sum sum summer time

While I wait for the rain to pass why not write a blog-post… because they are slowing down with lack of inspiration and not needing to cook.  Once our summer travels are done I know I’ll want to get back in the kitchen but when my husband was gone for a week I wasn’t going to cook a gourmet meal for one. Now it’s my turn to travel and then in a few weeks it’s his again.

Since I haven’t been cooking a whole lot I’m going to share a pasta recipe I entered into a contest:

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“Salad”:
1 box of Dreamfields rotini pasta (cooked and cooled)
1 pound of cubed ham
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
5 oz. crumbled blue cheese
“Dressing”:
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 shallots DICED
8 tbsp EVOO
S/P to taste

Boil the pasta (lightly salt the water; the dressing & blue cheese will add plenty of flavor) when it is fully cooked, drain the pasta & set aside to cool.
While the pasta is cooling, mix the “dressing” ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk (use a really large bowl so you can serve the salad in it). Combine the cubed ham & dried cranberries. Mix together with a spatula evenly coating everything. Once the pasta is cooled add it to the large bowl of dressing/ham/dried cranberries. With the spatula, fold everything slowly to evenly coat the pasta. Be gentle so you don’t tear or rip the pasta.
Chill in the fridge 4 hours (or overnight; cover with plastic wrap); when ready to serve, fold the salad again & sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on top.

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I did cook one real meal this week, it’s an easy one but really flavorful…enjoy!
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Sauteed onions with just 2 scoops of butter 😉 … pork loin steaks – so good!  We love pork but it was nice to eat a different cut of the meat.

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Cheated on veggies but the ‘silver can’ peas are so yummy. Yellow potatoes (use a large bowl to mix: cut into wedges, sprinkle salt & pepper, 2 grated garlic cloves, and 1 diced shallot… drizzle on EVOO and fold with a spatula) – bake at 400 for 45 min.

So that’s that… it was salsa chicken last night and tonight is spaghetti.  Of course there are plenty of leftovers so my husband doesn’t starve while I’m gone.

As for my trip, I’m really looking forward to eating Czech & Polish food – pierogis and sauerkraut here I come… getting back to my roots! And some Italian sausages (not my roots but certainly a ‘must have’ while in Chicago) … I’m so ready for something other than BBQ and Mexican food. Texas, I love you but I need a break.

 

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ice, ice, baby

Well, there goes my hopes of getting things done (outside of the house) today… San Antonio has pretty much shut down.  All school are closed and highways are blocked.  Listen, the weather isn’t bad but this city doesn’t have the trucks to clear icy roads; cars are stuck on overpasses (that are 4+ stories tall… no thank you!). And as I told my husband before he left for work … it’s not him I’m worried about (being from Erie, PA – he knows ice and snow), it’s the other idiot drivers out there.  Of course he called when he got to work to A) let me know he arrived safely and B) inform me about the dummy who tried to be cool and pass everyone, slammed on his brakes at a red light, and swerved sideways into the median, all in front of a cop. See what I mean?

So with that being said, if the roads melt a bit and I get the courage to drive amongst morons then I will head to the grocery store.  The cold front is supposed to be gone by Sunday where it will be back up in the 70’s and then 3 days later, freezing temps at night. This is insane.

Anyway, I have plans on making french onion soup tonight – never made it before and it’s been something on my “you must attempt this” list.

I have not cooked a decent meal since Tuesday. It’s been leftover central up in here! I love it though because I think it’s fun to find different ways to create something by swapping out the “usual”.  For instance, I made loco moco which is a traditional Hawaiian dish but instead of using rice, I used the leftover quinoa mixture from the stuffed peppers.

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So easy: make 4 burger patties, sass up canned gravy by adding extra mushrooms, you can make rice for the bottom, cook up some eggs, and it’s done! It’s really silly how delish this meal is.  We fell in love with it a few years back while in Hawaii. It’s so filling – it’s a “every 6 months” kind of meal; not something we could eat on a regular basis.  Plus it only took 20-ish minutes from start to plate.

Last night I marinated 2 chicken breasts in green chile sauce, pan cooked them, and served over top of the quinoa mixture – Josh loved it.  No one says a certain mixture can’t be used for other dishes.  Me on the other hand whipped up some nasty frozen “fish” filets – they were in the freezer as a back up meal in case I didn’t feel like cooking.  Yeah, do yourself a favor and DO NOT BUY THEM, I will never trust Gorton’s fishermen again. Once you start eating real fish filets from the seafood counter, there’s no turning back to buying the cheap garbage.

So as of Wednesday Josh is back to his 8 week schedule of hardly being home, it’s been nice having him around to help with dinner … he was put on patty duty:

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I will leave you with this fun piece of nutritional info on 1,000 island salad dressing, get ready to be amazed.

IMG_5202 Chelsea introduced a greek yogurt-based dressing to me not too long ago. Yes is absolutely tastes different (not yucky though) however notice the calories, 40 vs. 130 – holy cow! I don’t mind giving up its classic  flavor if it means I’m ingesting something that isn’t as bad for me.  Try it out, this company makes a variety of dressings (ranch, blue cheese, 1,000 island… ) Bolt House – got try it!

Oh lovely, it’s raining again.

pork chops, steaks, and a ‘little nugget’

What happens when you forget to buy a primary ingredient for dinner? Improvise!  That was my Wednesday evening, as I’m prepping dinner I go the ‘dairy drawer’ in my fridge and frantically search for smoked gouda. NO WHERE TO BE FOUND and then it dawned on me, I forgot to buy it; womp womp womp.  No worries, I wouldn’t let that stop me from making some tasty stuffed pork chops. Yes, we had pork chops last week but they are inexpensive and a great source of protein, so why not. I had smoked gouda and spinach stuffed chops in mind but that quickly changed to …. caramelized onions and sauteed apples stuffed chops.  Even though apples are not wise for a diabetic to eat, we just remember “everything in moderation”.  Again, with the high protein in pork + a side salad of dark greens – apples wouldn’t actually do much to Josh’s sugar level.

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You can also see the instant “mashed” potatoes … I added a decent scoop of garlic to these and a large spoonful of sour cream.  I will say it again, there’s nothing wrong with buying these “cheat” items but do something with them, make them your own. Plain instant potatoes are kind of gross – a soggy lump of mush and lack flavor.  Adding butter alone is pretty standard, go a step further and think of toppings you’d put on a baked potato; dice them up and throw in the pot. Good to go!

P.S. is anyone else a fan of those mini corns? They were my favorite topping at a salad bar and I had no clue (until a few months ago) that you could find them in the canned veggie aisle. Want to make a boring salad interesting? Take the same approach as you would to those instant potatoes.  Olives, mini corn, dried cranberries, croutons, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, diced red/green peppers, cucumbers … we mix up the toppings every month or so because salads can and will get dull!  Remember, go for the dark green lettuce for a healthier choice.  While iceburg lettuce looks the least like a ‘weed’ it doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients.  If it looks like you could have picked it from your backyard, that’s the bag you want to grab or get spinach; looks like a normal leaf and is really good for you.

We ended the week with steaks and sweet potatoes.  It was perfect grilling weather, 75 degrees… no complaints here for a mid-December evening! Our steaks get minimal cooking time, we’re talking 4 minutes on each side. I will not eat a steak if it doesn’t ‘moo’ on my plate 😉  The sweet potatoes took about an hour so plan accordingly.  Ain’t nothin’ simpler than that guys!

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I have graduated from dipping my steaks in Ketchup; my dad would be proud.  I can’t eat it completely naked even though we used some tasty seasoning; I reached for A1 instead. Please, hold your applause 🙂  Yes yes, a salad again. It’s the best side in my opinion; I like making them and Josh always requests one.  So that is usually our veggie helping.

Real quick before I sign off, it’s my little nugget’s 5th birthday this month. She’s so fat it’s appalling but we love her anyway. She eats healthy and gets exercise, we don’t indulge in doggy treats or human food either. It’s just who she is.

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I know you haven’t read much about my sous chefs lately … well with a bigger kitchen and two levels for the dogs to frolic, they don’t get in my way anymore.  They are at my feet when they hear me say ‘dinner’s ready’; they aren’t dumb… they come around hoping to trip me while I’m serving food.  Gotta love ’em!