Saturday, November 30, 2013

PLs Cuban Sandwich

As promised, today I am going to feature my version of the cuban sandwich.  Remember to make extras of the Simple Pork Chops because you'll want to have enough to try this out--you may even convince your mind that you are somewhere on South Beach or sitting in Havana!

Toaster Oven
Sharp knife

Leftover or Freshly-made Pork chops, sliced in half

Thin Sliced Ham
Gouda, Havarti, or Munster type cheese
Italian baguette (this is a lighter baguette, less chewy and less dense than a French baguette)
Mustard (I use Gulden's Brown)
Kosher Dill Pickles

1. Wash Your Hands.
2. Slice your baguette into thirds, cut in half and toast lightly.

(Buy an extra baguette and freeze it pre-sliced for future garlic bread or other sandwiches)

3. Carefully slice the pork chops in half, approx 1/8" in width.

4. Begin your assembly:
--Mayo and mustard, both sides

--pickles, one side

--ham, one side

--pork slices on top of ham

5. Briefly toast again until cheese is softened.

6. Combine both sides of the sandwich.
7. Dig in! Crunchy, warm, and so satisfying!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pork Chops Simplified

As discussed in a previous blog reducing your meat consumtion is one of the biggest money savers when grocery shopping--even cutting back the amount, rather than omitting it altogether, can make a difference.
I have gotten into the habit of taking a thicker cut of meat and cutting it in half, horizontally.  Another option is to buy certain meats, like chicken breast or pork chops, already sliced into 'thinner' portions--the problem with that, however, may be additional cost for the convenience.  

This approach allows me to still enjoy some meat but decreases the overall amount. One of my favorite versions is the simple, thin-cut pork chop.  I make this recipe for three reasons:

1. Quick 
2. Satisfies 
3. Leftovers--are used for My Cuban Sandwich the following day.

Large Non-Stick skillet
Baking Sheet

2 thick pork chops, sliced horizontally in half

Garlic powder
Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 300F degrees.
3. Slice your pork chops horizontally in half--very carefully!!!

4. Lay them onto a plate.
5. Season first side with salt, pepper and a generous amount of Cavender's seasoning.

6. Turn and season the other side with garlic powder. Drizzle with olive oil.

7. Let meat sit and come to room temperature.
8. Heat skillet on MEDIUM-HIGH heat until almost smoking.

9. Sear the pork chops, UNTOUCHED or UNMOVED, for 3 minutes.

10. Turn the chop when golden brown and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Sear another 3 minutes.

11. Lay the chops on a small baking sheet with edges and place in oven for 10 minutes.

12. Remove from oven and cover in foil to allow the meat to rest x 5 minutes.

13. Prepare other supper items or set the table or kick back.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Money and Time Savers

Money and time are precious commodities when your in college.

Here are a few simple time and money savers to make the most of your money and time in the kitchen.

10. Bouillon
      --save space in your cabinets, money in your wallet, and time in your day
      --dried bouillons $1.55 for a six cube packet (12 cups) vs. $4.50 for store-made carton (4 cups)
      --homemade stock is better, but given the time and effort to make it, I usually opt for the above.
9. Limit grocery shopping to once / week. 
      --returning 2-3 times / week is likely to increase your spending on additional items with each trip
      --it's also a waste of time going back and forth to the store
8. Make a menu
      --even if only one meal / day is planned, this will keep your shopping focused
      --make your list, stick to it, and go once a week
7. Buy in bulk, especially meats on sale and other items you can prep and freeze
      --look out for sales on your higher priced items, and when possible, buy 2-3 times the amount
      --once you get home, portion them into freezer-safe containers for future use
      --money and timed saved on both ends
6. Invest in good-quality Tupperware. 
      --after shopping in bulk, have a set of containers that seal properly and can store your foods.
      --prep veggies when you get home from the store so that they are ready for salads and snacking
      --freeze additional amounts of soups, pasta sauces, casseroles in proper containers and freezer bags 
5. Store-bought Roasted Chicken.
      --one of the best time savers there is
      --master the limitless options with Roasted Chicken
      --chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, roasted chicken, chicken noodle soup, chicken quesadillas
      --just to name a few
4. Skip the meat. 
      --become vegetarian 2-3 x per week
      --this is one of the ultimate ways to cut your grocery budget
3. Drink more water and make your own tea and coffee. 
      --skip the soda, alcohol, energy drinks.
      --buy a good thermos to take with you to class or the library
2. Cook in bulk. 
      --double batches of spaghetti sauce, meatballs, soups, stews, pasta bakes
      --make sure you have the containers (mentioned under no. 6) to store and freeze the extras
1. Learn to cook. 
      --next to skipping meat for a few days, this can make a huge difference
      --even just learning a few skills, like making eggs, omelet, searing a pork chop, or making a sauce
      --limit dining out (even fast food), another budget-buster,  and eat leftovers.
      --doesn't always save time, but it will save money and is usually healthier for you

(Compiled from my own experience as well as from friends' and family members' advice)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Classic Stuffing

My mother's stuffing is one of best no-fuss stuffings that exists--it's rich and satisfying--the perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Bring this dish to the feast (if you are not hosting the dinner),  and you will come home empty-handed! 

12" non-stick skillet
9" x 13" x 2" Pyrex dish
Large mixing bowl
Baking sheet or Toaster oven

10+ cups of white & wheat bread 
(50% of bread should be slightly toasted)

2 medium onions, finely diced
2-3 celery stalks, finely diced
1 stick of butter

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp sage
2-3 tsp kosher salt (add 2 tsp first, then once everything is mixed together, adjust to taste!!!)
2 tsp black pepper
4 1/2 cups Chicken broth 

1. Wash your hands
2. Butter your Pyrex dish.

3. Toast half of the bread on a baking sheet in the oven--lightly.

4. Chop or tear 10 cups of bread into large bowl.
5. Prepare all of your veggies.

6. Heat 1/2 stick of butter in skillet on MEDIUM

7. Add onions and celery. Cook until translucent and softened. Approx 5-8 minutes.

8. Add parsley, spices, salt and pepper to bread.

9. Add onions and celery

10. Begin adding broth 1 cup at a time so that it becomes moistened--slightly wet, but not soaked.

11. Taste the mixture at this point and add salt & pepper as desired.
12. Add to Pyrex dish.

13. Bake for 55-60 minutes @ 350F degrees. Top with butter dots.

This is one of those dishes that tastes better the following day when all the ingredients have had time to get to know each other.

If you are making a turkey or roasting a chicken, stuff 2 cups into the chest cavity.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin Pudding Cups

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, but perhaps you aren't able to make it home--maybe it's distance, financial, or you have exams. But that doesn't mean you can't have a taste of the festivities or have Thanksgiving on a smaller scale.

Buy a roasted chicken, make a few side dishes, like the sweet potato fries or twice-baked version. Steam some veggies, and make a great dessert with all the flavors of Thanksgiving baked into it. Try my mom's classic pumpkin pie recipe baked in a cup.  Always loved it when she had enough pie filling left over to make a few of these:  Pumpkin Pudding Cups.

This is overall a simple recipe but with 3 separate steps: 1. Mixing Dry Ingredients 2. Preparing egg mixture 3. Preparing pumpkin mixture.

Mixing Bowls
Ramekins (little baking cups), approx 3.5" x 3" 
Baking Sheet

Dry Mixture:
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 Tbls of flour
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ginger
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1/8 tsp of cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of black pepper

Egg Mixture:
4 large eggs
1 can of Condensed / Evaporated Milk (not sweetened!!!)

Pumpkin Mixture:
2 cups of pumpkin
4 Tbls of butter, melted
2 Tbls of White Karo syrup

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 450F.
3. Place your ramekins on a baking sheet.
4. Combine all ingredients of dry mixture into a small mixing bowl and stir with a whisk.

5. Whisk eggs together in a separate mixing bowl, and then add the condensed milk.

6. Combine melted butter, pumpkin and Karo syrup in a large mixing bowl, and mix well.

7. Add the egg mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth.

8. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid pumpkin-egg mixture and stir until well-combined.

9. Pour batter into the ramekins, leaving approx 1/2 inch from the top.

10. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 450, then turn heat to 300 and bake another 55 minutes. Toothpick should come out almost dry.

11. Let cool.  Note that the pudding will contract and sink somewhat as it cools and congeals.
12. Add whipping cream.