a busy weeknight meal. 

For the recipe go to Beef Soft Tacos with Pineapple Salsa.




December 4, 2011

Mustard Greens

I learned to cook from my mother who came from a very large family of twelve kids, so I learned to cook in bulk from a very young age. I thought it was perfectly normal to have 20 people over for a 'small' Christmas Eve gathering, which my mom would go all out preparing food for. As I got older I feel in love with cookbooks and prepared menus for my parents, complete with appetizers, a main course, and a dessert. Soon after that my mother decided to stop cooking and let me take over. I somewhat walked into that one. After moving 2500 hundred miles away and meeting my husband, I quickly learned that food is cultural. The foods that we all grow up on are greatly influenced by the area in which we live. While I thought salmon, apples, and cherries were common ingredients, I had no idea how to prepare biscuits and gravy or pinto beans. After living in West Virginia almost nine years now I make all the typical comfort foods and am raising two very definite West Virginians (just ask the youngest to say milk). One of my husband's favorite foods that I have taught myself to make are Mustard Greens, here's my easy recipe.

The main thing to remember with mustard greens is to wash them thoroughly. There are large amounts of dirt and sand on greens and if you don't soak them well enough the greens will have bits of grit, which are less than pleasant to eat. I normally make about 2 bunches of mustard greens for a typical meal. While this might sound like a lot, they break down significantly and shrink a great deal.
  • 2 bunches Mustard Greens
  • Tony Chachere’s seasoning or any Seasoning Salt to taste, normally 1-1 1/2 tsp.
  • Ham Hock, Smoked Turkey Leg, or Slab Bacon. I have even used sliced ham when I had nothing else.
  • Enough water to cover about 1/4 of a stock pot
Cut the stems out of the mustard greens. The greens can either be kept as is without the stems or chopped depending on your preference. Add the greens, water, meat, and seasoning salt. Let cook on low for approximately 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Don't throw away the cooking liquid! The potlikker is delicious to dip biscuits or bread into and is my husband's favorite part. If you don't want to use the stove most of the day I have also made greens on low in my crockpot for 8-10 hours and they have turned out just as well.

Mustard greens have become a stable in my house and are very easy to prepare. A great way to get vegetables into your family's diet and are yummy with cheddar biscuits or homemade bread to dip the potlikker. A great homemade, comfort food!

December 3, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Double-Cheddar Holiday Biscuits

As I've stated before I absolutely love cheese. I have been caught many times eating almost a whole block of cheese from the fridge. The rest of my family holds the same feelings towards biscuits that I have for cheese. West Virginians take their biscuits very seriously, there is even a whole chain of biscuit fast food restaurants that have lines around the corner most mornings. It has taken me the whole eight years that my husband and I have been married for my biscuits to be considered better than just adequate. Biscuits are serious business around here. Recently, Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for Double-Cheddar Holiday Biscuits, which combined two household favorites, cheese and biscuits, and looked like the perfect accompaniment to my Thanksgiving meal.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and 16 minutes of baking time and makes 24 biscuits. All the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding at my local grocery store. I always use whole fat buttermilk and this recipe was no exception. I rarely use low-fat buttermilk even if a recipe calls for it, the taste seems unauthentic to me. Instead of rolling the dough out to cut the biscuits I followed the way that my mother-in-law taught me a long time back and hand patted out the dough and used the top of a plastic cup to cut. I have also used the top of measuring cups to cut out biscuits before and that works well also. I did not pierce the dough, I forgot to do the step and have never done it to my biscuits before, so I don't think the step is necessary, my biscuits rose nicely without. I followed the remainder of this recipe as written.

I must say this was one of the highlights of my Thanksgiving spread. Everyone absolutely loved these biscuits and they were the perfect accompaniment to the collard greens that I served. The two cheddar cheeses blended perfectly together and made for a rich and delicious biscuit. Most importantly these biscuits are very versatile and would work well as either a side dish or a breakfast food.

For the recipe go to Double-Cheddar Holiday Biscuits.

December 2, 2011

Food and Wine Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy

My husband absolutely loves meatloaf. When we first got married I only knew how to make the oatmeal, ketchup and ground beef variety of meatloaf that I grew up with. My dad was the same way as my husband and frequently requested my mom make his favorite dish, meatloaf. Over the years I have expanded my collection of meatloaf recipes, but have always come back to the dutch meatloaf recipe that I found about five years back. I'm lucky that my husband is easy to please and enjoys meatloaf slathered in ketchup. As I've stated to many times to count now we are a big pork family. My family loves pork! I have tried a few meatloaf recipes utilizing ground pork in the past and have been less than pleased with the experience. As I was glancing in a recent issue of Food and Wine magazine I came across a recipe for Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy, which combined pork and beef and looked like a great new recipe for meatloaf.

This recipe has 16 ingredients in the meatloaf and eight in the gravy. The meatloaf takes an hour and a half of cooking and prep time, 45 minutes of which is active and makes 12 servings. The creamy onion gravy takes approximately 45 minutes and makes 5 cups. All the ingredients were basic and easy to find at my local grocery store. I made my chicken stock from scratch, which took me about 6 hours the day before I prepared this dish. Additionally, I ground my own beef and pork, which added approximately 45 minutes to my overall time. I found that the gravy took longer than the 5 minutes suggested by the recipe to fully reduce, I would say it took me about another 10 minutes. The one major criticism I had with this recipe is that the recipe calls for a tablespoon and a half of salt. To me that is way more than needs to be added, especially since the cheese is already salty. The meatloaf ended up way too salty for my tastes. I would recommend cutting the salt significantly. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys loved this entire recipe and my husband ate it happy, as he would with any type of meatloaf. The creamy onion gravy turned out delicious and would work well over egg noodles. The meatloaf had a nice taste from the cheese, but needs the salt reduced for my family's needs. Other people might not have as much of a problem, I am very salt sensitive. I will definitely use the gravy recipe again and try it with egg noodles or steak.

For the recipe go to Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy.
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