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Smothered Pork Chops

Pork chops have always been a food I’ve struggled with preparing.  They always come out too dry,  not-quite-done, or too bland.  I’m always willing to try a new recipe that promises a fantastic taste and a juicy pork chop 🙂  I found this recipe through Lacie Lee; she found it from Mama’s Southern Cooking.com.  (Which, by the way, will be a source of future recipes!)

Recipe:
Ingredients:
4 to 6 thick cut pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick (rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel), you can use either bone-in or boneless
2/3 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 large sweet onions, sliced
1 or 2 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth
1/2 cup of shortening or vegetable oil

I used boneless pork chops because they were what we happened to have (thank you, Winn-Dixie).  I dropped the chops in the flour mixture and made sure they had a good coating; then, I placed them all in the pan together until they were a lovely golden-brown color.

Then, I misread the recipe:  I accidentally dumped the rest of the flour mixture into the pan, instead of only enough to allow for a slight breading effect; it looked quite, awful…

But…we’ve come this far, so I kept going.  Murphy didn’t seem to mind the smell at all, and while it was quite ugly, it smelled fantastic 🙂
  

I followed the rest of the recipe exactly, and then strained the gravy before serving over the pork chops and mashed potatoes.

Even though I’d botched up one of the steps, it still came out as one of the best pork recipes I’ve ever made.

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 4/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 4/5 (My fault…)
Ease of preparation: 4/5
Ease of cleanup: 3/5 (Again, my fault with all that flour in the gravy)
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Pork

 

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Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

When I saw that there was no pre-cooking for this recipe, I literally “squee’d” out loud.  I pinned this from Keri Challen’s board, which she found on Tip Garden.  There were warnings posted on the site explaining the Southern-style of macaroni and cheese and how it should be cut like a brownie (which I was all for because that’s the best kind), but what I wasn’t expecting was the over-bearing sour-taste from, what I believe to be, the condensed milk.  Hopefully someone can give me some insight.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

Cooking oil spray
2 cups skim milk
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups preshredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
I used exactly the ingredients the recipe called for and I followed the recipe exactly:
Once everything was mixed together, I dropped it into the pot and let it go for 4 hours.  It looked like mac and cheese, and it smelled like mac and cheese, so I was very excited to try it out.
 
When served, it had the exact consistency of the custard mac and cheese and it smelled absolutely delicious!  However, upon the first taste, I found it had a very strange taste that I cannot pinpoint.  It was almost sour-tasting.  I thought maybe it was the evaporated milk, but upon further reading in the comments on Tip Gard, I thought it might be the egg?  I’m not sure, but I couldn’t eat more than 6 or 7 bites before the aftertaste completely overwhelmed me.  Mike ate the entire pot over a 3-span day, and he said he didn’t have the same taste experience I did.  I’m at a loss for words to explain the way I felt about this recipe.
Verdict:
Mike’s opinion:
Taste: 4/5
Presentation: 5/5
Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 2/5
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5
Next time, I’ll omit one of the ingredients (either the egg or the evaporated milk) and see which ingredient is the “offending” ingredient.
 
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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Crockpot

 

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Skinny Vanilla Mocha Frappe

Well, Isaac has officially canceled school tomorrow…must be time to utilize the kitchen!  Today, I’m working on two recipes at once: coffee and chicken.  The last coffee drink from Pinterest was a disaster; we’re due for another attempt.  This recipe was originally pinned by Jennifer Drummond, which she found on a healthy food blog named Peanut Butter and Peppers.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup skim milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 packet stevia or 1 tbsp. sugar (to taste)

There’s a note on the recipe that you can use brewed coffee instead, which is exactly what I did after our last little mishap with instant coffee.  I left it in the freezer to chill by the ice cream for about 6 hours (we had errands to run during our “tropical storm”)

I was a little surprised to find a solid block of coffee ice when I pulled it out around 3:30pm.  Mike had to slice it with his “man knife” before I could even get it into the blender.  After the display of man-defeats-food, we were able to get the ingredients put together and blend.  (seriously, blend, blend, blend.  Took about 5 minutes to get all the chunks out so it was able to be pulled through a straw).

