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Roasted Pork Chops and Vegetables

With this recipe, I am just going to jump straight to the pictures for you. A mouthwateringly simple dinner, from simple ingredients to simple preparation. Enjoy!

The simple list of ingredients: Pork Chops (thick cut, 1 per person), Red Onion, Asparagus, 2 Carrots, 1.5 Pounds Small Red Potatoes, Tomato, Spices (I used a good quality Garlic Powder, fresh ground Black Pepper, and Italian Seasoning, plus some Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

 

Cut potatoes in half or quarters depending on size, asparagus into 1" pieces, slice the carrots (I like to leave the peel on, but you don't have to), wedge the red onion. Toss all of these in a bowl with some Olive Oil.

Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with your seasonings and place them around the edges of the pan (I use a large bar pan/jelly roll). Pour vegetable mixture into the center of your pan. Bake in 425*F oven for 45 minutes. Don't touch it during this time. It's not necessary. You can use this time to clean up the kitchen, set the table, and enjoy a cup of tea while you visit with your family.

After 45 minutes it should look kinda like this. Turn the pork chops over and stir the vegetables.

Cut the tomato into wedges (in this case, I also had some grape tomatoes to add to the mix). Place on top of the vegetables on the pan, and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

Serve up a pork chop and a generous helping of the vegetables for each person. Serve with salad or on its own. A nice big glass of cold milk is a perfect drink of choice for this simple dinner.

This is one of those dinners that I like to use when I have an abundance of produce. You can use whatever vegetables you happen to have on-hand, so don’t avoid making it because you don’t like my vegetable choices. Use what you like and make it your own. Cooking is creative! Find your imagination and watch the smiles as you serve this simple dinner that looks and tastes like it took you all day to prepare!

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Filed under Main Dishes, Pork, Recipes, Vegetables

Market Colors

Market colors make a grey day bright again!

In spite of the cloudy, drizzly day today, the local farmers were out as usual on the street, sharing their food and their knowledge. I always learn something when I go to the market, and what’s better than that is that I often get to teach something as well. This grey day turned colorful as I walked around, talking to the farmers and other vendors, picking up my colorful bounty.

Today I was given a great way to cook up some kale leaves. I picked up the Russian Kale from Parke Creek Farm where she told me the differences between the varieties and some ways to cook them. I chose this variety because she described making kale chips with them by spritzing them with some olive oil and sprinkly with some sea salt, then baking in a low heat oven until crisp. Sounds like a great snack. I also picked up a colorful bunch of radishes in several different colors, along with some onions and arugula. This is my main stop for produce each time I visit the market. This week, though, I did pop over to get some fresh tomatoes as well. I grabbed the remaining handful of “seconds” (these are tomatoes that may be slightly bruised or are badly mishapen, but they still taste great and it gives me a chance to try a variety of tomatoes!) from their bin and went happily on my way to the cheese stand to pick up some fresh goat cheese.

Another favorite stop along the way is always Whitaker Grass Fed Beef where the farmers are always glad to see me. Today we chatted about family and how we eat. She is much better than I am with keeping processed foods out of her home, but I think I’m getting better. And I got to teach her something today. Yup! We talked about my Eye Roll Worthy Ranch Dressing and she seemed excited to try it. I hope she likes it as much as we do in our home. I picked up a couple packs of ground beef from her that I have not decided yet what to do with them, but I have a couple recipes in mind (one of them is a soup recipe I found when going through some old papers this morning).

A successful, colorful day at the market will end with a family favorite dinner of  Old Faithful, using pork chops from another local farmer. I am running low on pork in my freezer, so am glad that I have paid my deposit for this year’s order and look forward to filling up again in a couple months! The tomatoes and onions in the dinner will be from my market finds today, and I am going to use Jasmine rice, just for something a bit different. And as an added bonus, I have FRESH herbs growing in my garden that I get to use.

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Rhubarb Dessert

I look forward to this every year. Rhubarb brings back memories of childhood. Of going out to the yard and picking a stalk off the plant and eating the tart treat right then and there. I can feel the tingle in the back of my mouth now, just thinking of it.

As quickly as this crop comes in and seems to be over-abundant, it is gone. Not to be seen again until next summer. So I savor it while it’s here, and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, someone will share the extra from their plants and I might even slice some up to freeze for use mid-winter when I’m craving this simple rhubarb dessert.

This recipe comes from my Mom. She and an old neighbor came up with it one summer when there was, apparently, a bumper crop of the tasty, tart treat, and it has been a staple in our kitchens ever since!

Rhubarb Dessert

  • 5 c chopped rhubarb*
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 (3oz) pkg jello (red, preferably raspberry)
  • 3 c miniature marshmallows
  • 1 pkg white or yellow cake mix (plus ingredients to make the cake)

Arrange rhubarb in a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle sugar and jello over rhubarb. Top with marshmallows.

Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Spread evenly over marshmallows. Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes.

If desired, after cooling for 5 minutes, turn it out of pan. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

*You can make this a strawberry-rhubarb dessert by using 1/2 strawberries and 1/2 rhubarb at about 2.5 cups each.

**Yes, this is filled with lots of processed foods. Yes, I am well aware that I talk about eating whole foods, unprocessed foods… but I also know that it is ok to have a treat now and then. And… as a reminder, I am not perfect. Well, I am perfectly *imperfect*. 😉

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Filed under Dessert, Garden, Recipes

Eye Roll Worthy Ranch

I make an eye roll worthy Ranch dressing. It will make people roll their eyes for different reasons, but will almost always bring on the eye roll in some form.

Believe it or not, some people don’t understand why I would make my own Ranch dressing (or any other dressing for that matter) when the condiment aisle is filled with so many choices and it wouldn’t take any effort. These people are rolling their eyes at my preference to make my own dressings (and many other things) because they think I waste my time to make something that I can just buy in a bottle… but they don’t know what the next group of eye rollers know…

Anyone who has ever tried my Ranch dressing has rolled their eyes. It’s that eye roll of pleasure. Yes, I don’t mind if I do say so myself, my Ranch dressing will make your eyes roll back in your head!

My secret is simplicity! And I’m going to share it with you.

Eye Roll Worthy Ranch Dressing:

  • buttermilk
  • mayonnaise
  • garlic
  • fresh herbs

As with most of my “recipes”, there’s not much recipe at all, just a list of ingredients. And with this one, it’s a matter of taste and how much dressing you want to make. So, here’s how I do it.

Start with equal amounts of buttermilk and mayonnaise (I never measure, but it’s probably about 1 cup of each). Mix in 1 pressed garlic clove and 2-3 tablespoons of fresh herbs. My favorite combo is dill and chives. I’ve used oregano and marjoram and thyme, also. Generally, I send my kids out to the garden to choose 2-3 herbs to mix in. Whisk all of it together and put it in a jar in the fridge. It’s best to allow at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend together before serving.

I would try to give you an idea of the shelf-life for this, except it rarely lasts more than 3 or 4 days in my fridge before I find the jar empty. 😉

I serve this up with salads, potatoes, oven fries, fresh veggies… you can make this a thicker dressing for a dip by adding more mayonnaise than buttermilk.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Sauces/Dressings

Breakfast is Ready

9pm. And breakfast is ready. Ok, well, not completely… but I have finished what I can do and the rest is up to the trusty ol’ slow cooker. We will get up in the morning to a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, and all we have to do is scoop it into our bowls and add our favorite toppings. There. Breakfast. Done.

I know what you’re thinking… oatmeal? slow cooker? HUH? Here’s the deal. I am NOT a morning person. Even the simple task of boiling some water to cook up some oats is just too much for me. I need immediate food in the mornings, otherwise I tend to eat nothing at all. So before going to bed each night, I have to set my coffee pot to brew my coffee before my alarm clock ever goes off and I have to figure out my breakfast. If I’m having a banana or a bagel or a bowl of cereal, I set it next to my coffee pot, ready to go. My oatmeal bowl is sitting next to the slow cooker, with the butter, brown sugar and dried fruit right there to be stirred in as well. No thinking for me before I get my coffee and my food.

Yes, it is July. Yes, it is hot outside. But I need a hearty breakfast for a long day of traveling for work tomorrow (in which I often don’t get lunch until very late in the day), and the girl child has morning soccer practice, so she needs a nice hearty breakfast too. It’s also a great breakfast to have ready when the kids are having friends stay the night. That way whenever they get up, breakfast is ready.

I know you’re just dying to know how you can make this for your family. I promise you, it will be one of the easiest breakfasts you make for them!

Gather your ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (important to use steel cut, NOT rolled or quick cooking)

Mix the above in a heatsafe bowl (not directly in the slow cooker). Place bowl in the slow cooker and fill the slow cooker insert with water until the water reaches the top of the liquid in your other bowl. Cover with slow cooker lid. Plug in your slow cooker (like how I remind you of that very important step? I’ve forgotten it a time or two…or more… 😉 ), turn it on low. Now go to bed and wake up to fresh cooked oatmeal!

