Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pot Roast

Tonight I decided to try out one of my Christmas Presents, a Rival Crock Pot. My old one was getting old for an appliance. My mother-in-law gave it to me, and it was a wedding gift from when she got married. This one is so nifty! You can take out the inner part and wash it, and it has a setting to keep your meal warm until you're ready to eat. I plan on using it a lot. Tonight I tried a beef underblade roast with a can of cream of mushroom soup, 4 cloves of garlic, some apple cider vinegar, and a few turkey stock cubes from the freezer. As I was trimming the roast, it occured to me that I would be making a huge meal! The beef was two and a half pounds, and I'm really not big on leftover pot roast. I thought about freezing whatever was left after cooking, but that idea didn't excite me either. Then, it occured to me in a flash: why not freeze half of the roast before cooking? And that's exactly what I did. Sitting in the freezer now is an uncooked roast that I can just stick in the Crock Pot on a day I don't know what to do for dinner.

It doesn't look too great now, but it will once it's cooked! On the side we had homemade beer bread, toasted and sprinkled with garlic salt, and some green beans.

The verdict
I'm glad we'll be having this meal again, because it sure was good! The vinegar made a good job of tenderizing the meat, and the soup made for a good base. I'd never tried making garlic bread out of beer bread, but it was tasty, too. This was a delicious, down-home type of meal. I give it 4 stars for taste and 2 and a half stars for health.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Fox-Point Marinated Chicken with Mashed Potato and Cauliflower

I was feeling especially creative a few nights ago, so I decided to try a few new things. First, I made my first stab at using my newest Penzey's Spice, Fox Point Seasoning, as a marinade. I blended it with lemon juice, olive oil, and another new spice, Shallot Salt. Mike grilled the chicken, and I decided to be a bit more experimental for the other new dish. I read in a magazine about mashing cauliflower like you would mashed potatoes, so I decided to blend potatoes and cauliflower together, with some sour cream and cheddar cheese thrown in. For a vegetable, I decided to go with something safe - steamed broccoli!

The verdict
The Fox Point Seasoning made for a very good marinade. We did end up sprinkling more of the Shallot Salt on the chicken, though. In fact, it was so good, we ended up using it on the potatoes and broccoli, too! I'm glad I decided to add cheese to the potato/cauiflower mixture, it turned out very well. I think if I do this again I'll make sure to cook the cauliflower very well, because while I couldn't taste them, the texture was still there. Overall, I give this meal 4 stars for taste and 3 stars for health.

Now for dessert! I bought the ingredients to make this cake for Mike's birthday, but I never had the chance to make it until now. It was so easy!! It's just lemon pudding on the bottom and yellow cake mix on top. It sure was good, though! We've been snacking on it since I made it, and it's good right out of the oven and chilled!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pork Tenderloin

Tonight I made one of our favorites, Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce. I didn't have any green onions, however, so I tried using dried onion. I never use the green part of the onion as a garnish anyway, as the original recipes calls for. Also, I never have cream in the house, so I used milk and just added a little extra butter for the sauce. I also made roasted red potatoes, tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, and some Vidalia Onion-Peach Hot Sauce we got from our vacation to Atlanta. In the middle (I got creative with my plating) I placed some steamed broccoli.

The verdict
I managed to get the sauce nice and thick, and it tasted the same to me. It was wonderful, as this recipe always is! Mike likes anything that puts the words "hot" and "sauce" together, so the potatoes were a hit as well. I think we would have enjoyed this meal no matter what it was, though, because we were just glad to get a home-cooked meal! Exams are over, yaaaay!!
I give this meal 4 stars for taste and health.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I haven't made much worth posting this week. That's what finals do to you! I did manage to try a new recipe that both of us really liked, Meat Loaf Wellington. The recipe came from Taste of Home Magazine, and looks complicated, but after I read the directions carefully, it was pretty simple. The bread around the meatloaf is from Crescent Roll dough. This meatloaf would be perfect for company! I also made a Waldorf Salad from chopped apples, raisins, and yogurt, and pulled some French-cut green beans from the freezer. Very tasty!!

Mike's birthday was on Friday, so for a special birthday breakfast I made him muffins. This is the most simple recipe in the world: a box of yellow cake mix, a can of fruit pie filling, and two eggs. Not exactly diet food, but hey, you're only 23 once! I tried blueberry pie filling, which made for some electric-blue colored muffins. If you use apple pie filling, they taste just like those Apple McMuffins they used to have at McDonald's. We went to Clermont Friday night, and my mom made shrimp, with fondue for dessert. Mike ate well for his birthday!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Goooooooooo Gators!

