Friday, April 27, 2012

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

*note: this recipe can also be done with chicken*

I was rummaging through the freezer yesterday looking for something to make for dinner and I found the same old stuff; pork, chicken and ground beef. That's usually all of the meat our freezer consists of. We never (ok, very, very, rarely.. like when they're on super sale) freeze steaks, so they're usually a 'day of or after grocery shopping' meal. I found that we were running low on pork, but we had a couple of small loin roasts, some cubed and a package of medallions I had cut from our last bulk buy. We had just had chicken the night before, and ground beef not long ago, so pork it was. I pulled a roast out to thaw and set about ways to cook it. If you look up "pork roast recipes," you get a lot of the same stuff. Such as slow cook it and marinade it. I remembered finding this Honey Garlic Chicken recipe on Pinterset, and that it had mentioned  it had previously been done with pork. Perfect! We hadn't had anything Asian-y in a while and this sounded delicious. So, I copied down the recipe, pondered some side dishes, and got to work.

Well, I waited until Cal got home, and it was actually dinner time, but you get the picture ;)

I had decided to make coconut rice as the side dish, so I started with that, as it took longer to cook.

Easy Thai Coconut Rice -- Serves about 4

1 cup white rice, uncooked
1/2 cup milk
1 cup water
1-2 T sweetened coconut
1 T toasted coconut

Now, I do have to admit, that this is NOT an actual recipe for coconut rice. This is my modified, I don't have jasmine rice or coconut milk recipe. I think it still game out pretty darn delish. Also note that while 1 cup of rice does not seem like enough, it definitely makes plenty!

Add your milk, water and untoasted coconut to a medium sized pot. Heat to a slight simmer and keep there for about 5 minutes. Then add your rice. Stir occasionally until it comes to a boil, then simmer, covered for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed (like making any rice). Stir, then reduce the heat to low and let sit, covered, stirring occasionally until ready to serve.

*note, this will not get as sticky as when using jasmine rice and coconut milk, but it will still hold a bit of a shape if desired.

**note, simmering the coconut in milk first allows the flavor to be absorbed into the liquid, and, in turn, into the rice.

Ok, so your rice is cooking. Now, onto the meat!

Start with your glaze, as it can be kept warm on the stove. In a small pot, combine:

1 T oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced. -- cook until soft. Add:
1/2 c honey
1/8 c soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper

Simmer until heated, about 5-10 minutes. Leave on low, stirring occasionally until ready to serve.

Since I was using a roast, I sliced it in half as if I were going to butterfly it, then sliced it on the bias to create 4 reasonably sized portions. Two per person, mind you, for the size roast I had...

Then, I followed this recipe:

1 c flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 T ground ginger
1 T ground nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 T paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

it also called for an egg wash of 2 eggs and 4 T water.

Combine all of the dry ingredients on a pie plate. Mix well. Prepare egg wash in a bowl. Dredge pork piece in flour, then egg, then flour again. Fry in about a 1/2 inch of oil for about 7-10 minutes, turning halfway. When pork reaches 165 deg, its done.

Top your pork with the Honey Garlic sauce. Serve with rice. We topped our coconut rice with a little sweet chili sauce and toasted coconut to give it a slightly spicy flavor and a little crunch for texture.

This was super crunchy and good. The only change I would make is to decrease the nutmeg a bit, maybe by half, as it was very prominent in the breading. But, that's a personal preference.

Another great solution for boring old pork or chicken.

Please feel free to visit the original sites: Coconut Rice    Honey Garlic Chicken


Yes Please, I Would Like S'More....

Ok, I know that's a cheesy title, but I seriously just couldn't resist. Also, I know that my photo leaves much to be desired, but due to the fact that I a) use my phone to take most of my pictures, and b) don't really have the time to take some during the process (gotta work fast with a 2 month old around) please allow me to dazzle you with my words and less with my pictures.

Pregnancy made me a chocoholic. Now I know you're thinking, sure, use pregnancy as an excuse. Seriously, though. Before I got pregnant, despite the fact that I have always liked chocolate, I could barely eat one of those mini Hershey's bars or one Reese's cup without feeling ill. My stomach just couldn't handle the sugar. During my pregnancy, I never really craved much, and when I did, it was savory. I craved things like crab cakes and french fries. Shortly after giving birth, however, I developed this insatiable need for chocolate; and sunflower seeds, but that's another issue entirely. It has come back to bite me in the ass more than once, as I have bought a bag of chocolate chips just to eat them as they sit. Who needs the cookie dough. We all know that we eat a chocolate chip cookie for the chocolate, right? No? Oh, well at least I do. I also have a great affinity for marshmallows. Those, I also buy just to eat right out of the bag. Not as often as chocolate chips however. What better way to put them together than to throw in some Graham crackers and make me some S'mores.

*side note, did you know that Graham crackers are named that way because name of their inventor was Graham. All this time I thought it was some kind of special ingredient or something that went into making them, but then I came across this recipe (thank you Pinterest) and they're actually pretty simple to make. They may be my next adventure ;) *

Ok, getting back to S'mores. I didn't want to just pop some chocolate on a Graham cracker, top it with marshmallows and heat it. I couldn't just start a campfire on my kitchen floor or on my porch for that matter, as the city may not approve. So, I had to be creative. I searched my crowded, disorganize pantry for ideas and came upon a box of chocolate fudge pudding. Perfect! So I popped Emily in her car seat, placed her in her kitchen spot and got to work.

