May 19, 2017

Finally Friday: Slow cooker garlic pork shoulder blade

Every time I question what kitchen implements we REALLY need, the slow cooker reminds me that it earns its keep. This recipe was fantastic. Loosely translated: ridiculously easy, and cheap since we found the pork shoulder blade on sale for $1 a pound. That never happens around here! I bought four.

Ingredients

5 lb pork shoulder blade

1.5 tsp salt
2 tsps dried oregano
.25 c olive oil
8 minced garlic cloves*

Directions

*I would have done many more but I just didn’t have the oomph. I’m considering buying prepeeled garlic so that I can have all the garlic I want without collapsing.

Combine the salt, oregano, garlic, and olive oil, cover all sides of the pork and marinate overnight if you have time. I started this too late to marinate it, so I just popped it in on High for 5 hours and voila!

That was really all there was to it. It was great served on rice with steamed broccoli, or shredded for burritos and tacos. We have an abundance of guacamole this month and we’re having tacos most nights. It’s been pretty awesome.

April 21, 2017

Finally Friday: my brownie bites recipe

My very own brownie bites! This recipe happening at all was the ultimate in exciting for me – I haven’t had the energy to bake a dessert in years!

When I do scrape together enough energy, it first going toward getting all my work done, then for making dinner, and getting JuggerBaby fed and settled into bed.

Last summer, well, last strawberry season more accurately, I managed to bake something tasty that’s nearly dessert-like (strawberry bread!) once every couple of weeks thanks to simplifying the recipe to the least possible required motion. There was no great reward for being efficient.

This one, though, was purely for me. Also for PiC, because I share with him, but mostly me.

It was both time intensive and energy intensive – I almost junked the plan altogether because of the very first step that seemed like way too much trouble. PiC was shocked when I hauled out the butter anyway and got cracking. There’s something to be said for being motivated by your cravings.

I’d share a photo but is anyone surprised that they were all devoured before I remembered to take one?

Ingredients

1/2 pound unsalted butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, unless you want an extra dose of chocolatey goodness, in which case, add 6 ounces of chocolate chips
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir (no beating) together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar.

Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. Take a half hour break, I’d say.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, add 6 ounces of chocolate chips here if you want this to be sweeter, then add them to the chocolate batter.

Pour into the muffin tin.

Bake for 20 minutes, rap the tin, then bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool thoroughly before digging one out and chowing down, with a glass of milk.

Afterthoughts

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. In keeping with my cooking style, these actually aren’t outrageous at all because we’re old fuddy duddies who don’t want diabetes. But they’re delicious!

I cut the original recipe in half to make a dozen muffin-brownies, and replaced the sugar with peanut butter to reduce the straight sugar a little bit, so they’re not truly bite-size either but who’s complaining? Not I, said the brownie for breakfast eater.

I buttered the muffin tin but I forgot to flour it. BIG mistake. Never mind, these weren’t for show anyway, they were for eating!

I left out the coffee, 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, and 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. It might have been a mistake but we weren’t missing anything. Next time I’d increase the peanut butter, though, that flavor would be awesome.

April 7, 2017

Finally Friday: easy balsamic-honey chicken recipe

I’ve been crap at putting recipes down these days, life has been keeping me running and adding another post in the week is oddly much more difficult that I expected.

This is a quick one that I threw together.

Ingredients

Small head of broccoli
Half a pound of green beans
3 chicken thighs, bone-in

Glaze
Half a cup of blush wine dressing
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Directions

Saute the cut up green beans and broccoli on medium heat for about five minutes in the dutch oven. Remove the vegetables, then saute the chicken in a little oil on medium heat until cooked nearly through. Remove the chicken, and cook the glaze ingredients for a few minutes until it reduces to a thicker sauce. Place the chicken back in the glaze for few minutes, on low heat, and cook through. Add the vegetables back to the pot, and toss to coat with the glaze.

Serve with rice of your choice – we went with brown.

Afterthoughts

I made few mistakes with this one – I put the vegetables back in the pot with the chicken at the same time, not thinking about the time it would take to cook the chicken through, so they were softer than I liked. Of course, it then turned out that JuggerBaby likes zir vegetables unadulterated by such plebian things as sauces so they were roundly rejected.

Also, three small bone-in thighs just aren’t enough for our family, even supplemented with a huge pile of vegetables and brown rice, so next time I’d double the chicken but this makes plenty of sauce to go around even if I do that.

December 9, 2016

Finally Friday: spinach and turkey pasta bake edition

Honestly this feels a bit like cheating because who doesn’t know how to make pasta? You just cook the pasta al dente and add interesting things. For some reason this particular pasta bake was a huge hit.

