Sunday, October 28, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Potatoes

Is it gross how I tend to post pictures of my half eaten food?  Just know-it is a good sign because it means that it was so yummy that I forgot to take a picture until it was almost too late!  That was definitely the case with this meal.  This is an easy twist on a regular pork chop slow cooker meal.  It had more zing than your usual cream of mushroom soup pork chops and I may never go back to the old way.  It was also nice to have the potatoes in with the pork.  Not only did they taste amazing, but it was a one pot meal.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Potatoes
adapted slightly from:

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 package dry onion soup mix
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. water
1 onion, sliced
1 can sliced mushrooms
4 potatoes, cut into chunks
4 pork chops

In your crock pot, mix together the mushroom soup, onion soup mix, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and water.  Add the onion, mushrooms and potatoes.  Then add the pork chops and stir it all together.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Quinoa Sloppy Joes

One day I bought a bag of quinoa because Monica told me that it is good for me and because I am easily persuaded.  In a six month period, I used it once, cooked it incorrectly which made it a little hard, and hadn't used it since.  But then one day, I went to make sloppy joes for dinner, and only had a half pound of ground beef.  I had Monica's voice ringing in my ears about how she uses quinoa in place of meat in enchiladas, so I decided to try it.  I used half ground beef and half quinoa and totally tricked my kids!  I followed the directions on the back of the bag very carefully, so my quinoa cooked correctly, which made all the difference on my opinion of it (amazing how following directions makes a difference!).  I am happy cooking with it because it is so good for you.  Also, I am always looking for ways to eat less meat.  In the end, this recipe is going to be more of a tip than an actual recipe.  

Quinoa Sloppy Joes
by: Carolyn (and Monica's influence :)

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 c. quinoa
1 packet (or can) of your favorite sloppy joe seasoning
hamburger buns

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.  In a large skillet over medium heat, brown your ground beef.  When the beef is cooked through, add the sloppy joe seasoning and whatever else it requires (for example, mine needs a can of tomato sauce).  Add the cooked quinoa and mix it all together.  Let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve over toasted hamburger buns. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Bread With Cream Cheese Icing (& How To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree)

This week I pureed one of the pumpkins from my garden.  I was so happy with how easy it was and how great the flavor was.  I used a medium sized pumpkin and got about 11 cups of puree!
With the fresh pumpkin, I made a couple of loaves of pumpkin bread.  Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors, especially for this time of year.  This bread was delicious and moist.  The cream cheese icing added a little more sweetness, but you could definitely eat the bread without it.  Either way, it will make you think of Autumn!

Pumpkin Bread With Cream Cheese Icing
adapted from: Better Homes and Garden

1 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1/3 c. shortening
1 c. flour (again)

For the icing:
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk

Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf pan and set it aside.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves and stir it well.  Add the pumpkin, milk, eggs and shortening and beat it on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.  Add the 1 cup flour and mix it until it is blended.  Pour the batter into your loaf pan and bake it for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  In the meantime, make your icing by mixing together the softened cream cheese and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in the powdered sugar and then the milk and mix it well.  Drizzle the icing over the top of the hot bread, or slice it and then drizzle it.

How To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

I consulted a number of websites, trying to figure out the best way to puree my pumpkin, and they were all very similar.  I will give the quick version of how to do this.

First: Wash your pumpkin, cut off the stem and cut the whole pumpkin in half.  Scoop out the seeds and pulp.

Second: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Rub a little canola oil on the cut surfaces of the pumpkin (inside).  Place the pumpkin face down on a cookie sheet (one with sides, in case it drips a little).  Roast the pumpkin for anywhere between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.  Mine cooked for almost 90 minutes.  When you can easily stab a fork into the top (outside) of the pumpkin, it is done.  Let your pumpkin cool for 10 minutes, or until you can handle it.
Third:  Peel the skin off of each half of your pumpkin.  I was able to do this using my fingers.  A knife helped to start the peel, but then it peeled away pretty easily.

Fourth:  Puree the cooked pumpkin in a food processor or blender until it is smooth.  Most websites said to strain some of the water out using cheesecloth.  Store the puree in airtight bags in the freezer, or make some yummy pumpkin bread right away!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Coconut Crusted French Toast

When Nicole visited last April, we thought it would be fun to make something different and delicious for breakfast on Easter morning.  At that time I was going through a coconut phase (still am, a little bit) and so this was an obvious choice for me.  It has taken me a long time to post it, but I have actually made it a couple more times because it is so delicious.  It definitely works best with a thicker bread, but is also yummy with regular bread.  We served ours with buttermilk syrup and fruit.  Mmmm. (P.S. this is Carolyn posting :)  

Coconut Crusted French Toast
adapted from:

3 eggs
3/4 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut
6 slices french bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices (texas toast bread would work great, too) From the pictures, you can see that we used a thicker, regular bread, but I have also used french bread.

Heat a griddle or frying pan.  In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla and salt.  Pour the shredded coconut into another shallow dish.  Dip both sides of the bread in the egg mixture, then dip both sides into the shredded coconut (to coat the bread).  Place the bread onto your griddle or frying pan and then drizzle a little of the egg mixture over the top.  It will take a little more time to cook than usual.  When it is done, serve it with syrup or fruit, or both!