Friday, March 16, 2018

Cleaning Out Files

I came across some interesting pictures today, and decided to post them so I can delete them. One of the purposes of this blog is to help me remember recipes I've tried that I want to try again. While I'm not sure of the exact recipe that is depicted here, it looks good, and I imagine I could recreate it without too much trouble.

It looks like Wayne requested wild rice (my recipe for that can be found in this post) and pork loin for dinner one Sunday last year, and I decided to add some sauteéd mushrooms to the plate. It also looks like I tried the idea found here which supposedly makes rice fluffier. Basically, once the rice is done cooking, remove the lid, place a towel over the pot, replace the lid and let it set for 10 minutes or so. I guess I'll have to try it again in order to remember if it really made a difference!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Trying a New Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

One of my friends, whom I consider an excellent cook, posted a recipe for Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies from Smitten Kitchen this week. While I love my chocolate chip cookie recipe, this one looked too good to pass up, so I made a trip to Trader Joe's and picked up a bar of dark chocolate and gave this recipe a try. I'll probably stick with our tried-and-true recipe, but I'm not sorry I made these. They're rich and gooey and delicious, although maybe a bit too rich and gooey.

I've made cookies before with chopped up chocolate instead of chocolate chips, and I do love the way the little teeny bits are spread throughout the dough. (See here.) It was also nice to have a reason to use the turbinado sugar I bought a while ago. So, someday in the future I'll substitute turbinado sugar for some of the regular sugar and use some chopped up chocolate instead of chocolate chips in my non-butter-based recipe and have the best of both worlds!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Chinese Take-Out

Beef Lo Meain
Every so often we like to pick up some Chinese take-out. Fortunately, we like the food made by our local restaurant. Unfortunately, I never know what to do with all the condiment packets they throw into the bag. Today I decided to do some research, and here are some ideas for using up the hot mustard packets. (We usually don't have a problem eating the duck sauce the night we have it, and I just add the soy sauce packets to our normal dinner recipes as needed.) FYI, there's about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sauce in each packet.

Here are three ideas from this site.

Peanut Noodles: Combine 1/4 cup peanut butter with a packet each of duck sauce, soy sauce, and hot mustard. Toss with noodles. Supposedly this is super good chilled.

Chicken Salad: Combine shredded cooked chicken with some mayonnaise and a packet each of duck sauce, soy sauce, and hot mustard. Stir in some chopped green onion and stuff the mixture into a baguette.

Simple Marinade: Combine the duck sauce, soy sauce and hot mustard and use for a marinade for a chicken breast.

Here are a couple from this site.

Deviled Eggs: Replace standard yellow mustard with Chinese mustard for some extra heat.

Tuna Salad: Mix the mustard with canned tuna, chopped red onions, and gherkins for a spicy tuna salad. [Note: I just added the mustard to our normal tuna + Miracle Whip + pickle relish mixture. Wayne likes jalapeño slices on his tuna sandwich.]

It looks like marinades are the best use for leftover mustard packets. Here are a couple more from this site.

Sweet and Hot Chicken Skewers with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

3 packets Chinese hot mustard
2 packets duck sauce
1 packet soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar if rice vinegar isn't available)
1 clove minced garlic
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
1 crown broccoli cut into florets and slightly steamed
1 onion cut into wedges
melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, vinegar, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Alternating chicken and vegetables, poke onto skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

To make dipping sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of hot mustard, 2 tsp honey, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and 1 Tbsp either coconut water or regular water (optional).

I marinated the large chicken piece, grilled it, and served with the dipping sauce as garnish. It was really good. The leftover sauce was delicious as the spread for a ham sandwich.

Sesame Beef Skewers

3 packets of soy sauce
1 packet of hot mustard
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 clove minced garlic
1 lb 1 inch beef cubes (sirloin works great)
6-10 button mushrooms
1 onion cut into wedges
1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, sesame oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the beef cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Alternating beef and vegetables, poke onto skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

For the sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of soy sauce, 1/8 tsp ground ginger, and toss in a few sesame seeds for fun.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Instant Pot Pinto Beans

As I'm sure many, many others are, we're constantly trying to eat more healthily, and that means having more whole grains and vegetables in our diet. We're also trying to use and rotate our food storage. In addition, we're trying to use the appliances on our counter so they won't collect dust. Today's experiment should help with all three pursuits! I'm trying this recipe, although, as usual, I've tweaked it a bit, and I imagine it will need more tweaking before we try it again.

