Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm a grinch!

Ravings: I’m back! Friday was a “sick” day. (Events of the day will be kept confidential to protect the not so innocent. Namely me!)

Saturday was a sit on the couch and be completely unmotivated to do anything day. To be completely honest, I did some craft projects, but I didn’t actually get dressed. I did consult my sister, who knows all things, and she said since I changed my shirt, that technically counts as getting dressed, so I guess I wasn’t completely unmotivated. I made 2 baby doll blankets for my nieces form Christmas and a cool twirly scarf out of one of Jason’s old t-shirts. I am not quite finished with the second blanket, so I will post pics when I’m all done!

Sunday was a marathon Christmas shopping extravaganza. I’m under the delusion that if I use big, exciting words to describe it, then the whole process won’t suck rotten eggs. But, really, who am I kidding? Everything about shopping at the holidays blows chunks. Well, except for hanging with my sis all day, but I would have rather been playing video games and drinking wine with her!

Cravings: Jason was out of town, deer hunting, this weekend so I did little to no cooking, unless you count popcorn. That is totally a dinner entrée and you will never be able to convince me otherwise!

But did you know you can make your own microwave popcorn? And it doesn’t have anything bad in it, unless you add it of course. And it’s super easy. Put about ¼ cup of popcorn kernels into a paper lunch bag. Fold the top down twice. Lay the bag on its side in the microwave and use the popcorn setting. If you want more make it again. You can use the same bag a couple times, but don’t add more popcorn to the bag. I’ve found that it just creates more unpopped kernels. Then you can add any toppings you want. My fave is parmesan cheese and garlic salt. If the cheese is just falling to the bottom of the bowl, just pop it back in the microwave for another few seconds to warm the cheese up. Yum!!!

Now I did cook dinner on Thursday night and wow. It’s up on the favorites list for us. Ranch pork chops over braised white beans. Served with a little side salad. Before I go over the recipes, I have to tell you that I am a food snob, meaning Jason and I try to consume primarily organic, whole foods, local as much as possible. In our avoidance of processed food, I have developed some homemade fixes for previously store bought (read: processed) foods. One of them is ranch dressing. It’s so easy to mix up the dry ingredients and then just add the wet as you need to go. The other benefit is that they work great as dry rubs, like for our pork chops.

Dry ranch mix

4 T dried minced onion
4 T dried parsley flakes
2 t garlic powder

Most recipes you find will call for salt. I rarely add it to my mixes because we tend to add salt as we cook to taste. Just mix it up and store it with your spices. To make dressing add buttermilk and plain greek yogurt (or sour cream). For dip, just add the yogurt (or sour cream). You can make as much or as little as you need.

Ranch pork chops

3-4 T Dry ranch mix
2 T mayo (use the real thing please!)
2 pork chops

Mix the ranch mix and mayo. Spread onto both sides chops. Cook for 20+ mins, depending on thickness of your chops at 350. Seriously, it doesn't get easier than that!

Braised white beans

½ sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot, chopped small
2 cans white beans (or dried equivalent. That is my next pledge. To give up canned beans because of the BPA in the cans)
½ cup water
1 T ranch mix
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add carrot and sauté for a few more minutes, just to get them softening. Add the drained can of white beans. I then use the cans to add the water, getting out the mushy bean stuff at the bottom of the can. Helps thicken the sauce. Add the ranch mix and salt and pepper to taste. Turn burner to low and let it simmer a bit until all the flavors have blended and the beans are soft.

As a follow up to my canned bean protest: My mother informed me recently, which is what's prompting me) that you can soak dried beans and then freeze them. I am so going to try this soon. I’ll let you know.

She is also the one who informed me that you can flash freeze banana chunks, which we use in smoothies all the time. Or any kind of fruit really. Just lay them out on a sheet pan and put it in the freezer. Once it’s all frozen throw it in a Ziploc bag. Then you can use whatever amount you need. This also works with mushrooms, and Jason says he likes the frozen mushrooms better than the fresh ones. My mom is my cooking muse. I have already designed her Food Network show. She can pull together a gourmet meal using the ingredients in just about any pantry. And most of them include a reduction sauce. It's kind of her specialty!

No comments: