Monday, January 31, 2011

PLANned Leftovers: Pork Roast Meal 3 - Pork Paprikash

I had mine without added sour cream.

Remember the pork roast I brined and roasted last week?  I told you I had plans for the leftovers.  The second meal was pulled pork sandwiches which was a great success.  Meal three was tonight: Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms and Sour Cream.  I found it at  She's very creative.  I always enjoy her recipes.  This one is South Beach friendly, which is very close to what I'm trying to accomplish on The Plan.  Her site has one of the most extensive and diverse collections of South Beach recipes I've ever seen.  Highly recommended. By me. Enough said.

Speaking of The Plan, 1 serving (1/4th) of this recipe, with a minor alteration (after trimming, I had 14 ounces of meat, rather than 16 ounces called for in the recipe), clocks in at:
  • 3.5 ounces of meat
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetables
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 cup milk (for 3 tablespoons sour cream)
  • I served it over 3 ounces of cooked noodles (counted as grain).

It was delicious!  I loved it.  Walt, not so much.  It reminded him of goulash due to the paprika.  He has a thing about goulash... 

...which didn't keep him from putting a serious dent in his serving before I got back with the camera.  He had his with sour cream, and I wanted to show you the creaminess of the sauce.

I loved the flavor combinations; it did remind me of goulash, but the meat didn't have the succulent fall apart texture of goulash.  It was firm, moist and tender, exactly as I'd hoped, knowing that one of the reasons Walt doesn't like goulash is due to the texture of the beef.  It was also very, very filling and rich.  I could only eat half of my serving - which is a very good thing.  I'm full on less food.  That's a double win for me.

I still have one more pound of roast pork to use up.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PLANned Leftovers - Pork Roast Take 2

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Walt was rather surprised when I made a 3 lb. roast for just the two of us.  I had plans for that roast.  Here is dinner number two.  I wanted to make pulled pork, but I wanted it to fit into several requirements:
  • moist, fall-apart tender meat
  • filling & satisfying
  • well balanced flavors
  • fit into The Plan - these sandwiches clock in nicely at 4 ounces meat, 4 ounces grain (buns), 1/3 cups vegetables (V8 ), 1/4 cup fruit (BBQ sauce) per 2 sandwich serving

I wanted to use my crock pot to make the meat fall-apart-tender and moist.  But, barbeque sauce will get gluey and burn in extended cooking.  My solution - braise the meat in V8 Juice and add the barbeque sauce at the very end.  It worked perfectly.  The moist cooking made for moist meat. 

I wasn't sure about this idea, so I only made enough for one meal.  We were both sad that it was gone.  I'll be making it again SOON.    Here's what I did:

Pulled Pork from Leftover Roast
8 ounces leftover sliced pork loin roast (about 4 slices)
1 (6 ounce) can Spicy V8 Juice
1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray's Original Barbeque Sauce
4 (2 ounces each) hamburger buns, 80 calorie or less, such as Healthy Choice brand

Spray the inside of a small crockpot with non-stick.
Pour in the V8 Juice.  Add the pork slices.  Turn them to coat with V8.  You should have a couple overlapping layers of pork.  If you don't, increase the quantities so it doesn't burn*.
Cook on high 3 hours, or on low 5 hours.
Using a potato masher or 2 forks, shred the meat.
Add barbeque sauce; stir to combine.  Recover and allow sauce to heat, about 5 minutes while you toast the buns.  Stir again and serve over toasted buns.

This recipe is so simple that you can double or triple it easily.  *Be careful about the ratio of meat and V8 Juice to the size of your crock pot.  If you have a large crockpot, you'll want to increase the quantities of everything.  You could also put the ingredients into a smaller heatproof container, cover it with foil and set that inside your crockpot. I've never used that method - so I can't comment on how well that works.

We used up the leftover roasted root vegetables as our veggie side.  Next time I'll make my Almost Fat-Free Asian Coleslaw improved version:

Almost Fat-Free Asian Coleslaw 
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (from the Asian foods aisle)
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar OR apple cider vinegar
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix, shredded style
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2 scallions, sliced diagonally

Combine the first 6 ingredients. Add the cole slaw mix. Stir and let sit 30 - 60 minutes. Stir in sesame seeds and scallions just before serving. 4 servings, about 165 calories each

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great Deals Today!


