Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pork chops

Pork chops are one of my go-to weeknight dinners-- pretty easy, pretty quick, and very satisfying. This if from a month or two ago (hence the asparagus-- it was still spring).

This is more of a method than a recipe. Start with thick pork chops (an inch or so would be great); dry them with paper towels.

Sprinkle each side with seasonings (salt, pepper, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, oregano, sage, etc.) Let sit for a bit, then heat up a heavy duty frying pan to which you have a lid over high heat. Add some butter to the pan to grease it; it should sizzle immediately. Add the pork chops; sear the first side for 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for a couple of minutes.

When both sides are nice and brown looking, add a splash (maybe 1/4 cup) of whatever you'll be drinking with dinner (beer, wine, or water), cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for an additional few minutes (5-10, depending on the thickness of your pork chops and how hot the pan is), just until pork is no longer pink in the center.

Serve with a veggie and a starch; you can pour the pan sauce over everything.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Have I mentioned how much I love recipes where the entire directions consist of:
1. Throw stuff in the blender

2. Blend

There were tomatoes in the scratch-and-dent section at the farmers' market yesterday for $.99/lb. When they're going in a blender, it doesn't matter if they're pretty! This recipe courtesy of my friend Jason, who made us a delicious dinner on Saturday.

In a blender or food processor, blend:
1 slice bread, crust removed
2 cloves garlic
2 t salt
2 T sherry vinegar
1 t sugar
1/2 t ground cumin
1 red onion, skin removed
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed
1 skinned cucumber
2.5 lbs tomatoes
1 c. water
1/4 c. olive oil

chill until cold (about 3 hours)

Pour into bowls; garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.

I modified it a little, using what I had in the fridge, substituting a pita for the slice of bread and some red pepper flakes for the jalapeno. It was still delicious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quick and easy chicken noodle soup

With one fairly major caveat: It's only quick and easy if you already have chicken stock in the freezer and leftover chicken in the fridge. (Otherwise, it's easy, but not quick.)

4-5 c. chicken stock
2 (cooked) chicken breasts, skin and bones removed
1 large onion (1-2 c. chopped)
3 largish carrots (2 c. sliced)
3-4 stalks celery (1-2 c. chopped)
1/4 - 1/2 lb. dried pasta
1 bay leaf

Bring stock to a boil; meanwhile, peel and chop carrots, onion, and celery. Cube chicken breasts. Once stock is boiling, add chopped veggies and bay leaf. Simmer for 10-15 minutes (until carrots start to be tender); add cubed chicken and dried pasta. Return to boil; boil for however long it says to on the pasta box.

Enjoy! Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shrimp risotto

I made this awhile ago, but it was delicious... Shrimp stock is surprisingly quick to make, and when you buy shrimp with the shells on, you conveniently already have all the ingredients.

It's definitely tastier than it looks. Recipe from Bitten.

The bitten blog post has oh-so-detailed directions on how to do the risotto, but none on how to do shrimp stock. It's easy:

Peel the shrimp that will go into your risotto; toss the shrimp in a bowl, and the shells in a medium-sized pot. Cover the shells with cold water; toss in part of an onion and maybe the stems from the basil, and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down and simmer until the water has turned pinkish and it starts tasting shrimp-y (a half hour or so). Add salt. That's it!

Incidentally, this is AMAZING the first night, and not very good as leftovers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Strawberry shortcake

Simple, always delicious, particularly when strawberries are on sale. I like strawberries over shortcake (revolutionary, I know) far more than pound cake or angel food cake. Sadly, forgot to take pictures, but it was yummy.

My illustrious source of this recipe? Adapted from the back of a bisquick box. I really dislike bisquick pancakes, and the biscuits it makes are just OK, but I LOVE the shortcakes. Possibly because of the large amounts of strawberries and whipped cream involved.

Makes 4 shortcakes (the recipe says 6, but who are we kidding?)

1-1/2 lbs. strawberries (or so)
1/4 c. sugar
2-1/3 Bisquick mix
1/2 c. milk
4 T sugar
3 T butter, melted

whipped cream, if desired

Slice strawberries, add 1/4 c. sugar, mix, set aside for a couple of hours.

