Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shredded Beef Enchiladas

As you can see, I was on a Mexican food kick this week, and I thoroughly enjoyed every tasty minute of it! Sometimes, you just gotta give in to your cravings! In fact, I think I feel a pasta craving moving in, so I'll probably be posting pasta in a few days! But, I must share these Shredded Beef Enchiladas with you first as they are so delicious and addictive! The most time consuming part of this recipe is cooking the roast. But, I did mine in the crock pot, so I did not have to really watch it closely, so that was a big help! However, I did brown the roast, with spices, on top of the stove, and then placed the roast in the crock pot and cooked on low for about 6-8 hours. I actually did this 1 day ahead of making the enchiladas, but you of course can do this all in 1 day. So, I sprinkled the roast with spices, browned it in a large pan in some oil, and then transferred said roast to a slow-cooker. I then finely chopped 1 onion and 2-3 large cloves of garlic and threw them in with the roast, along with some broth. Cook until very tender and roast pulls apart easily. Then, you want to shred meat and add some canned green chilies to the meat.
I broke the meat apart in chunks and then shredded it. I also added black beans and cheese to the meat mixture, but I forgot to take a picture of it, so visualize that part in your mind, OK? Next, I took some corn tortillas and fried them in a little oil and drained them on paper towels. Then, I took the meat filling and spread on the tortillas and rolled them and placed in a baking dish that had enchilada sauce in it.

See, I've got a slit in one. My tongs tore a couple of the tortillas, but that won't hurt if the tear is small. So, roll up all the enchiladas nicely in a row, and then spoon some more sauce over each one. And of course, we need more cheese on these babies! I used a cheddar and jack cheese on the top because that's what I had. Use the cheese of your choice here.

Bake in oven for about 25 minutes and you are ready for an appetite pleasing feast that your family will love! By using the crock pot, I did not have to check the oven every so often to make sure there was enough liquid in the pan. But, you can do it either way, because they work equally well. So let's make this palate pleasing dish now, and your taste buds will thank you!

For the beef, you'll need 1 chuck or round roast( I used a 2 1/2 pound roast)
chili powder
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1-2 cups of beef broth or water
1-2 canned of chopped chili peppers
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, for filling
corn tortillas, I used about 24 ( have extra in case some tear too badly to use)
enchilada sauce, canned or homemade ( I wimped out and used about a 28 ounce size can, sorry!)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, if desired
2-3 more cups of shredded cheese for the topping ( I used Cheddar and Monterrey Jack)
Liberally sprinkle roast with salt, pepper, chili powder,and a little cumin. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, brown roast quickly in 2 tablespoon of oil. Don't let meat burn! Place the roast in a crock pot with the diced onion and the garlic. Add about 1 cup of beef broth or even water, and cover pot and cook on low until very tender and meat shreds easily, about 6 hours, or up to 8 hours, depending on size of roast. I used a 3 pound roast. When roast is done, remove meat to a bowl or plate and cool for a few minutes. Skim the onions and garlic out of the pot and add to the roast. Taking 2 forks, shred the roast into bite size pieces and if the meat is dry add some of the cooking liquid to the meat. You want the meat to be moist but not sloppy. Add the drained ,canned chili peppers and the cheese to the meat mixture and stir. Taste to see if you need to add more seasonings.
For tortillas: In a small skillet over medium heat, add oil to about 1/4 inch depth. When oil is hot, add 1 tortilla at a time to skillet. When tortilla starts to puff, turn over with tongs, and then remove tortilla to paper towel lined pan to drain. Continue with rest of tortillas.
To assemble these enchiladas, you'll need 2 9x13 inch baking pans. Place 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce in each pan to cover the bottom. Taking a tortilla, place a couple of spoonfuls of meat mixture along the tortilla and roll up. Place enchilada into pan and repeat. I fill the tortillas fairly full, but you must be able to wrap them some to contain the filling. After enchiladas are all rolled, spoon more enchilada sauce over the tops and add the rest of the cheese. Place pans in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbly. Remove and let cool 5 minutes or so before serving. Enjoy! Serve with Tex Mex Rice and a salad, and maybe some Guacamole and chips!
If this recipe is too large for what you need, you can adjust this by using 2 cups shredded beef and 1/2 can of beans and that would be enough for 1 pan of enchiladas. However, I like having the extra for leftovers the next day, or they can be frozen. This may seem time consuming, but these enchiladas are worth the effort when your having that Mexican food craving that just won't go away! What are you craving?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tex-Mex Rice and Family, Friends and Food, and Adopt a Blogger#3