    

Verdict:
Mike’s opinion:
Taste: 3.5/5 (not sweet enough)
Presentation: 5/5

Jen’s opinion:
Taste: 4/5 (not quite sweet enough)
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

While it’s definitely not Starbucks (or Black and Brew…), it’s not awful.  In a pinch when I’m desperate for a frappe, I might make this again.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Coffee

 

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Crockpot Italian Chicken

Recipe #2 for the day is, of course, a crockpot recipe.  I had found this recipe a while ago on Crock-a-doodle-do (what a great name for a blog!) and I was quite excited about trying it out.  Mike will put Italian dressing on just about anything; it seemed like it would be a major hit in this house.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
16 Ounce Bottle of Italian Dressing
1/2 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
Italian Seasoning
4-6 Potatoes scrubbed cut in half or wedges
1/2 bag of mini carrots
Once again, I turned to my trusty source for the ingredients for homemade Italian Seasoning:
I followed the recipe exactly, put the crockpot on low for 6 hours, and left it alone.  After 2 hours, the smell was obvious and appetizing–just what I’m looking for when I leave something cooking all day 🙂
I was actually afraid that I hadn’t used enough Italian dressing, but it turns out it was just right for Mike and a little too overpowering for my taste.  When I served dinner after 6 hours, we found the meat to be a bit tough and the potatoes to not be quite finished.  However, when Mike went back for a second serving a couple hours later (it had been cooking for 8 1/2 hours by then because I had left it on low), the meat was juicy, tender, and fell apart with the fork.
The Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Jen’s opinion:
Taste: 4/5 (a little too strong on the Italian dressing for me)
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5
I think when I try this again, I might lighten up on Italian seasoning, and be a little less generous with the Italian dressing–we can always add more later if it’s needed.
 
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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Chicken

 

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Crockpot Loaded Potato Soup

With a hurricane looming in the Caribbean, it felt like a good night for some comfort food.  Potato soup is one of my favorite heavy soups, but I wanted something without the heavy whipping cream (a slightly lactose intolerant person lives here, and I didn’t want to overload the soup with cream cheese AND dynamite).  I was greatly pleased with this find on Hannah Holzmann’s board, which she originally pinned from her own blog, It’s What’s For Dinner.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

5 lbs russet potatoes, diced, NOT peeled
5 tablespoons TS garlic garlic1 large yellow onion, chopped
64 ounces chicken broth or stock
16 ounces cream cheese
bacon, sour cream, chives or shredded cheese for garnish

I used 3lbs (even though we were expecting 2 more for dinner, 5 just seemed like an overhaul of potatoes), 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, 32 ounces chicken broth (Great Value, sodium free), 8 ounces of cream cheese, 5 strips of bacon and the leftover Monterrey jack cheese from the Alice Springs chicken.  For the most part, I cut the recipe in half and added my own flare of onion flakes, ground pepper, and a pinch of Lowry’s seasoning salt.

I got up early this morning, chopped the potatoes into dice-sized bits, and combined with the chicken broth and seasonings in the crockpot on low.  I left it on low all day while we were at work (Murphy kept an eye on it all day, I’m sure). When we got home, I pulled out my blender.  It says to use a food processor, but all I have is a Magic Bullet, and that just wasn’t happening.  I chopped the cream cheese block in half, threw it in the blender with half of the soup:

(Yes, it’s supposed to look that yucky.  It gets better).  Once I’d blended half, I added the other half of the block and the rest of the soup, then poured it back into the crockpot for easy serving purposes.

Mike offered to fry up the bacon (thanks hubby) so I could get the table set and the fixin’s ready.
  

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5 (needed a little extra pepper)
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 4/5
Ease of cleanup: 2/5 (that crockpot took forever to get clean again)
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

This is definitely an easy, and if you’re a smart shopper, healthy recipe for a delicious pot of potato soup.

