Melissa's Table

Experiments with Pinterest recipes!

Stuffed Mushrooms September 19, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Eating,Food,Pinterest,Recipe,Review — MelGag @ 1:27 am
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If you read my last post (Ice Cream Cake!) then you’ll know the 11th was my husband’s birthday. And what a birthday he had! Eight hours of MEPS! You see, Matt is the process of changing military branches. After three years in the Army, he (and a couple of the guys from his former unit) is joining the Navy. Unfortunately, the transition from Army to Navy isn’t going as smoothly as we’d like. We’re in a sort of military limbo where Matt is out of the Army but not yet in the Navy, so we’re hanging out in Fayetteville (Fort Bragg) waiting for things to get moving.

After spending his special day at MEPS, a fun-filled day of waking up at 4:30 a.m., stripping in front of lots of strangers, and getting poked, prodded and tested, he then got to drive the hour and a half trek home. Great way to spend a birthday, right? Since he was having such a lousy day, I decided to have a little surprise waiting for him when he got home. The ice cream cake was the first part. Part two was…

The PinStuffed Mushrooms by The Girl Who Ate Everything

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Easy Peasy, 10 = Frickin’ Hard)

I figured stuffed mushrooms would be a nice snack when my husband arrived home. Plus, he mentioned a few weeks ago that this was one of the recipes he’d like to try. So away we go!

LOVE stuffed mushrooms!

To read the full post, please visit my new home here!

 

Glazed Pork Chops September 12, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Eating,Food,Pinterest,Pork,Recipe,Review — MelGag @ 2:18 am
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(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

When I buy pork, I tend to buy tender loin. It’s easy to cook, for me at least, and it generally comes out moist and tender. I have trouble with pork chops. I’m good at eating them, but I’ve never had much luck cooking them. They always seem to come out dry and tough. This is doubtless because I’m thrifty (read: cheap), so I tend to buy the cheaper boneless cuts. I probably overcook them a bit, too. When I went shopping this past week, the family pack of bone-in chops was only about $6. Awesome! So I bought them and, because I really wanted to get them right, I went in search of a good recipe. I wanted something that was relatively easy but wouldn’t dry out the meat. Go go Pinterest! When I stumbled on this recipe, I hoped I’d hit the mark.

The Pin: Glazed Pork Chops by Budget Bytes

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Very Easy, 10 = Super Hard)

Ingredients Assemble!

Hells yeah brown sugar!

The rub in the bowl is made up of the spices you see in the picture, brown sugar (the main spice) garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and black pepper. Budget Bytes says you can mix whatever spices you like with the brown sugar, but I went with their spice rub suggestion. Saute on medium/high for five minutes on each side. My chops were on the larger side, so as suggested I also put them in the oven for five minutes on 350. In fact, the chops I used were so big I could only fit two in a saute pan at once. Since they’re pretty easy to make, I did two this day and put the other two (already rubbed) in the fridge to cook the following day.

After five minutes in the oven.

Lookin’ tasty! Left = Mine, Right = Budget Bytes

Mine came out pretty close considering they’re clearly a very different cut. A little less glazy, I suppose, but still sufficiently covered in sweet gooey sugar. How were they, you ask. Wonderful! I grew up eating pork chops with apple sauce, so I love sweet pork. The brown sugar rub was perfect! It gave it the perfect amount of glaze.The meat had a wonderfully sweet flavor, and the cayenne and other spices gave just a tiny bit of heat. As for the texture, they were moist and tender and lovely. To be fair, my chops were fatty and bone-ful which made it easier to maintain moisture.

Still, these were the best chops I’ve had in a really long time. I didn’t even use the homemade apple sauce I had ready in case of dryness. (I still ate it, just by itself.) I’m almost ashamed to admit this, and I don’t usually do this, but I liked them so much I picked up my chop to gnaw at the meat around the bone. Nom!

Final Rating: 8.5 (1 = Bad, 10 = Best thing ever!)