The Finish 20 packs were from Jewel on sale $2.75 each. I used two $2.25 off 1 coupons
The Stayfree was from Walgreens.  On sale $1.99 each, I had a BOGO coupon and a $1/1 coupon.

33 Cents Each
Walgreens in-ad coupon plus a .55/3 printable.

25 Cents Each
On sale 4 for $5, I had two $1 off 1 coupons.

75 Cents Each
On sale 4 for $5, I had two $1 off 2 coupons.

Before coupons, my Jewel total was $76.51, after coupons $49.22.  Why so much? The worst offenders were:  Coffee $9.99, 2 soy milk $6, doggie crack $5.50
Got some other good deals: Two Minute Maid OJ on sale for $2.75, used a BOGO printable.
Two Ken's Dressings on sale 2 for $4, I used two $1 off 1 coupons
Morningstar Veggie Burgers $3.50 used $1 off 1 coupon and got Boca Chick'n Burgers 2/$7 and used a $1.50 off 2 coupon.
Good Earth Tea on sale $2.99 used a $1 coupon  (Vanilla Chai - yum!!)
Breakstones Sour Cream $2.98 used a .55 coupon
Then add in some produce...  It adds up fast!

I have $5 in Walgreens Register Rewards that I couldn't use because my 2 other purchases (Jello and Stayfree) only came to $2.32.
I also have $4 in Extra Care Bucks from CVS last week where it was the same thing - my final purchase didn't equal the Care Bucks and you don't get change.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ugly Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

This is, hands down, my most requested dessert. I found this recipe in Taste of Home Contest Winning Recipes 2004 and I've been making it since early 2005 when I acquired the cookbook.  I call it Ugly Apple Cake, because everytime I take it out of the oven I say to myself  "That is one ugly cake."  Don't judge the cake by how it looks.  This is moist, rich with apples, nuts and spices and not too sweet.

I made this cake last Wednesday for my Couples' Bible Study Group.  The other night, after a wonderful pork roast dinner, I was wishing we still had Apple Cake in the house. What goes better with pork than apples? Somehow jello with dried fruit wasn't quite special enough.  So, plan on making the apple cake along with the pork roast.  You won't be disappointed.
The ingredients.  Really, that's it.  You probably have everything in your kitchen, except maybe Granny Smith apples.  Go buy apples.

Peel, core and cut your apples into 1/2" chunks.  I bought 5, used 3.  I always buy too many.  There's an apple crisp in our near future.

Walnut Apple Cake

2 eggs
2 cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
4 cups peeled tart apples, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Butter Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
tiny pinch salt, optional*
3 tbls. flour
1 cup milk
2 tbls. Butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 13x9 metal pan with oil and flour spray or grease well with Crisco; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to egg mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Mix in apples and walnuts on very low speed.

Spread mixture evenly in the baking pan. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on rack.

Make the sauce:
Combine sugar, salt and flour in saucepan; gradually stir in milk. Add butter; bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Allow to cool to warm before serving.  Refrigerate leftover sauce, rewarm briefly in microwave.

Cut cooled cake into squares, top with warm sauce.
12 – 15 servings

*there wasn't any salt in the original recipe for the sauce, it tastes a little flat without it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweet Memories - Roast Pork and Veggies

My Grandma, Ida Bodeman, was the best cook I ever knew.  She was the kind of cook that would face an apparently empty refrigerator and cook a feast for a family of 6.  Half a loaf of bread, 1 tomato, half an onion, a few eggs and a half glass of milk turned into a Strata that fed the entire family for lunch. 

Her best meal was roast pork with root vegetables.  Moist, succulent meat that was perfectly seasoned. Served with roasted potatoes that were browned along the edges and soft carrots that were sweetly caramelized. The aroma would beckon me into the kitchen long before dinner time.  I'd hang around asking if there was anything I could do, hoping somehow to speed things along.  Over the years I've attempted to recreate that wonderful meal.  I never succeeded.  The meat was dry and tough.  The seasonings were all wrong.  Friends explained that you can't get the same kind of pork nowadays.  It's much leaner now.  I gave up on recreating that meal, and focused on creating a good roast pork.  I kept running into the same problems - dry, overcooked meat or pink, undercooked meat.