For the big game yesterday, I made cookies in the shape of our football players. They were a lot of work, but everyone loved them and I think they were worth it. In fact, I think my cookies were the sole reason the Gators are going to the National Championship. Yep. That's it.

A special cookie in honor of Carlton Medder, whom I went to high school with. He was the guy that cleared the way for Chris Leak to run into the endzone. Maybe my special Carlton cookie was the reason for that, too!

Tim Tebow's cookie, with an especially long neck. Look at his picture sometime and tell me that boy isn't a giraffe!

Disclaimer: if you're an Arkansas fan, this will definitely offend you.

And NOW for the stinkin' Arkansas players!
The toothpicks are supposed to be spears, and that was Mike's doing, not mine.

Friday, December 01, 2006

NY Strip Steak

After work today I went back to the Fresh Market to find something special for dinner. I walked out with several somethings! First, I wandered through the produce section. That's when I ran into something curious: purple......potatoes? Huh? I found a produce guy, because I had to know if they were purple on the inside. He cut one open to prove that they are, indeed, a vibrant purple on the inside. Well, who can resist the idea of purple mashed potatoes? Not me!! Then, over to the meat counter, where I picked up two New York strip steaks. I also stumbled across a bag of herbed yeast rolls that I couldn't resist. While I was in line, I realized I forgot to pick up a fresh vegetable, but when I got home I used up the last of the lettuce for a salad. The purple potatoes boiled and mashed beautifully; most of the skin seperated from the potatoes and they whipped up very quickly. Meanwhile, Mike grilled the steaks, and it was showtime!

The verdict
When I asked Mike what we should rate this meal, he asked, "Can you give a rating higher than five?" This meal...was....awesome! I was a little concerned about how the potatoes would taste, but they were yummy AND fun! Mike said the steak was the best he'd ever had. The rolls were really good, too. I wished I had more room for another one! I give this meal 5 stars for taste and 2 and a half stars for health.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yesterday Mike and I went to the grand opening of the new Fresh Market in town. It sure looks nice! They had lots of hard to find items and everything looked fresh and delicious. We sampled barbeque ribs, granny smith apples, granola, red wine, marinated beefsteak....basically, we had lunch in the form of samples. We bought a loaf of Ciabatta bread and when we got home Mike made himself a Cuban sandwich on the George Foreman grill. I had a bite - very tasty!

Now, on to the last of The Leftover Files featuring Thanksgiving turkey. I'm so proud that I didn't let any go to waste! We had a church meeting tonight, and it was my turn to coordinate dinner. Mike chopped up the rest of the turkey to add to this Taco Soup while I put it together.

Once we got there, Mike made each person a custom grilled cheese to go with the soup. We also had a veggie tray, and our friend Sherri made a yummy cheesecake in honor of Mike's birthday (which is next Friday - eek!) This meal was a big hit! We have several non-red meat-eaters in the group, so I made a people-pleasing meal AND used up my leftovers! Score one for Jacki!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Leftover Files

These are the heedy days of eating leftovers. Fortunately, I planned ahead this year and collected some recipes that use leftover turkey. Here's what we've had so far:

First, a T-Day Casserole. I got the idea from a recipe board I visit. Basically you layer whatever leftovers you have and stick it in the oven. I thought it would be good with mashed potatoes, but that's one leftover I didn't get, so I cooked two potatoes in the microwave and mashed them. Then I layered that with some of the corn-chive pudding, green bean casserole, and turkey. Topped off with cheese, this was very tasty. And so easy!! I was especially surprised at how quickly I mashed the potatoes. They took five minutes in the microwave and about five more to mash. Mike must have liked this use for leftover turkey, because he gobbled it right up! [pun intended]

Next up, I got the Turkey carcass from my aunt, so this morning, I picked off any usable meat (Sophie helped), covered the bones and skin with water, and brought it all to a boil. After that, I simmered it, and when we wanted to go out to lunch a few hours later, I just put the top on and turned off the heat. Once we got home, I turned the heat back on to simmer, and before straining the stock, brought it to a boil again to kill off anything nasty that might have found it''s way into the pot. After straining, I had a whole mess of turkey stock that smelled great! I made the soup with carrots, fresh corn, and leftover turkey. An hour before serving, I decided to add a can of cream of chicken soup and a couple of garlic cloves because a taste test revealed that my soup was kinda blah. I cooked some brown rice to add to it, and on the side I made roasted asparagus. I tried something new with the veggies: I peeled the bottom part of each stalk, tossed them all in olive oil, sprinkled them with garlic powder and salt, and roasted them for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees. The rolls were leftovers from the restaurant we had lunch at, because I'm proud to be cheap and I bring free bread home. I'm just cool like that.
The soup was perfect for winter! The asparagus could have been a little more crunchy for my taste, so I think next time I'll jack up the temperature and check them after a short time. I think the key to them being pleasant to eat is the peeling.
This concludes this installment of The Leftover Files. Stay tuned!
Happy Thanksgiving!!

On Thursday we went to Apopka to Mike's aunt's house. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures! But I did take pictures of the next day with my family in Dunnellon, so here ya go:

The spread:

The Corn-Chive Pudding I made:

The Green Bean Casserole my mom made with bread crumbs

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crunchy Two-Step Chicken Strips

We took Sophie to the dog park a few times this past week as a way for all of us to relax. We always ended up enjoying ourselves so much that we would stay until after we usually eat dinner, so once we got home I wanted something that I could do in a hurry. What I decided to do was defrost some chicken tenderloins from the freezer and make chicken fingers, using ranch dressing as the wash. I was going to try pretzels for the breading, but they have a strange way of disappearing in our house, so I ended up using crushed Triscuits. For dipping I made a honey-mustard sauce from mayo, honey, dijon mustard, and a squirt of horseradish. We also had steamed green beans and a fruit salad.

The verdict
I got the suggestion to use salad dressing and pretzels from a magazine, and while I wasn't sure about using dressing, it turned out to be a very simple and tasty dinner. I think Mike especially enjoyed them, as he inhaled his and polished off the rest of mine, too! Next time I'm going to hide the pretzels from Mike and try them on the chicken fingers! I give this meal 4 stars for taste and 3 and a half stars for health.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today I have two meals to share with you, plus two new recipes! Yipee!!!

Up first, I found a recipe for Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches, which have turkey, bacon, and a cheese sauce usually made from swiss. However, I have enough ham to feed an army right now, and I didn't have any swiss cheese, so I adapted the recipe a bit. What did I call it? Why, Florida Hot Browns, of course! Here is my adapted version. Besides using ham instead of turkey, the cheese sauce is American and mozzerella, because that's what I had. I decided to make them open-faced because I though that one sandwich wouldn't be enough, but four pieces of bread each was just too much. We also had steamed broccoli.

The verdict

I was very pleased with my creation. Mike raved over the cheese sauce and scarfed his down. I think next time I'll try to get a fancy bread instead of plain ol' sandwich bread to fancy it up a bit. I think it'd be great on a ciabatta, or even an english muffin. Mmmm...the possibilities are endless! I give this meal 5 stars for taste and 2 and a half stars for health.

Next up, another new recipe. Chicken fingers are always good, but I've been searching for a good way to make them at home. I came across this very quick and easy recipe featuring either goldfish crackers or pretzels and was intrigued, so last night we gave it a shot. You can use either buttermilk ranch dressing or honey mustard for the wash. I used ranch and made up a dipping sauce of mayo, mustard, honey, and a squirt of horseradish. As for the breading, wellllll.... Pretzels have a way of mysteriously disappearing in our house, so when I got the bag out, there were maybe four in there, plus some crumbs. So I ended up using that and some Triscuits to round it out. We also had steamed green beans and a fruit salad 0f apples, kiwi, and red pear.

The verdict

We were both very impressed by the taste, and I loved how easy there were to make. The longest part was crushing up the Triscuits! The ranch dressing imparted just the right taste. I can't wait to try this with Goldfish, how cute is that?!? I give this meal four stars for taste and health.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Chicken Meatloaf

Tonight I decided to celebrate getting back into cooking with one of our favorites: chicken meatloaf! I used chicken breast, fresh-ground by my very own hubby, and added bread crumbs to it. The glaze is ketchup, brown sugar, dijon mustard, and a splash of lime juice. We also had brown rice and a salad. To drink I made a daquiri of frozen strawberries, 7-Up, lime juice. and Margaritaville Last Mango tequila.

