Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Unnamed Pork Roast

I decided to play around with some contrasting flavors for this pork loin roast. It has such an interesting combination of ingredients that I haven't decided on a name for it. If you think of a good one, let me know.
  • 1 - 4 pound pork loin roast (or a couple of 2 pound ones)
  • 1/3 cup Koops Honey Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Koops Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1/2 cup Jalapeño Berry Sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick's Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb seasoning 
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon water
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the pork loin, cornstarch, and water).
  2. Place pork loin into a roasting pan and preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Coat pork roast completely with the sauce. Cover pan and place in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove from oven, baste with juices. Place back into oven uncovered for another hour, basting every 20 minutes.
  5. Take meat out of the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
  6. While meat is resting, pour juices into a small saucepan and add the cornstarch and water mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble and thicken. Remove from heat and pour over sliced pork roast.
* Jalapeño Berry Sauce was my failed attempt at Jalapeño Cherry Jam. First off, the kids ate too many of my cherries so I had to add other fruits (raspberries and strawberries). Then, it just never thicken up like my plain cherry jam does. Third, it didn't have as much spice as I was hoping for in a jalapeño jam. I canned it and swore I'd find a way to use it some day, and now I have. I do have about 5-6 jars (8 oz.) if anyone wants to try it for $2 (to cover the cost of my jars and ingredients).

Here is a picture of the sliced roast, sauce, steamed broccoli, and maple roasted sweet potatoes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu: September 27-October 3

After not posting a menu last week and doing lots of leftovers and spur-of-the-moment meals, here is the beginning of this week's menu. I will add meal to it as I get time and motivation to do so. Yes, motivation is really the key for me...
Here are a few things we had last week in case you'd like some inspiration:
  • Chicken Pot Pie - I've learned that less is more where pot pie is concerned. You really don't need to doll this up a lot, it's good just the standard way.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu, roasted red potatoes (salt, pepper, olive oil, water, garlic, and herbs in a covered pan for 1 hour @ 400 degrees), and a side salad.
  • Tacos
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and fruit salad

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Peach Cake

I was trying to come up with a dessert for our College/Career groups' hayride yesterday. I needed something fast and that used peaches (I had some in the fridge). After some searching, I found this recipe for Peach Cake on allrecipes.com. I made a few substitutions to cut down on the sugar and calories.
  • 3 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, I made an oatmeal crumble and peach puree to put on top instead of putting the nuts inside the cake)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan, bundt pan, or 2 - 9" round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, peaches and pecans. Mix thoroughly by hand.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 50 minutes (9x13 pan) or until done.
I baked the 2 - 9" round pans for 45 minutes and they were just a bit over done so adjust the bake time or temperature for the size pan you use.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Reuse Plastic Bottle Caps

Do you hate having to grapple with rubber bands that are tied too tightly? Or maybe frustrated with those twistie-ties because the paper comes off of them? Here is an idea that I received by email for sealing a bag and making it air-tight!

ATT00168.jpgStep 1: Cut up a disposable water bottle and keep the neck and top, as in photo.

ATT00171.jpgStep 2: Insert the plastic bag through the neck and screw the top – to seal. The bottle is made to be air-tight, such that water will not leak, the secret lies with the top and screw!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall & Winter Baking

As fall fast approaches, I get the itch to do more and more baking, which isn't always a good thing when you're trying to get into shape. A few of my favorite things to bake are quick bread and muffins, i.e. pumpkin, zucchini, banana, etc.

Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Pumpkin Bread / Muffins - this is a new recipe for me. I happened upon it because I lost my pumpkin recipe and I have to say that I'm glad I did as this recipe is much tastier than mine was.
  • Zucchini Bread / Muffins - This is a pretty standard zucchini bread recipe, but if you take a look at the comments my sister has added instructions on how to make this a gluten-free and almost sugar-free. I have also just added a variation to this recipe.
  • Banana Bread / Muffins - You can add nuts, chocolate chips, or even raisins to this yummy recipe.
  • Blueberry Banana Bread / Muffins - This is my hubby's absolute FAVORITE quick bread recipe. I try to freeze up bananas and blueberries (while they're in season) so that I can still make this bread during the winter months.
  • Gluten Free Banana Blueberry Muffins - As close as I've been able to come to the taste of my regular banana muffins in GF form.
  • Seminary Muffins - This is a very healthy and yet tasty banana oat bread. I substitute raisins for the chocolate chips as it makes them a bit less messy for the kids.
  • Southern Sweet Potato Bread - I had some leftover sweet potatoes (which are REALLY good for you) and wanted to try making some bread. I plan to make it this afternoon and, after looking at recipes, assume it will be similar to pumpkin bread in taste and texture.
  • Harvest Apple Muffins - Mmmm...with a somewhat crispy outer crust and then a moist, chewy interior, these fall inspired muffins are sure to please. The combination of apple, carrot, oats, bananas, and, if you choose, raisins makes for a healthy yet delicious blend.

Pumpkin Bread / Muffins

This a recipe for Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread that I found on Allrecipes.com and made changes to it. It is DELICIOUS! (You can just go to the link if you don't want to follow my changes.)

  • 2 cups homemade pumpkin or butternut squash puree (or 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans (or three 12-count muffin tins).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, applesauce, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes for bread or 15-20 minutes for muffins. Loaves/muffins are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Menu: September 12-18

I am really struggling to keep up with my menus lately. Grrr... Anyway, here is the menu for the week so sorry that it's late, again!
  • Sunday - went out to lunch with a friend :o)
  • Monday - finished off leftovers from last week
  • Tuesday - TexMex Chicken 'n' Rice Casserole - rice, spicy black bean and corn salsa, 1 can Red Gold diced tomatoes (Mexican Fiesta), 1-2 cups cooked chicken, and shredded cheese (and maybe a green pepper).
  • Wednesday - having supper at MIL & FIL's house
  • Thursday / Friday - I will make one of these three dishes, but still deciding...
    • Norpro Set Of 4 Ramekins 8 Ounce
    • Chicken Pot Pie - thinking about doing individual pot pies in my 7 oz. ramekins...
    • Chef Salad - romaine lettuce, fresh mushrooms, carrots, chicken, broccoli, boiled eggs, feta, etc.
    • White Chicken Chili
  • Saturday - we're going out on a date (my alma mater is having an alumni dinner meet-n-greet with their new president and some staff members.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Biscuit Dough Personal Pizzas

With the hubby gone for the day, I just couldn't decide what to make for supper. I wanted to do something fun, easy, and interactive with the kids. We ended up making Personal Pizzas and this is how we did it:

  • 1 can Grands! Biscuit Dough (8 count Flaky Layers Original) - You can also use english muffins, tortillas, etc. as your pizza "crust", but I happened to get the biscuit dough for $ .50 a can a few weeks ago so that's what I used.
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
  • any other toppings you'd like
  1. Flatten each biscuit into a 1/4" thick circle and place on a baking sheet.

  2. Spread 1 tablespoon pizza sauce over the dough.
  3. Topping with 1/4 cup cheese and black olives (or any other toppings you choose to use). I rolled out the dough and put the sauce on, then I let the kids put the cheese and olives on their pizzas. They each had fun making a face on their pizzas.

  4. Place in the oven and bake for 13-17 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Cut and enjoy!

Pancakes and Low Fat Topping Options

I love pancakes, waffles, and French toast. But I have a problem, they are all fairly high in calories (2 - 5" pancakes are almost 300 calories). So I started looking at some other topping options than just maple syrup (210 calories for 1/4 cup, which is about 4 tablespoons). Here are some other options for toppings:
  • Fresh fruit
    • blackberries (1/2 cup) - 25
    • blueberries (25) - 19
    • whole mango - 40 calories
    • whole peach - 35 calories
    • whole pear - 45 calories
    • raspberries (1/2 cup) - 32
    • strawberries (5 large) - 50
  • Unsweetened applesauce (only 50 calories per 1/2 cup)
Fluffy Pancakes (Taste of Home recipe)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (I plan to try using coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup shortening, melted - I did substitute about 1 tablespoon of the shortening with unsweetened applesauce and may try substituting half of the shortening with unsweetened applesauce next time, or maybe even substitute coconut oil.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine the egg, milk and shortening; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  2. Pour batter by 1/4 cupful onto a greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes; cook until the second side is golden brown. Yield: 8 pancakes.
Nutritional Analysis: 2 pancakes equals 283 calories, 15 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 59 mg cholesterol, 534 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salsa