I learned about brining pork chops to keep them moist, so I decided to brine the roast.  It's just table salt and sugar dissolved in hot tap water, then I added crushed ice to chill the mixture before pouring it over the roast and stashing it in the fridge for an hour.
 Rinsing it after the brining process removes the excess salt.
Prepare the vegetables.  I got 3 lbs. red potatoes, a 1 lb. bag of carrots and a sleeve of celery free with the purchase of the roast. Now, that's cost effective! Thank you Jewel-Osco.
Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Then brown it in hot oil.  This will take about 5 minutes per side. When it's deeply browned, place it on top of the chopped veggies.  Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil used to brown the meat (you'll have more fat when you're done browning the meat because some fat will have rendered out of the meat), and pour that last tablespoon of oil over the veggies. Pop it into the oven at 375F.  Let it roast for 30 minutes and then turn the roast over.  Roast until it reaches 150F, about 30 minutes longer.
When it reaches 150F, take it out and put the roast on a cutting board.  Tent it with foil and let it sit 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 300F and put the pan with the veggies back in to continue roasting. Give them a stir.

After 20 minutes, the meat should have reached 160F and the veggies should be nicely roasted.  Time to eat!  Slice it thinly.

 Dish up some of those root vegetables.  The celery isn't for eating, it was more for aroma.

Turns out, the perfect seasoning blend for Grandma's roast was plain old salt and pepper and the perfume rising from roasting veggies.  This is it!  Moist, tender meat.  Browned potatoes and slightly caramelized carrots. Oh my goodness!  It's good.  It's very, very good!

Roast Pork Loin with Potatoes, Carrots and Celery

1 (3 lb.) pork loin roast, brined (see below for brining instructions)
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
3 ribs celery with tops, scrubbed and cut in 2" lengths
1 lb. carrots, scrubbed, peeled and cut in 1" chunks

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place vegetables in a 13 x 9" glass baking dish.  Set aside. 
Pat dry the roast with paper towels.  Season well with pepper.
Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven.  Add the roast and let it sear without moving it until very brown; about 5 minutes.  Turn and brown all sides.
Place roast on top of the vegetables in the baking dish.  When the oven is hot, place in oven and let roast, uncovered, 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn the roast over, insert a thermometer and return it to the oven.  Set the thermometer for 150F.
When the roast reaches 150F, remove it from the oven and place it on a cutting board.  Tent with foil.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300F and return the vegetables to the oven to continue to roast.
Allow the roast to rest for 20 minutes.  The temperature of the roast will continue to rise and the juices will redistribute throughout the meat, so that it's juicy when you serve it.
After 20 minutes, the temperature should be near 160F.  (It's safe to eat at 155F).
About brining
Some pork is labeled "enhanced".  This means the pork is already brined, so you can skip this step.  To brine a roast, you'll need a container large enough to hold the roast plus a half gallon of water. A large mixing bowl works well.
1/2 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups hot tap water
4 cups ice (I like using crushed ice, because my refrigerator has an ice crusher, but cubes will work fine.)
Combine hot water, salt and sugar; stir until dissolved.  Add crushed ice and stir until mixture is very cold.  Pour over raw roast in a large container.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, but no longer than 2 hours or the meat will become too salty.
Drain, refill the bowl with plain cold water and allow to sit while you prepare the vegetables.  Drain and pat dry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seeing Progress

My husband decided to do some room swapping.  Out came the measuring tape and the graph paper.  Measuring, scribbling.  Re-measuring.  More scribbling.  I found measurements scribbled on the most unusual surfaces - like the backs of incoming mail. 

Then the announcement:  The den and guest room will swap functions. 
Reasoning: The den is larger and the guest room barely fits a queen size bed and 2 night tables. (True)

Problem #1: The guest room is not big enough for both desks.
Solution: Walt's desk would go into the basement and it would become his 'man-cave'. 
Negotiation: Could my jewelry station go up and join my desk in the former guest room?  Agreed.  I will have a 'mom-space'.

Sounds simple, right?  Move furniture, plug in computers = good to go.  By the way, I was DELIGHTED to give him the dark, chilly basement in trade for a cheerful, sunny, warm room.  He recruited a friend to help him haul his mammoth solid oak rolltop desk to the basement.   I packed up my jewelry supplies. 

