Sunday, November 25, 2007

I hope you all had a blessed and restful Thanksgiving. I had the opportunity to make Jose's family a Thanksgiving meal this year and it was a lot of fun. I was telling Jose afterward that when I was younger, I was so intimidated at the thought of making an entire Thanksgiving meal all by myself. I was afraid I'd undercook the turkey, or that I'd have to rely on canned goods for every side dish... I thought it would be an exhausting, stressful, and unrewarding process... But, thankfully, this year I was able to discover it's actually quite the opposite. Sure, it took a little while, but it was fun. I think one of the tougher parts about it was that I had to cook for a group instead of just one or two people, so I was a little worried that I wouldn't season things right...but somehow it all worked out and there wasn't a complaint made about the food!

One thing I still really want to get the hang of is tamale-making, though. In my family, my grandmother usually makes tamales for Christmas/New Years and I'd really like to whip them up the way she does, effortlessly. I have a feeling I'd probably just end up with a kitchen disaster...but who knows, maybe it'll turn out the way the Thanksgiving meal did if I just give it a try? Hmm...probably not. Just last year I was helping her roll up the tamale dough in corn husks before she cooked them, and that was tough enough for me. It's a lot harder than it looks! Still, I have a strange feeling my attitude about the tamale-making process will change...just wait and see.

Moving on to this apple-oatmeal bar recipe; I have baked this over and over again. I made it for Jose's Thanksgiving office party, then I made it for my mom, then I made it for Jose's family as a Thanksgiving's been a hit every time! I was bored one night and, as usual, had a sweet tooth for something not too heavy but still carby, so I made these apple-oatmeal bars. The initial recipe is completely fat free, but the next couple of times I made it, I decided that butter should be included in the topping. Sometimes butter does make it better, especially when used in moderation.

This is even easy to make because everything can pretty much be mixed up in one bowl, and I love that because that means there are less dishes to wash in the end!

Apple-Oatmeal Bars
2 Cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1/4 cup apple juice

2/3 cups apple sauce

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 TBSP cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg

1 TBSP apple pie spice

These ingredients can all be mixed together in the same bowl, then put in a large baking dish (9X13"). Put in the oven for 10 minutes at 325 then add the following topping:

The topping (unhealthy version):
1 small fuji apple, cut into little cubes

1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 tbsp melted butter

1 2/3 cups oatmeal

You can mix all these ingredients together in a bowl, then add it to the top of the bread dough (10 minutes after it's been in the oven). I also lightly sprinkled the topping with cinnamon and sugar.

Fat-free healthier topping:
1 small fuji apple, cut into little cubes
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 2/3 cups oatmeal

1/3 cup vanilla soymilk
1/8 cup honey

Raise the temp of the oven to 350 and bake for about 50 more minutes to an hour.

Now it's time to start thinking about a Christmas dessert! I can't wait for my favorite holiday, we purchased and decorated our tree just today! I'm counting down :)...and so are my guineas, yoshi and mochi!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

marinated pork chops

I made these pork chops a few weeks ago...but I didn't bother posting the recipe or photo because, to be honest, I've been getting lazy with that. Also, it seems life has been pretty crazy lately, but not in the bad way, we've just been going out of town a lot on the weekends and I started working at another job, in addition to the one I already have. So, I'm sure you can understand why posting has been a little difficult for me lately. I do feel bad that the excitement of having a new food blog is sort of wearing off, but I refuse to continue neglecting it the way I have been.

Annyhowww, As the holidays approach, I hope to bake a lot more. I've always wanted to learn how to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, or any pie for that matter, so that's a recipe I'll be experimenting with...and I think Jose's actually going to be helping me with that. I want to figure out how to make it before Thanksgiving. I even need to figure out how to make a moist turkey in the oven...because I think he and I are going to be in charge of making the turkey this year, that should be exciting... I am a little nervous, though. I've never baked such a large piece of protein like that, but I do know there are tips posted all over the web. Does anyone have any seasoning ideas or turkey basting/baking tips that always seem to work? The good thing is, I used to help my parents put the turkey together a couple of times when I was growing up, so it's not entirely unfamiliar to me--they rubbed a garlic/spice butter blend on their turkey every couple of hours until it finished cooking...but I wonder if olive oil would work? Would it taste funny? Hmm...

Now, getting back to the pork chops... I've recently started making pork chops about once a week, and I've experimented with different ways of marinating far this is my favorite way of making pork chops. They cook really fast, it definitely helps that they are thinly sliced. I don't remember the exact amounts I used, but this is the general idea. When it comes to marinating, it usually doesn't really matter how much of each "sauce" or seasoning you use, as long as the flavor isn't too overwhelming, or so it seems. For these pork chops, I used the following ingredients:

I think this was about 3/4-1 lb of pork chops
1/3-1/2 worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of paprika
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
a sprinkle of salt, or garlic salt
a sprinkle of onion powder

Later, when the pork chops were almost done cooking over a low-medium flame, I added in about
1/3 of a small sweet onion--doesn't matter what kind
1 large roma tomato, diced
about 1/2 cup chopped up mushrooms
I seared these over a high flame with the pork chops until the onions were slightly darker, then I covered the all-purpose pan that held these ingredients and simmered them together for about 7 minutes over a low flame. I think it took about 20-30 minutes to make these--but I marinated the pork chops for about 3 hours ahead of time. If you don't have time to marinate them, they will still taste good--I think they should be seared a little longer, though, because, at least to me, they tend to taste better that way if they weren't able to absorb the flavors of the marinade sauce.

Hopefully I'll post again soon :). Thanks for leaving such nice messages for me to read when I least expect it!