Friday, October 21, 2011

Tangy Pork Chops

Hubby and I found this recipe in a cookbook I'd had for years but never used. It seemed easy, and I wanted a new way to make pork chops that wasn't chopped into pieces and tossed into a pot with a box of Zattaran's Jambalaya and some Antonie's sauce. It's since been a "Hubby" dish, but a few weeks ago, I finally rolled up my sleeves to make it myself. It truly is an absurdly easy way to make pork chops.

Tangy Pork Chops

3 to 4 pork chops
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 325. While oven is preheating, brown the chops.
2. Mix the honey, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup together until fully combined. Lay pork chops evenly in a baking dish and pour the honey mixture over them.
3. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking for 15 more minutes.
4. Serve, spooning extra sauce from the dish over the pork chops and enjoy!

This dish goes wonderfully with mashed potatoes and garlic bread. The sauce is without a doubt the best part of the dish. It adds an extra kick to everything on the plate, but I prefer to use a piece of garlic bread to soak it up. These pork chops are so good, even our pickiest friends asked for the recipe to make it at home after we made it for them. And so easy, even I couldn't mess it up (although it helped that Hubby was the one who learned the difference between "cook through" and "brown". That took us a few tries to get right.)

Just in case you're not sure either:
Cooking through - Fully cooked, ready to eat
Brown - Just cook the outside, inside still raw

The time in the oven finishes cooking the chops. We had a few days of overcooked pork before we learned the difference and REALLY started to enjoy the meal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Rogue Noodle

I learned about cooked spaghetti sticking to walls and ceilings when I was a young girl and they showed a character on a TV show doing it to try and find the winning lotto numbers in the shape the spaghetti made. Later, when I moved into my first apartment, I noticed two pieces of spaghetti dried on the ceiling where my roommate had tossed them to test their doneness and they hadn't decided to come down. I know now that you can just take a bite of a piece to find out if pasta's done cooking, but where's the fun in that when you can sacrifice a noodle to the ceiling?

A few weeks ago, I was making dinner, most likely the shrimp scampi pasta and the timer went off on the pasta. Scoop out a piece carefully, try not to burn myself picking up a piece, aaaand toss!

Now, fresh cooked pasta is a little sticky, which is why it sticks to the ceiling. It also sticks to you. So although I threw the noodle upwards like I'd done a hundred time before, for the first time, it stuck to my fingers and, in a move that Einstein would be proud of, altered its trajectory accordingly when it finally detatched. At first, I didn't see where that trajectory landed it. I assumed it was somewhere on top of the cabinets.

Aaaand I was right.

That, ladies and gents, is my rogue noodle, positioned for perfect visability upon entry to the kitchen and most difficult removal. It has been there for several weeks now. And because Hubby and I are getting a house soon, it's going to HAVE to come down. I have no clue how to best go about doing this, but hopefully I won't have to put on a hospital report "busted skull open removing a noodle from the wall."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cookie Catastrophe

We got new neighbors a few months ago, a very nice young couple with a little boy. I met them while going to work and we bonded right away over similar interests. I decided I was going to make them some cookies to welcome them to the neighborhood! I'd made cookies before and they were great, so I wanted to try a new recipe. While scanning my selection of cooking blogs, I found a recipe for some called "World Peace Cookies". Chocolate cookies with chocolate chips. Awesome, perfect, let's roll. Printed the recipe, bought the ingredients and that weekend, prepared to bake.

(recipe from Becky Bakes)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used milk chocolate chips)

Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

I mixed the dry ingredients, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and ready for the flour. How much flour did the recipe call for? A cup and a quarter.

Now, before I go further, let me explain that I have several measuring cups. One of them is a two-cup measuring cup with different measures on the side for liquid, sugar, and flour, because an ounce, being a unit of weight, varies between substances. The cup measure is only on the liquid.

So I have this cup ready to measure out flour for these cookies and think "hold on a minute. 8 oz is a cup, but according to this thing, 8oz of flour is much larger than 8 oz of liquid. So I need 10 oz of flour to make a cup and a quarter."

Logic, at this point, has obviously led me very far astray. I measured out 10 oz of flour, put in the cocoa and baking powder, and slowly dumped it into the butter mixture. Mix. Mix. Mix... well geez, I think, this isn't coming together at all. It was still completely powder. Not even kneading it was making it come together. So I threw in some more butter and it finally became a dough-like substance. Make into balls, squish 'em down, pop 'em in the oven, and 12 minutes later, we have...

Hockey pucks. Little brown hockey pucks that tasted like flour. Oh my god they were so inedible. Hubby, being the sweetheart he is, said they were fine dunked in milk, but they were still pretty horrible to me. It was like eating flour that vaguely tasted of chocolate. Needless to say, those ended up in the trash can and I got to work on batch two, which ended up much, much better.