Sunday, September 30, 2007

More fall food

Tonight's Menu

  • pork with leeks and apples
  • crusty French bread
  • steamed broccoli
Tonight's dinner was totally an experiment. It was one of those use-what-you-have kind of deals. Luckily it turned out delicious!

I had this pork tenderloin, right? And while I really like my usual method of preparation, it gets a little boring if I make it that way every week. So what I did instead was cut the tenderloin into medallions about 1 to 1.5 inches thick. I did NOT pound them since I was planning to cook them in liquid. I just salted and peppered them and then browned them in a hot skillet with EVOO to give them a nice crust. Then I removed them from the pan and set them aside for a bit.

To the still-hot pan I added one leek that I had chopped (cut off the root end and the dark green bits, halve it lengthwise, give it a good wash, then cut into 1-inch sections) and stirred that around for a bit until it released some fragrance (being sure to scrape up the brown bits from the pork). Then I added one apple (I used a Fuji -- it's what I had) that had been peeled, cored, and chunked. Stir, stir, stir -- just to get a TINY bit of color on the leeks and apples.

Then I added the pork back into the pan and poured in a bottle of Hornsby's hard cider. You could also use regular apple cider, apple juice, or even white wine, probably. I stripped the leaves off of a few (like half a dozen, maybe) sprigs of fresh thyme and added those in, then covered the pan and simmered it all for about 15 minutes, which is how long it took to heat up the bread and steam the broccoli. After 15 minutes I uncovered the pan, cranked up the heat, and let the liquid reduce down to almost nothing. Then I seasoned it with a bit more salt and pepper (after tasting), et voila!

A couple of notes:
  1. Don't use too much thyme. You want just a hint of it, but you don't want it to dominate the dish.
  2. If you're using a less-tender cut of meat, increase the simmering time accordingly and don't add the apples until about halfway through. Otherwise your meat will be tough and/or your apples will be mushy.
  3. When you reduce a liquid like you do in this recipe, don't salt/pepper until the end. Otherwise those flavors get concentrated as the liquid reduces. Always taste before you season! The fact that I had seasoned the pork before browning meant that this dish needed very little additional salt at the end. If I'd salted without tasting, or salted before reducing, I would have added WAY too much.
Okay! Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Tonight's Menu

Um, yeah. That's all. Just soup. I was going to make bread but we had a busy late afternoon/early evening and it didn't happen.

That's okay. It's not like this meal needed more carbs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's all gravy, all the time up in here

Tonight's Menu

  • chicken-fried steak with cream gravy
  • mashed potatoes
  • green salad
Oh my God. I am so full. I seriously need to stop with the gravy, y'all.

Um, so, chicken-fried steak! It's a Texas thing, dontcha know! I make mine with tenderized cube steaks. Cut them in serving sizes if they aren't already, dredge them in seasoned flour, then in an egg/milk wash, then back in the flour. THEN -- and this is key, because it keeps the breading from falling off -- let them sit for half an hour. Heat about half an inch of oil (I use canola) in a heavy, high-sided skillet, dredge the steaks in the seasoned flour one more time before putting them in the pan, and fry them on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

I used a mix for the gravy. I KNOW. I am horrible at making gravy, and the mix (Pioneer, I think it was) was fat-free. I jazzed it up with salt and pepper and it was okay. Shut up.

This is a really REALLY heavy/filling meal. I could barely eat dessert. Ha!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Tonight's Menu

  • skillet pork chops with mushroom gravy
  • steamed Texmati rice
  • caramelized baby carrots
This was pure comfort food, y'all.

The chops recipe is one I've used since before DH and I got married. Actually, it was his recipe originally. This time I used bone-in chops. So yummy. I let them simmer while I cooked the sides. When the sides were done, the chops were done.

Rice was steamed in the microwave. I have no instructions for you except to use two parts water to one part rice. Our microwave has a "smart" setting so I use that.

The carrots were also steamed in the microwave (I used fresh baby carrots; I suppose you could use frozen if you had to). Then I melted some butter with some brown sugar (equal amounts of both) in a skillet and tossed in the steamed, drained carrots until they were coated with the caramelly goodness.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Tonight's Menu

  • indoor grilled ham steak
  • baked sweet potatoes
  • sauteed baby spinach
Okay, so this was way easy.

The ham steak was grilled indoors on the grill pan. Just a couple of minutes per side to warm it through and put some sexy grill marks on it, then cut into serving-size pieces.

The sweet potatoes were just scrubbed, wrapped in foil, and baked in the oven for about an hour at 375 degrees F. They were kind of small, so you might have to adjust the time for larger potatoes. Once out of the oven they were split and buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

The spinach was just one of those big bags of pre-washed fresh baby spinach. Heat some EVOO in a large skillet, dump in the spinach (you can do this in stages if it keeps jumping out of the pan -- it will cook WAY down), stir it around until it all goes nice and wilted, then season with salt and pepper.

Apart from remembering to put the potatoes in the oven ahead of time, you can have this dinner ready in like 10-15 minutes. No lie. And if you absolutely had to, you could microwave the potatoes instead of baking them in the oven. It's quicker than getting pizza delivered, yo!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Fall, Bitches!

Tonight's Menu

  • slow-cooker beef short ribs
  • mashed potatoes
  • steamed broccoli
Yeah, I know. I HAD TO. I can't grill another thing. Not until April, at least. I don't CARE if it's still hot and humid as all hell, I WANT FALL FOOD.


So, I've made these ribs before and they are amazing. This time I thickened the gravy on the stove and it came out much better.

This is the heaviest meal I've eaten since at least March, I think. BUT IT WON'T BE MY LAST.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grilling in September

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled boneless pork chops
  • grilled potato-onion packets
  • sauteed green cabbage
Easy, tasty, but STILL BORING.

Chops were sprinkled with Jane's Krazy Salt and garlic pepper, grilled on high heat 3-4 minutes per side (they were really thick). The same way I've made them ALL SUMMER LONG.

I've done the potato-onion dealie before too. Very easy. Takes a bit longer to cook than the chops do, so put the packet on the grill while you're prepping the meat, then take it off after the meat has rested post-grill.

Cabbage was just half a head (or more, depending on how much you want) of green cabbage given a rough chop (about 1-2 inch pieces), then sauteed in a hot skillet with EVOO. Season with salt and pepper when it's tender. Easy.

I never thought I'd get bored with grilling, especially since I didn't get to do much of it this summer due to all the rain, but I totally am! I think the problem is that my food mood depends more on the calendar than the weather. Now that it's September (my birthday month, thankyouverymuch), I feel like I should be moving more in a fall-ish direction with my food. I want roasts, stews, soups, casseroles, stuff like that. But it's still in the 90s and (finally) sunny here, so I can't really bring myself to heat up the kitchen much and/or serve heavy meals. But it's SEPTEMBER. So I WANT TO. I just CAN'T.

I am in food limbo, people.

That being said, tomorrow we are having (grilled) hamburgers. Sometime this week, we will have I SWEAR TO GOD the last (grilled) fajitas of the season, because I already have the skirt steak.

I seriously need to spend like an entire day going through my Cooks Illustrateds and my Eating Wells and whatnot to find some NEW STUFF to cook.

So stay tuned, if you feel so inclined.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Still bored, but what the hell

Tonight's Menu

  • oven-braised beef brisket
  • dinner rolls (from frozen dough)
  • green salad with carrots from the garden
Okay, yeah. I am still bored over here. Feeling very uninspired, food-wise. Not making anything remotely exciting. But I feel guilty about not posting for so long, so here! A post! A really boring post!

The brisket was rubbed with the usual spices -- brown sugar, dried oregano, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper -- then stuck in a pan with some beer, tightly covered, and cooked fat-side-up at 375 degrees F for two hours owing to the fact that I totally forgot to put it in the oven at 2:00 like I meant to. It was still fairly tender. I think cutting it REALLY thin after it had rested helped a lot with that, though.

The rolls were those little frozen dough balls, thawed and baked. Easy.

I hope to cook something interesting soon.