Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sweet and Savory Pork Chops with Mashed Squash and Roasted Potatoes

I am not usually a fruit and meat kinda gal and definitely have an aversion to pork, but I had some leftover cranberry sauce from last week's experiment with stuffed pancakes and a package of pork chops that we're begging for something different. Turns out with the right combination of seasonings, sweet and savory can be splendid!!

**Recipe is organized in chronological order for preparation purposes.

1 large butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
2 C quartered potatoes
2 t minced garlic
1/2 C diced onion
2 T canola oil
Garlic salt, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cut sides of squash down in a cake pan with enough water to completely cover the bottoms. Pop in oven. When done, scoop out and serve with dabs of butter and salt and pepper or with a pinch of brown sugar.

Combine remaining list of items in a different cake pan. If you want a little more browning for a roasted look and taste, do not cover with tin foil. For a more mashed-potato consistency, cover. Pop them in the oven.

While the veggies are getting a head start in the oven, start on the chops.

2 lbs pork loin or pork loin chops
Salt, pepper, garlic salt, rosemary
Canola oil

Season meat. Heat oil and sear loin or chops. Place in another cake pan or casserole dish and bake in oven until internal temp reaches 160 degrees. They should finish at about the same time as everything else. Don't wash that pan just yet... Save those juices and brown bits for the sauce!!

1/3-1/2 C cranberry sauce or a preserve of your choice (apricot sounds really good...)
1/2 C chicken broth
1-2 t rosemary (I don't particularly like rosemary so I went on the lighter side)
1/2 C diced onion (very fine)
1 T balsamic vinegar

Use the same pan as you seared the meat in; add all your ingredients, and if you can, some of the drippings from the chops in the oven. Simmer until sauce is reduced by at least half.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sausage, Wild Rice, & Barley Soup with Beer Bread

So my cupboards get pretty bare by the end of the month, and I'm always eager to use healthy ingredients for a meal. I was staring at the items I had left, perusing the food blogs, and contemplating what I could throw together when I realized that had the the makings for a soup and hearty bread--a perfect meal for an early fall day!!

Beer Bread
3 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1T baking powder (I accidentally used soda so we'll see how this tastes...)
1 - 12 oz beer

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a loaf pan for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sausage, Wild Rice, & Barley Soup
1 - 2.75oz box KC's Best instant wild rice
3/4 c quick barley
Fresh or canned mushrooms
1-1.5 lb pork sausage
2T butter
2t instant chicken bouillon
1 can cream mushroom soup
Milk to thin

Boil rice and barley for 7 minutes. Drain. Add 2C water, bouillon, and butter. Simmer. Brown sausage. Add sausage to rice/barley. Mix in soup and milk to reach desired consistency. Simmer until ready to eat.

**I LOVE Lawry's new roasted garlic salt with oregano and basil. It is basically all I use now and gives a real sophisticated taste to "regular" dishes. It's what I used to season the sausage and soup.

**Thoughts and Suggestions:
You could make the soup with chicken, turkey, or even go meatless.
Leave the soup thick and serve it over bread or biscuits, too!! Thin it out and serve with crackers...
Use sour cream in place of milk for an extra creamy texture without making it runny...
Add in asparagus or puréed cauliflower or butternut squash.
Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for a later date.

Good luck and happy cooking!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ooey Gooey-lash

Having the coolest day in a while enticed me to make something a little more fall-like. What's better than cheesy goulash??

1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 c zucchini, cubed
3/4 c mushrooms, quartered
2-3 T canola oil
Seasonings (salt, pepper, lawry's garlic salt... whatever you like)

8 oz elbow macaroni (1/2 of a 1 lb box)
1/2 to 1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 to 1.5 lb browned burger

*Start water for macaroni and add when at rolling boil.
*Start browning your beef. I waited until the veggies were done to save on dishes, which cost me about 7 minutes in cooking time.
*Chop onion and start to sauté over super low heat in 2T oil while you prep the other vegetables. Sauté until translucent.
*Add zucchini. Once that has sweated, add mushrooms. These don't take long...
*Drain noodles and mix with veggies, burger, and sauce.
*Sprinkle shredded cheese over a serving while hot.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

*I thought about making a velveeta and milk mix and throwing it all in the oven. Next time I'll give that a whirl.

Heads up - this made enough to feed an army! I froze half of it for another time.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

I don't feel ready...

I live my job! Nothing quite beats working with kids, making a difference, and experiencing the give and take of knowledge. I seriously adore my students and what I get to do.

Except when we're not ready. And we are not ready for tomorrow night. Maybe it was the fact that camp was cut short because we didn't get drill on time. Maybe it's because we have only had five out of the last ten rehearsals because of early outs or my own sick children. Maybe it's because the band is nearly 70% underclassmen. Maybe it's because I spent too much time on drill and not enough on music. Maybe it's because of the debut of the new stadium. Whatever the case may be, we aren't ready.

It stresses me out and ages me five years or more when we have something huge and aren't prepared. But on the other hand, as my principal so brazenly pointed out, when haven't we arose to the occasion when I thought we wouldn't? Never.

Let's hope this time is no different. Let's hope my kids bring their A game tomorrow night. No matter what, I know how hard we have worked and how hard we will continue to work in the days and weeks to come. We want so desperately to be a band that the community is proud of and supports unconditionally. The pressure of that is enormous...

But I still don't feel ready... But tomorrow's a new day and maybe the sun will come up, light bulbs will go on, and it will click. We will be there because in all seriousness, ready or not, here we come!!!