Thursday, November 18, 2010

So Much to Share!

It's been a few days since I posted and I have SO many things to talk about!! First off, I need to talk about my Tuesday this week. I'm part of a group of friends and family that have formed our own "Breakfast Club". In a somewhat nearby town (Lancaster, PA) there is a smorgasbord style restaurant called Shady Maple. One of the marketing strategies there is that, if it's your birthday, you eat free with another paying adult. What better reason to get together with friends while enjoying good food and each others company. Given that this is a food blog, it wouldn't be right for me to blog about my week of food without talking about Shady Maple. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it! We prefer to go for breakfast because we all agree it is the best meal served there. Made to order pancakes of your choice... anything from bananas to chocolate chips to walnuts to blueberries to M&Ms to coconut and any combo you'd like and/or omelets made to order. Then, there are several buffet lines filled with meats, potatoes of all kinds, fruit, fresh baked desserts from the heart of Amish country, and so much more. It really is not only good food but a great time just going to prove what I believe; Good Food with Great Company is such a wonderful and important combination that should be enjoyed at all costs!

That being said, there is so much to be said for a very easy meal that's quick and delicious and something you can pull out from your sleeve on a busy week night. It gets you in and out of the kitchen quickly so you can have more time to enjoy with your loved ones around the table. Tonight, we had a very simple, juicy cheeseburger! I ran to the store before coming home from my son's daycare and picked up burger on sale and hamburger buns. Now, when I talk simple, I mean simple! All I added to the meat was 1 palmful (about 1 Tbsp) of Garlic & Onion Montreal Steak seasoning for each pound of meat. From there, I whipped out my trusty kitchen scale and made 6 oz patties. (Don't forget, if you make them thinner in the center than around the outside, it will help to make a more even patty when cooked.) My grocery store had 3 lb packs of ground beef on sale so I made extras and froze them on a cookie tray lined with wax paper. When they are frozen, I will put them in a freezer bag and have patties ready for me whenever I want. Bonus! Then, I sauteed the patties for tonight on med high until cooked through. I'm not really sure how long this was, maybe about 4 or 5 minutes on each side. If you are having trouble telling when they are done, a cooking thermometer comes in hand. Last resort, cut into the center of one to see if the pink is gone. I try not to go this route though because all your juices will run out resulting in a dry burger. Also, when forming the patties, try not to overmix them or they may get tough and let them come to room temperature before cooking so you don't shock the meat. Add a slice of cheese on top and cover the pan either with a lid or aluminum foil with the heat on low and you have a ball of cheesy goodness! As for sides for tonight's dinner, that was another quick fix too. I took the leftover chive roasted potatoes from my roast beef rollover meal and sauteed them in a little olive oil with extra salt. A little steamed broccoli and tonight's dinner came together so simply! Tonight really was an example of using things twice. I not only used up the leftover potatoes but also prepped hamburger patties for another night! Such a productive supper!!

I also want to share with you the meal we had for supper Monday night! Once again, look at the grocery stores sales, I bought boneless thick cut pork chops. From there I pulled one of the recipes in my "To Try" file. The lucky winner was Ranch Pork Chops which I found from submitted by a chef named Sonja. I thought it was delicious and VERY EASY but my husband urged me next time to cook it a little less so they would be a little more tender. I served them with cooked pasta tossed with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese (salt & pepper to taste, of course) and steamed vegetables. Oh, and I also made Green Giants green bean casserole. (The one from the freezer section.) It's getting close to Thanksgiving and I was way too impatient to not give in to the craving. The pork recipe follows and I hope you enjoy it and all the rest of the tips I've given you! Happy cooking!

Ranch Pork Chops
Cook: 20 min     Serves: 4

1 Tbsp. oil
4 boneless pork chops, 3/4" thick
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup canful milk (I accidentally used a whole can and it was still very good)
1 pkg (1 oz or 3 Tbsp) ranch salad dressing mix

Heat oil in skillet. Add chops and cook until browned.
Add soup, milk and salad dressing mix. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 10 min or until done. Sprinkle with paprika.