My first attempt at salsa without a recipe or mix. It is yummy. :o)
  • 1/2 cup black beans, dry or 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cumin, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided 
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 9 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 jalapeños (use only one for less heat)
  • 4 medium-large tomatoes
  • 1 large Roma tomato
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  1. For black beans: add dry black beans and 5 cups water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, cover and remove from heat. Let rest 1 hour, then drain and rinse. Place saucepan back on the stove and add 4 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon salt, celery seed, and red pepper flakes to the bean. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until beans are cooked. Don't let the beans get mushy.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place tomatoes, green peppers, and jalapenos on it. Turn broiler and "roast" for 10-15 minutes. Wearing gloves, peel the skins off the tomatoes and peppers. Chop.
  3. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, peppers, lemon/lime juice, and remaining spices. Simmer 15 minutes. Add corn and beans, simmer another 5-10 minutes. 
  4. Cover and place in the refrigerator till cool. 
Yields 4-5 cups salsa.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Aluminum Foil & Plastic Wrap Boxes

My MIL just sent me an email about these, and I will confess that I didn't know about this until I got her email! The following is quoted directly from the email.

Don't tell me you've known about this for years!!!! Did any of you know this? I can't even believe this!!! If you did know this how come you never told me? I've gone through my whole life being frustrated at those stinkin' rolls and all these years there's been a solution on the end of the box!!! Whoever looks at the end of your aluminum foil box? I guess we're never too old to learn something...

Was this something we were supposed to learn from our Moms????? I can't believe it's been there all this time. I had to go into the kitchen and check this out for myself. Whoever looks at the end of your aluminum foil box? You know when you try to pull some foil out and the roll comes out of the box. Then you have to put the roll back in the box and start over. The stupid roll always comes out at the wrong time. Well, I would like to share this with you. Yesterday I went to throw out an empty Reynolds foil box and for some reason I turned it, and looked at the end of the box. And written on the end it said, Press here to lock end. Right there on the end of the box is a tab to lock the roll in place. How long has this little locking tab been there?
I then looked at a generic brand of aluminum foil and it had one, too. I then looked at a box of Saran wrap and it had one too! I can't count the number of times the Saran wrap roll has jumped out, when I was trying to cover something up.

I'm sharing this with my friends. I hope I'm not the only person that didn't know about this. I know you're going to go and check your boxes, so go ahead!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Menu: September 5-11

This has been an incredibly busy week with all the fall harvesting, sewing, and cleaning before the cold weather hits. I haven't done much in the way of cooking this week but here's how things have gone.
  • Sunday - we went out to lunch with some of my extended family who were in town for the wedding that we attended on Saturday.
  • Monday - we spent the day cleaning out the garage and so I made a pot of Chili.
  • Tuesday - we did some shopping for the house and of course had to go to Taco Bell for Taco Tuesday. If you like Taco Bell, try the Fresco Chicken Ranchero Taco :o)
  • Wednesday - we had dinner at my MIL and FIL's house. YUMMY! A rigatoni pasta dish, bread, salad, and veggies.
  • Thursday - I will be doing a Baked Eggplant Parmesan (slice, bread, and bake eggplant - 350 degrees for 15 minutes - then top with marinara and cheese, and bake for another 5-10 minutes) and steamed broccoli
  • Friday - I plan to make stir-fried chicken and summer veggies (summer squash, onions, peppers, carrots, etc.).
  • Saturday - the hubby has a "sportsmen's-type" dinner and target practice event so it will be just the kiddos and I. Still haven't decided for sure what to make...
I am doing a lot of freezing, canning, and baking between Thursday and Friday.
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake (I'll be making one to sell, so here are the top rated recipes from Allrecipes and Food Network).
  • Tomato Sauce (This is a versatile sauce that I use as a base for my chili, marinaras, etc.)
  • Grating summer squash and zucchini and freezing in 2 cup bags for use in muffins/breads, brownies, etc.
  • Chopping and freezing peppers