Friday, December 30, 2011

Peppermint Profiteroles

These were the dessert special at Maggiano's. Mmmmmmm.

Katy's Dumpling House

Are you looking for the best homemade Ramen noodles ever? Well, you're in luck because I found them!! :) Katy's Dumpling House makes homemade noodles and potstickers and they are oh so good! For people with a spicier palette, try the spicy and flavorful beef noodle soup, pictured below. Or, try the beef fried noodle for a non-spicy option. The potstickers of any kind are also a must. Katy's has two locations- one in Westmont and one in Naperville. I'll be going this week to get more of my addiction! Yum! :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

There's no breakfast like a garbage plate

One of my favorite not-to-far-away spots for a weekend or overnight getaway is Kenosha, Wisconsin. In a two-day trip, I can tour museums and historic spots (many of them free), take a ride in a streetcar, enjoy the lakefront, shop, visit the Jelly Belly Center and have some good eats.

Kenosha has a great mix of spots for foodies of all kinds -- Italian offerings right by Lake Michigan at D'Carlo's, superb German specialties at House of Gerhard, true Chicago-style hot dogs at Trolley Dogs, huge turkey legs at the Bristol Renaissance Faire and candy galore at the Jelly Belly Center. And for breakfast or lunch, I always stop at Frank's Diner when I'm in town.

The menu includes all the classic breakfast entrees: pancakes, french toast and egg dishes. A popular one is the garbage plate, a heap of hashbrowns, eggs, meats and veggies - and cheese added if you like. It's classic diner food at its best served with toasted homemade bread. Oh, and you can get a half order of the garbage plate. This is what the half order looks like! Yes, you may need to loosen your belt a notch.

The building itself has an interesting history. It dates back to 1926 when, after arriving by rail car from New Jersey, it was pulled by six horses to its current spot. Total cost = less than $8,000, including the shipping fees. A dining room was later added and the kitchen was expanded. It its 85 years meals have been served up to entertainers and musicians, who enjoyed many of the same recipes served today.

Should you make your way north of the border, stop in for a hearty meal in a cozy setting. Be prepared for a wait during peak times. They're open for breakfast and lunch and accept cash only.

Frank's Diner
508 - 58th Street
Kenosha, WI

I miss ribs!

Well, I"m making my way through the tons of photos taken this year...and many of them are of food. Came across some from the Naperville Ribest which takes place each July. Wow, now that we've had our first dusting of snow and the weather is beyond nippy, I am really longing for the summer days with lots of food on the grill and lots of festivals - like Ribfest. If you've never been there, be sure to check it out next year or find one in your corner of the woods. Guess I'll have to wait a little while, but the pictures sure make me hungry.

Roka Akor

A friend and I visited the newly opened Roka Akor near Hubbard and Clark in Chicago because our first choice restaurant was booked. I have never been so glad to be routed to a new restaurant at the last moment! :) The waitress at Roka Akor introduced the restaurant style as Asian tapas and sushi. I'm a big fan of smaller plates of food and sharing, so that I can try a lot of different things on the menu.... and that was exactly what we did! Starting off with drinks, we tried "The One" and the Banzai Mule, which were excellent. "The One" cocktail was a sweet martini, exactly what I was looking for. :)

Next came some appetizers of edemame, which was simply made with sea salt, but delicious and tempura rock shrimp with crushed wasabi peas and a sweet chili aiolo sauce. Mmmm!

The vegetable tempura was lightly battered with perfect crispness; it may have been the best tempura I've ever eaten. An artfully prepared tempura leaf adorned the vegetable plate. I had to eat it, why not? :) Can't say I've ever eaten a tempura leaf before. :)

Our main course consisted of their roasted king crab in a chili lime butter sauce and fresh cucumber. The grilled flavor of the crab was superb and I wished I'd had the appetite to try one of their grilled meat dishes.

I could never walk away without at least trying a dessert and I was not disappointed with the baked green tea custard with carmelized banana. The custard had a really strong green tea flavor and was a nice, light ending to a wonderful meal.

Overall, I was impressed with Roka Akor (which gets props for its palidromic name as well)! :) It was a bit pricey, but I've come to expect that of gourmet restaurants in the city. The next time you're north of the loop and looking for a place to eat with very good food, give Roka Akor a try.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful for the Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving in the Clark house means massive amounts of food. Usually several appetizers, a huge turkey, mounds of side dishes and lots of sweets for dessert. We went lighter on the food this year since two of the six siblings and their children were missing. It still amounted to 18 people, though.