Mixins (as many or as few as you like):

  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • dried fruit, raisins
  • cinnamon

Variation:

You can add a chopped up apple to the oats as they are cooking. You can also add all the flavorings like cinnamon and sugars, even the dried fruits, while it cooks. I keep it plain because we all like ours a little different.

Leftovers:

We don’t usually have leftovers of this. But I sometimes make sure we have leftovers because it does re-heat pretty well and then I can take it to the office with me on a crazy morning. When I do that, I reheat it with the butter and dried fruits and stir it really well before adding in the sugar.

Oatmeal is also a great addition to bread. So if you’re making your own bread, you can mix in some oatmeal to add some texture and make it a little more hearty.

Enjoy your breakfast!

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Bagel Day

Making bagels is one of those things people just don’t expect to be so easy. A bit time-consuming, but easy and worth the effort! I have made these bagels many times, and the last time I made them was Memorial Day weekend while my sister was in town. She went for a quick run one morning, (I say “quick”, but it wasn’t. It was 13 miles- a half marathon! She’s AWESOME!) and I thought she’d enjoy some fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels. (And she did.) My niece came by that afternoon also. Just to hang out with my kids and my sister’s foster daughter. They hung out, played some games and she marvelled at me actually making bagels from scratch. She called me an awesome cook. Yeah, my head got a little bigger that day.

On this particular day, I created blueberry bagels (using a bag of dried blueberries) and cheese bagels (using a mixture of asiago and parmesan cheeses). There are still a few sitting in the freezer. I think my kids have forgotten that they are there. But my niece remembered. She was over a few nights ago and asked if she could steal a couple bagels before she left for work. Of course I said yes. Because what good is making the food if I’m not gonna share it, right?

In the past I have made bagels to bring to work, and even sent a few along on a hunting trip for a friend. And do you know what’s funny? I don’t really love bagels all that much. But I really enjoy making them! And sharing them, of course! 🙂

The bagel recipe follows… it uses a mix (that I also included the recipe for) and someday I’ll post other recipes that use this same mix. Enjoy!

Bagels
· 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast or 1 (1/4-oz.) package
· 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water 110F (45C)
· 5 cups HOT ROLL MIX **
· Cornmeal
· 3 qt. water
· 1 Tablespoon sugar
· 1 egg yolk, beaten
· 1 Tablespoon water
· Poppy seens, sesame seeds or coarse salt
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water. Beat in 4-1/2 cups HOT ROLL MIX. Let rest 2 minutes. Add enough mix to make a very stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth, 5-10 minutes. Add more mix to surface as needed. Dough will be quite firm. Lightly butter bowl. Put dough in bowl and turn to butter top. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.

Punch down dough; knead 4-5 times. Divide in half. Divide each half into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Flatten each ball with palm of hand. Holding a ball with both hands, force one thumb through center. Place bagel on lightly floured surface. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover lightly; let rise in a warm place 2-30 minutes.

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal; set aside. In a 5-qart pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add sugar. Lower hear to keep water boling gently.

Use slotted spoon to carefully lower bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. Turning often, cook until slightly puffed, about 5 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Drain bagels briefly on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Arrange bagels, not touching, on prepared baking sheets. Combine egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water. Brush bagels with egg yolk mixture. Leave plain, or sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or coarse salt. Bake 15-20 minutes in oven until browned. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 bagels.

—-Make-A-Mix cookbook

My notes: Add more flavor! You are limited only by your imagination!
· Mix in chives and garlic to the dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
· Mix in cinnamon and craisins or raisins
· Mix in dried minced onion and top with additional onion

** Hot Roll Mix
· 5 lb. (20 cups) all-purpose flour
· 1-1/4 cups sugar
· 4 teaspoons salt
· 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir together to distribute evenly. Put in a large airtight container. Label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6-8 months. Makes about 22 cups Hot Roll Mix.

Variation
Use 9 cups whole-wheat flour and 8 cups all-purpose flour instead of 20 cups all-purpose flour. Decrease sugar to 1 cup.