Mix (with spoon) remaining ingredients; drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Split shortcakes in half horizontally; fill and top with strawberries and, if desired, whipped cream.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Porter braised pot roast

Or stout braised pot roast, depending on what kind of dark beer you have languishing in the back of the fridge.

This pot roast turned out better than any roast I have done before; something approaching the platonic ideal of the pot roast. Make it for your in-laws. They will love you forever. It's that good.

2 lbs. chuck steak (often conveniently labeled 'pot roast'), trimmed of excess fat
1 bottle (12 oz.) porter, stout, or other dark and flavorful beer
1 large onion, sliced
a couple of large carrots, peeled and sliced
8 oz. mushrooms
1/2 t. dried rosemary
1 T. dark brown sugar
Salt, pepper, olive oil for searing roast

Slice veggies and put them in the bottom of a large crock pot.

Sprinkle both sides of roast liberally with salt and pepper; heat up a large skillet with some olive oil it until the oil shimmers. Sear both sides of the roast (2-3 minutes a side should do)-- this step is mostly cosmetic, but it caramelizes the outside of the meat and keeps you from eating greyish brown pot roast later.

Place roast on top of veggies; sprinkle top with brown sugar and rosemary. Deglaze the pan with some beer, scraping up the brown bits from the pan, and pour it into the crock pot over the roast. Pour the rest of the beer over the roast, cover, and cook on low (200 degrees) for 10-12 hours or high (300 degrees) for 5-6.

Slice meat and scoop out veggies. Serve with mashed potatoes and horseradish on the side, or better yet, horseradish mashed potatoes. Ladle the sauce left in the pot over everything.

Note on cooking with crock pots: this is ideal for meat that would otherwise be tough; done in a slow cooker, it's fork tender. However, you do not need to cover everything completely with liquid-- the idea is to braise it slowly in a moist heat, not boil it for 12 hours.

Horseradish mashed potatoes

These are always served alongside something else, usually beef of some sort. They're great with steak, and sublime with pot roast. Of course, this isn't an exact recipe, and is quite flexible.

1 large potato per person
some butter (1/2 T per person; more will be tastier, less will be healthier)
1/4 c. milk per person (I don't measure anymore-- just splash some in and if it needs more, add more.)
a dollop of sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 T. horseradish per person

Note: Horseradish, not horseradish sauce. You want something that will clear out your sinuses, not something that's mostly mayonnaise.

Scrub and boil potatoes until they feel done when you put a fork into them; drain. Add all other ingredients (less at first), and mash or beat with an electric mixer. I like them with skins on; you can peel them if you prefer.

If you slice the potatoes into quarters, they should boil in about 20 minutes. Larger chunks will be done slower; smaller, faster.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie perfection. I only make other kinds because sometimes one gets ever so slightly tired of peanut butter.

Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New! Cookbook, which has the greatest cookie recipes (sorry, Betty Crocker.)

1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 c. rolled oats (NOT the instant kind)
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and peanut butter. Add sugars, baking powder, baking soda; beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour; stir in rolled oats and chocolate chips.

2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet; bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cassata cake (again)

It was easier and more delicious the second time around. I've already posted the recipe; here are some pictures of cake assembly.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cilantro pesto

I love it when I come across a recipe that uses what I already had in the fridge. In this case, a bunch of cilantro and some garlic, and lo and behold, this was on Bitten. I had all the ingredients (except ginger) for the salsa, and figured that chicken goes with just about anything.

Plus, pesto is easy to make (the hardest part is cleaning the blender.)

1. Throw a LOT of herbs, a clove or two garlic, a couple tablespoons olive oil, and maybe some nuts or whatever else you feel like in a blender:

2. Blend.

That's it. No simmering, no reducing. Simple.

Served over sauteed chicken breasts and zucchini (would be even better over grilled chicken breasts, but as I may previously mentioned, I lack a yard or a grill.)

Other suggestions: over pasta (hot or cold), veggies, anything grilled-- I think it would be great over grilled fish.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blueberries and cream

Even though it's too simple to really count as a recipe, this is one of my favorite summer desserts. Also something you can easily make with one hand. The ingredients, as you may have already guessed, are:

1. blueberries
2. cream (or half-and-half, or whole milk. If you're using anything with less than 4% fat, just eat the blueberries plain.)
3. sugar (optional)

Do I really need to write assembly instructions?