Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 25, 2015

We met at Tonya's house on a rainy, cool, Sunday amid Hurricane Patricia.  

Appetizer: Mary, Sweet Potato Corn Cakes 
Salad:  Angie, Honey Crisp Apple Salad 
Main:  Peach and Mustard Glazed Pork Chops
Dessert:  Angelica, Apple Crisp

Dinner with guest, Vivian.

Mary pan-fried these crispy, sweet potato corn cakes at Tonya's to ensure that they were hot and crispy.  To the dipping sauce recipe, Mary added Srirachi sauce.  Very yummy and a beautiful presentation.  The sweet potatoes are a subtle flavor and the corn adds some crunchy texture.  The cayenne pepper adds a kick!

For the salad, I picked one with apples, which are a fall staple.  The recipe calls for frisee however my Sprouts store  did not have any.  The produce worker scoffed when I asked for it "hardly anyone carries frisee".  HA!  I should have substituted endive but instead I used spinach.  I had not realized until later that frisee is in the endive family.  You learn something new every day!  I added some Gorgonzola cheese, pear (thanks, Mary!) and dried cranberries.  The dressing is not overly sweet with some spice from the cumin and curry.

For the main dish, Tonya picked beautiful pork chops.  Even Cookie the cat could hardly resist!  

The pork chops were rubbed with spices, seared and then finished in the oven with the peach glaze.  The glaze was not overly sweet due to the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and dash or two of Srirachi sauce.  This pork chops were tender and juicy, thanks to the bone in and watchful eye of Tonya and her trusty thermometer.  This is definitely a "company worthy" dish.  The pork chops were served with simple white rice, with some of the glaze spooned on top.

I was so excited about Angelica's apple crisp that I forgot to take a photograph.  It was a typical crisp with apples covered in a crispy oatmeal and pecan topping.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall dessert

My dad requested Caramel Apple Streusel Squares for dessert this weekend.  I asked how he picked the recipe, thinking he would mention fall and apples, but no, he said he did a search for "recipes with sweetened condensed milk".  Oh.  Well, I thought it was the perfect fall dessert... not that it feels like fall right now, BUT IT IS.    

I had all the ingredients on hand except for the apples.  I used my new Pampered Chef mandolin to slice the apples in thin, uniform slices.  I used the 2nd setting though next time I will use the 3rd setting to have thicker slices.  I have also decided that I will always use the guard because I do not want to cut off any of my fingertips.   Mandolins are scary!  

This dessert is all about the crust and topping.  It is sweet with brown sugar and spicy with the cinnamon and nutmeg.  The apples are nestled between the layers and the caramel mixture ties it all together.  I put some extra caramel sauce on top because the top seemed a little dry.  This addition just made the bars even more delicious.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dinner and dessert

Unstuffed cabbage casserole should really be called unstuffed cabbage ROLL casserole.  It has all the components of a cabbage roll but deconstructed and mixed into a casserole.  I hate when chefs on cooking shows make things deconstructed, like chicken pot pie.  NO!  What makes chicken pot pie delicious is it is prepared and served exactly as it has been for 100 years!  

In this case, deconstructed just makes it an easier recipe to fix and with less steps.  Skip the step of blanching the cabbage.  I cut it in thin strips and it cooked through in the oven.  I also used canned, diced tomatoes, skipped the dried mint and added Italian seasoning.  It turned out very good, with lots of flavor and reheats beautifully for left overs.  When I make it next time I am going to add some hot Italian sausage because I think the fennel in the sausage will be really nice with the other Italian spices.

For dessert (i.e., one for me, the rest for the office), I made these peanut butter blondies.  The recipe seemed too simple for these to be good but in fact, they were AMAZING.  I have been on a quest for the best recipe for peanut butter cookies and these bars are it. Bars, cookies, same difference, right?  I used chunky peanut butter and the nuts added a nice texture and not noticeable as a coworker told me "chunky peanut butter would be good in these".  Did that!  Chocolate chips in these would be sinful.