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On the weekends, I am all about easy in the kitchen! And, after having worked all day in the garden, I wanted to do something that I could let slow cook to really take it easy on myself. So I pulled some baby back ribs out of the freezer the day before and took out the crock pot in the morning. Plan on 10 hours on low heat, and do not remove the lid until the meat is done!

Ingredients
Baby back pork ribs
Chipotle sauce
Garlic Powder
Oregano
Cumin
Salt and Pepper

Spray the crock pot with a non-stick cooking spray. Place the ribs on foil and rub with the chipotle sauce. Then sprinkle with the remaining ingredients.

Ribs with sauce and herbs

After 10 hours in the crock pot, remove them to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then separate the ribs into two ribs.

Ribs are done

Serve this with my broccoli cole slaw. Click below for that recipe:

Broccoli Slaw

Don’t forget a really good beer or have a glass of Barbera!

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I was given a single pork loin, and I had to come up with what to do with it. And, I was thinking about a raspberry pear jam from my neighbor Kathy…What could I do with both of these items given to me to make a luscious dinner?

I went on a quick trip up to Boa Vista Orchards in search of pears. The season of these being available from the farm was over. But I did spy some Granny Smith apples, so I grabbed one of those.  Then nearby I saw really good looking oranges, so I grabbed one of those too! Then I found the treasure of the day:  fresh asparagus!

So what can I do with these ingredients?  Here is what I put together:

Ingredients
1 single pork loin
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
Zest from one orange
2 shakes of Saigon cinnamon
4 twists of fresh ground salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 dash of cumin

Sauce
1/2 cup of raspberry pear jam
1 cup of Chardonnay (You can substitute Merlot for the Chardonnay, but the Chard was really, really good!)

Take the pork loin out of the refrigerator to warm up. Take the next 7 ingredients and combine them. In a greased baking pan, add the potato and apple mixture.

Apples and potatoes

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. While this is cooking, take the raspberry pear jam and add this to a saucepan and blend with the Chardonnay. Heat on medium high, and bring to a boil.

Jam and wine sauce

Reduce the heat to medium low, and stir every five minutes, until the mixture is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, and strain the seeds from the mixture into a bowl. Be sure to push on the solids with the backside of a spoon. Rinse the pot and return the mixture to the pot.

About this time the timer should be going off on the potato apple mixture. Remove this from the oven, stir the potatoes and apples, and then split the mixture so that they are split in half with a trough in the middle. In the open area, lay in the pork loin.

Pork loin added to the apples and potatoes

Even the potatoes and apples around the loin, and then with a paint brush, baste the loin with the raspberry pear chardonnay sauce. Just a bit, because the rest will be used for a drizzle over each serving! Put this back in the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 135 degrees. While it is baking I got the fresh asparagus ready.

Asparagus is ready to go

At the 25 minute mark I basted the meat again with some of the jam sauce, and again at the 30 minute mark. When the pork is done, remove the pan from the oven.

Right out of the oven

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cover. Stir up the apples and potatoes and cover. Get the asparagus going. Let the meat sit for 10 minutes. Reheat the wine and jam sauce. Slice up the meat,

Slice the meat

and serve it up with the apples, potatoes and asparagus. Drizzle the jam sauce over the meat

Dinner is served!

and dinner is served!  This dish was incredible blend of flavors and it was so yummy that we ate the whole thing!  This recipe is a keeper, and Kathy, I will need more of your terrific jam!

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Who doesn’t like discovering something new? Here are some fun facts that I wanted to share. Did you know:

* Leaving bananas in a bunch causes them to ripen faster

* Wrapping your cheese in foil helps prevent the cheese from growing mold

* Four bumps on the bottom of a bell pepper indicate a good pepper for cooking, and three bumps will give you a sweeter pepper

* If you add a teaspoon of water to browning ground beef that the water will pull the fat away from the meat

* You can give your brownies a twist by melting Andes chocolate mints and pouring this over your brownies

* To get a stronger garlic flavor in your food, add the garlic at the end, for milder garlic flavor add the garlic at the beginning of the recipe

* If you want to reheat pizza try doing it in a fry pan so it will stay crispy and the dough will not get soggy

* When using pre-made frosting you can double the volume by putting it in a bowl and whipping it with your hand mixer

* Wet newspaper is a good mulch for your garden and also helps to keep the weeds down

* If you put hot water in your measuring cup, pour it out then measure your sticky ingredient the ingredient will not stick to the measuring cup

* One half cup of vinegar and two drops of dish soap keep the fruit flies away

* Corn meal kills ants and doesn’t poison anyone in your family

* Red wine contains an agent that prevents fat molecules from adhering to your body

* The colored twist tie on your loaf of bread indicates what day the bread was baked

* When Twinkies were first introduced their shelf life was two days

* An ear of corn has an even number of rows

* Eating an apple in the morning will energize you better than a cup of coffee

* A slice of lemon was originally served with fish as it was thought that the acid in the lemon would dissolve any fish bones that were accidentally swallowed

I hope that you enjoyed these fun facts. Please share any fun facts that you might know!

