Monday, August 29, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

Remember Shake & Bake?  Not the catch phrase from that movie, but the actual cooking stuff?  I'll admit it - I've shake & baked before.  I was in college, ok.  And quite broke for a while after college.  Now I realize that making your own stuff (like shake & bake) is so much better for you and can cost less in the long run.

Even though this didn't call for a box of breadcrumbs & herbs, and a plastic bag, this was very easy to throw together.  I knew that it would taste great - fresh herbs with just a touch of Parmesan cheese.  What I didn't count on was the pork staying so moist.  I'm certain the mustard coating helped with that and I'm itching to try it out on baked chicken as well.  I typically cook a package of chicken tenders on the grill each week for lunch, but I think this will be a fun variation and will still taste great on a bed of spinach.

I did change this up a bit to use what I had in the house.  I only had about a cup of fresh breadcrumbs left, that I'd mixed with Italian herbs.  To make up the rest of the breading, I added Panko breadcrumbs.  I really think the Panko gave it an extra crunch.

Parmesan & Herb Crusted Pork Chops adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1 cup fresh Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 1" thick boneless pork chops
Preheat the oven to 425.  Place a greased rack on a baking sheet.  In a shallow dish, mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and salt & pepper.  Brush the pork with the mustard and coat in the breadcrumbs.  Bake on the greased rack for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dessert for a Year: Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

Earlier this month we went to visit my mom for her birthday.  Since we didn't plan on going out for dinner, I wanted to make a dessert for the house.  I knew I wanted to do something with Oreo cookies, since they happen to be my mom's favorite cookie.  I'd saved a few blog posts and ran them past Jason for his suggestion.  As soon as I mentioned these, he was sold.

Thankfully, by mistake, I ended up halving the recipe.  I read the ingredient list, thinking it called for two packages of cream cheese...not two pounds.  It ended up being a good thing.  These were so creamy and rich, that I'm afraid we would have eaten all thirty in one weekend.  For the sake of my waistline, we left them at my mom's house...although Jason has already asked for them again!

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes from Pink Parsley
  • 21 Oreo cookies
  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Line muffin tins with 15 paper liners, placing an Oreo cooking in the bottom of each one.  Crush the remaining Oreos, set aside.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Gradually beat in the sugar until combined.  Beat in the vanilla, then drizzle in the eggs, beating until combined.  Mix in the Greek Yogurt and salt.  Stir in the crush cookies.

Spoon the batter into each lined muffin tin.  Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely for at least 4 hours.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Grilled Romaine with Buttermilk Dressing

A few weeks ago I got a text from my friend Rachel.  It was something like "they are grilling lettuce on Food Network."  I think I responded with "I've had is pretty good."  While she sent back "Ew.  Something about warm lettuce..."

I get it.  I love a salad.  But put lettuce on my sandwich or hamburger and I probably will just pass all together.  And if it is shredded lettuce, forget it.  At least the large leafs are easy to remove!  But I have had grilled lettuce.  I remember the first attempt - one of my previous jobs.  The chef thought it would be a great idea to serve a Grilled Caesar Salad.  Only we were serving 600 people, and well, that stuff needs to be served right away.  When moved to a "twenty-person only" menu and served fresh, the lettuce is a little warm, slightly charred, and takes on the smoky grill flavor.  Pair with cold, creamy buttermilk dressing and the contrast makes for a great salad.

The first night I made this, I chopped up tomatoes and threw them on top.  But something wasn't right.  The next evening I decided to roast the tomatoes with some garlic & olive oil until they burst, adding something a little more to the salad.  Holy cow...I see us buying a lot more Romaine in the future and firing up the grill.  Plus, Jason and I both hate chopping up the lettuce for salad.  That would be why it usually goes bad before we eat it.  This makes prep super fast and we're both happy with that.

Grilled Romaine with Buttermilk Dressing adapted from Southern Living

  • 2 hearts of Romaine, halved
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add in grape tomatoes, crushed garlic and salt & pepper to taste.  Heat through, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes wilt or burst.  

