Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Broiled Pork Chops and Pineapple

Summer has started and my kids are starting their adventures this week.  Currently, this means one girl is in Luray, VA with Lolo (AKA grandpa) and the other is at home with us.  I asked the one at home what she wanted for dinner and, no surprise, she wanted macaroni & cheese.  She had also picked out some broccoli from the farmer’s market and I thought that would work with whatever protein I chose.

Unfortunately, our grill is on its last leg and is temperamental enough that I can’t use it.  This is leaving my choices as stovetop or oven.  I was already baking the macaroni & cheese so decided I would broil the pork chops.  Additionally, I had some leftover pineapple and absolutely love grilled pineapple.  If you have never tried grilled pineapple, definitely do so this summer.  The natural sugars caramelize and they are delicious.  Since I couldn’t grill them, I hoped that broiling them would accomplish the same thing.

My macaroni & cheese recipe stays pretty much the same, however you can easily mix it up a little bit with the cheese you have available.  I checked my fridge for any open packets and had a couple tablespoons of shredded parmesan, a little bit of sharp cheddar, and a little less than half a cup of ricotta.  I used all of these as my starting point and then threw in a some mixed shredded cheddar  and sprinkled it on top.  The ricotta made it extra creamy.

Ingredients

3 pork chops

Adobo, cracked black pepper, worcestershire sauce for seasoning

2 cups fresh broccoli

6 pieces fresh pineapple

Directions

1.  Season pork chops with worcestershire sauce, adobo and cracked black pepper on each side

2.  Turn oven to broil on high

3.  Broil pork chops for 5-8 minutes per side (depending on thickness)

4.  Broil pineapple for 4 minutes on each side

5.  Let pork chops rest for 5-10 minutes before eating

Broccoli was simply steamed with a little water.

Results

This is a really simple, quick dinner preparation.  You could season the pork chops ahead of time, but it isn’t a requirement.  By now, you have probably figured out that I like vegetables.  If I have the ingredients in the house, I try to throw together a salad to complement each meal.  This one has spinach and tomatoes from the farmer’s market, yellow pepper, red onion and green olives.

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Vegetable Frittata and Other Brunch Goodies

I found myself with the refrigerator door open staring at the leftover vegetables, trying to figure out what I should do with them. There was purple cauliflower, fingerling potatoes, carrots, green beans and peas. I decided that this would all work well in a frittata. My next challenge was that this would be too much food for one person and my husband and oldest daughter were away for the weekend for a hockey tournament. I did the next best thing…invited some girlfriends over for brunch.

I contributed the veggie frittata, fresh fruit with a honey yogurt and peanut butter yogurt dipping sauces. There were also croissants, gluten free berry muffins and a large pitcher of mimosas. We had a very pleasant morning.

Ingredients

2 cups geek yogurt
3/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Fresh fruit of your choice (I used cantaloupe, strawberries, pineapple, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries mad bananas)
2 cups leftover vegetables
7 eggs
Splash of milk
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
1/2 shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Yogurt Dipping Sauces

1. Put 1 cup yogurt each into 2 bowls
2. Add 1/2 cup honey to one bowl and 1/4 cup honey to the other
3. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to first bowl (with more honey) and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to second bowl
4. Mix first bowl thoroughly
5. Add vanilla extract and peanut butter to second bowl and mix thoroughly
6. Cut up fruit and enjoy with dipping sauce

Veggie Frittata

1. Crack 7 eggs into bowl

2. Add splash of milk and salt & pepper

3. Whisk together

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4. Heat olive oil in large oven safe skillet (coat bottom and sides with oil) over medium heat

5. Add in veggies and heat through, stirring regularly so they don’t stick

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6. Add egg mixture and stir a couple of time

7. Add in 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese and stir to combine

8. Turn heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes (bottom should be starting to brown while top is runny)

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9. Sprinkle additional cheese on top of frittata

10. Put skillet under broiler for about 5 minutes, when top starts to brown and bubble

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11. Add chopped chives, or other herbs to top for garnish

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Results

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It was a really nice morning.  What can be better than good food, but to be surrounded by good friends.