Note: The only reason I didn’t give this recipe a higher rating is because, while my husband liked them well enough, he didn’t share in my complete and utter love for this dish. For him, I knocked the rating down a tiny bit.

 

Chicken And Asparagus Penne September 8, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

I let my husband, Matt, choose this one. He’s been hassling me to cook something “with noodles” ever since I let him choose last time. Plus, I think he wanted to redeem himself after that disaster. His second choice surprised me. I was expecting him to choose one of the Asian dishes I’d pinned. Honestly, I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while. I think I pinned it because the picture looked so wonderful. I was less impressed with the actual recipe and would probably have never tried this one. Of course, I found out later that my husband chose because of the picture too. Let’s cook!

The Pin: Chicken And Asparagus Penne by GoodnessGracious.com

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Easy, 10 = Hard)

The ingredients.

FOOD!

A few things here:

  1. I used chicken thighs instead of the recommended chicken breasts. When I went to the store to pick up the chicken, the breasts were close to double the price of the thighs. Ridiculous! In general, I prefer thighs anyway, so there you go.
  2. I halved everything in this recipe except the chicken. When I cook, it’s typically for my husband and me. We’re terrible about eating leftovers for more than a day, so I try not to cook too much at a time unless I’m going to freeze some. That and I only had 8 oz. of asparagus instead of one pound the full recipe requires.
  3. The recipe itself does not tell you how to season the chicken. The blogger chose to use Lawry’s. I’ve never tried Lawry’s, didn’t have it in the house, so I sort of made up my own seasoning. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and parsley. Like the blogger I sauteed the chicken on the stovetop.

So basically, you cook the chicken, boil the pasta and nuke the asparagus, throw it all into a baking dish with some oil, top with cheese and broil for 5ish minutes. The recipe didn’t tell me to do this, but when I put oil in the baking dish, I used the oil from the pan that I sauteed the chicken in. I thought it might give the pasta more flavor. I also added a few pinches of salt to the mix before broiling. It looks a bit like this.

Cheesy!

You know when you let your husband choose a dish and he only looks at the picture and doesn’t bother reading the recipe and then is disappointed when you serve him dinner? Yeah, that sort of happened.

For me it was better than I was expecting. For Matt is was a complete disappointment. Based on the picture, he was expecting there to be a white or cream sauce. Still, it was good. Not great but good, though we both agree it felt like three separate components mixed together. The dish didn’t mesh. There was nothing binding the three main ingredients together. It would have been just as good separated: a piece of chicken with a side of asparagus and cheesy pasta. The sauce that Matt was anticipating probably would have done this. Then there’s the cheese. The recipe urges you to broil until the cheese is “nice and crunchy.” Mine may have been more on the crunchy side than necessary, but we both would have preferred it just melty, no crunch.

So like I said. A solid good. Something to try if you’re looking for something easy and different.

Final Rating: 6 (1 = Bad, 10 = Great)

 

Keep-It-Tight (Ugh!) Tilapia August 24, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Eating,Fish,Food,Pinterest,Uncategorized — MelGag @ 1:58 pm

(Read this post at its new home here.)

On a whim, I bought a couple of tilapia fillets at the commissary a couple of weeks ago, and they’ve been sitting in my freezer ever since. I love fish, but I don’t buy it terribly often. This is partly because it’s more expensive than other meats (yeah, I mean chicken), but mostly because I’m not very good at cooking it. I never seem to get it quite right. I fail at seasoning, and I’m never sure how to tell when it’s done cooking. But since I bought the damn fish, I decided to find a recipe and cook it. I didn’t have any tilapia recipes pinned, so I did a search for “tilapia.” This was the first recipe that came up. It looked pretty and seemed simple, so we cook!

