Friday, May 27, 2016

Food for Thought

It's been a few weeks since I posted recipes (so this is long), mostly because the last few weeks have just been nuts, not because I haven't been cooking.  When it's not screaming hot, aka Summer, cooking is a sort of escape.  In the summer cooking is just torture.  I'd rather be trying to find a bathing suit I can be seen in public in, than in the kitchen cooking a meal.

Summer is still a ways a way, though, and today temps are nice and cool.  We are even supposed to have some rain.  If you're looking for something for tonight, the holiday or your next week's menu, check out the recipes below, all of which are from Pinterest.

Desserts are probably more than 50% of my Pin boards, sadly.  Cherry anything is a favorite for me, so these Cherry Pie Bites with Vanilla Sugar Drizzle were an obvious choice to pin - then make.  They were super simple.  I only used two of the called-for four cans, and made hand pies with the remaining cherry filling.  What's to say?  They were cherry, they were soft, they were glazed.  All good things, because they were also gone in no time.

I kind of went on a meatball run that ended with these Amazing Chicken Parm Meatballs.  They were moist and flavorful.  I don't really make large meatballs as a main dish, but I will make these again.  I used a 1/4 c measure to portion them out, however, it's been a couple weeks and I don't remember how many that gave me.  These would be good as patties, served on buns, too.  I made up my usual marinara to go with them

We were in a cold snap when I made these Taco Stuffed Peppers.  I'm slow converting my kids into cooked pepper eaters, if not necessarily lovers.  Even my husband, who wasn't ever a huge fan, has slowly come to enjoy the versions I've served up.  These were all taco spices and hearty.  I was serving them on In-Law Night, so I added black beans to the mix, to stretch the filling without adding more ground beef.  Look for smaller peppers, unless you are planning halving them once they are cooked; they are filling.  Can I just say, I loved how colorful they were.  Good stuff in there.

When my 17 y.o. came home from his trip to France and Spain, I asked what was his favorite thing.  It was the food.  I asked if there was a favorite food, and he said, "probably the crepes, but it was all good," until they tried to serve him squash soup.  No bueno.  I made these Blintz Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce for the Mother's Day brunch I hosted for my family, my in-laws and my own parents.  They were something easy to prep the night before.  You can't go wrong with crepes.  Don't be intimidated, you burn, figuratively speaking, the first and after that, it's easy.  I used my 6" non-stick skillet, and less than the 1/4 c of batter.  I was able to eyeball an amount needed to coat the pan, the 1/4 cup seemed too much.  And you will too.

My daughter seems to have become a big fan of biscuits and gravy up at school, so when I found this Biscuits and Gravy Bake recipe, I chose to add it to the Mother's Day menu, for her and my hubby, who is also a fan.  It surprised me how good it was.  It was a bit lighter than the traditional version I've eaten before.  I worried the dough would stay doughy, but it cooked up nice and puffy.  The gravy was creamy, and you can spice it up with all the black pepper you want.

The brussels sprout cravings continue for my hubby, so Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Bourbon and Mustard it is.  These sprouts were not roasted, and since I'm still in my experimenting phase with these little green orbs, I tried this technique.  We agreed that roasting them is better.  Some of that may be due to the fact there were just too many sprouts in the skillet - and it was a 12" skillet - but they just didn't have the flavor we like that comes from roasting, and some remained a bit on the raw side, which doesn't happen with roasting.  I would make these again, but roast the sprouts and then tossed with the sauce, which needed more bourbon. ;)

Working hard on getting more variety to my sides, I made Cherry Cheesecake Fluff Salad to go with the ribs below.  It was easy enough and had good flavor.  I make another kind of Fluff, that I think I, personally, liked better.  I might use vanilla pudding, I'm not sure I liked the cheesecake variety, and changing up the fruits would be fun. 

I pulled out what I thought was pork chops, but instead they were country ribs.  Nothing like finding recipes on the fly.  But these Grilled Country Style Pork Ribs were really good.  The marinade was flavorful enough, that I'm glad I opted not to have hubby brush BBQ sauce on them.

My sister and I co-hosted a dinner after our 7 y.o. and her 7 y.o. celebrated their First Communions at the same Mass.  We split the menu, I made pulled pork (PW has my favorite version), she made pulled chicken.  I wanted a slaw that could be eaten on the sandwiches/tacos or served along side either meat.  This Apple Cranberry and Almond Coleslaw worked for both.  It was crunchy, and the pops of sweet from the cranberries was just right.  I will make a couple adjustments.  I'll use Granny Smith's instead of Gala's - my Girlie actually had this suggestion before I made it, but I like to go with the recipe as is the first time around.  I like the bigger crunch and that slight tang from Granny Smiths.  The color you can get the pops of red from the cranberries.  The dressing calls for honey, but I think it was a bit much, as I tasted a fair amount of honey, instead of it just adding sweetness.  I'll either reduce the amount, or use white sugar.

We had a decent amount of pulled pork leftover from the First Communion party, which I had planned.  Thus there are a couple recipes to use it up.  One being these Creamy Pulled Pork Taquitos.  The recipe comes with a pulled pork recipe, if you need it.  I like that they were baked, but I will turn them over once during the bake.  I put them on parchment, as well, which helps crisp things up.  I also used raw tortillas and wondered how they'd fare without cooking first and they did fine.  The filling was creamy and warm.  I may either half the amount of green salsa (I used a tomatillo) or leave it out for dipping instead. 

My rhubarb is still a season away from being able to harvest, so I've been on the lookout for it in the stores.  When I saw the stalks I grabbed them without know exactly what I'd use them for.  Luckily I have a lot of Pins to choose from, one of which are these Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars.  These were awesome.  Tart.  Sweet.  Buttery topping.  I could have eaten the pan-full.

I had buns left over from the party, but I had them earmarked for Green Chile Chicken Sliders, so this Brie and Blackberry Grilled Chicken Sandwiches wasn't going to be sandwiches.   They are also pan-fried, not grilled, unless you use a grill pan, but you could grill them.  Either way, they are good.  Really good.  I opted to served them on a bed of spinach that I had dressed with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked the chicken in the pan, removed it to a platter to rest, and let the brie melt while they were resting.  The blackberry sauce was perfect.  It was a flavorful and colorful meal.

This Salmon Pasta and Lemon Cream Sauce recipe I used just the pasta and sauce portion, to serve with the above Chicken and Brie meal.  I used angel hair, because it's what I had, but it can get mushy fast because it's so fine, so I make sure to undercook it as it will suck up the sauce it's in.  It had a nice, light garlic flavor, and hints of lemon - add more zest if you like it more lemony.

This BBQ Pulled Pork White Cheddar Mac and Cheese also comes with a pulled pork recipe.  My roast was seven pounds, but the recipe uses a one and half pound roast, which seems like a lot.  So I just portioned out what looked like a good amount of pork on to the top of the pasta.  I also like the flavor of my pulled pork, so I opted not to toss the pork in BBQ (this is my go-to BBQ sauce) prior to baking it, but did drizzle sauce over the whole dish before serving.  It was warm, creamy with a nice bite of sharp cheese and a sweet dash of BBQ.  Perfect for a rainy night.

Enjoy your long holiday weekend.

Happy Friday,

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