My family loves Tex-Mex and Mexican food, so it seems like I make it every week, even if it's just taco salad. When I need rice, I make this recipe that is very versatile, so that you can change some of the ingredients and have anew dish, but the basic recipe is still there. For instance, I used a poblano pepper and 2 Roma tomatoes in this, but you could change to red and green bell peppers, or use jalapeno peppers, or even stir in some meat or black beans and corn. It's very flavorful and a great accompaniment to my Chili Tortilla Bake or my Quesadilla's or, the Baked Pork Shoulder for Carnitas. So, let's make this, OK?
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
2T. oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 medium poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced,
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2-1 tsp. kosher salt, or sea salt
In a large sauce pan add 1 tablespoon oil and heat to medium heat. Add the onion, pepper and garlic and saute for a couple on minutes just until slightly softened. Add the chili powder, cumin, rice and the other tablespoon of oil and stir until the spices are very fragrant and the rice is glossy and coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Do not scorch the rice and spices. To the pan add the chicken broth, tomatoes and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover pan and cook on low for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice set for 5-10 minutes. When ready fluff rice with a fork and enjoy with your favorite Tex-Mex dishes! Top with cilantro is desired.

Now, for some exciting news! I have been adopted! No, I'm not getting new parents, I'm in the Adopt a Blogger #3, the mentoring program that was started by Kristen at Dine and Dish. There are 114 new and experienced bloggers taking part in it this time around! I want to thank Kristen for including me as one of the "newbies" up for adoption. She has put a lot of work into this program, and here she is, expecting her 4th child any day now! I have been adopted by Patsy from Family Friends and Food, a wonderful blogger who has lots of yummy looking recipes that I am wanting to try, and she also has info on food products and her favorite cooking gadgets. She's been blogging for a couple of years and has a beautiful blog that I hope all of you will check out! I am really looking forward to getting to know Patsy and learn some tidbits that will help me to improve my blog. And, Patsy, thank you, in advance, for your help. I really appreciate it!
Now, my question. When you were a new blogger, did you have a mentor that helped you out, or did you have to learn on your own?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pineapple Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (a.k.a. Mexican Fruit Cake)

After a couple of days of my computer not working very well, I'm finally able to post, I hope so anyway! I hope that you all are having a wonderful weekend and enjoying your favorite meals. I spent Saturday working in the garden, so today it was nice to have lunch at our church, where there was a nice Tex-Mex dinner being held! This was a fundraiser to send the kids to kids camp this summer. My contribution to the dinner was a Pineapple Sheet Cake, which is a recipe that I got from my Mother, and is a favorite anywhere I take it. It is also the easiest cake recipe I have! It's also a very moist, dense cake topped with my favorite Cream Cheese Frosting, which is so addictive and rich and even sinful! I don't know how long the recipe has been around, but it is a favorite of many that I know, so let's make it, OK? It can be made in a 9x13 cake pan , or a jelly roll pan, which is what I used for this one. It does equally well in either one.

Pineapple Sheet Cake ( a.k.a. Mexican Fruit Cake)
Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or a 11x15 inch jelly roll pan. This cake is acidic because of the whole can of pineapple, so I normally make it in a glass 9x13. But it's your choice.
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. You will need;
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1 large can crushed pineapple with juice (20 ounce)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts ( I use pecans)
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and soda. Add remaining ingredients and mix batter well. (Do not use electric mixer). The batter may bubble a bit because of the juice reacting with the soda. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven. A 9x13 pan will take about35-40 minutes to bake . A 11x15 inch pan will take about25 minutes. The cake gets really brown while baking so don't be alarmed. My picture didn't turn out for that. Remove from oven. Frost cake while warm.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
In a deep bowl, with electric mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Frost cake while warm. I usually don't add the nuts to the frosting, I sprinkle them on top of the frosting, but it's your choice. If possible, let cake cool before digging in! Oh, it's hard, especially if you lick that frosting off of your fingers! It's just so yummy and it gets really moist the longer you have it. After the first day, I usually keep it in the fridge. So give it a try, it's great for company too!See that creamy frosting? It's calling your name! What's your favorite cake to make?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sauteed Vegetables (or, what's lurking in your fridge?)

Earlier, I was going through the fridge to see what veggies were left from last weeks trip to the store. I found a zucchini, a yellow squash, 8 asparagus spears, 1/2 red bell pepper, some red onion and some other stuff that wouldn't work with this dish. I wanted to do a quick vegetable saute where all the ingredients would cook for the same amount of time and these did great!Add 1 T. olive oil to a medium hot skillet and add both squashes, which have been thinly sliced, and the asparagus which has been sliced in 1 inch lengths. Then , I added some sliced onion, bell pepper, and 1 minced garlic. I had to add 1 more T. of olive oil to keep things from sticking. I used a spatula to turn the veggies often so they would cook uniformly. I added kosher salt and some black peeper, to taste. I forgot to add the thyme, but it still tasted wonderful! This is a great way to use up small amounts of vegetables when the weather is warm, or anytime, for that matter. In cold weather, I make soup. This was enough for 3-4 servings. It was great for lunch
for my husband and I, with some leftover chicken. I just cooked the veggies until they were to the tender-crisp stage and all the vegetables managed to get done at the same time, so this only took about 10 minutes. This is fast food at it's best! Plus, it's healthy! Hope every one's having a great week!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Springtime Macaroni Salad with Peas

I am so glad that spring is finally here! The flowering Dogwood and Redbud trees have been so beautiful and I'm thankful that they didn't freeze with all of our late freeze warnings. This week is supposed to hit 80 degrees a few days, so it's time to bring out warm weather foods! Yeah! I have been making this Springtime Macaroni Salad with Peas for so many years, that I don't even remember where it came from for sure! I think it may have originated with my Grandmother, as I do remember eating macaroni salad at her house, but my memory is a little fuzzy as to the details. I enjoy this salad because I use either fresh or frozen peas, not the mushy ones from the can, along with fresh carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion and cucumber. It's a great salad to serve with a sandwich, or you could add some diced ham and have a main dish salad, if desired.

2 cups macaroni or small shell pasta ( I use the high fiber macaroni)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen small green peas ( thawed, if using frozen), uncooked
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a small cucumber, diced
1 thin carrot, peeled and sliced
2-3 T of diced red onion, or green onions( scallions)
1/2- 3/4 cup of mayo, (I use regular, but low fat works well too)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard, or to taste
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. sugar, if desired
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot of boiling, salted, water, cook the macaroni for the least amount of time on package directions. When done, drain macaroni in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Add macaroni to a large bowl along with the other vegetables. Mix mayo, mustard, vinegar and seasonings together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed, and then pour dressing over the salad ingredients, mixing well. Chill until ready to serve. I find that if I'm serving the salad the next day, that I have to add more mayo, as the macaroni soaks up the dressing, as pasta typically does. But this is an easy, flavorful salad that is great alone, or served with anything from sandwiches to barbecue! The sweet flavor of the peas and the crispness of the other vegetables makes it a great warm weather salad, plus, it's very economical to make.
This is one of the few dishes that I use peas in. Do you make macaroni salad?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

This last week, I had some leftover ham after our Easter meal, so I decided to make a quiche with some of it. I hadn't made one in quite awhile, so I began looking to see if I had the right ingredients, or if I would need to go to the store first. I decided to use what cheese I had at home, which would be cheddar cheese instead of Swiss, but that sounded good to me! I didn't have a prepared crust, so I made one and prebaked it for about 10 minutes, and let it cool while preparing the rest of the filling. I used some steamed asparagus and fresh herbs also.
After the crust was cool, I first sprinkled some preshredded cheddar jack into the crust,and then topped it with a cup of diced ham and some cooked asparagus cut in about 1 inch lengths. I added some sauteed onion next, and then I mixed my eggs and some half and half together really well. To the eggs, I added parsley, chives, salt and pepper, and poured it in the pan.
I placed some asparagus spears on top just for decoration and popped this baby in the oven for about 50-55 minutes, as this is a large quiche. When done, let it rest for 20 minutes or so before delving into it. It was so delicious, even if it didn't have Swiss cheese. The cheddar was great with the ham and asparagus and I loved the fresh herbs in it. My husband loved it and was more than happy to eat it, which was great, as I was wondering why I had made such a large quiche? This recipe will fill a 10 inch deep dish pie pan. You may make your own crust or buy a premade crust from the store. So, let's make some quiche!

