Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Harvest Moon Chops from Martha Green

One of my favorite purchases from Costco is the thick boneless pork chops. They’re between 2 and 2 1/2 inches thick, and come in packages of about 12. Each one is enough for a meal for DH and me. Last week I sliced one into three slices and flattened them with a meat mallet until they were very thin. From those I made schnitzel. I’ve cut them up in small pieces for geschnetzeltes and stir fry dishes and used them sliced in two or three chops in various pork chop recipes. Tonight I made a new recipe for me, Harvest Moon Chops. This recipe is adapted from a recipe I heard on the radio this morning from Martha Green. Martha Green is sort of like Paula Deen - she sounds just like Paula Deen, and she even looks a bit like her, though she’s slimmer. She owns Dough’Lectible Bakery and The Eating Room in Redlands, the former making nothing but breads and sweets (so I can’t go there!), and the latter serving casual breakfasts and lunches. She does daily spots on the local NPR station, KVCR, and I’ve made it a point to try some of her recipes. This recipe was orginally for chicken, but I thought it would be just as good on boneless pork chops. I had to downsize it considerably, and judging from the taste of everything, I did it right. This recipe makes enough for two or three chops, and is probably great for a low-carb diet. I served this with steamed cauliflower and carrots, and a green salad.

Harvest Moon Pork Chops


1/4 c mayonnaise
1 T prepared horseradish
1 T spicy brown mustard
3/4 t Worcestershire sauce
dash cayenne pepper
2 boneless pork chops, about 3/4” thick
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c cooked, crumbled bacon (about 3 slices)
two dashes paprika

Preheat oven to 375˚. Combine the mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, Worcestershire, and cayenne in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover and chill. Spray a foil-lined small baking pan lightly. Place the chops in the pan and bake 25-30 minutes, until done. Place chops on a broiling pan or ovenproof platter. Top each with the mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese and then the bacon pieces. Broil for 1-1/2 minutes or until the cheese is blended with the sauce and llightly browned. Just before serving, sprinkle each chop with paprika.

Tuesdays are the days we’re supposed to post about antioxidant-rich foods, and today I had quite a few. In addition to the cauliflower and carrots we had with the chops, I made my favorite salad. My favorite salad is mixed greens (sometimes called spring mix), purple onion, tomato, toasted pine nuts and crumbled blue cheese, topped with a plain balsamic vinegar-olive oil mixture. A good quality balsamic vinegar, I’ve learned, needs nothing else added to it.


Make sure you visit Sweetnicks, and look at the roundup of ARF/5-a-Day posts. I haven't visited her site in a long time, and sure do like the new look!

More Martha Green recipes can be found here.

For those of you who have been interested in what’s going on with our contract negotiations, we’re three weeks away from the end of the school year and we haven’t settled. Even though the District is going to be getting LOTS more money than originally projected, including one-time funds to help them with their textbook adoptions, they’re still holding firm with their very poor and insulting offer. We’ve picketed numerous times at various school sites, done all kinds of activities to let parents and the community know that the District is being unfair, and most recently held a successful ice cream “rally” at the community park. We gathered 289 signatures of support, and were able to spread our message a little further. One good thing coming out of this is that our members are more vocal, more empowered, and more involved than ever before. Solidarity is a pretty good thing. We have aonther session with the state mediator scheduled for June 9, and we hope that our board will finally recognize that we’re not going to buckle. These times are so stressful and so tiring - and yet I rejoice in the support of my executive board and my members. I really do love my job! (I just wish this negotiations crap would go away!)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Warm Weather–Time to Grill!

Lately it seems that everything I’ve cooked is either something I’ve already posted about or it’s something for which there’s no recipe. We’ve had a lot of grilled foods recently since the weather’s been so nice. Yesterday I decided to try a grilled flank steak with a spicy rub on it. I saw a recipe for a rub in a Southern Living magazine at my sister’s house in North Carolina in March, and put it in my little notebook I carry in my purse. I changed a few things to adapt it to what I have in my kitchen, and came up with this:

Spicy Grilled Flank Steak

1 1-pound flank steak
1 T canola or vegetable oil
2 t ground cumin
2 t chili powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t ground coriander

Rub both sides of flank steak with oil. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and rub over both sides of meat. Grill over medium heat till done (we like ours medium–still slightly pink in the middle), and slice across the grain.

Today we went up to Angleus Oaks, a small town up the highway about 8 miles, to visit our friends Shannon and Rob. Shannon’s a great cook, but had never made biscuits and gravy. I offered to come up and make some, and then Rob and DH could go fishing while I hung out with Shan and her two girls. Her olderst daughter (age 10) wanted to help, so I had her do the cooking. She’s been interested in learning how to cook, and recently made Johnny Cakes on her own for some extra credit at school. She did the research all by herself on the history of Johnny Cakes, how they used to be called “journey cakes,” and described to me how to make them. She dug right into the process of making the sausage gravy, and since everyone liked it, will probably be making it for her family again.

Tonight’s dinner is one of my favorite ways to eat grilled chicken. It’s marinated for a short time in a balsamic vinegar mixture, and served on a crusty sandwich roll with grilled onions and bell peppers. I served it with a pasta salad that I created out of a chicken pasta salad recipe. It was easy to mix up and chill while the chicken marinated and then was grilled.

Grilled Chicken with Onions and Peppers

1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried rosemary, crumbled
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halvescut in 1”-thick strips
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper,
2-4 crusty sandwich rolls
romaine lettuce leaves

In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, oil, garlic and rosemary. Marinate chicken in this mixture at least 30 minutes. Prepare grill by covering part of it with aluminum foil. Pierce foil in numerous places and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Grill vegetables on the foil, and chicken on uncovered part of grill over medium heat until cooked through. Serve chicken and vegetables on a crusty sandwich roll along with mayonnaise and lettuce. Makes 2 or 4.

Asian Pasta Salad

8 oz. cooked thin spaghetti (I used Barilla Plus)
1 c frozen baby peas, thawed
1/3 c sliced peeled carrot
1/4 c chopped red bell pepper (other colors will do, too)
1 can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
3 green onions, sliced

1/3 c light soy sauce
2 T canola oil
2 T rice vinegar
2 t sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T brown sugar
1 t grated fresh ginger
1/4 t red pepper flakes

Put salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over salad. Toss to combine. Chill. Serves 4-6

A question for those of you more technologically adept than I am: Do rechargeable batteries "wear out?" I have not used my digital camera much at all all lately, but the batteries have lost their charge. It's happened more and more often lately, so I'm thinking they start losing their ability to keep a charge. Is that the case?
(That's why there are no photographs with this post!)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stress-Related Cravings

I had chocolate on the brain today. Not just chocolate, as in candy or cake, but chocolate buttercream frosting. I think that all the stress of the past few days is causing this craving. About 4:00 this afternoon I wanted some chocolate frosting, the kind made with butter, cocoa, and powdered sugar. I wanted to eat it by the spoonful from a very big bowl. The Dove Promises I had in my desk drawer for emergencies weren’t even appetizing. Have you ever had a day like that? Or a craving like that?

I never got the frosting . I still want it. But instead of chocolate frosting, I had some beef. A big beef burger. I had that craving, too, and satisfied it with this wonderful burger.

Smoky Burgers


3/4 lb. lean ground beef
2/3 c shredded smoked gouda
1 t Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 t Wrights Liquid Smoke Seasoning

Mix all ingredients and shape into two large burgers. (Or you could make smaller burgers, but I was having a beef craving) Grill until done. Serves 2 or 3.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Save The Internet--Give a Bit of Your Time to This

Save the Internet: Click here

Yesterday I was involved in a 4-person phone interview with Senator Feinstein. I'm sure she'll never connect my name on the petition with the person in the interview, but it's cool timing to me!

Help us out here!

A New Toaster Oven and Another Fish Recipe

I love my new toaster oven! I have gone through two Black & Deckers and a Hamilton Beach Toaststation. The problems? The Black & Deckers didn’t toast as well as I wanted them to, though they served me well as ovens. The Toaststation was an interesting concept--toaster slots in the top, swing-open oven door in front, but not only was it way too small for my purposes, it didn’t broil. Plus, after a couple of months, the knob for the toaster slots quit working. I decided it was time to do some research and get a decent toaster oven.

Here were my requirements:

1. Since it gets pretty warm here in the summer, even at 6,000 feet, we don’t want to heat up the kitchen and house with the regular oven. So my new toaster oven needed to be a) large enough to cook main dishes and side dishes, but it needed to b) maintain correct cooking temperature.

2. It needed to make more than two slices of toast at once. Four would be optimal.

3. It needed to broil.

4. I wanted the convection feature, which is pretty standard on newer toaster ovens, since there are a lot of things I cook, like roasted vegetables, which do well in a convection oven.

I spent several hours over two evenings doing extensive research on three different websites. I started with Cooks Illustrated, but found that they only reviewed toasters. I then went to Consumer Reports and found the best guidance for what to look for. From there, I visited epinions.com, and eventually ended up on amazon.com. It was on amazon that I was able to read dozens and dozens of reviews of all kinds of brands and models, and made lists of “yes,” “okay,” and “no”.

My next stop online was ebay, to see if any of the “yes” models were listed. Some were, but I really didn’t want to do any bidding or even waiting for a “buy it now.” I knew I was going to Costco on Monday, so I figured I’d see what Costco had.

Costco had two models of toaster ovens, both of which were on my “yes” list. The first one, a Cuisinart, cost $99. The other one, the Oster, had virtually identical features, and the reviews on amazon were full of praise. And it cost only $49! Needless to say, that’s the one I bought. Here’s the link on amazon: Oster 6297 6-slice Convection Toaster Oven . I used it for the first time tonight to make the roasted potatoes and green beans that we had with our fish. I used the convection feature, set the temperature at 425˚, and it cooked them perfectly.

As I’ve said before, I’ve tried to eat more fish. When my friend Claudia and I go to lunch, she always eats fish. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her eat anything else. Last week we had lunch at a great restaurant in Redlands called Joe Greensleeves. I was trying to make up my mind between the blue cheese burger or the salad with gorgonzola and pear wine dressing, when the waitress changed my mind by describing the specials. She described a halibut fillet in lemon caper butter sauce, and Claudia and I both decided to give it a try. Wow! It was fabulous. Tonight I decided to try to replicate it at home, and I think I succeeded. Of course, I used mahi mahi instead of halibut, since that’s what I’ve been buying at Costco, and you could use almost any white saltwater fish. It was really tasty, and is now another way for us to enjoy fish.

Mahi Mahi with Lemon Caper Sauce

2 T butter
2 mahi mahi fillets
1 T capers
2 T half & half or cream
1 t lemon zest
2 t lemon juice

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Sauté fish until golden on each side and it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from pan and place on serving plates. Add capers, cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice to remaining butter in pan. Stir; ladle over fish. Serves 2.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hello Again!

Wow-I can't believe I haven't posted in a week! I've done a lot of cooking, but it's been things I've posted about before, or it was things that didn't require recipes - hamburgers, barbecued chicken, and bratwurst. Or, we've eaten out or I haven't even been home. But last night I made a great Asian-influenced dish with some pork tenderloin and napa cabbage. I only recently started eating peanut butter in a main dish, and this one was a success. I didn't use enough napa cabbage this time, so it looks pretty "saucy." I'll use more next time.

Pork and Napa Cabbage


1 c water
3 T soy sauce
3 T chunky peanut butter
1 t ginger (I used the fresh grated in a jar)
1/2 t browning sauce (Kitchen Bouquet)
3/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 T cornstarch + 1/4 c water
1 pork tenderloin (1 lb.), cut into 1-inch cubes (you could use boneless pork loin, too)
5 t canola oil, divided
1 med. onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 c thinly sliced Napa or Chinese cabbage
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 c thiny sliced cabbage

In a small bowl, combine the 1 cup watter, soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, browning sauce, and red pepper flakes; set aside (The peanut butter does NOT blend in). In another bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water until smooth; set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry pork in 2 t oil until well browned. Remove and keep warm. In the same pan, sauté onion and garlic in remaining oil for 2 minutes. Add cabbage, water chestnuts, and carrots; stir-fry 3-4 minutes longer or until crisp-tender. Return pork to the pan. Stir in water-soy sauce-peanut butter mixture; blend well. Stir cornstarch-water mixture and gradually stir into pork mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice. Makes about 5 servings.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Soup for Dinner

DH says that he likes to eat soup in the winter, but there are times when I just want the flavors of this one. It’s creamy, hearty, and very low in carbs and fat (as long as you use lowfat milk). It takes only 30 minutes to make, so it's a good one to cook on a weeknight after work.

Sopa de Coliflor y Champinones (Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup)


2 c cauliflower (about half of a medium head)
3 t butter
2 T minced onion
2 c sliced mushrooms
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t white pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes or 2 t beef soup base
3 1/2 c milk
2 T chopped parsley (optional)

Wash and drain cauliflowerets. Slice the larger ones. Cook in boiling salted water 8 minutes or until barely tender. Drain and mashl slighlty. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and mushrooms. Cook until onion is tender but not browned. Stir in flour, cook 1 minute. Add salt, white pepper, bouillon cubes and milk. Cook and stir until hot and slightly thickened. Add cauliflowerets. Cook until heated through. Serve at once. Serves 4

I always serve this with cornbread or crusty French rolls.