About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weeknight Dinners

It has come to my attention that some people find my planning meals for the week and doing all my shopping in one day amusing...I am not here to defend myself but rather to point out the benefits of doing just that. When I plan a weeks worth of meals I can see where the gaps are in my diet. For example: too much breads, not enough veggies, too much red meat and I can make changes right then and there on paper before I ever get to the grocery store. Another benefit is I am not stopping at the grocery store on the way home multiple times a week to pick up dinner, and I am less likely to impulse buy.
Sunday's dinner was a simple soup called Chicken Gnocchi Soup I had roasted a chicken the day before, let it cool and picked all the meat off the bones. I used the amount of chicken called for in the recipe and put the rest of the meat into my freezer for use later in the week for another dinner. Dinner was complete with the soup some salad and homemade bread that I had made that day.
Monday's dinner was simple enough. I had purchased a small pork roast a couple weeks before (super sale and double coupon deal) put it in my freezer for just such a simple meal. I simply seasoned it well and roasted it along with one very large peeled and cut up sweet potato. Served it all up with a salad and homemade honey balsamic dressing.
Tuesday's dinner was Spicy Mushroom Rice another super simple yet satisfying meal when you add a salad and slice of homemade bread. I did increase the mushrooms to one pound for this dish. We love mushrooms.
Wednesday's dinner Lemon Orzo Salad with AsparagusThis meal went together in a snap, had great flavor, and I served it up with a large plain naan bread that I had purchased (packaged) the week before and didn't use (sometimes you have to improvise). I did increase the Asparagus to 1 lb.
Thursday's dinnerChicken Meat Balls I did make some changes here. I used ground turkey (another one of those deals along with the pork roast) I added some additional spices, and you need to add some salt to the mix. I made a tomato sauce (from last years tomatoes that I froze) and served this up with some more salad and the last piece of naan bread (improvise, adapt, overcome). There was also Almond Bread with Lemon. It is a winner, hands down.
Friday's dinner was Chicken Pita pockets I made some changes to this recipe. I used the rest of the chicken from the Chicken Gnocchi Soup on Sunday, and instead of Swiss cheese I used the left over Feta cheese from the Orzo Salad that we had had on Wednesday.
Now I did need to make a trip to the grocery store this week for Almond milk to make the cake on Thursday and some avocados and pita bread, but a great deal fell into my lap and saved me. Instacart It is a new service and since I was saving some cash I took advantage and grabbed up some regular milk, eggs, and cheese. I also got the avocados and pita bread that I needed for Friday's dinner. You can pick the day and time frame to have your delivery, you can also choose to have some items swapped with others if they don't have them, and you get a great new shopping bag. My order arrived Wednesday afternoon just a bit past four pm. Everything was perfect.
Now tonight we are having hamburgers with a vegetable gratin, and since I do my shopping on Saturday I will pick up any missing items that I need for tonight's dinner today. It is not easy to make a menu and follow it, but in the long run it saves you time and money. I hammer out my menu on paper with pencil that way changes can be made while I am standing in my pantry looking at what I have on hand, and what I need to re-stock. You also have to take into consideration what will live in your refrigerator for a week. Mushrooms generally won't, so I will have to buy those today, buns and rolls may or may not survive a week so you have to put some thought into where you place the meals on your menu to maximize your meals while minimizing your trips to the grocery store. I still learn things when I do this, but what I do know is grocery stores love to see people in every night, the after work shopper who doesn't have a clue on "What am I hungry for" you end up purchasing stuff you don't need and sometimes get home and ask yourself why did I buy this? Not to mention the wasted hour you spend wandering around the grocery store trying to formulate a plan and get checked out. Me...I would rather be at home with my puppy or out walking him. Have a great rest of the weekend folks. I am going grocery shopping. I got my list all ready to go.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Citrus Upside Down Cake

Many years ago, maybe even in another life, I was told Cardamom was great with hot chocolate. I was a young woman with nothing more than 6 years of home ec. under my belt I went out and bought a bottle of this pricey spice and kept it on a shelf somewhere until my youngest graduated from high school...never used it once. Threw it out never knowing just how wonderful it would be in all manner of foods. I have used it twice in the past three months. in Ginger cookies and now in this fantastic Citrus Upside Down Cake. This cake is the dessert portion of my Valentines Day Dinner.
butter a 9 in. cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a small saucepan combine 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 cup light brown sugar (you can use dark), 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and cut and set aside about 5 thin slices citrus, enough to nearly cover the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan. melt the butter over low heat with the light brown sugar, honey, and lemon juice, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and pour syrup into the cake pan. Arrange the sliced citrus on the bottom of the pan in a flat even layer. Set aside.
I used blood orange and tangelo.
Looks so pretty. Next time I am going to overlap a few slices to fill it in a bit more.
In a bowl combine 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom.
In another bowl combine 4 eggs, 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup orange or blood orange juice, 1/4 cup citrus juice of your choosing, 3 tablespoons whole milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon grated blood orange zest. Whisk until blended.
Gradually add dry mix to wet mix.
Pour batter onto cake til pan is 3/4 of the way full. If you have batter leftover (I did) I made a small 6 inch layer cake. That I cooled and froze for a later use.
Bake for around 30 to 40 min. or until cake tests done with cake tester. Cool for at least 30 min. before flipping cake out of pan. Make sure you loosen the edge first.
Look at how pretty that is. It was really delicious and I am looking forward to having a reason to make it again. The little layer cake is going to be carefully cut to make two layers and frosted with a yummy orange buttercream frosting for friends dessert following a dinner I am making for them.
We had a lovely Valentines Day dinner as well, as usual the bf handled the grill masterfully and everything was spectacular. I hope everyone had a wonderful day. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Garlic Chicken