Ham and Asparagus Quiche
1 baked 10", deep dish pie shell, cooled
1 1/2 cups cheese, Cheddar, Swiss, parm, or cheese of your choice
1 cup diced, cooked ham
1/4 cup diced, cooked onion, if desired
1 cup cooked asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
5 large eggs, beaten
2 cups half and half, or you may use half milk and half heavy cream
1 T. chopped flat leaf parsley
1 T. chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
Using a fork, prick the bottom of a 10 inch, deep dish, pie shell and then bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes and remove to a rack to cool. REDUCE heat to 350 degrees. After crust has cooled, add the cheese, then the ham and onion if using, and then the asparagus. Next, mix the eggs and half and half together. Stir in the herbs and salt and pepper and pour over the asparagus. Add some asparagus spears on top, if desired. Transfer the pie to a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-55 minutes until done. Quiche will puff up when done and when given a shake the filling will not jiggle. You can test it, if desired, by inserting a knife in the middle and it will come out clean when it's done. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! Do you like quiche?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pomegranate Tea

Don't you love all the flavors of tea that you can get when you go out to eat? There's a flavor for every mood that you could ever be in! So, today when I was pondering what to make next with the pomegranate juice that the folks from Pom Wonderful sent me, I remembered the wonderful Pomegranate Tea that I'd had a couple of months a go at a restaurant. So, I decided to try making my own. My husband and I love it! Even my kids thought it was good, but they would have preferred that I had left out the orange slices. Personally, I really enjoyed the subtle citrus flavor from the orange slices. In fact, I kept sipping it while trying to get a good picture, so the glass was never quite full! I added some sugar to the tea, but of course you can opt to leave it out, or use artificial sweetener, whatever your preference here. We felt so healthy drinking all of the antidoxidants in this delicious tea! Let's make this real quick so you can have some too!

6 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
2 family size tea bags( I used Lipton, but it's your choice)
1/2-1 cup sugar
about 2 cups ice
fresh orange slices, if desired
In a sauce pan bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Add the 2 tea bags and steep for about 10 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, if using, stir until dissolved, and let tea cool off if you are going to pour it in a glass pitcher. When tea has cooled, pour it in a pitcher, add the pomegranate juice, orange slices and the ice. Pour some into an ice filled glass, sip slowly, and enjoy! It' a treat for yourself or a great tea to serve to guests. This is an addictive tea, be warned! Do you like sugar in your tea, and if so how much?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mom's Breaded Pork Chops

I don't eat very many fried foods any more, but once in a great while I get to thinking about some dish that my Mother used to make and suddenly, I want to make it. She used to make the very best Fried Chicken and the best Breaded Pork Chops, and of course they were fried. I only make the Fried Chicken maybe yearly now. And the pork chops, about as often, but when I start craving them, I just have to get the skillet out and make them! Then, it's out of my system for another year! Mom always used crushed saltine crackers for the breading for the pork chops and they are always crisp and delicious. First, I make an assembly line, and in 1 bowl I mix an egg.
In another bowl, I add the crushed saltine crackers. You need a large skillet with plenty of room for the chops so they won't overlap and they can brown evenly. In the skillet, heat the oil until hot and add the chops. Brown well on one side, and then flip over to brown till done.

These are thin, bone-in loin chops, so they cooked quickly. If they start to brown too much, turn down the heat. The thin chops only took about 10 minutes, but you can use thicker chops, if desired. If the chops are really thick, 1 inch or more, brown them and then finish in the oven.
Drain on paper towels and arrange on a platter, if desired! Time to eat! Here's how to make these;

Mom's Breaded Pork Chops
4 bone-in pork chops
1 cup finely crushed saltine crackers
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 large egg, beaten
In a bowl large enough for chops, beat the egg. In another bowl, add the crushed saltines. To crush the crackers, I place them in a plastic bag and then use a rolling pin to crush them. Just roll it over the bag and crush until they are very fine crumbs. Next, heat oil in a very large skillet over medium high heat. Using a fork, pick up one chop and place in egg. Turn over making sure to coat well with the egg. Shake off the excess egg, and then lay pork chop in the crumbs, and then turning over to coat the other side. Press the crumbs into the chops if there are some places where they don't adhere. Lay the chops into the skillet in the hot oil. If they brown too fast, turn down the heat. It will take maybe 5 minutes before you will need to turn the chops over. It just depends on how fast they brown and how thick the chop. These chops were done in about 10 minutes. They were crisp on the outside and moist and tender on the inside; in other words, wonderful! OK, I've had my Breaded Pork chops, so I'm good for another year or so! Have you cut down on fried foods, or do you even like them?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Banana Muffins with Walnuts

