Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Pork Loins

Leftover makeover is a bit behind this week. Seems like everything in my life is, but what can you do?? Instead of using straight leftovers, today I use one pork roast two different ways.
1) Spicy shredded pork tacos (with black beans)
2) BarBQ Pork Sandwiches (with blue cheese cole slaw and garlic smashed tators)

You need a two pound pork loin roast (not tenderloin- though that is my favorite cut). Sprinkle with salt/pepper and sear on all sides in a hot skillet. Put in crockpot with one onion roughly chopped, one packet of taco seasoning- i use trader joe's brand and about 6 oz tomato sauce. Make sure about half the packet is rubbed onto the pork with the rest in the juice. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Remove the meat, for shred and set 1/2 aside. The reaminaing half should be added back to the crock pot with a tablespoon of chopped jalapeno. Turn the heat up to high and cook another hour. Serve on whole wheat tortillas with shredded pepper jack, chopped raw onion, sour cream and avocado/
The remaining roast is mixed with the barbq sauce of your choice- i prefer sweet baby rays but if you make your own, use it~~ It is served on crusty wheat rolls with pickles and onions. They taste different enough that you can eat on back to back nights without feeling like you are eating the same meat- though my husband would never eat pork twice in one week- he is weird though :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Local Haunt #2- When Past Experiences Don't Seem To Matter

On Friday we visited one of our favorite local restaurants La Pachanga- it was 7 PM so we waited about 10 minutes to sit, which was not problem. We eat out reasonably often and I feel we have an accurate expectation of how long the entire process whould take. In the past, La Pachanga has been right on top of things. Plus the food is outstanding! So anyway- we were seated and then it took about 10 minutes for the waitress to get our drink order and another 5 to get the drinks (one was wrong but we let it go) and take the food order. We went through an entire basket of chips during this time. So then the waiting really began- we waited over 30 minutes (and two baskets of chips) for our entrees to come. My kids are good "out in public" kids- if there are people to look at and things to eat, they are quiet and possibly even charming to those around us. The two  year old behind us that cried for the entire time and then flipped out ofher chair onto her face was not one of these good out in public kids..... I am ALL for taking your kids out to dinner (especially in noisy restaurants) but there is a time to remove them and this little girl was well beyond her time. So anyway- nerves were running high and as we had sat there FOREVER my tiny one about hit her limit- 8 came and went (usual time to get her ready for bed and then nurse to sleep) and so did her perspective. As soon as dinner came, I had to take her to the car so she could nurse in the quiet, calm down and go to sleep. My dinner sat untouched on the table- I ate it out of it's styrofoam container at home at about 9:30. It was delicious but the terrible service certainly eclipsed the experience. It is a sad thing when the usuals are not what we expect- oh, and they overcharged us. Overall a big disappointment

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Local Haunt #1

I like all kinds of foods- simple, complicated, cheap and expensive :) When we travel, our very favorite way to experience the culture of a region is to eat out at great resident favorites and try local dishes. At home, we still like to eat out. Living right outside of a major metropolitan area, we have all kinds of things to choose from but sometimes we just don't want to commute into the city. Our tiny little town has some wonderful little local places that we frequent and last night we popped into Pogolino's and got one of our usuals. All their pizzas are wonderful- they have a nice thin but not too crispy crust and they use real cheese, not the st. louis quintessential topping 'provel' (which i surely appreciate when i am in the mood) and for traditional pizzas a sweet and thick sauce that is the perfect bed for toppings. Get the clown special if you are in the mood for straight pizza- pepperoni, sausage, onion and green pepper. They also have GREAT hot wings. They are meaty and and slightly crispy, not too spicy, and fully sauced but not dripping. Last night we combined the two and got a buffalo chicken pizza and it did not disappoint. The two favorites are combined in heaven on a plate (and if you consumed it regularly, you just might hasten your departure)! Don't be turned away if you are a vegetarian or low fat eater either- they have some really great salads and pastas too. A personal favorite is their house salad, a combination of lettuce, pimentos, red onions and artichoke hearts with the house dressing (a creamy italian with lots of parmesan and a distinct kick).  Sometimes you are just too tired to cook and great local options offer tasty solutions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leftover Makeover- Cozy Soup Edition

I meant to post this forever ago and just realized that I hadn't. This is a perfect use for leftover spaghetti sauce. This is specific to sauce without meat, but you could use it with meat as well and add some white beans and/or whole wheat macaroni to round it out.