I smashed up some Graham crackers to make a crust like bottom. I added some butter to make it an 'official' crust, but I feel like it would be ok to leave out the extra fat and just use the crumbs. I made the pudding following the directions for pudding pie on the box. I then dug out my Sweet and Salty Guinness Pie recipe (another I need to get up here because it's sooooo good) for it's Marshmallow Meringue section to place on top.

I have to tell you, these were heavenly! The meringue crisped lightly on top and while the rest stayed slightly melted for that campfire marshmallow taste. The pudding was just thick enough to resemble that melted chocolate and the cracker crumbs on the bottom finished off that flavor that only a S'more can bring. It definitely hit that chocolate spot and took me to a time of sitting by the campfire as a child. *sigh*

And, now, without further delay, here awe your campfire memories all wrapped up into one 8oz cup.

S'More's Pudding Pie

Crust: 2 sheets of Graham Crackers, smashed into crumbs
           1 T butter, melted (optional)

Pudding: your favorite chocolate pudding (the small box) made following the pudding pie directions
                *the pie version uses less milk. Mine called for 1 3/4 cups.*

Topping: 1/2 cup white sugar
               1 egg white
               1 1/2 T water
                20 mini marshmallows (or 5 regulars cut into quarters)

Combine crust ingredients and place into two 8oz ramekins. Press down to firm. Pour about a 3/4 cup of pudding into each one. Over a double boiler, combine the sugar, egg white and water until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and drop in marshmallows. Let sit about 5 minutes for marshmallows to soften. Using a hand mixer, beat  until stiff peaks form. Top pudding. Let set at least one hour. Place under a broiler until marshmallow meringue turns to desired brown-ness (some people like their marshmallows darker) before serving.

Well, there ya have it folks. My baby monitor is calling, so I have to get going. I hope you can dig up some campfire memories with that first bite!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Faux-reo... the Homemade Oreo

Who doesn't love an Oreo cookie? Seriously. It's a super chocolatey cookie with a sweet and fatty tasting cream in the center. There are plenty of ways to eat them; my favorite being to take it apart, eat the cookie half first, scrape off and eat the icing and then eat the other half of the cookie. However you choose to eat them, they're absolutely delicious, but also pretty expensive for a pack of cookies. So, when I came across this recipe on my Pinterest adventures, I knew that I had to try it!

I noticed that the recipe was in weights instead of measurements. I believe it was Alton Brown who said that baking is better done in weight, as it is more precise for the process. So I took this opportunity to go out and get the kitchen scale that I had been longing to buy, but putting off because it was unnecessary. (yes, cookies made it necessary). It was only $30 bucks, so it wasn't like I was spending an absurd amount of money on something I didn't need. And we've used it for other things as well, such as burgers and chicken.

Anywho... After purchasing my scale, I headed home and the next day, I put Emily in her carseat, propped her in the kitchen and we set off to make these cookies. I gave her a plastic "wooden" spoon to play with and she helped to keep me entertained while I worked. The dough came together rather quickly, even with the use of my hand mixer. (I'm still hoping for that stand mixer for Christmas.. hint hint ;)  )... It rolled out rather nicely, though did require a good bit of flour for anti-sticking issues. They bake up nicely, and don't spread as they cook, so I was able to make all of them in one shot! While they were baking, I started on the icing. They say you can use butter, but I wholeheartedly recommend shortening for that authentic mouth feel and for less melting when storing them at room temperature.

I know by now you're ready for the recipe, so here it is...

3oz butter, room temp
3.75oz white sugar
1.5oz brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4tsp + 1/8tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1 1/2tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
4oz flour
3oz cocoa powder
1tsp instant coffee powder

Cream Filling:
2oz shortening, room temp
5oz powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla
1/8tsp salt

Cookies: Cream together the butter and both sugars using a mixer. Add the baking powder, soda, vanilla and egg yolks. Mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Add the flour, cocoa and instant coffee all at once, mix. Dough will get very stiff! When this occurs, knead into a smooth ball. Roll out about 1/8" thick (they suggest using cocoa powder for color, but I used flour since cocoa is so much more expensive and the color didn't change). Cut into desired size. I used a small glass, and they came out rather large. I think a shot glass would be perfect and will try it next time I make these. You can also use cookie cutters or anything you want shape/size wise. If you want to decorate your cookies like the oreos, after you place them on their ungreased cookie sheets, take the scraps of dough that are leftover, add hot water gradually to form a paste, then pipe it onto your cookies in whatever squiggley pattern you want. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Let them cool completely.

Meanwhile, cream the shortening and powdered sugar together for the cream filling. Add vanilla and salt. Whip this mixture for a good 5 minutes or more. The more you mix, the more it aerates, the smoother and less gritty it will be. Once cookies are cool, pipe or spoon filling onto half the cookies. Top cookie, pressing from the center outward to evenly spread the filling. Place in an air tight container and refrigerate for about an hour to set the filling. After the hour,  you can store them at room temperature.

A few hints/tips/warnings...
1) the measurements may seem small, but you'd be amazed how light flour and cocoa powder really are. I think the cocoa powder came out to be around a 1/2 cup, so make sure you have a good bit. I just had enough left in my container to make them!
2) if your dough gets too sticky, you can chill it for about a half an hour, then let it come back to room temp before rolling. If you want, you can also wrap and chill it for up to a week before using. Always let it come back to room temp before rolling though.
3) I was wary of getting a coffee flavor (one I absolutely hate) in the cookies, but there was none. It helps them to taste fairly authentic.

Overall, this was a wonderful recipe that I will be making again and again. For pictures and the original site (as I like to give credit where credit is due), click here.