Here's the foodies sisters in the kitchen.

And Becky, doing her best Vanna White, showing off the turkey she made and some of the side dishes.

And a plate full of all the goodies.

Some of my favorites are the stuffing, which includes celery leaves, which I love. There's also egg noodles that are boiled in chicken stock and covered in gravy. And cornbread that is moistened by creamed corn and sour cream. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family and good food.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ribs in the crock pot - so delish!

I can't get enough of my crock pot these days. I amazed at how you can throw just about any meat in it, add some kind of sauce or juice and then a few hours later you have a tasty meal. Ribs are one meat that are excellent when you prepare them in the crock pot. They are so tender, they simply fall off the bone. Sometimes I just pour in some barbecue sauce and a little water on the bottom and call it a day. Other times, I just experiment. Here's a recent experiment - 1 slab of ribs (rub in some garlic salt and seasoning salt -- like Market Day's "A Salt for All Seasonings", pepper, celery salt, and chili powder) and mix 1 1/2 cups Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, a tsp Worcestershire sauce, a tsp steak sauce, a couple tbsp brown sugar. Poured it on top, added a little water to the bottom of the crock and four hours later, this was the result. Finger lickin' good! :)

A tip for some yummy muffins

Each summer my family makes a trip out to Michigan City, Indiana to pick blueberries. We've been going to State Line Blueberries for years. This year we got a little lost on the way and ended up at Blueberries of Indiana, which happened to be right down the road. We enjoyed out visit even though it was a hot day. The heat prevented us from picking a large abundance for freezing, but we walked away with about 11 pounds. I was fascinated by the owner who was happy to engage in conversation about berries. He's an agriculture professor at a college in North Carolina, I believe.

Anyway, what doesn't get used right away or passed on to neighbors and family members gets rinsed and put into ziplock freezer bags. Then later on they make great additions to muffins. You don't even have to thaw them. I put them right into the mix and then into the oven and they plump and some even pop, exploding with a tasty juice. Try it!!

Salads can be a wonderful specimen of all the food groups

I love salads. I love to pile on all kinds of veggies - and the greener the better - and even with minimal dressing I can enjoy it quite a bit. But sometimes, it's what you add to it that makes it spectacular...and pretty to look at.

Lettuce is the foundation of most salads. I usually use iceberg as a last resort or mix it in with some green or red leaf or romaine and I absolutely love baby spinach in my salads. Then the fun comes with adding other veggies. In the photo below, I grabbed what was in the fridge - some broccoli and tomato. Since this was my main course for lunch, I threw in a boiled egg, some shredded cheddar, some croutons, some sliced ham and some ranch dressing to round out the food pyramid. The possibilities are endless. You can add any vegetable out there. You can add fruits. Then there are the mayo-based or oil based. The hot ones. The cold ones. So many possibilities, so little time. :)

Celebrating Oktoberfest with the first graders

So last month I decided to go visit my son's first grade classroom for a German-themed lesson that included food. :) I love doing such things - a St. Patty's Day celebration with corned beef, cabbage, Irish soda bread and green river floats, a Chinese New Year celebration with egg rolls, fried rice, almond cookies and fortune cookies, Cinco de Mayo with enchiladas, tamales, rice, candy and rice milk. Any excuse I have to turn room mom duties into a cultural food fest and I'm there!

So, for Oktoberfest I went in to visit the kids and brought my father-in-law, a native of Berlin, along to teach the kids a little about German culture and how to say a few words and phrases in the German language. We told them that Oktoberfest originated as a harvest festival centuries ago. We left out the part about how it has evolved into a giant beer fest.

Anyway, Aldi is a great place to find food products from Germany and Austria. German candy can be found year round and in October, you'll often find schnitzel, spaetzle, marzipan, strudels and other German specialties. My son loves the pork schnitzel, so we stock up when we see it in October. We just had some the other night with some spaetzle, red cabbage, potato pancakes and white asparagus.