Chunky Tomato Soup
*I loathe canned tomato soup- tasteless, boring and processed- but I am not against using it as a base or to add some tomato flavor to something on occasion.
3/4 cup leftover spaghetti sauce
1 can condensed tomato soup
1can water
2 shakes of grill seasoning
1/4 yellow pepper-chopped
1 small roma tomato- seeded and chopped
2 TB chopped onion
2 TB chopped fresh spinach
Combine, bring to a boil stirring for a few minutes; Reduce heat and cook until veggies are soft. Serve with grilled cheese :)
*If prefer a thicker soup, can add chunks of stale bread once veggies are done. As they dissolve into the soup, it will thicken
*Serves 2

Sunday, February 6, 2011

surprises over dessert

It being superbowl, I spent the morning in the kitchen whipping up yummy snacks for a little get-together this evening. I made some meatballs and a taco dip and then I was going to make some frosted football sugar cookies. Except I didn't-- just didn't feel like it so instead I decided to make some chocolate covered cheesecake bites. I happened to have a cheescake in the freezer so it was an easy thing or it should have been. For sake of time, I usually just melt chocolate chips in the microwave if I want melted chocolate but my microwave is on the way out (BOO) and it scorched the chocolate within seconds..... weird. I have NEVER seen this happen before. I complained to my husband and he said "why didn't you use a double broiler?" Whaaaaaat??? So A) he knows what a double broiler is and B) he knows how to use one properly..... thank you Alton Brown! Now can you inspire him to get in the kitchen and make me some dinner?? :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oatmeal Improvement

MORE snow overnight. We woke to probably the biggest accumulation yet and it was totally unexpected! It made me want something warm and hearty for breakfast with little to no work so I decided on oatmeal. This is special oatmeal though, not instant or thin, but thick and delicious. I used steel cut oats (MUCH better for you and I really enjoy the texture and nutty bite) and taking inspiration from McDonalds of all places added some other goodies.
2/3 Cup steel cut oats
1-2 TB Quick cooking rolled oats
1 TB Almond Meal (coarse)
1 Granny Smith apple- peeled and chopped
1/4 cup mixed dried fruit- I used a raisin, blueberry, cranberry mix from trader joe's
2 2/3 cup water
Sweetener of choice- brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, stevia, whatever your pleasure

*Boil the water and add steel cut oats stirring  gently
*Once the mixture begins to thikcen (about 5 minutes), reduce heat and stir off and on as the oatmeal thickens and softens- for 20-30 minutes depending on what consistency you like
*Stir in enough quick cooking oats to soak up any remaining liquid
*Add fruits- stir to distribute
*Add your sweet shot and warm your belly

Feeds 2 adults, 'maybe' with some leftover

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


As most of the rest of the country- we are snowed in. Not really, we can get out just fine and the roads in town are plowed but being teachers, both my husband and I have been out all week on snow break! So what do we do on days like today?? Eat- I have been great on the weaning myself off sugar thing, until yesterday, but it is okay to fall off the wagin once in awhile I suppose. Aaron went to the store in the midst of increasing snowfall yesterday because he wanted a coke and we were running low on milk (since there was literally NONE when i went to the store the day before the storm) and he came back with SNACKS- which is a much greater quantity of food than if I typed "snacks". Anyway- one of said snacks was a bag of assorted chocolate delights- reeses pb cups, rolos and hershey's kisses. Who is going to eat the kisses when the other two are there so I use the kisses as inspiration for this weeks leftover makeover- what to do with leftover chocolate?? I made these cookies and then I ate them....all. At least I used some whole wheat flour :/
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1 cup butter (softened)                         2 eggs                            1 cup chopped kisses
1 cup white sugar                                 2 tsp vanilla extract         1 cup schocolate chips   
1 cup brown sugar                               1 tsp baking soda
1.5 cups whole wheat flour                   2 tsp hot water
1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour    1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp almond meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream together butter and sugars; Beat in eggs and then vanilla; Dissolve baking soda in water and add to mix; In separate bowl sift together, salt, flours and almond meal and stir in with mixer (don't overbeat); Add chocolate; Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet and bake 9-13 minutes until golden brown.

Side note- today we made snow ice cream which was probably not any better for us! A good general mix for the ice cream is 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of sugar mixed with a couple drops of vanilla extract (or chocolate syrup or caramel, etc)- then you can pour that over snow until you get the consistency you want.... it takes quite a bit of snow.

Who knows what calorie laden travesty tomorrow will bring. Snow days make me fat!