 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Soup

 

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Unknown Awesome Chicken

Mike had a training tonight until 7:30pm (ugh!), so I needed something I could whip together without having to do too much prep; that way, I could throw it together and wait for his go-ahead to pop it in the oven.  This was one of the first recipes I ever pinned on Pinterest; I found it on the “popular” search by Carrin Bachowski.    Imagine my utter surprise to discover it was actually HER recipe!  Bravo, Ms. Bachowski!  The recipe is written directly on the pin, so you’ll have to check the pin to get the recipe.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
4-6 raw chicken breasts
new potatoes
green beans (fresh or canned-really any green veggie would work. Broccoli is good, too).
packet of Italian dressing mix
1 cup of melted butter

I used 4 chicken breasts, 8 red potatoes (washed but not peeled) and 2 cans of cut greenbeans, and 1/2 stick of butter.  (Sorry–no picture).  I didn’t have a packet of Italian dressing mix, so I turned to my trusty Bing to give me a hand.  I found a great substitution tutorial on pPod’s Kitchen (excellent blog, by the way).

I laid the breasts in the middle of a 9×13 glass casserole dish (no Pam or spray), and then placed and built the potatoes and greenbeans around them, not really caring if some of the flavors overlapped.  I poured 1/2 stick of melted butter over the entire platter (1 stick just seemed like too much) and then sprinkled my aromatic Italian dressing substitution over the everything.  As soon as I got the go-ahead from Mike, I popped the entire pan in the over at 350 degrees and tried my best to ignore it for 60 whole minutes.

Within minutes, the entire house smelled divine, making it very difficult to concentrate on anything other than my grumbling, bumbling tummy.  Two minutes in the door, I had served two plates of this unknown awesome chicken dinner.  Devoured.  To give you a hint of how quickly this dinner disappeared, think of the poor cow in the Raptor enclosure in Jurassic Park…

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5 (if I had seen this in a restaurant, I would have ordered it.)
Ease of preparation: 5/5 (SO! easy)
Ease of cleanup: 5/5
Availability of ingredients: 5/5

This is my favorite recipe I’ve found for a quick and delicious chicken dinner.  I will save this on a hard copy just in case 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Chicken

 

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Lasagna Soup

This is the first week for us to be back at school; we spend our days attending meetings, setting up classrooms, sifting through piles of data, and reconnecting with teams and departments.  It’s a good week (or not) to start a new menu routine.  On Sunday, Mike and I planned out our entire week of menus and used my handy-dandy new menu grocery list to shop.  So far, not bad.  This recipe was a fluke pin from Elizabeth Eyler (who found it on Deen Bros), as I never expected to make it; however, it somehow managed to make it on the menu on our rainy Tuesday, leaving me to plan a meal with the most ingredients I’ve ever used.  Surprisingly, it only took a total of 40 minutes…40 well-worth-the-wait minutes.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces broken whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 noodles)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

My alterations:  Turkey sausage had cheddar cheese in it, onion flakes instead of a chopped onion, no green peppers (we don’t eat them), regular lasagna noodles.

First, I combined the oil, the sausage, the onion flakes, and the garlic in a large nonstick saucepan and cooked over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage was slightly browned (12ish minutes).

Once the sausage looks done, add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and the crushed red pepper and bring to a boil; once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.  The boiling will look like rings of various colors appearing on the top of the soup:

Add the noodles (the smaller the breaks, the better.  Too big and they will stick together and make a sandwich that refuses to separate) and bring back to a boil until the noodles are done.  Remove from the heat; it says to stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil until well-blended, but I let those ingredients sit on top for a while and sink naturally–this allowed the cheeses to melt completely without wrapping the strands around the spoon.

Serve alone or with breadsticks.

Verdict:
Mike’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Notes: Surprisingly filling (I was full on one bowl!).  I’m not a big soup person, but this is a recipe I would actually request.
Reheatability: 5/5

Jen’s Opinion:
Taste: 5/5
Presentation: 5/5
Ease of preparation: 5/5 (just add, stir, and heat)
Ease of cleanup: 5/5 (rinse the pot before washing so it doesn’t harden)
Availability of ingredients: 4/5 (we don’t usually keep turkey sausage and lasagna noodles in the house, but they are easily obtained in any grocery store)

We had enough left-overs to have a meal large enough to share with two of our friends tonight–it tastes even better after being reheated.  This recipe is fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone who may or may not like lasagna.  It’s filling, it’s easy, and it’s delicious 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Soup

 

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