The verdict

Chicken breast...brown rice...salad...what a healthful meal! There wasn't even that much alcohol, maybe a half a shot each. I think everyone should use ground chicken instead of beef in their meatloaf, especially if a yummy glaze is used. It tastes great, and we avoid the so-full-I-might-puke feeling that usually comes after meatloaf. That's usually a good thing :) I give this meal 4 stars for taste and 5 stars for health.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Zesty Grilled Ham

Yes that's right folks, this is the first meal I have cooked this week. Sad, I know. I've done things like pasta for myself when Mike was gone over dinnertime, but this is the first real meal. I got a ham at an excellent price at Winn-Dixie the other day (I've been hoping they would go on sale for months!) so I have a freezer full of spiral ham. I decided to use some of it tonight by making Zesty Grilled Ham, one of Mike's favorites. I also made mashed potatoes (another perennial favorite), steamed broccoli, and to top it all off, a fruit salad of bananas, apples, and strawberries.
The verdict
While this is a very easy recipe to make, it's the only thing I use my George Foreman Grill for. I remember seeing George Foreman's smiling face on the tv, promoting these things as being able to cook just about anything (and they come with a bun warmer - gasp!). I think every college kid in the nation got one for Christmas that year, myself included. It did come in pretty handy for my dorm days, but I usually find it's just not worth it to drag that thing out when I could:
a) have Mike grill it for real, or
b) do it on the stovetop just as well.
I do wish I had that one that has removable plates, though, because that thing is a pain to wash. Anyhoo, the ham was delicious as always, but I think I'm so out of practice from not cooking this week that I made way too much food! My fruit is waiting in the fridge to be polished off later tonight. Mike gobbled everything down, though. I give this meal 4 and a half stars for taste and 4 stars for health,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I haven't done hardly any cooking this week! It seems like every night we've had something going on. I do, however, have a cake to show you. This Moist Chocolate Cake is my favorite cake to make, so when my friend Danielle asked me to make a cake for her chocoholic husband's birthday to bring to our lifegroup meeting, I knew just the right one!

The secret to this cake is coffee, believe it or not. It makes the cake very moist (hence the name) without adding anything but a very subtle coffee undertone to the taste, not enough to deter a non-coffee drinker like me. It's one of those things that people can taste once you tell them what's in it.

Ben is a graduate of the Unversity of South Florida, so I used green and yellow icing to decorate. This icing is very light, so I had to mix it with a fair amount of flour to get it tough enough for the lettering. I decided to actually plan out the lettering for the first time, and I'm pretty happy with the results. The cake was a big hit! The actual cake is moist, but not overly rich, and the icing is very sweet and light, which makes for a delicious pairing. Try this cake, you'll love it!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ham Hocks and Beans

I decided to try making a dinner with ham hocks, because we love ham and I loved the price of hocks. I soaked pinto, garbanzo, and black-eyed peas overnight, then put them in the crock pot with the hocks, a bay leaf, and some oregano. After it had been cooking for awhile, I took out the hocks and tried to get some meat off them, but didn't have much luck with that. We also had beer bread and steamed green beans.

The verdict
I wish the soup had a more bold flavor, but it was great cold-day soup, especially with the bread. I think if I do this again, I'll do just the black-eyed peas and leave out the other beans. Overall, I give this meal 3 stars for taste and health.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stuffing-Crusted Creamy Chicken Casserole

Tonight I tried a new recipe, Stuffing-Crusted Creamy Chicken Casserole. The recipe calls for using frozen vegetables, but I had some fresh broccoli I needed to use, so I used that with some green beans from the freezer and some baby carrots chopped small so Mike couldn't pick them out. The casserole also has corn and ranch dressing, layered with chunked chicken and stuffing mix. Since it has so many vegetables in it, I decided to have a fruit salad made of pears, apples, and mixed fruit from the freezer with Cool Whip on top.

The verdict
The casserole was good, but I think it needed a little bolder taste. Maybe some fresh garlic or more ranch dressing will spice things up next time. The chicken was moist, and the stuffing was good. I give this meal 3 stars for taste and 4 stars for health.
Best Breakfast Ever!

After church on Sunday, Mike and I decided to make an ultimate breakfast. I found a recipe recipe for pancakes that had a variation featuring yogurt, so we made those and some Maple Sausage. Mike made me an omelet, and I also made some fruit salad of apples, bananas, and some mixed fruit from the freezer with Cool Whip on top.

The verdict
For someone who doesn't like eggs, Mike sure can make a mean omelet. Mine always turn into scrambled eggs! The pancakes are sooo good; I think Mike doesn't like them as much as I do, so we'll probably rotate this recipe with my plain pancake mix. They are so good I don't use butter or syrup or anything on them. The sausage was also excellent, I love a good pan sausage! Breakfast foods are some of my favorites, but I usually only have time for some cereal and yogurt, so I loved this meal!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Granola Bars!

I was finally able to locate the recipe for Granola Bars online. Usually I would type it up for you guys and put it on my recipes page, but this recipe gives measurements to make different quantities of bars, so it's a little complicated. The granola bars themselves are easy to make, however. Give them a try!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tonight we had our friend Hugh over for dinner, so I made a recipe I've been looking for an excuse to try, Gruyere Cheese Bisque. I won't tell you how bad it is, but if you really want to know, you can look at the recipe. When I browned the chicken for the soup, I deglazed the pan with white wine and then added all that goodness to the soup base. I also made a loaf of French bread, and some broccoli on the side.

The verdict
Every time Hugh comes over, I try a new recipe, and every time, it turns out great. He should come over more often! This soup was wonderful! Gruyere cheese is my new love, I kept sneaking bits of it as I was putting it in the saucepan to melt. Since it's a fairly hard cheese, it took longer than I expected to melt, but it was worth the wait. The light bread made paired wonderfully with the heavy soup. The trick to making a crusty loaf of bread is to put a pan of water in the bottom rack of the oven - the steam gives it that yummy texture. I give this meal 5 stars for taste and 1 star for health. I think we all need a meal like this once in awhile - bad for you, but soooo good! Plus today is my half birthday, so that's reason to celebrate...right?!?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Grilled Chicken with Boiled Red Potatoes

I decided to give my Trinidad-Garlic Marinade another try, so we used whole chicken breasts and grilled them. I also decided to try my hand at boiling red potatoes, Cajun style, with Old Bay Seasoning. The chicken took longer than expected, so with the extra time I made us mixed drinks of orange juice, sprite, pomengrante juice, and Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay Passion Fruit Rum. We also had steamed pole beans.

The verdict
We still couldn't taste the marinade. The chicken was still a little frozen by the time we needed to start dinner, though, so I guess next time I'll give it longer. We enjoyed the potatoes, however, and I plan on fixing them this way again. The drink rounded out our tropical-themed meal nicely, and I give this meal 3 and a half stars for taste and 4 stars for health.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bake Sale/Grandaddy's Installment

I volunteered to make goodies for the Alachua County Bake Sale, and I decided to send Grandaddy some things at the same time. First up, pumpkin cookies! My mom tried this recipe a few weeks ago, and I thought it would be perfect for a fall bake sale.

The recipe makes a HUGE batch, and half of them had pecans and raisins, and the other half had white chocolate chips and craisins. After I mixed it all together, I realized that I couldn't taste test my cookies, because I don't like white chocolate or pecans! It's probably just as well, though! I wrapped them up in red plastic wrap with the recipe printed on the back of the tag, unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of that :) The raisins came from a supermarket in town that makes them locally, and they're delicious, so I'm sure these will be a hit.

Although I know the cookies will sell well, I doubt the next thing I made will last very long either! I made at stab at making chocolate covered pretzel rods, and I think they turned out pretty well. If anything, they sure turned out pretty! Mike seemed to enjoy the one that broke very much, plus he gets to eat the almost full bag of pretzels I had left over! He said they looked like something you'd buy at a candy shop, and I think they turned out pretty well, too.

Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce

Mike finished one of his 8-week semesters for his graduate program, and to celebrate, I made his new favorite meal: Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce. I didn't have any heavy cream, so I just used milk, and I used dried onion in place of the white parts of green ones, since I don't garnish the dish with the top part like the recipe calls for. On the side we had roasted russet potatoes (from Iowa, just the way my grandfather likes it!) and lima beans.

The verdict
The pork was a little less done this time, on that line where it's almost underdone but still okay. The sauce turned out fine, I didn't notice anything different. This recipe is so good! My honey deserves nothing less for a job well done! I give this meal 5 stars for taste and 4 stars for health.
Baked Perch

Wednesday night we had perch that I picked up fresh from Publix. It was at a good price, and I had never had perch before, so I thought we'd give it a try. I've been meaning to try my Trinidad Garlic Marinade Mix from Penzey's spices, and this was the perfect excuse. I've never marinated fish before, so I was making it up as I went along, but I drizzled the fish with olive oil, then sprinkled it with the marinade before putting it in the fridge for 20 minutes. It was then that I discovered that we were completely out of vegetables, except for a tiny bit of frozen green beans. Gah! So I decided to cook those and split an apple between us, with cinnamon sprinkled on top. To go with that we had brown rice.