The Pin: Keep-It-Tight Tilapia by Eat Clean Diet

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Super Easy, 10 = Too Hard)

Let me start off by saying I seriously hate the name of this recipe. “Keep-it-tight”? Really? Had I bothered to look at the name at the time of pinning, I might have skipped this one all together, but the text under the picture on Pinterest just says “tilapia.” I was so enamored of the picture on Eat Clean Diet’s site that I didn’t catch the name until after I’d cooked and eaten it.

FISH!

There are many spices in this recipe but (AMG!) no salt. I ought to have known something was amiss by the website’s name, Eat Clean Diet, but I didn’t. (I need to learn to pay attention to stuff, don’t I? Shame on me!) In fact, I didn’t notice until was was gathering the ingredients for this picture. I probably would have chosen a different pin if I’d known, but this recipe seemed simple and best of all, I had all the ingredients in my house! It was too late to turn back, and though I enjoy salt, I decided to be true to the recipe and make it salt-free.

The Seasoning

I minced my garlic and put it and my seasoning into the oil. It’s a very strange looking concoction. The instructions advise you to “dip each filet into the seasoning” and place it in the pan. I used the recommended amount of everything (oil, spices, etc), but I wasn’t able to dip very well. There wasn’t enough liquid to cover the fish. I wound up pouring the mixture onto the fish which you’re instructed to do before cooking anyway.

About to go into the oven.

I was supposed to line my pan with parchment paper. Well, I didn’t have parchment paper, I and really didn’t want make a trip to the store for one thing. So I skipped the parchment paper (Sorry guys. I have failed you all. I know.) and baked my tilapia for 10 minutes on 400.

Left: Mine – Right: Eat Clean Diet

Mine didn’t look as pretty as the recipe’s photo, but then, my pictures rarely do. For having no salt, it was good. Not wonderful, but still good. It had decent flavor with just a little kick of heat. I liked it enough to eat about half of my fillet before adding salt. So much for eating clean! My husband agreed it was good. He ate all of his salt-free. The recipe’s picture looks fresh and inviting, but mine came out heavy and a bit too oily. Perhaps if I’d used parchment paper it would have soaked up the oil. Honestly, I’ve never used parchment paper (mostly because whenever I look for it, I can’t find it), so really have no idea if it would make a difference. Still, a decent dish if you’re trying to “eat clean” or just cut back on salt.

Final Rating: 5.5 (1 = Bad, 10 = Awesome)

 

Coconut Curry Noodles August 15, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here!)

 

One of the things I miss about living in a large, dynamic city like Atlanta is the food. Atlanta has sooooo many restaurants. And I don’t mean places like Applebees or Ruby Tuesdays. I mean quality authentic non-chain hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Whenever we had friends or family visit, we had a wealth of eating establishments in which to partake. From the Richard Blais’ famous Flip Burger to the lesser known, yet always busy, Thumbs Up Diner, we never wanted for a place to eat in Atlanta. A favorite of mine, was a Thai restaurant called Amaryn’s*. My sister-in-law brought us here on our first trip to the city. I thought it was good but nothing special. We ventured back a few weeks later, and that’s when I discovered their Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This dish is possibly one of my favorites of all time. The sauce (or perhaps you’d call it a broth?) was thick and creamy. It was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy. I’ve never found another panang or any sweet curry dish quite like it. Thus, when I came across this dish, I was hoping that maybe… just maybe… I’d find a similar flavor.

The Pin: Coconut Curry Noodles by Considering the Campbells

Difficulty: 4ish (1 = Canned Soup, 10 = Turducken)

Even though I’ve been eyeing this pin for a while, it was ultimately my husband who chose it. Let’s see how he did! The ingredients.

Olive oil not pictured here.

The olive oil is not pictured above because the list of ingredients on the website didn’t include olive oil, so I wasn’t aware I needed it until I’d already snapped my picture. I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

There were a few vague points in this recipe. I had to use a bit of common sense. For example, when using the skillet, the site does’t specify how hot the pan should be. I went with medium. It’s hard to go wrong with medium heat, right? Also, the ingredient list calls for “a handful of baby carrots.” Well, is that a figurative handful or a litteral handful? And if so, who’s handful? Mine, my husbands, my sons? Maybe I’m being persnickety (yeah, I just went there), but to be fair it was unclear. I decided to match the amount of carrots to the amount of peppers.

