Best roasted potatoes and gourmet porkchops

So I discovered how to make really good roasted potatoes today. I mean, the kids called them fries… and ate them all up. High praise indeed. And.. they were not deep fried, yet crisp on the outside, a little soft inside and overall just right!
I bought fingerling potatoes the other day and wanted to cook them somehow. It was very humid and warm today so I wanted to use the grill as much as possible. I cut the potatoes up in quarters the long way, tossed them in olive oil, seasoned them with a new find, Mixed-Up Pepper and coarse sea salt, and threw them into a grill basket.

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The grill was on medium high to high (500 -550 F) with all burners on. I often grill indirectly (that is turn one burner off and grill over that burner.) This time I didn’t, and just scraped and turned the potatoes every 5 or 10 minutes. I would say I grilled them for about 30 to 35 minutes. They came out great; tasted as good as they looked. I’m pleased to have discovered this super easy method of cooking potatoes. I think it would work well with any baby potato.

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And while we’re on the topic of food… I got real gourmet-ish last week and bought a mango at the produce market thinking I wanted to do something fruit salsa-ish with it.  After poking around Allrecipes.com and a few other sites, I modified a pork chop  recipe and I am pleased to announce that it was a success – for the adults at least ;).  This isn’t to say that all my creative cooking attempts are successes…  Indeed there have been some notable failures… but they don’t get published (like the very limp zucchini fries).  I have many pictures of dishes I expectantly photographed, only to be greatly disappointed.  But I digress.  If you like grilled pork chops, and can cook them without completely drying them out this recipe is worth the effort in my humble opinion.

Grilled Porkchops topped with Tropical Salsa

1) Using a mortar and pestle (or in my case a bowl and spoon) mash the following seasoning into a paste: 1 clove garlic minced, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/8 -1/4 tsp cardamon. Mix up to 1/2 tsp water to help make the paste.

2)Heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in spice paste and cook till it begins to bubble, about 30 seconds.  Stir in1/4 cup white wine vinegar, cook without boiling for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup sugar until it dissolves.  Mix in 1 mango, peeled and chopped, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 to 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tsp. lemon juice. If you desire to, you can add a chopped jalapeno pepper.  I found the salsa to be a mild to medium heat without it. Simmer for twenty minutes. Stir in  2 peeled and chopped peaches, 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce and 3 chopped pineapple rings. Simmer for ten more minutes.  Season with pepper.  Place in a bowl, cover and put aside if you are using it that evening.  Otherwise refrigerate.

3) To prepare marinade for the 4-6 pork chops (I used bone-in), mix 2/3 cup of your tropical salsa with 1/3 cup soy sauce and 1/3 white vinegar.  Place pork chops in a large resealable bag, and pour marinade on top.  Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4) Prepare grill for medium-high heat.  Drain (and reserve) marinade.  If you want to baste the pork chops while  grilling, you can boil the marinade you just drained and use it.

5) Place pork chops on hot grill.  Cook about ten minutes turning once.  Cook a little longer for bone-in pork chops.  Baste occasionally if you aren’t juggling five other things.

6) If your salsa was refrigerated, heat it up to at least room temperature or warmer and serve the pork chops topped with the salsa.  Use the remainder of the salsa  to spice up some rice, or for tomorrows grilled chicken.

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As you can see, the salsa is more of a chunky sauce, but Tropical salsa sounds a lot more appealing.  However, the flavor was fruity and complex, and complemented the pork very well.  I used leftover salsa with chicken, tortilla chips (late at night once) and it never disappointed.

Well that’s my fit of culinary inspiration for the month.  Tomorrow fish sticks and fries ;)

What have you been cooking lately?

~Lora

ps did you see those green beans on the plate?  First fruits from the garden!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cooking, menu planning, recipes | 4 Comments

Celebrations

May and June are full of birthdays and other celebrations. Jeremy’s 8th birthday came first, then Taylor’s 11th, and Katrina’s 13th birthday. I often feel like all I’m doing is making birthday cakes and cupcakes for a month. Fortunately Katrina has taken an interest in cake decorating, so she helped out with that.                                                     Anyone else share this experience:  There’s a party with their friends from school, a celebration with our own family on the actual birthday, and some years (like this one) I had an extended family birthday party. After all, Katrina turned 13 – our first teenager!  To round things up we celebrated Fathers Day with Scott on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon!

Jeremy's party

Jeremy’s party

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Katrina and Taylor's family party

Katrina and Taylor’s family party

The babies had fun

The babies had fun

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the spread

the spread

Taylor, birthday boy

Taylor, birthday boy

Father's Day

Father’s Day

Eliza, eight months old

Eliza, eight months old

sisterly love

sisterly love

First Father's Day gift!

