Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New To Me Recipe

I get on recipe-trying kicks where I keep trying new recipes non-stop for a week or two. This is one such week. I was originally looking for a sea bass recipe and came across recipes from TV chef Gordon Ramsey. He has some recipes that he calls "fast food" but that really means that they take less than an hour if you cook fast. They are also fairly light but satisfying because they are full of flavor.

This calls for one chili pepper for the sauce, but that depends on your tolerance for spice and the type of pepper you use. I picked one off of our plants that I had yet to try, and one was plenty! If you buy habanero peppers, for example, you might want to use two. I did not have a thyme or rosemary plant on my balcony, so I had to use dried herbs. The presentation with the live rosemary looks great though.

Baked Pork Chops in Piquant Sauce 

Ingredients for pork chops:
  • 4 pork chops, bone in, about  9 oz each
  • a little olive oil
  • few thyme sprigs, or dried thyme
  • few rosemary sprigs (leaves only), or dried rosemary
  • 1/2 head of garlic separated into cloves (unpeeled) smash lightly with flat edge of knife
  • sea salt and black pepper
Ingredients for Sauce:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (peeled and minced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (seeded and minced)
  • 1 red chili (seeded and minced)
  • 7oz cremini mushrooms (trimmed and finely sliced) optional
  • 14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar

Heat your oven to 400 F. In a large, lightly oiled baking dish scatter some of the thyme sprigs, rosemary leaves, garlic cloves, and salt.  Place the pork chops in the pan and put the remainder of spices, garlic and salt over the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until pork chops are cooked through. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Pork chops ready for the oven

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and add the chili pepper first. After three minutes add the red bell pepper. Cook a few minutes and add onions and mushrooms. Stir over high heat for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add half the tomatoes at a time so mixture doesn’t cool down. Season with salt and pepper and add the sugar. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the onions are tender and the tomato sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Putting it all together:
Take the pork chops out of the oven and let rest in a warm place for 5 minutes. Pour any pan juices into the sauce and reheat.With a fork, remove the peel from each garlic clove and mash the roasted garlic along the top of the chop. Ladle a generous amount of sauce in a circle on the plate and top with a chop.Here it is with the sauce on top, but tastes just as good either way I'm sure.

Pork Chop with Piquant Sauce

Monday, June 25, 2012

Comparison Shopping for Things I Don't Need

It's always fun to find a bargain. Even if it's not something that you can really use. Maybe someone out there can:

This is the Quadrant Planter, from Crate and Barrel. I can picture it with big fluffy plants that spill over the edges. Preferably all planters containing the same type of plant. It sells for $249.

This is the Quadrant Planter, from Lowes. For $49.95. The bottom piece keeps it from looking as airy as the Crate and Barrel version. But then again, it's $200 less. Works for me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chili Sauce for Hot Dogs, Fries or Hamburgers

We celebrated Father's Day by having a hot-dog-with-all-the-fixins-supper. because this is what the dads wanted. This means chili and slaw on top of Hebrew National hot dogs. 

I went searching for a good recipe for the chili. Texture is very important as you don't want lumps of hamburger meat like you might have for regular chili. I found the secret to this is to put your hamburger meat into a pot of water and mix it with your hands to get all the lumps out. This recipe is a conglomeration of several that I found but mixed and matched to get it the way I thought it should be.

Servings: 8-12 

o 1 lb lean hamburger
o 4 cups water
o 2 (6 ounce) cans or 12 ounces of chicken or beef stock
o 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste, plain
o ½ onion, diced
o 2 tablespoons chili powder
o 1 teaspoon kosher salt
o 1 teaspoon garlic powder
o 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
o 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. With your clean hands start by adding 4 cups of water, 2 cans of chicken or beef stock and 1 can of regular tomato paste in a large pot. Place the raw hamburger in the liquid and use your hands to break all down so there are no chunks. Add dried onion, chili powder, kosher salt, garlic powder, worcestershire and cayenne pepper, black pepper and mix well.

2. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 2 hours or until the mixture becomes thick. Stir often! Taste for seasoning and spice level; add more chili powder or cayenne pepper to suit your taste.

This can be used on hot dogs, brats, fries and hamburgers of all varieties; even over spaghetti. This recipe freezes very well also so you can keep some on hand for those hot dog or chili cravings.You can reduce the cooking time by cooking over a higher heat - just make sure to watch the chili closely, stirring often, so it does not burn on the bottom. For slaw we buy pre-grated cabbage/slaw and mix with Marie's Cole Slaw dressing.

Here's the end result:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Temporarily In The Slow Lane

So you may, or perhaps not, noticed that I have not blogged for a while. I know my readers, all 3 of them, miss my ramblings. Blame it all on Obama Care.

Not really, so much, but kinda sorta. Mainly I just thought that would get your attention. Since neither of the Lanes work for a large corporation we do not have employer-sponsored health care. No, we have find it yourself and pay the outrageous premiums every month kind, the kind with the $20,000 deductible. That's enough to make you stay in the slow lane and proceed very cautiously.

Therefore, I have been on the search for a new health care plan. One that would actually cover the doctors in the state we live in, rather than our previous residence. This is not an easy project. I have spent most of the last 3-4 weeks searching plans, comparing deductibles, comparing office visit costs. Some plans you have to pay for everything up to your deductible. And maybe that deductible is $250. But probably not unless you are a fine physical specimen who has never filled a prescription through insurance and therefore you do not show up in their system for them to know anything about you. No, nowadays the deductibles are $3,000 and up.

Some plans you pay a copay of 10-20%. Of everything. So whether it's an office visit or a hospital stay you pay 10-20% of whatever that cost might end up being. That could be scary. Or, some plans you pay $50 for an office visit and they pay everything over that (for an appropriately high monthly premium). Or, some plans they pay $50 for an office visit and you pay everything over that. Again, the great unknown.

I finally made a decision, talked to an agent, spent 2 hours filling out the application on a conference call with the agent, then talked to a nurse working for the underwriters who asked questions such as, "Have you ever thought of committing suicide?" Like this whole process wouldn't have already pushed someone to the edge.

Oh, and along with this I have been researching car insurance for this state along with a new renters insurance policy. So, no blogging, just spreadsheet reading and web site comparing and general gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair. And it may have nothing to do with Obama Care, or maybe it does. But pondering that would put me in a different lane.