Sunday, February 03, 2008

Enough Already with the Snow!

This latest storm started yesterday, and we've gotten another couple of feet. Right now there's a pile of snow between our two cars out front that's higher than the cars. It's also on both sides, so Don's wondering where he'll put the rest of it that's supposed to come during the night. At least I didn't have to go anywhere today - we've hunkered down with a fire in the fireplace and the Super Bowl on the TV. During some of the pre-game hype, we had some brown-outs - I'm sure it was because of heavy snow on trees and power lines. Don was ready to go get the generator ready just in case.

This morning I had some mushrooms left over from last night's dinner, so I decided to make Paradise Potatoes. Paradise Cafe is a fabulous little restaurant in Crested Butte, Colorado - the best place to get breakfast in the whole area. They serve a breakfast dish called Paradise Potatoes - which I've attempted to duplicate here at home. I'm sure mine's not exactly like theirs, but it's pretty tasty.

Paradise Potatoes

1 large russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5-6 oz. fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
1/2 cup diced tomato (I used grape tomatoes)
salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a large skillet, cook the potatoes in the oil until lightly browned on one side. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper. Continue to cook until potatoes are brown and vegetables are cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes; top with cheddar cheese. Turn off heat and over until cheese has melted. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Serves 2-3.

Continuing with my cook-ahead weekend, I made up a batch of my special Orange Pain Perdu. I acquired a free container of mascarpone, and knew it would be perfect for this. If you don't have mascarpone, cream cheese works very well. (I usually make it with cream cheese.) "Pain perdu" is French for "lost bread," and got its name because it originally was made to use up stale bread. My version is more than the usual French toast. It's a stuffed French toast using mascarpone or cream cheese and some orange marmalade.

Orange Pain Perdu

16 slices sandwich bread (I use whole wheat)
1 8-oz. container mascarpone or cream cheese
approx. 1 cup orange marmalade
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Spread each slice of bread with mascarpone or cream cheese. Top one slice with a heaping tablespoon of orange marmalade, and put two slices together to form a sandwich.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Preheat a griddle or flat skillet, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dip each sandwich in egg mixture, turning several times, and then place on griddle. Cook until browned on both sides. Serve with powdered sugar or your favorite syrup. Makes 8.

Dinner tonight was a recipe from Cooking Light that I saw on Joe's Culinary in the Country. I had the exact amount of cranberries in my freezer that I needed to use, and we wanted some meat for dinner after last night's pasta. (Yes, we eat too much meat, but I'm trying to cut back.)
The thing I liked about this dish is that it wasn't too sweet, even with the honey.

Easy Pork Chop Sauté With Cranberries
Cooking Light

¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
4 boneless pork loin chops, trimmed of fat
⅔ cup orange juice
2 ½-3 tablespoons clover honey
2 teaspoons canola oil
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

Mix thyme and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with the thyme mixture.
Stir orange juice and 2 1/2 tablespoons honey in a small bowl until well blended.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chops and cook until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Push the chops to one side of the pan, add onion to the empty half and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour half the juice mixture into the pan. Add cranberries. Reduce heat to medium and cook, turning the chops occasionally, until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
Transfer the chops to a serving plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining juice mixture to the pan. Increase heat to high and cook until the mixtures reduces to form a syrupy sauce, about 2 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper and up to an additional 1/2 tablespoon honey to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chops. Serves 2 (if you use thin chops) or 4 (thick chops)

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