First Father’s Day gift!

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I am so thankful for this man :)   The kids just love their dad and he loves them right back!

~Lora

 

 

 

Posted in celebrations, family, happiness, kids, relationships | 3 Comments

Making memories

A couple weeks ago we went to Lancaster PA and met up with my parents and Irene,  Nic, Mike and Juliet, for a two day vacation. The weather was awesome, great for sightseeing and shopping, and we could even sit outside at night.  We loved our hotel. It had a nice pool, an outdoor patio and an outdoor basketball court (which made my kids very happy).  While we hung out and chatted they amused themselves and got rid of some energy.  It was nice to be able to celebrate several birthdays with yummy cupcakes (courtesy of Irene), and chocolate cake.  Great memories were made which is the point of family vacations isn’t it?

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~ Lora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in celebrations, family, holiday, vacation | 4 Comments

Baby days

My baby is over six months already!  Imagine growing eight inches in 6 months (she’s 27 inches long) and gaining nine pounds (14 1/2 lbs now).  No wonder babies feed a lot!

We’re getting into a rythm these days, and understanding each other along the way.  She likes routine, needs her naps, not too much excitement, rather nurse than eat solids, and mommy is best, but siblings who entertain are great too.  I feel younger and older at the same time.  Younger because I’m immersed in the baby/toddler stage of life.  Older because I have an almost teenager, and I’ve got too much to do and not enough energy or time to think of getting it all done!

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I’m trying to savor this baby stage before it slips away.

~ Lora

 

Posted in family, kids, parenting, reflection | 4 Comments

Signs of Spring

We had a wonderful warm spell last weekend which pushed spring a little further along. So despite the frigid temperatures today, we can take heart. The forsythia’s are blooming, and the magnoias are spreading their perfume.

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It’s been great getting outside and cleaning up the yard, pruning bushes and planning for the season ahead of us. It looks like my little vegetable patch (which we plan to expand this year) has been taken over by an interested ten year old. Hurray! That is just fine with me. After he added the finished compost and tilled the soil, he planted lettuce seeds. Spring must be around the corner!

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Eating outside for the first time this year is the ultimate sign spring is coming.  It may be a couple weeks before we can enjoy a meal on our porch again, but at least now we remember that simple pleasure.

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How is Spring showing her face in your parts?

~ Lora

 

Posted in family, garden, nature, seasons | 4 Comments

Spinach Mushroom Omelet

I was feeling gourmet-ish and had a lot of different ingredients in the house, so I found an omelet recipe on Allrecipes.com. My DH loves omelets! I tweaked it to make the best omelet I have ever made. It was worth chopping a little bit of this and that, and assembling all the ingredients. It wasn’t heavy like a lot of omelets are. I think the fresh veggies, minimal cheese and cooking it in a small amount of oil helped to keep it light. This recipe makes one big omelet which can serve two adults, especially if you have a salad or something on the side.

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Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced green onion
2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
2-3 tbsp chopped sundried tomato (optional)

Directions:
1)Beat eggs in a small bowl. Mix in Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, nutmeg, and pepper.
2)Heat oil in large non stick skillet over medium heat; cook and stir mushrooms, green onion, and bell pepper till tender, about five minutes. Places spinach in skillet and cook until just wilted. Stir in diced tomato till warmed. Remove cooked vegetables. Clean the skillet out with a paper towel. Pour in egg mixture. Begin to cook, and then add vegetables evenly over top. As egg begins to set, lift the edges to allow the uncooked egg mixture to flow underneath. This allows all the egg to cook without over browning the bottom of the omelet. Once all the egg mixture is set (about ten minutes), flip one half onto the other half so that all the vegetables are in the middle layer of the omelet and it looks like a half circle. Cut in half and serve yourself and a friend.

Bon appetit!

~ Lora

Posted in recipes | 2 Comments

What makes me happy

I discovered a little surprise the other morning. It made me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  A brother making his little sister happy….

I heard them going up the stairs, thump, thump, thump.  That night I grumbled to myself as I hauled all her dolls, plus the extra pillows and blankets out of her crib to make room for a good night’s sleep.  In the morning I saw the whole picture.  When I asked Annika about it, she explained that Jeremy made decorations for her doll party.  That kid just independently and quietly does his own thing, and often it’s something interesting or nice for someone else.  Sibling love is so precious!

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I knew there was a lesson for me.  I just needed to take the time to find it. Doing kind things for others for the sake of giving them pleasure, not doing them for the sake of the audience or out of obligation, that is the way to experience joy.

~ Lora

 

Posted in child's play, family, happiness, kids, relationships | 4 Comments