The verdict
The guy at Publix told me that perch is a "fishy" fish, and boy was he right! It was so strong that Sophie had to help me finish it, which she didn't mind at all! I didn't like it as well as salmon or tuna because it didn't have a very firm texture. I was afraid to marinate the fish for too long, but I think it could have gone for a little longer. Well, it was fish, and fish is good for you, so I'm happy. Anywho, I give this meal 2 and a half stars for taste and 4 and a half stars for health.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Homemade Pizza with Salad

Saturday night, I made a homemade pizza using my favorite pizza crust. I topped the whole thing with garlic, and half with pepperoni. For the other half, I browned a link of some pepper-sage sausage we got at the Chef's Table in Clermont. We also had a salad with green leaf lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, and carrots.

The verdict
When Mike saw the pizza, he said, "That looks like something you'd get at a pizza parlor." It did indeed taste very good. Pizza is one of the best things on the planet! If you haven't tried my recipe for pizza crust, you really should. I give this meal 4 and a half stars for taste and 2 and a half stars for health.
Taco Soup with Cornbread

I was in a soup kind of mood again tonight, so I decided to make an old favorite: Taco Soup. I used ground chicken as the meat and kidney and chili beans, along with various taco seasonings. We also had cornbread that Mike made and some broccoli that he steamed. He had it all ready for me when I got home this evening, how sweet!

The verdict
This recipe is always good! It's quickly become an old favorite. I got this recipe from a lady at our church a few years ago. She had us over for dinner and I immediately demanded - er, requested the recipe! I give this recipe 4 stars for taste and health!
Granola Bars!!

I wanted to show you guys a picture of the granola bars I made so you could see how yummy they are. To this recipe I added raisins, craisins, chopped dried apricots and apples, and chocolate chips. this batch is for Mike, and I also made one for me minus the chocolate chips. Yum! I love these because they're cheaper than the store-bought and don't have all the preservatives, trans fats, etc. I'm having trouble locating the recipe at the moment, but I'll post a link to it as soon as I find it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mexican Pork and Beans

Yeah, so... we had this meal on Wednesday, and I'm just now getting around to posting it. Sorry about that. I wanted to share this meal with you though, because it was purty darn tasty. We had pork chops the night before, and they came in a four-pack, so I cubed the other two chops and used them the next day for this Mexican Pork and Beans recipe. It features the typical Mexican spices, along with stewed tomatoes and black beans, and is served over rice. We also had steamed broccoli on the side.

The verdict
Like I said before, this was finger-lickin' good! Or, since this is a Mexican dish, eso es muy bien! This is two pork dishes that I like! The meat was very tender from being in the crock pot for so long. It almost had too much heat for me, but it was still a good amount. I give this meal 4 stars for taste and 3 stars for health.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Grilled Pork Chops

I've never been a big fan of pork chops, but I always suspected that it was because I'd never had them done in a way that I liked. So when I came across an article entitled, "How to Make the Perfect Pork Chop," I jumped all over it. Tonight I decided to give it a try. It seems that the key is to rinse the chops, then sprinkle them with your seasoning. I used Penzey's Florida Seasoning on both sides, them Mike grilled them. We also had roasted red potatoes with Penzey's Kosher salt and garlic powder and steamed green beans. To drink, I made a smoothie with frozen peaches, orange and lime juice, and strawberry yogurt with a little grenadine for color.

The verdict
Hold your breath...I really enjoyed the pork chops! They were moist and tender, and the seasoning brought out the flavor. I couldn't believe the difference the high-quality kosher salt made with the potatoes! I always thought salt was just salt, but I used half of what I usually do and tasted it more. Overall, I give this meal 4 and a half stars for taste and 4 stars for health.

As a side note, I used another one of my Penzey's purchases, Natural Process Cocoa Powder, to make hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is another one of those things I've never been a huge fan of, but this was awesome!! I guess it's just another example of what a difference quality makes. If you ever decide to buy from Penzey's, beware: that company is so addictive! I also put a piece of candied ginger in the bottom of each glass, which was a nice treat at the end. I took a picture to show you, but it looked like a glass full of brown liquid. Not that impressive.