Friday, September 30, 2005

Pork Roast with Potatoes

I'm not overly pleased with this meal, but I'm posting it anyway. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but there wasn't anything great about it either. It's basically just a meat and potatoes dinner.

The pork and potatoes were cooked in the crock pot and I experimented with the cooking liquid. Typically I would use just water and seasonings, but since I had a surplus of jarred applesauce and apples and pork go well together I thought that I would see how cooking a roast in applesauce would go. As it turns out, you can't really tell. No loss no gain. I think next time I will try chunks of apple.

I put the roast into the crock pot with applesauce and seasonings in the morning before I left for work. It cooked all day on the low temperature setting. When I got home I scrubbed and cut the extra "garden fresh" potatoes (those not used in the making of soup) and added them to the crock. I let this continue cooking for about another hour.

It was very simple and for that, I have to give it credit. Its a very hands-off meal and some days you just feel like meat and potatoes. Its definitely something I will make again, but I think I will wait until the thermometer drops a bit lower before giving it a repeat.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rustic Potato Soup

I want to begin this entry by thanking my father for the suggestion to make potato soup. He said that when he was a kid his parents would make a big pot of potato soup from time to time and that he really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I wont be able to give him any of this soup since I won't be seeing him for at least another week; but he can read this post and see the picture and maybe I will make another batch at his house sometime soon.

Yesterday morning I went grocery shopping and since I had planned on making soup I remembered to buy a leek. But, I forgot to get any milk product thicker than skim. That evening when I started looking up recipe ideas I found that about all needed either heavy cream or half and half or some other thick milk product. After becoming frustrated with the lack of usable recipes (and I was not going back to the grocery store) I decided to just start cooking and see where things went.

I began by browning chopped leek in butter in a big stock pot. Once the leeks were cooked, I added 2 cans of chicken broth (low sodium), some chopped garlic, and a bunch of seasonings (parsley flakes, bay leaves, black pepper, and some other stuff that I will have to look up). I let this come to a boil and then added half of the potatoes. These potatoes were scrubbed and cut into small pieces with the skin still intact. The stock pot was then reduced to a simmer.

In another pot I boiled the rest of the potatoes (they were peeled) in water. Once these were fully cooked, the water was drained off and they were mashed. I then added the mashed potatoes to the stock pot.

At this point the soup looked alright, but still lacked any kind of creaminess. I then remembered that I had some powdered milk and thought that it might do the trick. I slowly added the powdered milk to the simmering soup (stirring the whole time) until I was happy with the consistency. At that point I let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes so that all the potatoes were cooked and that was it.

This was my first time making potato soup and I'm very happy with the outcome. My original plan was not to make rustic-style soup, but that's how it came out and I'm alright with that.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Beef and Brocolli Quiche

If you thought Taco Lasagna was easy, this dish was even easier. It makes a great breakfast dish, but could be served at any meal. It reheats well both in the microwave or oven. Some may say that I cheated by using a ready made pie crust, but I don't care. They are not that expensive and are a great time saver; and they come in their own pan.

Since I had planned on making this the day after the Taco Lasagna, I cooked up the beef for both dishes at once and took out enough for the quiche before adding the taco seasoning. If you haven't read about Taco Lasagna, I suggest you give it a look.

The rest of the dish is cooked broccoli florets (I'm not big on stems), eggs, a little milk, and cheese. Depending on how you like your crust you can prebake. I tend to like a more flaky crust so I prebaked mine. If you like it softer, you can skip that step. In a mixing bowl I combined eggs and milk (making sure everything was well blended) and added in the beef, broccoli, and a handful of cheddar cheese.

This mixture was poured into the crust, a little more cheese was sprinkled on top, and it was tossed into the oven. The baking time was about an hour. You have to make sure that its fully cooked in the center so you have to keep an eye on it and take it out when its done. If it starts to get too browned on top, just put a piece of foil over the dish.

I think the only hard part about making a quiche is making sure that it is cooked the whole way. Other than that, its so simple.


Taco Lasagna

If you haven't figured it out yet, I like cooking simple things; this falls into that category. Instead of pasta like traditional lasagna, I opted for flour tortillas which cooked up really well and absorbed the extra liquid from the salsa. Since I baked the lasagna in an 8" x 8" dish, I cut the tortillas in half and let them overlap in the middle. The longest part of the prep was cooking the ground beef. I added taco seasoning to the browning meat for extra flavor.

All that was left was to layer the tortillas, beef, salsa (your favorite jar variety works fine), and cheese(I used a shredded mexican blend) in the dish and repeat. My dish was deep enough to allow 4 series of layers. Then I just had to toss it into the oven for about an hour and it was done. The only recommendation I would make for the future is to add a layer of refried beans. It wasn't necessary (and I didn't have any in the cupboards), but I think that it would be a welcome addition.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chili Sauce? Chili Pasta Sauce? "Italian Chili"?

Regardless of what I end up calling it, this meal was tasty. The reason for the Italian in the name has to do with the main source of tomato in the chili. Due to a lack of tomato sauce, canned tomatoes (well, I had one can and it went into the chili), or even fresh tomatoes, I decided to try making chili using a jar of pasta sauce as the base. For this dish, I used a 3-cheese sauce. I don't recall the brand, but I figure it was something that was recently on sale at the grocery store.

Since I knew that I had already altered the basic flavor of the chili I decided to go all the way. When cooking the meat (I used ground turkey), I added a packet of Italian salad dressing mix. It was the kind that you are supposed to add oil, vinegar, and water with; I skipped all that and just put the dry seasonings into the browning turkey. As you can see there are also beans (I know some people would disagree, but chili needs to have beans). One can of beans was seasoned for chili and the other was plain.

Into a big pot went the beans, the turkey, the one can of crushed tomatoes, and a jar of pasta sauce. I let it stew for about an hour (I would have let it simmer longer but it was already getting late in the evening and I was hungry). I cooked up some pasta (I don't remember what they were called but they looked like skinny rigatoni) and poured the chili over the noodles. With the addition of a little cheese, the dish was complete.

The chili definitely has a "chili" taste but there is also the secondary Italian seasoning taste; all and all, they blend well together. The chili was great over pasta and has been good by itself in a bowl with a few crackers. It was super easy to put together with very little ingredients.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bananas Foster Cake

This is my first post of hopefully many more culinary masterpieces.

From the looks of it, Bananas Foster Cake does not fall into the category of masterpiece, but with one bite (see picture), I declare it a success. I've been planning to make this cake for a long while now, but kept putting it off. For some reason I decided this weekend would be the one.

The cake was simple to put together since it uses a yellow cake mix for its base. It reminds me of a pineapple upside down cake but with bananas and pecans instead the pineapple and cherries.

So, the cake is baked with the toppings in the bottom of the dish. The toppings include butter, brown sugar, rum (I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum), chopped pecans, and bananas. The only bananas used for this cake are in the topping, but the flavor is present throughout the cake. The cake itself consists of the yellow cake mix, eggs, water, cinnamon, melted butter, and more rum.

As I write this the cake is a little over 24 hours old. I had the first piece within an hour after baking. The cake was still warm and the topping gooey, but the density of the cake itself was pretty light. After chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours, some of the sugary topping seeped into the cake; this was an improvement. Now, 1 day later, a quarter of the cake is gone (having been eaten by me). As for the rest, I plan to take the rest into work tomorrow to share with my friends.

If you are interested in the recipe, send me an email.

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