There's just something so irresistible about Banana Muffins baking and the way the aroma fills the house with the promise of something delicious soon to be ready to eat. Anticipation! It's hard to wait until until those sweet smelling muffins are done! When my children were young, we had a book called, "The Muffin Munching Dragon", which was a favorite of all, especially Son number 2. It's the story of a dragon that forces a village to make him muffins everyday, or he will burn down the bridge, causing hardship on all. Everytime I read this, my son would ask me to please make muffins! "Please, Mom, make me muffins"! And of course, I would do just that! We still love muffins and Banana is one of our favorites. This recipe is one I found on Epicurious, which was published in Bon Appetit. It calls for Macadamia nuts, but I like to use walnuts, plus a couple of other small changes I made. They are absolutely delicious and addictive and you should make them, now! Or, at least for breakfast tomorrow.

Banana Muffins with Walnuts
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp.salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas ( about 3 large)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffins cups with muffins papers. In a large bowl, sift the first 4 ingredients together. In a medium bowl, combine mashed bananas, both sugars, butter, milk and egg. Mix into the dry ingredients; stir until just blended. Don't over stir. Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Top with the chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of sugar, if desired. Bake until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Remove muffins to a rack to cool. Eat and enjoy! The texture of these muffins is light and they are so flavorful. The original recipe calls for nuts to mixed in the dough as well as used on the tops, but part of my family doesn't like the nuts, so I only use them on half. I also like to sprinkle on some Sugar in the Raw for some extra crunch. If you like Banana muffins, you'll love these! What's your favorite muffin?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Egg Salad Sandwich!

Behold, the Egg! Yes, I love eggs; have since my earliest memories. Of course, at this time of year Easter Eggs come to mind. We had lots of those growing up. But I also love all the other things you can do with eggs; deviled eggs, omelets, egg casserole, boiled eggs, fried, scrambled eggs, and the fabulous Egg Salad Sandwich! Of course, we can do so much more with these delicious orbs. They are the ingredient in so many recipes. Eggs have sustained generations of our ancestors!
Now,back to the present. Last week my daughter was craving an egg salad sandwich and so was I. We do things like that. So, she offered to make them. She and I were the only ones home that evening, so, we didn't have to worry about satisfying the carnivores for dinner. So my wonderful daughter made us sandwiches. We both like Egg Salad with minimal ingredients so the flavor of the egg shines through. Here's how she made them;
Place 4 eggs in a sauce pan and add enough cold water to cover them. Place pan on burner and turn to medium high heat. When water comes to a boil, turn heat to low and cover pan. Simmer for about 10 minutes and then turn off heat. Leave the lid on to keep the heat in.
When the eggs have been on the stove for 20 minutes total, drain off the hot water and replace with cold water and let set until eggs are cool enough to handle. Gently crack the eggs and peel them. My daughter then finely diced the eggs into a bowl. You can mash them if you'd rather, or I some times use the pastry blender to mash them up. Now into the bowl add;
2-3 Tbs. of mayonnaise ( too much will make it soggy and sloppy, yuk!)
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/8 tsp. celery seed
fresh chives, if desired
Mix it all together and refrigerate until cold. Before eating, taste and adjust seasonings if needed. This is enough for 2-3 sandwiches. Enjoy! They are so creamy and good!
As an added note, today is my Wedding Anniverary! My amazing husband and I have been married 31 years! It sounds like a long time, but at other times I wonder how we got here so fast! Either way, it's been a great life!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Do you like Red Velvet Cake? This is a traditional southern cake which is now beloved all over the country. I've only made it a couple of times in the past. The first one I made, I thought was missing flavor, as it was so bland that I didn't try again for years. For some reason, my family doesn't eat cake very well. We'd rather have cookies, pies, sheet cakes, cobblers, and muffins. My family really doesn't care for most frosting's that much either, therefore, I don't bake many cakes. So, recently when I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, I thought it was time to try again, only with cupcakes!