I have lots and lots of jewelry supplies.  Boxes and boxes and boxes of jewelry supplies; and that's not counting my storage units and architect's table. Some supplies are still in the basement in rolling 3 drawer carts. I'm not sure where those will go.

All the stuff below except the furniture was in these 3 big boxes

Almost done, still lots to sort and put away.

Problem 2:  The carpet in the former den was shot. 
We had chair pads to keep the carpet from being crushed by the rolling desk chairs. When we took up the chair pads, there was a "clean" area surrounded by dark, dirty looking carpet. Really - who puts oatmeal colored carpeting in a bedroom? The people who sold us the house, just weeks before they put it on the market. It's Menard's carpeting and pretty cheap stuff. Can't blame them. They were nice enough to give us the receipts for warranty purposes. Which expired.

Solution:  Laminate flooring.  Out came the measuring tape and graph paper.  I was assigned to research sales.
Negotiation: Can we put it in the entire upstairs? Please? No. Please, please? It'll be a pain to do it one room at a time.  Not enough in the budget. (Darn)

Guest room furniture stored in the former den.

So this IS progress.  Walt has a functioning man-cave, decorated in early Bears and Bulls. I have a mostly functional mom-space.  The laminate for the guest room has been purchased, and a miter saw has been borrowed.  They are currently living in my family room.

I'll post further photos are progress is made.   To Be Continued

The Plan - Lettuce Wraps

Dinner tonight was Lettuce Wraps.  Man, we love these things!  They fit into "the Plan" very well and they're super easy and fast to make. This recipe makes 8 wraps, 4 servings. It's adapted from a recipe I found on the web, which had too much meat and not enough veggies.

You may need to buy some new-to-you Asian sauces for this recipe, but believe me, you will make this again and again!  The original recipe called for Boston lettuce. I use iceberg lettuce when I make these because we prefer the crunch.  To get perfect cups, core the head with a knife and rinse well under very cold tap water.  Shake off water and set aside to drain in a colander, core side down. The easiest way to get them apart without tearing the leaves: Break off part of a leaf rib and discard, then carefully peel/nudge leaves off, one at a time, removing some of each rib first. Some leaves will tear, save those for salad.  Keep 8 perfect cup shaped ones to use for this recipe.

Fresh ginger is totally worth the price.  In fact, it's far cheaper to buy it fresh and keep it in the freezer to use as needed.  Wrapped in a plastic bag, fresh ginger will keep forever in the freezer.  Take it out and grate it on your large hole microplane while still frozen - no need to peel it for this recipe.  The papery peel disappears into the sauce. If you want to peel it, the edge of a spoon works well and doesn't waste the ginger. Then just re-wrap it and pop it back into the freezer for next time.

I like the stir fry veggies from Aldi.  They come in a 2 lb bag.  Throw out the sauce packet - it's gross.

Turkey Lettuce Wraps
8 ounces ground extra lean turkey, other ground meat or veggie crumbles
1 pound package frozen stir fry veggies, partially thawed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water

1/3 cup reduced sodium teriyaki sauce, thicker sauces work best for this recipe
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root (you can substitute 2 TEASPOONS ground dried ginger, but it's just not the same!)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (I use seasoned rice vinegar, white wine vinegar will work in a pinch)
1 tablespoon sesame oil (the brown one from the Asian foods aisle)
1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce

To Serve
2 green onions, chopped (keep white part and tops separate)
8 lettuce leaves

Heat a large skillet over high flame, remove from flame, spray with non-stick.  Return to heat and add the ground turkey. Cook, stirring to break up clumps until no pink remains. Add veggies and water, cover pan, and let veggies steam while you make the sauce.

Combine sauce ingredients, add to skillet. Stir to coat everything with sauce. Bring to a bubble and let simmer 5-7 minutes until sauce thickens. Stir in green onion white parts.

Spoon a 1/2 cup or so into each lettuce cup. Sprinkle with green onion tops.  Fold over sides and eat with your hands.
Per 2 wrap serving: 2 ounces meat, 1 1/2 cups veg, 2 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/4 cup fruit.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year - Back On The Plan

My husband and I love food.  I love to cook, bake, make candy, can my own garden produce. I read cookbooks like novels.  Food. Yum. We love to eat.  And it shows. 