Heat the grill to a medium-high heat.  Brush the Romaine halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill, cut side down, for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted.  Remove from the grill, top with tomatoes, dressing and Parmesan cheese.  This is best served just after grilling.

Buttermilk Chive Dressing
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I make mine with skim milk)
  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • salt & pepper to taste.
Whisk together all of the ingredients; cover and chill until needed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pimento Mac & Cheese

I have been hanging on to this recipe for ages.  Like maybe 3 years?  I kept it because I wanted something easy and at the time, I was still looking for the perfect mac & cheese recipe.  Since then, I've realized that I don't think I can commit to one mac & cheese.  But that's ok.  Cooper is a fan of pasta and cheese, so I think he'll help me try a few more.

This did turn out to be a pretty easy recipe, so I think it will turn up on the menu again.  I really like having an option that doesn't have to be baked off in the oven, especially for a weeknight.

Pimento Mac & Cheese from Southern Living
  • 8 oz penne pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 2oz jar pimentos, drained
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of paprika
Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package.  Drain and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup milk.  Stir in the remaining milk until the mixture is smooth. In a large skillet over med-high heat, bring the milk mixture to a boil while whisking.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, continuing to whisk, for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Add the cheese, pimentos & spices, stirring until the cheese is melted.  Stir in the pasta and cook for another minute, until the pasta is warmed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can always tell when my mom is stressed.  She's baking.  I happened to inherit the same gene.  My sister, however, did not.  See where I'm going with this?

A few weeks ago I started flipping through my magazine recipe file looking for the weekly menu plan and came across the following recipe.  I had one banana that was threatening to die on the counter and we were planning a grocery store trip that afternoon, so I could pick up everything else I needed.

The cookies remind me of banana bread...with chocolate chips.  They have a bit of a crunch around the edge, but stay very chewy in the middle.  Cooper loved them - he's not been big on sweet stuff so far, but I think these are perfect since the banana makes up part of the sugar and they aren't overly sweet. 

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cooking Light
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium size banana)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer.  Add in the egg and beat well.  Whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix until well blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges.  Cool slightly on the pans and move to cooling racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chipotle Sloppy Joes

Some days I think God created toddler attitudes so that he could point and laugh.  Monday was a perfect example in my house.  We decided to make Sloppy Joes Monday night, using a recipe I'd found in a Cooking Light magazine.  I wasn't sure if they would be spicy, but after tasting them I just noticed a mild smokey flavor - no spice at all.  Meaning, Cooper would be fine.  He eats Sloppy Joes at school on a regular basis, and we were serving sweet potato fries & green peas as well.

I sat his plate on his tray, handed him the fork and said "try it."  And he gives me this smug look, shakes his head and said "no."  NO?  Again, "try it, baby."  And again, smug look, head shake, "no."  Monday, I wanted to scream.  Today, I'm thinking this was entertainment for the evening.  It is hard to explain how frustrated I was without seeing the look, but holy cow that look was just...smug.  That's the best word to describe it.  And the "no" was very short and woman-you-are-not-getting-me-to-eat-that.  In the end, he ate ketchup and some peas.  I'm still not sure who won this battle.

I think this may have been the first time we made Sloppy Joes from scratch.  I will definately hang on to this recipe and use it again.  I just won't count on Cooper having any.  I also think I'll add the bell pepper earlier to sautee it a little more, since I'm not a huge fan of it.  Oh, and I've aquired a serious addiction to caramelized onions.  Thin sliced, sauteed, almost burnt.  Coming from someone who previously hated onions in any form, this is big.

Chipotle Sloppy Joes adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 chipotle peppers plus 1 t sauce from 1 7oz can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
Heat 1 t olive oil in a small sautee pan.  Add onions and cook until golden brown, set aside.  Chop the chipotle peppers and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray or olive oil.  Brown the ground beef, and add in the bell pepper, sauteing for an additional two minutes.  Stir in the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, tomato paste and remaining ingredients.  Cook for another three to four minutes, serving about 1/2 cup on a toasted bun topped with the sauteed onions.