This is a delicious cupcake that is moist and very flavorful, topped with my creamy frosting. It will make a three layer cake or about 28-30 cupcakes. Yesterday, I used this recipe to make a 9x13 inch cake and 12 cupcakes. The cake was for a church dinner and the cupcakes for my family. All of the batter would have fit in the 9x13 pan, but it was just fine the way I made it too. For the cupcakes, make sure you only fill the liners 2/3 full as the cupcakes rise and spill over the edges making a flat top, not a peaked top. So let's make these luscious cupcakes!

3 eggs
3/4 cup butter
3 cups flour
1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp.salt
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1-ounce bottle red food coloring
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
Let eggs and butter come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake tins. In medium bowl combine flour and cocoa and 3/4 tsp. salt. In a large bowl, beat butter with a mixer until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla and mix until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then, mix in red food coloring. Next, alternately beat in flour mixture with buttermilk on medium low speed, just until combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar; add to batter and beat until just combined. Fill cupcake liners only 2/3 full. Bake about 15 minutes until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost.
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. or more of half and half, ( can also use milk or buttermilk)
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in vanilla and half and half and beat until creamy. Add extra half and half if needed, 1 tsp. at a time until you reach the consistency that you desire. Frost these lovely cupcakes and enjoy! If you make a layer cake, this will not be enough frosting. You'd have to double the recipe, or make a recipe that is specifically for a three layer cake.
This is a very addictive, moist cupcake and I will make this recipe again!
If given a choice, would you rather have cake to eat, or a slice of pie? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sesame Pork Chops

Pork chops are such an easy, versatile cut of meat to use for quick meals at home. They are usually lean and can be fixed to go with almost any cuisine. I like using them to put together really quick meals when there's just not much time! I found this recipe in a cookbook from the library. It is "Kitchen Life, Real Food for Real Families", by Art Smith. I've made it a couple of times now, so I've adapted it to our tastes. The recipe calls for 4 center cut, 1 inch thick chops with bone in. Well, at my store, these chops were thin and expensive. But I only needed 2 or 3 chops. Then I found the boneless pork loin chops, which looked thicker, and they were on sale!
First off, you're going to toast some sesame seeds. I didn't get a picture of that. Then, to make these luscious chops, salt and pepper them and add to a hot skillet in oil. Brown on both sides. This will take about 2 minutes per side. These are smaller chops than called for. The recipe calls for 10-12 ounce pork chops, but mine were maybe 6 ounce, so cooking time was cut. After the chops have browned, remove them from the skillet and then add the sauce ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil.

Add the pork chops back to the skillet and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, until they are done. If the sauce is not thick, remove chops from skillet to a plate or platter, and continue cooking the sauce until it thickens. When thick,add the toasted sesame seeds to sauce and pour over the chops. This sauce is sooooo tangy and delicious! You'll love it! Let's make this.

1 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 pork chops (I only needed 3)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth; reduced sodium
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. brown sugar (I used more brown sugar; recipe called for 2 tsp.)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dark Asian sesame oil
1/4 tsp. crushed hot red pepper flakes
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring often until they are golden. Remove the seeds to a plate. Add vegetable oil to the skillet. Season chops with salt and pepper and add to skillet and brown on both sides, turning only once. This will take 4-5 minutes. Place chops on a plate and pour off fat from skillet, if any. Add to skillet the broth, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and sesame oil. Stir and bring to a boil. Place chops back in skillet and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. If you are using SMALLER chops like I did, they will be done in about 3- 5 minutes. If using the LARGER chops that the recipe calls for, you will need to cover the skillet with a lid for up to 20 minutes. When chops are done remove to a plate or platter. If the sauce has not thickened enough, continue boiling it until desired consistency. Pour sauce over the chops. Enjoy!

I served these Sesame Pork Chops with brown rice and Oven Roasted Asparagus. I drizzled some sauce on the rice and loved it so much that next time I may increase the amount of sauce. Also, I used more brown sugar than the recipe called for, as I thought the mustard was too strong. This was a fantastic meal, highlighted by the tangy, tender, Asian flavored pork chops.
The hot pepper flakes do add some heat, so if you have kids that can't handle it, just leave out the flakes. The sauce will still be great without the extra kick. Do you use pork chops for quick meals?