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Filed under Breads & Rolls, Cooking With Love, Recipes

Cherries to Cheer You

Yesterday was National Cherry Cobbler Day. Cherry Pie is one of my favorite desserts (not that I eat it, or any other dessert, very often… In fact, last time I had Cherry Pie was when I had lunch with a friend back in October at Twede’s Cafe.) As you know, I’ve never really been great at making pie crust, so Cherry Cobbler is second best, since it does not require the labor (of love) of making the crust.

So, in order to celebrate the Holiday, it seemed appropriate to make a cobbler. And since the day’s work brought me to Prosser, home of Chukar Cherries, I took a moment to stop in. I had never been to their store previously, and I was greeted by one of the best smiles backed up with the most excellent customer service I’ve experienced in a long while. (Thank you, Tami! You were a true bright spot in my week.) So, I was happy to pick up a beautiful jar of cherries, along with a snack pack of nuts and dried cherries to stash in my desk for a quick “pick me up”. And because I was made to feel important while in that little shop, I will definitely be stopping in again.

Now, I know that what you’re actually waiting for is to see the cobbler come together, right? So, without further ado:

Triple Cherry Pie and Cobbler Filling from Chukar Cherries, and some Dove Dark Chocolate

Pour cherries into ungreased casserole dish, and grate chocolate over the top.

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Bake at 400* until biscuits are browned and filling is bubbly.

Invite a friend over and enjoy with ice cream and laughter to cheer you!

I was blessed to have my best friend and her kiddos join me and my kiddos for this cheerful dessert. We agreed that the chocolate grated over the top of the cherries made all the difference in this wonderful mid-week treat. Thanks for joining me, friend!

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Filed under Cooking With Love, Dessert, Recipes

Stir it Up

Just some soy sauce, chili oil, green onions and garlic. That’s all you need to add flavor to your stir fry, no matter what it is you’re stirring up! I’ve used this with veggies, chicken, beef, shrimp… Over the years since I started using this simple sauce, I have tried prepared sauces from the store and always been left with disappointment at the flavor. So, I stick with what works.

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3-4 green onions, green and white parts
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Oil*

What to do: Press garlic into a small bowl (I use a Small Prep Bowl that holds 1 cup), slice green onions and place into same bowl. Pour soy sauce over garlic and onion until covered. Pour a couple drops of chili oil into this. (Use more to taste. I don’t like things too spicy, so I just use a couple drops.)

Yup. That’s it. Now you just need to stir-fry your meat and veggies (small batches so you get a little browning. If you overcrowd the pan, you’ll end up steaming the food instead of getting the carmelized yuminess that you want.), and when they’re all cooked up, return all to the pan, make a well in the center and pour in the sauce. (If you want to thicken it and make it a little glossy looking at the same time, you can add a bit of corn starch and water, too) Stir this all up, and share with Friends.

* To make your own chili oil, use about a cup of oil (peanut oil is a good choice, but you can use whatever cooking oil you have/use) and about a tablespoon of chili flakes. Heat in a pan on the stove. Once cooled, transfer to a glass bottle and store in the fridge. The longer it sits, the hotter the oil becomes.

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The Year of the Rabbit

Today is the Chinese New Year. And I forgot all about it! I arrived at work this morning to find baskets filled with goodies and New Year wishes “Kung Hee Fat Choy”. It is now the Year of the Rabbit. A lucky year that will be followed by my personal favorite, the Year of the Dragon, next year (I was born in the Year of the Dragon and find the creature to be fascinating, but I think that’s a blog post for another day. 😉 ). This year, though… THIS year is my son’s year. The Year of the Rabbit. A lucky animal, indeed.

Several years ago, I began celebrating this holiday with my children, simply because we like to celebrate things and it’s a good excuse to eat Chinese food. Tonight’s dinner plans are now changed. The Tamale Pie will be frozen and can make it’s way onto next week’s menu instead. (It’s a lucky year already! I’ve got a dinner ready for next week, and it’s not even the end of this week, yet. 🙂 ) I will pick up some potstickers and some other of the kids’ faves on my way home. We would usually cook up a big Stir Fry, and had I remembered, I would have made some Chinese BBQ Pork as well. But tonight will be about sitting around and celebrating the New Year together with some fun Coloring Pages and crayons instead of making a mess of the kitchen.

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Evolution of a Recipe

As a young Cook starting out in the kitchen, I was given a recipe from Mom that has stayed with me ever since. We made it together once, and she wrote it down for me. The original recipe she wrote out was not exactly what we cooked together. I think this must have been the beginning of the end of following recipes “to the letter” for me.