Cooking with Kids

I have mentioned before that I have fond memories of cooking with my family growing up, and it is something that I work to foster with my children.  I want them to enjoy food, enjoy cooking it and enjoy experimenting with it.  There are several examples that showcase that I’m succeeding with that.

My youngest daughter likes to help with some very specific recipes like macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, the dressing for broccoli slaw/cole slaw.  This week we were having grilled lamb sausage with mashed potatoes and she asked if I was making gravy.  I had no reason not to make the gravy so I asked whether she wanted chicken gravy or white gravy.  She decided it was going to be white gravy and she was going to help make it.  She was very focused when she cut the butter and measured out some flour.  She vigorously mashed, then stirred, the top layer of potatoes. She asked lots of questions like “what happened to the butter?”,  “how long do we have to wait to get gravy?” and “Why are you keeping the peeled potatoes in cold water?”  Needless to say she got a little bored and went off to play, until it was time to taste it.

While I appreciate all her help, it often comes with more angst and mess, than cooking alone.  Her elbow gets precariously close to the other pot on the stove when she is stirring.  She’s still not quite tall enough to peak into the pots without tip towing.  And there definitely is more flour, or other ingredients on counters, appliances and the floor.

My oldest daughter surprised us this year when she chose “home economics” as one of her choices for electives.  This came with a whole new level of education about sanitation and of course, the identification of the “perfect” way to do a task, usually very different than the way I was doing it.  She has backed off from telling me how to do it, and is more interested in her iphone than helping me in the kitchen.  However, she is one of the first to tell everyone about all the good things we get to eat at home.  Once in a while she’ll contribute something while cooking.

This week, we are focusing on regular family staples rather than anything really new.  I decided to offer up the option to allow her to pick the spices, for which I would season the roast chicken.  I started the pile with the standard Adobo and cracked black pepper.  She added in chili powder, cumin, Chinese five spice (she did taste it first), cardamon, and nutmeg.  I mixed it together in proportions that I thought would work.  I added some ginger, which I knew would complement the other flavors.  I was impressed with the depths of the flavors she chose, as well as the fact that she did not shy away from strong flavors.  She decided she really like the combination of spices on the roast chicken.

I really hope the girls have some great memories of this time in the kitchen and continue to enjoy the preparation.

But that’s all in the name of adventure!

Enchilada Peppers

I went to the Kingstowne farmer market on Friday and got all sorts of goodies, including these royal purple bell peppers. I latched on to stuffings these peppers, but my family isn’t a real fan of stuffed peppers. My initial thought was to make a hash with a lamb sausage, potato and red pepper hash. I scrapped that idea when I couldn’t come up with a good sauce for it. I then thought about my enchilada filling. My youngest daughter liked the idea and even named my dish “enchilada peppers.”

Ingredients

5 small purple bell peppers

1 package southwestern chicken shortcuts, broken into bite size pieces

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 package 90 secs brown rice

1 large can enchilada sauce

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 small onion diced

1/2 red pepper diced

6 tortillas

Directions

1. Carefully cut out stem of peppers and remove seeds and white membrane

2. Place peppers in pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5-10 minutes until soft

3. Remove from pot and let drain

4. Sauté diced onions and red peppers in a little olive oil over medium high heat

5. In large bowl, mix chicken, rice, cheese, black beans, onions and red peppers and about 1/2 enchilada sauce (enough to make mixture moist but not soupy)

6. Pour some enchilada sauce on bottom of baking dish

7. Use a tablespoon to stuff peppers

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8. Lay peppers in baking dish. Don’t over-crowd peppers

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9. Drizzle peppers with enchilada sauce and cover with cheese

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10. Use remaining filling for traditional enchiladas, rolling it in tortillas, cover in enchilada sauce and cheese

11. Bake peppers and remaining enchiladas at 375 degrees for 25 minutes

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Results

These were a winner and a requested “definitely make again” recipe. I was a little weirded out by why the peppers blanched to green, but it didn’t alter the taste.