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On our return from Hawai’i, we were to eat at one of my favorite restaurants. However, our plane was late in taking off, and the airline was a bit disorganized with where our bag could be found. Needless to say, my favorite restaurant was closed by the time we got there. So we ended up eating at a place called “Original Joe’s.” I ordered their Chicken Saute Sec, and it was absolutely yummy! So, I had to try making this myself. Here is what I came up with!

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup of flour
4 good shakes of garlic powder
2 good shakes of Hungarian paprika
2 good twists on your salt and pepper mills
1/2 cup butter, divided in half
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine (I used the Lava Cap Chardonnay)
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz. thickly sliced mushrooms
2 good shakes of dried parsley flakes

Ingredients are ready

I started by pounding the chicken breasts to about 1/3 of an inch thick. Then I got my pan ready and added 1/2 of the butter. I put the flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper into a bag and then shook it to mix. The I added the chicken breasts. Heat up the pan until the butter has melted and make sure that you coat the pan. When the butter bubbles, add the chicken breasts. Cook until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan.

Browned chicken

Add the remaining butter to the pan along with the shallots and the garlic. Cook until just soft. Then deglaze the pan with the wine. Make sure you get up the bits left by the chicken. Let this cook down until it reduces by half. Then add the chicken broth.

Sauce is cooking

Bring this up to a boil, and then place the chicken back into the pan. Top with the mushrooms and parsley.

Add the mushrooms and parsley

Cover and turn the heat down to low. Let this cook for about 30 minutes.

Serve this with rice and a vegetable.

Dinner is served!

And, don’t forget the wine used in this recipe…pour a glass or two!

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Normally I make beef stew in the crock pot. Yesterday with the snow event and no power for most of the day I had to prepare this on the stove top. Nothing is better than a stew on a very cold day, and our bones were definitely warmed by this dish!

Ingredients
1 1/2# stew meat
flour
garlic powder
salt and pepper
Hungarian paprika
1 onion
extra virgin olive oil
64 oz. beef broth
1 cup good red wine, I used Zinfandel from Storey Winery
3 potatoes
handful of prepared baby carrots
3/4 cup of frozen peas
1/4 # fresh green beans
2 bay leaves
1 TBS savory
1 TBS coriander
2 TBS rosemary
2 TBS parsley

Cut up the meat into bite size chunks…sorry the photo is poor… 😦

Meat is cut up and ready to use

Then take the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and the paprika and add to a zip lock bag. Put the meat in and shake it vigorously. Set aside. Next take the onion and chop coarsely. Add this and 3 good glugs of olive oil to your stew pot. Turn on the heat, add the onions. Cook down for about 3 minutes and then grab the pieces of beef out of the bag. Do not worry about excess flour as you grab the meat as it will thicken the stew. But do not add in the rest of the flour from the bag. Brown the meat. While this is browning, peel the potatoes and cut into bite size chunks. Trim up the green beans.

The vegetables are ready to go

When the meat is brown add the broth and the wine. Then add your vegetables. Next add the herbs.

Everything is added

Bring this up to a boil, and then cover, turning the heat down to low. Check your stew often to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the stew pot. Cook on low for about 2 hours, and then serve.

Dinner is served!

Don’t forget to have a glass of the wine that you used in the stew!

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I meant to get this posted this morning, but we had a snow event here, photos will follow, and then a power line went down from the weight of the snow. We had no power for about 9 hours. No power, no internet! Looking outside right now it’s just starting to snow again! Big, huge flakes!

Did you know that Chicken Cordon Bleu draws upon the techniques of Chicken Kiev and Schnitzel? And that Cordon Bleu means “blue ribbon?” This dish is relatively new in cooking history emerging in the 1960’s. And the dish has nothing to do with the school either! There are many variations to this dish. In a way this dish is a rouladen, but made with chicken instead of beef. The chicken is rolled up with cheese and ham, or prosciutto. Different cheeses can be used, and you can bread them and fry them or not bread them and bake them! You can use the boneless breast meat or you can use boneless chicken thighs. My recipe will be done in the oven and uses boneless chicken thighs.

Ingredients
6 boneless chicken thighs
6 slices of muenster cheese
6 slices of prosciutto
Bearnaise sauce

Take the chicken thighs one at a time and place inside a zip lock bag. Using your kitchen mallet and pound the meat to enlarge it and make it thin. Then lay on a piece of cheese and a slice of prosciutto.

Chicken on the bottom, then cheese then prosciutto

Roll up the thigh and tie with kitchen string to secure.

Lovely little packages

Lay the bundles in a greased glass baking dish. Cover with the Bearnaise sauce.

The chicken is ready for the oven

I will be using packaged sauce from Knorr’s. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about one hour, turning halfway through and spoon the sauce from the pan over the bundles. When this has cooked for the hour, remove from the oven, cut the strings from the bundles.  Serve two per person, and spoon the sauce over the chicken and the rice!

Dinner is served!

Serve this up with jasmine rice and a steamed fresh vegetable.

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