Instant Pot Pinto Beans

1 pound (or 2 2/3 cup) dry pinto beans
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dried onion
8 cups water

Combine everything in the Instant Pot. Using the "manual" button, set for 25 minutes at high pressure. Let release naturally (about another 25 minutes).

Okay, our beans are really old - like over 15 years. It took an additional 20-30 minutes in the Instant Pot to get them kind of soft. I tried again another day with soaking the beans overnight before cooking them, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference.

The first night our chili was fine, but on leftover night, I added an additional can of kidney beans from the pantry (so not 15 year old beans) and a can of corn. It was infinitely better. I need to remember that mixing old and new makes the old better, at least when it comes to dried beans.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday Pork Chops

This was a recipe I clipped from a magazine because I thought it looked interesting. It was interesting, and it was also delicious. 

Pork Chops with Tomato and Feta

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 - 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 pork chops, about 1" thick
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat oven to 350°. Cook onion in oil in an ovenproof skillet for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings and cook for another few minutes. Stir in the vinegar, then transfer to a bowl. In the same skillet, brown the pork chops for a few minutes on each side, then transfer to oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until thermometer registers 145°. To serve, top each pork chop with half the tomato mixture and half the feta cheese.

This is a recipe I found why looking for something to dress up pork chops and oven rice. The sauce was too thin and had too much lemon for our tastes, but it's worth trying again with some adjustments. I read 1/4 cup lemon juice, when it must have meant the juice from 1/4 of a lemon.

Pork Chops in Lemon Cream Sauce

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp flour (use leftover flour from dredging pork chops) - next time try using 1/4 cup
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice - next time try using 1 Tablespoon
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only) - I used 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge pork chops thoroughly in flour mixture.

Brown pork chops in some melted butter. Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt butter; add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Add flour to the butter mixture and start pouring in wine while still on medium heat - about 1 minute. Next squeeze lemon into the pan, add chicken stock and heavy cream. Add fresh thyme and Italian seasoning, season with salt and pepper (to taste). Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning, if necessary.

Reduce heat to low and return pork chops to pan. Depending on the thickness of your pork chops, you might just need to heat them up a bit to make sure they are done. Drizzle some of the sauce over pork chops and reheat on low for 2-3 minutes or until pork chops are done.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Crunchy Ramen Salad

Wayne requested Ramen Salad as our contribution to the ward potluck barbecue. This isn't something I normally make, so I didn't have a favorite recipe. Fortunately, lots of other people do. We're going to try a variation of this version

We finished off the leftovers during our Sunday dinner.

Crunchy Ramen Salad

9 cups shredded cabbage
3 cups shredded carrots
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 red pepper thinly sliced
3 green onions , sliced
2 packages ramen noodles (seasonings reserved for dressing)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
seasoning from ramen packages
2 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, red pepper & green onions. Break up the ramen noodles and add them (uncooked) to the cabbage mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour over ramen mixture and toss to combine. Top with sesame seeds and serve. Note that the longer it sits before serving, the softer the noodles become. If you want it crunchy, serve it right away. If not, you can wait a while.

A lot of people suggested adding sunflower seeds and/or sliced almonds to the salad. Others said to add broccoli, mushrooms and/or edamame. What would you add?

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Growing up we always made our coleslaw with chopped cabbage and Miracle Whip, and that's about it. Sometimes we'd add crushed pineapple and mini marshmallows. Other times we'd add green peas and chopped onions. Not very exciting, but then we didn't particularly care for coleslaw in general. However, in the south a pulled pork sandwich requires coleslaw for a condiment, isn't that correct? So, time to cut up some cabbage!

See the coleslaw peeking out? Here's the pork recipe.
I'm trying a variation of the recipe used for our Carrot Apple Salad, because Wayne said he liked it. And it's pretty close to the coleslaw recipe I found here, so it ought to work just fine.


7 cups green cabbage, finely shredded or chopped
1-2 carrots, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp celery seed
salt and pepper to taste

It did work fine, but something was a bit off. I'm guessing it was the dry mustard, so leave that out!