Over the years this recipe has served me well as a quick, “throw it together at the last minute” meal, and it is also a “company worthy” meal, especially if paired with a nice salad. What started in my kitchen as simply “Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli”, has evolved into something that I still call “Chicken & Broccoli”, and yet, it is a rare occassion that broccoli is the only vegetable in the pan/on the plate.

Tonight’s version included nearly 2 heads of garlic (much more than the 6 small cloves called for in the original recipe), carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, and angel hair pasta. Amounts? You got me! I have no idea, except that all of it together more than filled my very large Stir Fry Skillet and will provide leftovers for dinners and lunches this week.

 RECIPE EVOLUTION:

 ~Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli~

½ lb. spaghetti

¼ c. safflower oil

6 sm. cloves garlic, minced

2 bunches broccoli, cut into small pieces (3 cups)

3 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned, halved and cut into strips (1 ½ lb.)

¾ c. chopped fresh parsley

Black pepper

 Boil spaghetti until AL DENTE; drain. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add broccoli and sauté for 2 minutes, then transfer to a heated dish. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Toss pasta with broccoli and chicken. Garnish with parsley, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

 Serves 6

 cal. 421                        chol. 57mg

carbo. 37g                   sod. 79mg

prot. 28g                      pot. 802mg

t fat 18g                      fiber 2g

sat fat 3g                     calc 159mg

                                    iron 3.5mg

Mom’s notes:

When I made this, I sautéed the garlic along with the broccoli and sprinkled with lemon-pepper. If you use a salt-free lemon pepper, the sodium count from above stays the same. One with salt adds to the sodium content of the dish. I also sprinkled some lemon-pepper on the chicken as it cooked and skipped adding the pepper at the end of the recipe. Most times, my broccoli took longer than the 2 minutes to cook properly, too.

/end Mom’s recipe

For years I have posted online with a group of women. We are bonded together by our love of cooking, but our relationships have grown to be so much more than that. This is where the above recipe was in it’s evolution stage when I was still pretty new to online groups, and this is how I shared my recipe at that time.

Chicken And Broccoli With Pasta Recipe

broccoli flowerettes (approx 1 pound)
boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (approx 1 pound)
4 cloves garlic, pressed (I probably use more than that, b/c we like garlic)
angel hair pasta

In a large skillett cook broccoli until crisp-tender, chicken until done. cook each with as much garlic as you like (we use A LOT!!) cook pasta, toss all together. I sometimes add a little parsley, and lemon pepper. it’s fast and easy, total of about 15-20 minutes. I put soy sauce and parmesan cheese on the table, and everyone picks their own topping.

Serve with Garlic Toast (or Garlic Cheese Bread) and salad.

Fully grown now, and this is the first time I’ve looked at this recipe in, well, I don’t know how long. I wasn’t even sure I’d still have the original copy from Mom. And tonight, I made my much-loved “Chicken & Broccoli”. It was really just my way of using up the vegetables in the fridge that were in need of cooking and taking up my valuable fridge space. Yes, tonight, it was as my recipe above states, except that I used nearly 2 heads of garlic, and added to the pan a head of cauliflower and several carrots. I have been known to include mushrooms and/or zucchini, and any other stray vegetables that may be laying around, just wanting to be added to a sizzling pan of oil and garlic and tossed with pasta.

I have discovered that freshly grated/shredded parmesan is better than the powdery stuff from a can. (Although, I do prefer the powdery stuff from a can when making my garlic toast. A little garlicky butter spread on french bread, and sprinkled with that and then broiled until brown… it’s like a slice of heaven that reminds me of spaghetti dinners from my childhood!) I have served this up to many people, and everyone tops it differently. For a friend who likes spicy food, he would add chili paste to his portion. My kids eat it just as it is, no toppings. I like fresh parmesan *and* soy sauce sprinkled on mine.

My Notes:

If you start the water for pasta at the same time you start the cutting and slicing and dicing, you should be eating dinner by the time the pasta is finished cooking, if you’re using angel hair pasta, that is. I definitely prefer this with angel hair pasta!

I cook this now with extra virgin olive oil, and the pasta gets coated with a generous amount of same to keep it from sticking together in one big clump.

As I said, this is an easy way to use up whatever veggies are on hand. I’ve put just about any veggie you can think of into the pan, and always love how it turns out. I mean, really… it’s cooked in garlic! Everything tastes great cooked in a little (or a lot of) garlic, am I right? 😉

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Filed under Chicken, Cooking With Love, Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables