Chops and Carrots

Tonight, I made these lamb chops and these carrots – only no way did I cook 12 chops and 5 lbs of carrots!  I cooked 2 lamb loin chops, one for me and one for my little guy – and next time, I better make a third, because he decided lamb chops are one of his favorite foods.  I think he’s my kid.

The lamb was good – though once again, searing them proves to be challenging when they are so thick. The outside was beautiful but the inside was rarer than I wanted to serve to my kiddo, and had to be lightly nuked. I think I should have brought the defrosting chops out of the refrig earlier than I did. And while they were tasty, the herb flavor might have been a little much. I love the taste of lamb so much that this much herbs de provence was too much herbs de provence.

The carrots were a slam dunk in my opinion, though. I am terrible about under-thinking my vegetables – usually I whip up a quick dressing and serve everything with a salad. Sometimes it’s a standard green salad, sometimes it’s arugula with pumpkin seeds and dried cherries – but still, it’s a side salad. But every once in a while, I remember to actually try a vegetable recipe – and this one was a winner!  Charlie ate his carrots plain, without the vinaigrette – but I ate them as directed, and they were delicious! And since I was just cooking 4 or 5 carrots rather than 5 pounds of carrots, there’s more of the mustard-y vinaigrette to serve next time I want a side salad.

While I was cooking these for dinner tonight, my slow cooker was busy finishing off a pot roast for when my parents are here for the night tomorrow night and George and I will be at back-to-school night. Got to love cooking dinner in advance!


Pulled Pork Sauces

Last night, we had friends over for pulled pork barbecue. I’m always looking for good sauce recipes to try, because I feel like bbq sauce from the grocery store is kind of like salad dressing from the grocery store; never as good as you want it to be. And the nice thing about barbecue sauce is that it is easy to make! Oh, and nice thing #2 – most of the ones I’ve tried require ingredients I already have around the house.

Last night, I made these two:

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce from Our Best Bites

Franklin’s Barbecue Sauce from Dinner: A Love Story

If given the choice, I always go for the mustard sauce – and this one was not a disappointment. I held back a little on the Tabasco, but I think next time, I’ll use exactly what she calls for, because it could have been spicier. But otherwise, it is perfect in my opinion – sweet, tangy, and thin so that it stirs into the pork really well. And you don’t even have to cook it, which is a bonus when your kitchen is already hot from the slow cooker simmering the pork butt all day long.

While I always go for mustard sauce, George rarely does. Plus, with barbecue, I think it’s fun to serve more than one sauce, so people can choose their favorite or try one of each. So I made the Franklin’s red sauce too. I’m embarrassed to say other than one finger dip before serving, I didn’t really try it – at least not with any meat. But George thought it was great, and our company appeared to enjoy it too, so I’ll be giving it a try with leftovers tonight!

Fourth of July Menu

I decided to try a couple of new recipes for the 4th, since I had Friday off and had time to shop. A new Wegmans just opened not too far from us, and I learned my lesson about shopping at a new grocery store the day before a holiday! But I got everything we needed for a good meal yesterday!  I decided to make Coke-braised carnitas, which I’d tried once before and enjoyed, as well as this watermelon pico de gallo, everybody’s favorite guacamole, black beans, and strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie. In the sake of time, I cheated a little bit on the pie by buying a pre-made graham cracker crust – but the rest was from scratch.

The overall verdict on the meal was good – however, the watermelon pico was a little sweeter than we would generally like (especially with the sweetness of the coke-braised meat) so it was better as a side salad than on top of the tacos. Next time will add a little more sriracha so it’s a bit spicier, but I love the sweet/spicy flavor of the meat, especially with some queso fresco and a corn tortilla heated on the stove. We saved the pie for after fireworks, and it was delicious right out of the freezer with the warm strawberry topping.  I’m going to enjoy the leftovers – until the pre-vacation diet begins on Thursday!

Happy Fourth of July!

A Couple of Recent Tries

I haven’t been very good about trying new recipes lately, so I decided to try a recipe delivery service. Plated delivered our first two meals two weeks ago, and another two today. I really love it – no shopping, no coming up with ideas about new things to cook, and great, fresh, home-cooked food. They deliver a box with all the ingredients except for salt, pepper and oil, with a recipe card that walks you step by step through the process. And within a half hour, you have protein, starch, and veggies ready to serve.  I’m pretty much in love with the whole process.

I’m not going to be doing that EVERY day, though, so I’m still trying to come up with new, healthy things to try here and there. Last night was this Stir Fried Pork and Mixed Veggies. And it was a success – at least for the grown-ups in the house. C wasn’t a huge fan; the pork was pretty spicy, and I served it over brown rice which he doesn’t love. But it came together quickly, which makes it great for a weeknight, and the sauce was very flavorful. I’ll definitely make it again.

A few weeks ago, I made these coke braised carnitas. YUM I loved these – they were sweet and tangy and made delicious tacos, but the meat was also good on its own, with a salad or vegetables on the side. It’s definitely not a quick recipe, and certainly not low calorie, but it was oh so tasty.

Hopefully I will find more good ones to share soon, but in the meantime, I will be enjoying my no-shopping, no thought required Plated meals!

A couple of good ones

Let’s start with a cocktail – because who doesn’t like a good cocktail!  I love margaritas, but I do not love the excessive calories in your average margarita mix, and I actually don’t care for most of the store bought mixes. It’s hard to find something that doesn’t taste overly sweet or fake. So when I saw a post for a grapefruit margarita, I thought it was worth a try. It was a valentine post using pink grapefruit, but I have since tried it with plain old yellow grapefruit too – and though it’s not quite as sweet, I still love it.

Recipe is juice of one whole grapefruit, juice of one whole lime, two oz tequila, and two oz orange liqueur. Can rim the glass with salt (pink himalayan sea salt would be cute) – but I like it w/o salt. I don’t add any sugar, and I think it is delicious, and tastes more like a fresh margarita than I would have expected. YUM.

I also tried a couple of new recipes over the weekend, both of which were successes:

I made this slow cooker korean beef over the weekend:  Yum!  I’ve had them twice since, with corn tortillas, the lime sour cream in the recipe, a mexican slaw I made with purple cabbage, sour cream, cumin, cilantro, and lime, and some black beans. G liked them too, and even C was up for trying a little. I love an easy slow cooker recipe, so this one is definitely on the keep list.

Lastly, I got crazy with the cold weather baking over the weekend, and decided to try to make bagels. I bookmarked this page months ago b/c I haven’t found any good NY style bagels around here and I love them – but it wasn’t until the frigid weather arrived that I decided to give it a try. I was suspect because the dough didn’t rise as much as I expected, and my dough balls were definitely less than perfect. But the end result tasted like – well, like a bagel. A good bagel. It’s a pretty high maintenance recipe, so I don’t expect to make them often, but I will definitely make them again!

PF Changs Attempt

G loves PF Changs. Unfortunately, there are no Asian restaurants nearby that we like, so a couple of times a year, we trek over to Tyson’s and eat too much at P.F Changs. So when I found this recipe for PF Changs lettuce wraps, I wanted to try it out.

Tonight, I made pork fried rice and lettuce wraps – and G really liked them. C shivered like I had fed him worms when I made him try a bite, so it’s definitely not his favorite (it has a TON of flavor, between the soy, hoisin, ginger, onion, sriracha, etc – so it might have been too much for him) but G really liked it and I did too. I may slightly dial back the hoisin, and try some leaves a little heartier than butter lettuce, but I’ll definitely make them again.

Pumpkin Muffins

A new neighbor is moving in across the street, and I wanted to make something seasonal to drop off, so I decided to try these pumpkin muffins. Charlie had one fresh out of the oven and told me I was the best muffin maker EVER (he’s all about the superlatives these days) and he’s about to have a second one for dessert.  I agree, they’re pretty tasty – and easy – and the whole house smells like pumpkin pie. YUM. Hope there are a few left for the neighbors!

Pasta Yum

I have now made this recipe a few times, and each time, I like it more than the last. The first time, I didn’t buy orecchiette, just made it with spaghetti noodles – but it as even better the next time when I used orecchiette. The most recent time I made it, I used sweet italian turkey sausage and an extra 8 oz can of tomato sauce, and it was delicious. It isn’t quick – but that’s only because it has to simmer for 45 minutes. The actual prep time is minimal, and while it does not make a massively huge pot of sauce, we ate it twice last week and still put some leftover sauce into the freezer (which I’m already thinking about taking back out of the freezer, because I can’t stop thinking about the sauce).  If you like italian sausage, you’ll love this sauce – trust me, make some. You won’t regret it!

Buttermilk Pancakes

Last night the little prince requested pancakes for dinner – and because it was Friday night and he is the little prince… he got them. We only had 1 egg in the house, but we had buttermilk as well (which is rare) – so I tried this recipe, halved. YUM. The pancakes were crisp on the edges and soft in the middle, and had a great flavor. I got 9 small pancakes out of half the recipe, plenty for the three of us. Quick, easy, and delicious – my favorite kind of recipe! May have to keep buttermilk around more often…

Last Minute Pork

I bought some pork tenderloin this past weekend, but I didn’t really have a plan for it. Generally I think it benefits from at least a few hours of marinating – but tonight, George called on his way home and chose pork over chicken, so I did a quick search and landed on this Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin from Pioneer Woman.

First things first – I cooked mine for probably 8 to 10 minutes longer than she suggested, and it still barely reached the “new” approved pork temp of 145. Don’t plan for this to be done in 12 to 15 minutes as she suggests, unless you like your pork really rare. In her case, she’s probably cooking pigs off her own farm so she doesn’t have to worry about where they came from or their quality. But I can’t say the same from the pork-in-a-bag from the HT. So I’m going to cook it to 145. Actually, next time, I’m going to cook it a little longer, since while we both like our pork pink, this was pinker than the hubs would have liked.

That said, though, we both really liked the herb crust. The sauce was good too – I changed that up as well. I made mine with orange marmalade b/c that’s what I had, but I also changed the ratio around a little. Originally, I did equal water and preserves like the recipe called for, but even after a good long simmer, the sauce was still thinner than I wanted. So I added more marmalade. I also added soy sauce to cut the sweetness a little, and used white balsamic vinegar rather than plain white vinegar – just b/c I had the white balsamic and I can’t use it to clean like I can the plain white vinegar.

What I loved about this is that it was EASY to prepare the tenderloin, the sauce requires very few ingredients, and it all came together quickly. I will definitely make this again, but I’ll give the pork a little longer in the oven before letting it rest.