Last year when I went in for Oktoberfest, I brought bratwurst, sauerkraut, chocolate, marzipan, stollen and a snack food called peanut puffs. This year, I decided not to do the bratwurst, since it gets expensive and is a lot of work heating and slicing into bite size pieces they can eat with a toothpick. Besides, my visit was at 9 a.m. and bratwurst just didn't seem fitting for that early in the day. I also omitted the sauerkraut since only two or three kids were brave enough to try it last year. This time I brought red cabbage, but again, six-year-olds weren't very interested. I also brought some chocolate, dark pumpernickel bread and peanut puffs (which they weren't able to eat because of a couple kids in the class with peanut allergies.) I wasn't able to find any stollen or marzipan at the store this time. The chocolate, of course, was the clear favorite. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Homemade baked beans...the after photo

Last week I posted a baked beans recipe with a photo of it and the start of cooking. Here's the "after" photo. It thickened up nicely and was sweet and tangy, the way I like it. In fact, I liked it so much, I've made it twice since then. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tacos and Burritos Grande, Lansing, IL

So, this morning I met my good friend, Michelle, for a long overdue lunch. We stopped in Tacos and Burritos Grande. There are two Lansing locations. We went to the one on Ridge Road, which has this charming vintage ad painted on the west wall.

Cool story behind it is that in doing remodeling before the restaurant opened, some walls were taken down and this beauty was found behind it on what was once the exterior wall of the building next door. Not quite sure when this beer ad was placed there. In doing a little research, I found that the company began in 1940, producing beer in Grand Rapids, Michigan before moving to Chicago in 1951.

I had a hard time deciding on what to get. On most of my visits there, I've ordered spinach quesadillas, which are awesome. This time I got a combo plate that included a steak taco, chicken enchilada, rice, beans and chips with guacamole. Everything was fantastic!

In addition to the beer ad on the brick wall, there's some beautiful artwork on the walls. Like this...

Here's a  look at the combo meals. See why I had such a hard time making a decision?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Foodie blogs provide inspiration

I've had so much fun diving into the world of food blogging. I've had a blog on motherhood for quite some time and have been a freelance writer for over a decade. It was this past spring, when my sister, Becky, had a cooking party at her house that I realized that the two of us are "foodies." We love to cook, to love to dine out, we love to try new recipes -- we basically love food. So, we started in with Chicago Foodie Sisters, posting as time permits and having been more active on Facebook than on the blog, but eventually we hope to make the blog posts more frequent.

I also have enjoyed following other foodie blogs. I didn't realize what huge food blogging network there was out there until another of our sisters, Pam, started "liking" lots of foodie pages on Facebook and urged us to do the same. I love logging on each day to find recipe ideas from others -- sometimes they're not far, sometimes they're across the country and other times they are on the other side of the world -- an indication of how far the "foodie" world stretches.  I continue to be inspired every day by the other "foodies" out there.

Bye, beans. See you in a few hours.

This morning I came across a recipe on my Facebook page for baked beans. It called for 3 cans of pork and bean, crispy bacon with drippings, brown mustard, ketchup and brown sugar.!/pages/Backwoods-Home-Cookin-and-BBQ-Southern-Recipes/231997390186554

So, I looked in the cabinet and had only one can of beans, so I had to reduce the measurements and I added a few other things that seems like they'd work well. Here's my modified recipe:

1 can pork and beans
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. brown mustard
1 tsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. dried minced onions
1/2 tsp. steak sauce
1 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. bacon bits
2 strips bacon on top (all I had was microwavable bacon, so I figured that would do.)

So, why'd I change it up? I don't know. Just because I like to experiment. I added the other stuff in small amounts -- perhaps enough to give a hint of that flavor, but not enough to ruin it if it doesn't work. Onions just seem to go well in baked beans, so I threw them in. The steak sauce was staring me in the face when I reached for the ketchup. Honey? I figured it would thicken the sauce a little and add a little sweetness to it? Bacon bits and bacon? Is it overkill? Bacon, like chocolate, is one of those things that just makes everything better. No such thing as too much bacon!

When I got it all in the crock pot, I looked back at the recipe and ooppps!! It wasn't a crock pot recipe. It was for the oven. Oh, well. No biggie. I'll put in on low for two or three hours and see what I have. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stuff those peppers!

I'd kind of given up on the garden. The tomatoes seemed to be done for the year and the sunflowers had drooped and been destroyed by the neighborhood squirrels. I'd forgotten we still had peppers on the plants until my husband reminded me this week. So, I used them for some stuffed peppers.

I learned to make these from my former co-worker, Jeanine DesJardins, who enlightened me to how easy they are to make. Her basic recipe called for 6 green peppers, cleaned and boiled. Then in a pan you brown a pound of ground beef and then drain and add about 3/4 of a jar of pasta sauce and about 2 cups of cooked rice. Stir and stuff the peppers and place them in a baking dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce and bake for about a half hour.