We can diet and lose weight.   Heck, anyone can follow a diet and lose weight.  But, diets are restrictive, regimented, repetitive and boring.  I like my cooking.  I like trying new recipes.  I like going out for dinner occasionally.   We have our dislikes.  We don't want to eat 'diet' food.  I want to eat real food.   In the past we have dieted, lost weight, and gained it back as soon as we stopped the diet. We came to the conclusion that we ate pretty healthy food.  We just ate too much of it.  We needed to scale it back without feeling deprived.

We had a lot of success a few years ago using a Christ-centered program called First Place.  The idea was you place Christ first in your life and your thinking and eating will change.  To help you change, they provide a series of methods to convert your recipes to their scale so you can track what you eat.  It worked.  But it was a LOT of work.  Every ingredient, every recipe, every meal had to be converted.  It was so time-consuming to convert that I started 'winging-it', hoping I was close.  Eventually, I stopped thinking about it all together.

Recently, yet again, we took a good look at how we were eating and how we looked (ugh) and like many others, considered starting yet another hunt for the perfect diet.  The one we could live on the rest of our lives.  Because dieting for us was a see-saw and we didn't like what we saw.

Then we remembered the First Place method. I'll just have to knuckle down and do the all the converting.  It's worth it.  The plan works.  I went searching on the internet because we misplaced our books somehow during 2 moves.  To my surprise, First Place had been updated and sounded better than ever.  You don't convert every ingredient into exchanges, you simply count what you're eating.  You get a set quantity of each food type.  Eat it however and whenever you wish - just don't exceed your maximum for the day.  I made up a little scorecard for each of us (Walt gets a LOT more food) and we write down the quanties we consume at each meal.  My daily goals look like this:
Fruit = 2 cups
Vegetables = 3 cups
Grains/Bread = 6 ounces
Meat/beans/nuts = 5 ounces
Milk/cheese/yogurt = 3 cups
Fat/oil = 5 teaspoons

One day this week I ate:
Breakfast - 2 ounces cereal, 1 cup soy milk
Lunch - 2 cups veg, 1/2 ounce bread
Snack - 1/2 cup fruit
Dinner - Hawaiian Veggie Burger, Sweet Potato Oven Fries, Coleslaw (see stats below)
Snack - SF Jello with 1/2 cup fruit
That's a lot of food, totally within my goals and I was completely FULL all day.

So, I got a craving for burgers.  Walt's favorite is Hawaiian, you know how high in fat and calories those are!  Check out this meal -Hawaiian Veggie BurgerSweet Potato Oven Fries and Almost Fat Free Asian Coleslaw:

Veggie burger topped with Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, grilled pineapple slice, swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun.  The entire meal clocks in at 1 cup fruit (pineapple slice, juice and sweetner in the coleslaw), 1 1/2 cups vegetables, 4 ounces bread (bun and potato), 3 ounces meat (veggie patty, bacon), 1/2 cup milk (cheese), 1 1/2 tsp. fat (cooking oil).

So, what do you think?  Want to hear more about our struggles and triumphs with food?  Please comment and let me know.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Busiest Months of the Year

I haven't posted since before Thanksgiving because November and December are the busiest months of my year.  Besides gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was busy with quite a few events.  Among my favorites are:

Attending the Administer Justice Banquet and being privileged to hear Tony Evans speak.

Attending the Extraordinary Women Conference in Rockford - AWESOME!

Attending our dear friend's son, James' wedding. 
Celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary:

Hosting a Nilla Wafer Dessert Party:

Working on Fox Valley Church Women's Ministry biggest annual event, Christmas Expectations (ladies' tea). This is my table:

Seeing Damaris Carbaugh with some of my Women's Ministry co-leaders at Bartlett Baptist Church's Christmas Tea:

Celebrating a good friend's 40th birthday:

Hosting an early Christmas dinner for my parents because they would be out of state on Christmas. 
Bringing a cake to my mother-in-law's 91st birthday - isn't she lovely?  She surprised us by having baked Walt's favorite cookies.

Making 6 kinds of homemade candy for Christmas sharing:

Hosting a crowd for Christmas Day dinner at our home. My granddaughter, Maddie:

I have wonderful memories and funny stories from each of these events. 
I'm reminded of Luke 2:19

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 
My memories will warm me many years to come.

I hope your memories of Christmas and the weeks leading up to it, are as happy and warm as mine.