Did I do good?

Just a side note on the carrots. The only reason I gave this recipe a  difficulty level of 4 instead of a 3, was those damn carrots. Let’s just say my knife skills are… lacking. I have a tendency to cut the corners of my fingernails when doing “fancy” knife work. (I suppose that’s better than cutting through my finger though.) Not to mention, my knives are awful. They were the $29.99 special over five years ago! Hells yeah! I know, I really need to upgrade. So, thin slicing carrots is a difficult task for me.

The recipe called for 1/4th cup of soy sauce. Now, when I’m testing these pins, I try to be as true the recipe as possible. Having said that, I only used 1/8th cup of soy sauce. I like soy sauce, but 1/4th a cup sounded like way too much. I figured I could always add more later if it needed it.

Despite my substandard knife skills (I didn’t cut my finger nail!) and the recipe’s imprecise directions, I somehow managed to complete the dish. And here is the final product.

Left: Mine – Right: Considering the Campbell’s

I’m no plating master, but I think it came out pretty. But how did it taste? Have you ever eaten a dish that seems okay at first but tastes progressively worse after the first bite? It’s one of those, at least for me. I started out thinking it was okay, but about 1/4th of the way in, I just couldn’t finish it. I hate wasting food, but I had to dump it. My husband just plain didn’t like it. I think he ate maybe two bites.

How best to describe it? It tasted like slightly spicy chicken broth with soy sauce in it. In a way, it was almost bland. The coconut milk was almost non-existant. I could barely taste it. The carrots and peppers were nice. They added a nice crunchy texture to the rice noodles. My husband and I both agree that the cilantro looked pretty but didn’t go with the dish.

Needless to say, Coconut Curry Noodles didn’t match up to the Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This is definitely something I would not make again.

Final Rating: 2 (1 = Terrible, 10 = Awesome)

*In Googling the link to Amaryn’s I’ve discovered they’ve closed. QQ.

 

Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge August 11, 2012

(Visit this post at its new home here.)

 

For this post, I was planning on telling a lovely story about how much I love chocolate, and how much my clearly deranged husband hates it. Hence, the peanut butter fudge instead of chocolate fudge. But instead I’m going to complain.

Before I pin a recipe, I always click on the link. I like to check out the ingredients and, when it’s a blog, I enjoy reading what the blogger has to say. So it annoys me greatly when I pin a promising recipe only to come back a week later to find this:

AMG REPORTED!

Really? Because I visited the site and found no spam or inappropriate content. In fact, I clicked on this particular recipe at least twice. Once when I discovered it, and once when I made it; however when I went to click on it just a moment ago, I received the grey Pinterest screen of death. This is the second time this has happened to me. I went in search of the original link and found it. I still couldn’t find any spam or inappropriate content. It’s just a forum with a recipe that I want. Because I hate having broken pins laying around on my Pinterest boards, I did a search and found the recipe at Allrecipe.com. It’s exactly the same as my inappropriate pin. It even uses the same image. I’m guessing the original link that I’d pinned was copied directly from Allrecipe.com. Is that a reportable offense or are  people just dicks who get their jollies reporting things for no real reason?

Okay, I feel better. Now that that’s out of the way. Let’s get to the foods!

The Pin: Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge by AllRecipe.com

Difficulty: 2 (1 = Opening Potato Chips, 10 = Baked Alaska)

Let’s get makin’!

Sooooooooo much sugar!

It’s simple to make. The instructions are super short. “Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.”

Here is the the warm mixture freshly poured. It looks a lot like I dumped peanut butter into a pan.

The waiting is the hardest part.

I covered the pan and popped it in the fridge. It took forever to cool. Okay, it didn’t really take that long, but I was ready to eat it warm with a spoon. Eventually, it cooled and was ready to nom!