As I've made it over the year, I usually add some spices to the browning meat and sometimes dice up some green pepper and onion to add to the beef mixture. Sometimes I put some shredded cheese on top for the last five minutes of so of cooking just to melt it.

Jeanine always encouraged me to make a double batch of the meat mixture and make stuffed cabbage along with it. Then all you have to do is just boil a head of cabbage, remove the leaves, fill, roll, place in a casserole dish and top with a little extra sauce and bake for about 20 - 30 minutes.

This time, I found I could make the green peppers in an even easier way, eliminating the need to boil the peppers. I made the filling and placed it in raw peppers and then put it in the crock pot. I put a little sauce on the bottom to keep it from sticking. I put it on high for about 3 hours, then another hour or so on low. Perfect!!

Soups on!

One of my favorite things about fall is getting back in the kitchen. We get some brutally hot summer days in the Midwest, so a lot of the cooking in the summer months is done on the grill. It's always nice to be back in the kitchen after the school year starts and put a cake in the oven while the kids are at school or make some good comfort food, like roasts or stews. I also love to make soups and it's that time of year again.

Last winter I made a lot of varieties - vegetable, pasta fagioli, chicken rice, chicken noodle, chicken vegetable, beef vegetable, broccoli cheese, potato, tortilla, tomato florentine.

This past week I made two. First was a pot of chicken noodle soup.

And here's my recipe:

12 cups water, 11 chicken bouillon cubes. Boil. Add about a teaspoon of garlic salt, oregano, basil, minced onion and two or three boneless chicken breasts, continue to boil about 20 minutes. Add about 1 - 1 1/2 cups sliced baby carrots, 4 sliced celery stalks. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Remove chicken and dice or shred. Return to pot and return to a boil. Add thick noodles (I get an Amish variety) - about 6 - 8 ounces. Boil another 10 minutes or so...or according to directions on package.

Next I made some stuffed green pepper soup in the crock pot:

Here's the recipe:

2 small cans tomato sauce, then fill can 4 times with water and add. Two large cans diced tomatoes. About a teaspoon of garlic powder, seasoned salt, pepper, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, minced onion, 3 bell peppers, diced. One pound browned ground beef. Set crock pot to high for about 5 hours. I had boil-in-bags of rice, so I threw one on the stove top and boiled it and added it at the end.

What's your favorite soup recipe?

Monday, October 3, 2011

A zucchini by any other name tastes just as good

Ok...had to share this. My kids make horrible faces at the mention of zucchini...or most green vegetables for matter. No way they would voluntarily eat it. So, I made zucchini bread last week. My 8-year-old shredded most of it for me, but I guess he didn't make the connection that it was going to be put into the bread batter. We baked four loaves. I renamed it "spice bread." They asked what kind of spices were in it and replied "cinnamon." It was totally true. I put 3 tablespoons in each of the two batches. They were satisfied with that answer. They tried it. And then they devoured it. All because of the name. Had I called it zucchini bread, they wouldn't have even tried it.

Taste of Home Cooking School coming to Horshoe Casino

This Thursday, foodies can get their fill of cooking tips and peruse kitchen gadgets of all kinds at the Taste of Home Cooking School, which will be held at The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond. The event features culinary specialist Eric Villegas. See the link below for more information.

Tickets are still available.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cake time!

I have a son celebrating his 10th birthday next week. However, the weekends are pretty full, so we celebrated a little early. I usually have a family party at home for each kid as well as a party with friends at Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald's, Tyler's Tender or another kid-friendly venue. Carter chose to have his at the bowling alley, which worked out well. He bowls on a league on Saturday mornings, so we'd just hang out and have his party following his morning of league bowling. Since I have five sons, it can get expensive doing all this partying. So, for most of the kid parties, I bake a cake or cupcakes rather than purchasing one from a bakery. This week was really busy and I was tempted to stop by the supermarket and pick up a bakery cake, but talked myself out of it. And really, the kids seem to enjoy the home baked stuff over the store-bought.