Crockpot Lamb Stew

I picked up bone-in lamb for stew meat at the grocery store imagining the rich, flavorful stew I could make from it. Of course, I didn’t actually have a recipe though. I knew I could do this in my crockpot on one of our busy evenings. When it came time to look for a recipe, I came across this one by Munchie Musings. Originally I thought I would defer the whole dredging in flour and browning, but after reading her compelling arguments on the additional flavor I changed my mind.

My vegetable choice had to do more with my family and my own personal tastes than anything else. Potatoes, onions and carrots are standard stew vegetables, but I enjoy mushrooms and my oldest daughter is a huge fan of fingerling potatoes, especially after she grew them last summer. So, I did fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, baby bellas, pearl onions and parsnips (recipe recommended the last two). I wasn’t sure what my girls would say about the parsnips, but they didn’t even notice them. They must have thought they were white carrots or another type of potato.

Ingredients

2 pounds bone in lamb meat

Adobo

Fresh cracked pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 oz bottle Guiness

1 1/2 cups fingerling potatoes

1 cup baby carrots

1 cup baby portabellas

2 med parsnips, peeled and chopped

3 cups water

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 tablespoons cold roux (olive oil and flour)

Directions

1. Cut lamb meat off bone and into bite size pieces

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2. Toss lamb meat with flour, Adobo and pepper

3. Heat olive oil in large pan and saute lamb meat until brown

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4. Once all meat has been browned, brown bones

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5. Deglaze pan with Guiness, scraping bits off the bottom of pan

6. Put lamb, bones, beer, scrapings and all vegetables in crockpot

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7. Season vegetables with Adobo, pepper and thyme

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8. Cook on low for 6.5 hours, until the meat falls off the bone and vegetables are tender

9. Add roux and let sit on warm for another 30-60 mins

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Results

I got exactly what I expected.  A rich, hearty stew with tender meat and perfectly cooked vegetables.

Leftover Meat and Vegetable Soup

I think that part of being a good cook comes from being able to repurpose leftovers, either to make a mediocre or unexciting dish better, or just to reinvent them as something else. I have a staple asian noodle soup recipe that I use pretty regularly with extra chicken, beef or pork. It’s got lots of celery, onions, carrots, dried mushrooms and whatever else I feel like putting in it (i.e. spinach). The asian flavors like soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, chinese 5 spice all make the broth flavorful and hearty.

This is what I planned on doing with the leftover red chili paste marinated flank steak, but two things changed my mind. 1) My youngest daughter doesn’t love this or so she claims verbally (you wouldn’t know it from the way she eats all the goodies and noodles) and 2) I had a couple links of cooked italian sausage that I thought I could toss in. I also had some other random vegetables around like 1/2 a green pepper and some both cooked and uncooked broccoli.

As I expected, it all worked out well. The flavor was bold and the soup hearty.

Ingredients

1/2 cooked marinated flank steak, sliced thinly in bite size pieces

2 cooked italian sausages, sliced thinly

1/2 box spinach fettucini

1 medium onion cut in half and sliced thinly

2 celery stalks sliced thinly (I used a mandolin for the celery and carrots)

3 carrots sliced thinly

1 large tablespoon chopped garlic

1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms

1 cup boiling water

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 green bell pepper cut in half and sliced thinly

1 cup broccoli cut into small florets

3 cups beef stock

2 chicken bouillon cubes

3 cups water

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

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Adobo and cracked black pepper

Directions

1. Steep dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 5-15 minutes

2. Heat pot on stove and add olive oil

3. Add onions, celery and carrots, saute 1-2 minutes

4. Add garlic, Adobo and pepper to taste

5. Add in steak and sausage, saute 3-4 minutes

6. Add beef stock, mushrooms, steeping liquid, chicken bouillon, water

7. Add green pepper and broccoli

8. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes

9. Add fettucini and kidney beans and cook for additional 6-8 minutes

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Leftovers are just another creative outlet for cooks. I like the additional options having leftovers allows me and my family.  I’m so glad they are open to whatever it is I make.

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