JuggerBaby decided that this was the night ze didn’t want spinach and picked it out occasionally but ze got more than ze avoided. PiC, on the other hand, had four servings and ate all HIS spinach, so on balance, I’d call it a success.

Ingredients

garlic cloves
1 medium onion
1 lb of pasta,
1 lb of ground turkey
1-2 bunches of spinach
4 slices of cheddar cheese
1/2 Tbsp garlic salt
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1.5 cups tomato-based pasta sauce
Optional: 1/2 cup of mixed cheeses (romano, parmesan, etc)

Directions

We’ve been eating a lot of veggie penne and whole wheat penne lately, and it works really well for this recipe.

Mince the garlic, and dice the onions, toss both in the heated, oiled Dutch oven set to medium-low heat. Boil salted water for the pasta, which takes about 9-10 minutes while washing and chopping up your spinach – just a rough chop to discard the stems and cut down the leaves to 1/6th or 1/8th a large leaf size.

Toss the chopped spinach into the Dutch oven, and stir until the leaves settle down into nice green, add the ground turkey, onion powder and garlic salt, cook til done. Add the pasta sauce and sliced cheeses, stir to distribute evenly. Your pasta should be cooked through by now, add it to the pot and stir til it’s mixed in well. Top with a generous sprinkle of cheese on top, bake uncovered at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

Total time from prep to serving: 35 minutes.

December 2, 2016

Finally Friday: shrimp and (cheesy) grits

It’s almost embarrassing to admit this but I buy my shrimp from Safeway. My Asian card just caught flame. But there’s a good reason, I swear! One, the nearest Asian market is 99 Ranch and that parking lot is, if possible, as terrible to navigate as any parking lot in Rowland Heights back in Southern California. I’d rather walk to the store. Except it’s ten miles away so that’s not happening either. Two, their shrimp are deveined! This was revelatory.

I can devein shrimp, I’m good at it. Or rather my 13-year-old, pre-fibromyalgia hands were great at it. Now? Hah! I save my fine motor control for things like not slicing off more than just the tip of my finger. That’s not hyperbole, by the way, I did slice off the tip of my index finger two weeks ago. It got better.

Anyway, shrimp from Safeway, saving fingertips, and even more importantly, time across America!

(If you don’t know why I’m mocking myself, it’s because I’m probably the only person in my family who buys their seafood from a not Asian market. Growing up in Southern California nearish to LA meant that Asian markets abounded and growing up in a traditional immigrant family meant we never cooked anything but our home country cuisines. And no non-Asian market carried Asian food fixings beyond soy sauce, so we always always always went to an Asian market. And stopped by for a passel of banh mi on the way home.

My shrimp were destined for a decidedly non-Asian ending though, because I adore this dish!

I keep this one super simple, just as it was intended.

Ingredients

1 cup polenta (grits)
3 cups water
Swish of salt
Half a small onion, halved again and sliced
Several cloves of garlic
1/2 pound of shrimp, deveined, shelled

Doing it right

Boil 3 cups of water, swish your salt in, and when it’s boiling, stir in the cup of polenta. Let it boil at medium to low heat, stirring every 20-40 seconds to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pot. This is something I forget every other time I make it and end up scraping regret off the pot. Actually no, I cheat and boil water with some baking soda which lifts off almost all burnt-on guck. So don’t burn your grits.

Mince your garlic and slice the onion while the grits are cooking, unless you’re smart and/or had a sous chef do this already. I shooed my sous chef away to chase JuggerBaby around so I had to do the dirty work. Toss garlic and onions into a hot pan and let them cook for a few minutes. You could also toss in your tomatoes now, if you’d diced any. I always err on the side of cooking a little longer at this stage because I don’t want raw onions or overcooked shrimp when I realize I’m going to have raw onions. Because the next step is tossing on the shrimp and on medium heat shrimp cooks through really fast. I hate overcooked shrimp, it’s rubbery and awful. As soon as your shrimp are starting to curl up and the split deveined side turns outward, it’s nearly done. Usually it goes from translucent to solid white too but some don’t, and you don’t want to overcook it seeking that solid white. A few minutes will do the trick.

In the meantime, your grits. Once the pot is hot and smooth when you’re stirring, it’s just about done. If you want (and I usually do), throw in your cheese at this point, stir it well so none is sitting on top and turn off the heat. It’ll thicken in no time. (Actual time: one to two minutes)

To serve: a generous dollop of your cheesy grits on a plate, with a little hollow for your grilled onions and shrimp on top.

I added a handful of too-crispy, slightly burnt kale chips to our plates for our brown-greens. Still edible but those should have come out if the oven a few minutes earlier.

Total time to serve: 45 minutes, and only that long because I was poky and inefficient. Normally I’d have gotten it served in 25-30 minutes. 

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