So, Carter's cake was a devil's food chocolate one with chocolate frosting and then topped with chocolate sprinkles and crushed Oreo cookie crumb sprinkles. The kids devoured it and the bowling alley staff enjoyed it, too. The lone girl at the party, Brianna, helped me get the table set for cake and told me she remembered the cake I made for his 1st grade birthday party three years ago. I guess my cakes do sometimes leave an impression! :)

The small lettered candles burned quickly and by the time I got to lighting the last letter the first was dripping down onto the cake. So, we had to sing fast!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Looking forward to breakfast

This morning I was at my ladies' bowling league and each time a different team plays hostess and brings some munchies. It's early in the morning, so it's often breakfast fare. Today someone had made a yummy breakfast casserole that was quite tasty. It reminded me of a monte cristo sandwich.

Here's how she described the recipe in between frames:

She said she gets Centrella sandwich bread (which is square and not rounded on the top) and cuts the crust off. She butters one side and places the pieces buttered side down in a baking dish or cake pan. DO NOT grease the pan since it has the butter on the bottom. Next goes ham. She said she used the Badger brand honey ham from the deli and cut it into small pieces and placed on top of the bread. Then add a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Top with another layer of crustless bread, buttered on one side, but this time the buttered side faces up.

In a bowl mix a dozen eggs with 1 1/2 cups of milk and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over bread layers. Cover and refrigerate over night. Preheat oven to 350, then bake about 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

I didn't have my camera with me to get a shot, but it was perfectly browned on top and looked very appetizing. It was so good that I whipped up a pan tonight so that I can pop it in the oven in the morning and have it again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Austrian Bakery loaded with goodies

So, while in Chicago yesterday, I paid a visit to Lincoln Park for no other reason, but to pick up some good food. Austrian Bakery was my fourth food-related stop. I'd popped in there once before on the way to a Cubs game and tried a couple cookies. This time I lingered for a few minutes checking out the menu, which includes hot and cold sandwiches, salads and one of my absolute favorite dishes - wiener schnitzel. And it is called the Austrian BAKERY, so you'll find lots of goodies to satisfy your sweet tooth. Take a look.

It was lunchtime when I was there, but didn't have time to wait for the schnitzel. I'll have to make a trip up there soon for lunch. I saw this Reuben being prepared and I sooo wanted to stay.

There were so many choices, I wasn't sure what to get.

I settled on apple strudel and brought this home with me. Best. Strudel. Ever. Stop by there and try it for yourself. It's at 2523 N. Clark Street. They also have a full breakfast menu. Visit for more info.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The best stuff from a box

I like to bake, but I'm not much of a "from scratch" person. Pretty much 100% of the cupcakes I make come from a mix. 100% of the cakes I make come from a mix. 100% of the muffins I make come from a mix. 100% of the brownies I make come from a mix. Aside from pies, some breads and dessert bars, most of my baked stuff begins with a mix. I often add things to mixes to "doctor them up" as my mom would say.

For instance, I start with a blueberry muffin mix, but add fresh blueberries. Or I get a mix for banana bread and then add real bananas to it. I'll use a cake mix and add some mandarin oranges to it, then top it with cool whip mixed with french vanilla pudding mix and crushed pineapple. Using a mix really just means is that the dry ingredients are already mixed together for you. You don't have to measure out the sugar, the flour, the baking soda, etc. It's a time saver.

So, since I'm such a big mix user, I thought I'd share some of my favorite mixes:

Aldi's brownie mix and cake mix - Ever since an Aldi opened in our neighborhood about three years ago, it's the brownie mix I use most often. Sometimes I sprinkle powdered sugar on top when I'm done or throw in a handful of chocolate chips just to make them more rich or top with a layer of cool whip and chocolate sprinkles.

I also use Aldi cake mixes most often. For some reason, they always come out perfectly and in the exact time labeled on the box. With other mixes, they are never done when they should be and I end up playing the game of sticking a fork in them to find out it's not done and repeating it once or twice before it's fully cooked. I thought it was my oven until I tried the Aldi brand and found that the cooking times were accurate. I always keep Aldi's Baker's Corner yellow make mix stocked in my pantry.

Market Day cookie dough - Ok, this isn't a mix at all. This is down right cheating -- no prep involved at all, but really this dough is probably better that I'd make from scratch. I love the Market Day cookie doughs that come already precut it little discs that you just place on a cookie sheet and bake. My kids love all of them -- the M & M ones, chocolate chip, peanut butter (sometimes we'll add Hershey kisses on top,) peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin and I think last year I got snickerdoodle, which went over well.