I made another super easy dinner last night that was really tasty and super fast to prepare.
About 30 minutes before you want to eat start a pot of rice and fifteen minutes into the rice cooking salt and pepper both sides of six boneless, skinless chicken thighs and peel one whole head of garlic. See that isn't so hard! Place about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet and heat over medium high heat (you have to judge this) place the thighs in the hot skillet and brown on one side for four minutes then turn over and brown on the other side for four minutes more. Pull the chicken out of the skillet and add the whole garlic cloves and stir them around and caramelize them. Don't burn them you want them to have a nice toasty color.
Then put the chicken back into the skillet with the garlic and add about 1-1 1/2 cups of white wine (depends on how much sauce you want) and put a lid part way on the pan. Cook for another four minutes check the liquid in the pan...That's it! Your done!
Make a nice healthy green salad and serve it with the chicken and rice.
Yum! This was another winner, or so I was told.
I hope everyone's week got off to a good start, and I hope the rest of your weeks go smoothly.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunday Soup

Yes I know it was Super Bowl Sunday yesterday and I should have been somewhere watching the game and stuffing my face with little meatballs cooked in chili sauce and grape jelly and slathering queso on corn chips, but to be perfectly honest...I don't like football, and thankfully the bf doesn't either. Instead we tackled a home project that I have wanted to get done for some time...Hopefully we will get closer to being done tonight. In the midst of trying to get some work accomplished yesterday I had to make dinner and since we had a very hearty dinner the night before I decided to make soup for dinner.
What you need to make this simple soup are 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage (or sausage of your choice), 1 large onion, diced, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1 large carton (32 oz. or 48 oz.) chicken broth or stock, Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional), 4-5 small red potatoes skin on, cleaned and cut into cubes 1 cup half and half, 3/4 of a bag of baby spinach, stems removed, 8 oz. of prepackaged sliced mixed mushrooms sauteed before adding to soup. Shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese (optional).
In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium high heat... breaking it up into pieces as it cooks. drain fat.. removing all but about a tablespoon. If your sausage doesn't have much fat add a little olive oil. Dump the onions on top of the sausage and stir... cook until the onions are almost soft ... about 4 minutes or so... add the garlic and stir well.. cook for another couple of minutes. Add the broth and bring to a low boil... add the potatoes and bring to a low boil again... reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender... about 15-20 minutes. Then add the spinach in handfuls and the mushrooms... stirring gently. When the spinach cooks down. Add the half and half and let soup get hot, but do not boil! Serve immediately with shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese at the table.
I had made a some bread yesterday in anticipation of this dinner along with a mixed baby greens salad with dried cranberries and goat cheese dressed with a light balsamic & honey dressing.
There would have been more photos to go along with this meal, but I was cooking with a little headlight strapped to my head and it just wasn't happening. Hopefully that hole is gone this week...tonight preferably.
Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Braised Pork Hock

So yesterday I made something new for dinner. I had picked up a couple pounds of fresh Pork Hock at my local butcher. Now keep in mind these are not smoked these are fresh pork. I did a simple rub on them and then braised them in a delicious sauce. The bf simply stated that this dish was something he would order in a restaurant.
First you start with some fresh pork hock. I have been told that it is better to have them cut in half to release the goodness inside (thanx for the tip K.B.), but I didn't do that this time.
Into a small bowl combine 2 tablespoon of course sea salt, 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon of dried sage, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
Coat the meat with the rub and let it stand at room temperature for about an hour.
Into another small bowl combine 15 oz. can of tomato sauce ½ cup of balsamic vinegar, 4 tablespoons of honey (optional), 6 garlic cloves, smashed and 4 juniper berries
Put a good brown on the hocks on all sides in a hot pan. I used olive oil but you can use whatever you have on hand.
When the hocks are good and brown transfer them to your slow cooker. If you don't have a slow cooker you can easily do this in a dutch oven in the oven.
Pour that delicious sauce on top and all around.
Put the lid on and set the cook time for 6 hours on high.
The braised hock was served up last night with whipped mashed potatoes and honey glazed carrots. It was really, really delicious.
Well the day is finally coming, my daughter will be moving out soon. I feel really good about it. She is smart and mature and it is way past time for her to be on her own. It is funny though watching her do such adult things, things that I take for granted. She made her first big purchase last night, with very little help from me, and I am glad to say she did her homework, shopped around and got the best deal possible. She also filed her taxes last night for the very first time...wow. That is truly a sign that you have grown up. I know we are both going to enjoy being away from each other and having our time alone is simply that our time alone, but I am going to miss the day to day conversations about work and the occasional bus rides home together after work. When my son moved out he was simply going to go live with his father so it was different and when he got his own place when he turned 19 it seemed very natural, but this is different my daughter has been living with me forever. I know it is good. It is good for me, good for her and very good for our relationship. I just hope she knows that I am here for her and she can come bend my ear when she needs to. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.