Left: Mine – Right: AllRecipe.com

There’s nothing like peanut butter flavored sugar. Just one piece and I think I almost went into a diabetic coma. Yeah, it’s just that good. I’m not certain, but it might be addictive. You have been warned, it’s super sweet, but it’s one of those sweets that’s difficult to stop eating. All day I’ve been popping into the fridge for a piece. Bottom line, if you’re on a diet, you may want to give this one a miss, but if you’re not and you like sweet things, make this! Make it now!

Final Rating: 9 (1 – Terribad, 10 – Mouthwatering)

 

Crockpot French Dip August 8, 2012

(Visit this post at its new home here.)

 

I’ve always been a huge fan of roast beef sandwiches, particularly the French dip. There’s something warm and inviting about taking a hot roast beef sandwich and dipping it into a savory au jus. I think the first French dip I ever had was from Arbys when I was roughly eight or nine years old. I was in love. Since then I’ve had far better versions of the sandwich. I’ve made French dip burgers (very good FYI), but I’ve never attempted the sandwich itself. Until now…

The Pin: Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich by Baking Bites

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Toast!, 10 = Souffle)

As always, the ingredients:

Yeah, that’s a $5 bottle of wine. You wanna fight about it?

Why two pictures, you ask? Thanks to my husband, I slept in that morning, and, in my haste to get the ingredients in the crock pot so they cook for the full 8ish hours, I nearly forgot to take pictures. (You can see the beef broth has already been used.) And when I did take the picture, I left out a few key ingredients. It would be awfully messy trying to eat this without the rolls.

It’s pretty simple to make. Salt and pepper the meat and dump everything (excluding the bread and cheese of course) into the crock pot. It looks like this:

Into the crock pot!

Have I mentioned how much I love my crock pot? Well, I do. It’s a recent addition to my kitchen. I received it as an anniversary present from my mother just a few months ago. I love that I can throw everything in it and forget it until dinner time. Even better than that, it doesn’t turn my house into a sauna in the summer like my oven does.

But I digress. So, everything was in the crock pot and crocking away. During my 8ish hours of waiting, I read a few of the comments on the recipe’s site, and I began to fret. Most of the reviews were favorable, but then I read the following. ” It tastes nothing like a french dip. Instead, it’s almost like eating a shredded pot roast on a french roll,” says Heike. Hmmm. Well that doesn’t sound terrible, but I wanted a French dip sandwich. Fingers crossed that Heike was wrong, I continued to wait.

When it came time to take the meat out, it smelled wonderful. I let it rest covered for fifteen minutes.

Crock potted for 7 1/2 hours.

After letting it rest, I “sliced” it. Here’s where the plan fell apart… literally. The recipe tells you to “slice” the beef. I did my best, but it basically fell apart as soon as my knife touched it. It was less me slicing and more it collapsing.

“Sliced”

I was worried this would affect the quality of the sandwich, but I persevered! I put the sliced beef back into the crock pot where the au jus (which is just a fancy way of saying beef juice) was still percolating. Twenty minutes later it was ready. Voila! The finished product!

I didn’t realize I got my son’s toy in the picture.

First, that is not a French roll as the recipe calls for. My local commissary didn’t have any fresh baked French rolls, so I went with Kaiser rolls instead. Second, I don’t know what kind of French dips Heike has been eating, because this tasted a lot like a French dip. In fact, it tasted exactly like a French dip, a very good French dip. The meat was tender and flavorful. It had soaked up the flavor of the liquid. I’m not a big fan of red wine, so I was was afraid it would be too strong. I needn’t have worried. It was the perfect addition to the meat and the au jus.

Even my husband who is not a big roast beef eater, enjoyed his sandwich. If you’re a French dip or roast beef fan, I highly recommend this recipe.

Final Rating: 9 (1 = Yuck!, 10 = Awesome!)