Jiffy cornbread mix - Jiffy is the only brand I use. On their own, they are a bit dry, but I make up for that by loading on the butter. :) However, it's really good if you add a can of creamed corn or some shredded cheese to it. Years ago I got a recipe from a co-worker to make a corn casserole with sour cream, butter, canned corn, canned cream corn and an egg and Jiffy mix. It is awesome!!! My family always requests it for holidays. And one year I had a casserole ready to go. We were carrying things out to the car and it was placed on the coffee table on it's way out. The dog took that small window of opportunity to gobble down the whole thing. Everyone was so disappointed when I showed up without it.

Aldi pumpkin bread - Another great mix from Aldi is the pumpkin bread. It's seasonal so you only find it there for a short time in the fall. It should be there soon and I can't wait. It is PERFECT. So moist and yummy!

Hershey's chocolate chunk brownie mix - Ok, I am not sure if that is the exact name of it. I've picked it up from Sam's Club and haven't been there in a while, but I'd buy it in a jumbo pack with 4 mixes. It had big chunks of chocolate and a packet of Hershey syrup. Sorry, Aldi, these beat you out! :)

Jello no bake cheesecake - Ok, in reality this doesn't compare to homemade cheesecake, but this is such an easy one. My kids love to make it (and eat it) and it's not quite as rich as the real thing. Have it plain -- or I usually top it with a can of cherry pie filling.

Aldi cinnamon swirl cake - Ok, I'm know I'm really touting the Aldi stuff, but this is so good. It does not taste like it's from a mix. You put it in a loaf pan - pouring half the batter in and then adding a little layer of cinnamon mix and then covering with more batter and then more cinnamon mix. After it comes out of the oven, you drizzle frosting on. This never lasts more than a couple hours in my house.

Carnation Lemon Bread Kit - This kit contained a can of carnation milk and a packet of glaze to put on top. Quick and easy and another one that doesn't taste like it was from a kit.

Scrambled diner hits the spot

I'm not much of a breakfast eater. At home, I often skip breakfast or just have a piece of toast. I know it's not good for you to skip breakfast, but I just don't get an appetite until around 11 a.m. Anyway, when I go out to eat for breakfast, it's a different story. I like a hearty meal with eggs and meat and cheese and veggies and toast. So, this week, my husband's aunt is visiting from Germany, so my hubby, my in-laws and Aunt Monika went out to Scrambled Diner in Dyer to have breakfast.

We had to wait a little bit, but that's to be expected with a party of six in a small place like Scrambled Diner. I ordered an omelet, which was huge, with all kinds of veggies and hash browns. Last time I was there I had the thick-sliced bacon, which was awesome, but everyone raves about the homemade sausage, so I gave it a try...very good!

This was my mother in-laws, a french toast club...a gigantic mound of layers of french toast, eggs, cheese and bacon.

This is what my husband and father-in-law had. It's called the Irish skillet with corned beef, hash browns, sauerkraut, thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese and eggs. It didn't sound very appetizing, but I tried a bite of my husbands and it was really good...surprisingly, I loved the taste of the sauerkraut with it.

If you're a breakfast lover, plan a visit to Scrambled Diner. Be prepared to wait at peak times. Bring cash. They don't accept credit cards. Everything is fresh and local. And portions are huge. If you have breakfast there, you'll probably be skipping lunch. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm on a crock pot kick -- and making it up as I go along!

I've been using my crock pot quite a bit lately. My husband got a nice Kenmore one for me last Christmas. At first I wasn't so thrilled with getting a kitchen appliance for a Christmas present, but I love it. I use it all the time. My husband took my old one to work (the firehouse) in case they wanted to use it there sometime. Yesterday I made him retrieve it and bring it home because I had ribs in the crock pot and wanted to also make some crock pot dessert - cherry cobbler.

Anyway, today I made some pork chops. I often make up my own stuff as I go along rather than following recipes. So, I pulled out the pork chops and rubbed in some seasoning...really couldn't tell you everything that went on it. I just went through the spice cabinet and threw on a little of this and a little of that - I love Market Day spices and put some of those on there with some garlic salt, paprika, basil, salt, pepper. Then I remembered a citrus-y recipe I saw recently with orange juice. I wondered if it would clash with the spices I just put on. I figured I try anyway. Then I remembered I had these apricot preserves I'd picked up at the Italian market.

I took about 6 ounces of the apricot preserves and about a cup of orange juice. I stirred it together in a bowl and then spread it on top of the chops. I put a little water on the bottom of the crock pot. Here's what it looked like after that step:

And here's what it looked like when it was done. It had great flavor and was super tender!