Monday MmmMmmMmm: Pork Roast, Potatoes and Green Beans

I am NOT a morning person.  I know this admission completely shocks some of you….not!  But what will shock you is that I was up at 6:38 a.m. this morning…and I had all my prep work done for dinner by 9:00 a.m!  I don’t know what happened; but I find it’s best not to question a morning of good fortune.

When my eyes opened at 6:38, my first inclination was to slam them shut and go back to sleep for another few hours, but after drinking a few sips of coffee and reading a few pages of the book in which I am currently engrossed; I hopped out of bed and started cooking.  I started by slicing a bunch of potatoes (white, red and sweet) into very thin slices and stacking them in little piles like decks of cards.  I put the decks of potatoes on their sides into mini loaf pans I had sprayed with cooking spray and spooned about 1 Tbsp of butter over each one.  I then topped them with minced thyme, kosher salt and pepper.  I baked them about 3/4 of the way in the morning, knowing I would finish cooking them just before Jeff arrived home from work.

Potato Decks in Mini Loaf Pans

Potato Decks with Butter Thyme Salt and Pepper

Potato Decks Baking

Just before I finished prepping the potatoes, I set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  After the potatoes were in the oven, I began cleaning green beans and by the time they were clean, the water was boiling so I slipped the beans into the water and prepared an ice bath to shock them after blanching.  I cooked the beans for approximately 4 minutes and removed them directly to the ice bath to cool – not only does the ice bath stop the cooking immediately, it also maintains the bright green color of the beans.  After they were cool, I spread them on a sheet pan I had covered with a towel, gave them a quick pat to dry them, and slid the pan into the fridge to keep the beans cool.

Ice Bath for Green Beans

Blanched Green Beans in Ice Bath

Green Beans Drying

With the green beans and potatoes prepped, I turned my attention to the pork roast I had pulled out of the freezer to thaw over the weekend.  The first thing I did was make parallel cuts across the top of the roast about 1 inch deep so that the seasonings I would slather onto the roast would penetrate deep into the meat.  I then dried the roast with paper towel, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and set it into a hot roasting pan containing olive oil to brown.  The sizzle of the cool meat hitting the hot pan was mesmerizing and the smell of the meat browning was heavenly.

While the meat was browning, I raced out to the garden (don’t tell my mom I walked away from the stove) to pick some onions, which I washed, peeled and cut into wedges.  After the meat was browned on all sides, I dropped the cut onions and some cherry tomatoes into the roasting pan and slathered the meat with some sun-dried tomato butter I had in the fridge.  I had previously made the butter for another recipe and had some left-over.  In addition to butter and sun-dried tomatoes, the concoction also contained parmesan cheese, herbs, lemon zest, salt, pepper and garlic.  Like the potatoes, I slid the roast into the oven and cooked it part way, knowing I would finish it just before Jeff walked through the door.

Browned Pork Roast Surrounded by Onions and Cherry Tomatoes

Roast Slathered with Sundried Tomato Butter

The rest of the day was filled with exercise, showering, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, uploading some photos from my camera to my computer, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the downstairs, etc.  By the time I got everything done it was time to reheat the potatoes and the roast.  While they were reheating, I cut the green beans into bite-sized pieces and made a light apple cider vinaigrette to serve over the cold beans.

Everything was coming together nicely when Jeff got home.  He had just enough time to change his clothes before we sat down to eat.  My final step of preparation, which I did while Jeff was changing clothes, was to whir up the pan drippings and softened onions and cherry tomatoes with an immersion blender to create a nice sauce for the roast. The good news is there is enough sauce that we will also have some later in the week over the spaghetti squash I couldn’t resist buying at the farm stand yesterday.

I haven’t had spaghetti squash in years and am already plotting how I will ‘love my leftovers’ when I make it!  I think there will be some beans for protein and some green veggies (perhaps the other half of the bag of green beans or some broccoli) added to the sauce that will top the squash.  We’ll see what inspiration comes….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dinner was great – well-balanced, colorful, and filled with flavor.  Like my friend Marisa, I love Mondays – particularly when they include a Monday MmmMmmMmm!  TGIM!


Love Your Leftovers: Savory Veggie Waffles

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I often go on a bender, cleaning out my fridge and making dinner from the dribs and drabs in small containers.  It’s both a culinary challenge and a great way to avoid wasting food and money!

Last night Jeff gave my dad a ride to pick up his car.  Finally – and just in the nick of time – the air conditioning is fixed!  Woooohooooo!  While they went to pick up the car, my mom and I turned leftovers into a delicious meal.  Savory veggie waffles and a refreshing summer salad.

Continue reading

Love Your Leftovers

I LOVE LEFTOVERS!  I know there are people out there that subscribe to the “I don’t eat leftovers” way of thinking, but I am not one of them.  I don’t even pretend to understand people who don’t like leftovers! I believe that most foods get better when they have time for the flavors to meld; therefore I think leftovers are often better than the original meal.  Combine my love of leftovers with my love of COLD leftovers and my distaste for sweet breakfast, and you’ll often find me eating last night’s food for breakfast – straight from the container.

Love Your Leftovers 2

I also enjoy the challenge of what I call “kitchen sink cooking.”  You’ve been there – it’s when you clean out your fridge…you know, the multitude of little containers of items from previous meals or items that didn’t get used…and make a meal from what’s there.  Last night was one of my “kitchen sink” nights.  The results were soooo good that I couldn’t resist letting you in on my “recipe.”

Continue reading

Monday MmmMmmMmm

Steak is something that does not make it to the menu at our house very often.  I wish I could say it’s a health thing or a moral objection to eating red meat, but neither of those things is true.  It’s just “one of those things.”

However, when it does make it to the menu, we really enjoy it.  And last night was no exception.  In fact, dinner was so yummy that I had to share the pics with you!

I worked at the Kitchen Shoppe yesterday from 8:00 a.m. until about 1:15 p.m. and didn’t give a lot of forethought to dinner.  It wasn’t until after work when I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends that I got to thinking about what to have for dinner.

Continue reading

IKEA and PF Chang’s: a trip around the globe

Who doesn’t enjoy a trip to IKEA?  I know I do….I like meandering through the upstairs displays of different rooms featuring IKEA products that you can purchase and configure on your own.  You can get good ideas and good bargains as well.

Having broken many of our wine glasses over the last few years, I thought I’d take a trip to the store in White Marsh, MD to see if I could find replacements and to see what’s new at the store.  I convinced my mom to come along – not that it took much coaxing!

We spent the afternoon yesterday wandering through the maze that is IKEA and dreaming about all the things we could do in our houses if we had all the money in the world! It’s fun to do that every once in a while. Even if you’re totally satisfied with and grateful for the home you have, it’s still fun to dream…

To quote Nicholas Sparks, from The Notebook:
“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.”

Anyway, after a few hours of dreaming and a shared banana, we were hungry!  So we decided to try P.F. Chang’s.  I’d been to one in Arizona, but it’s been a while and my mom has never been to one; so we took a chance.  And it paid off.

I remembered having a delicious Spicy Green Beans side dish during my last trip to P.F. Chang’s , so we ordered the Spicy Green Beans – which are stir fried with garlic in a spicy chili sauce – as a starter while we chose our entrees.  What was delivered (not by our waitress) to our table, however, was an order of the Crispy Green Beans appetizer – lightly battered and fried crisp, served with a mildly spicy dipping sauce.  It looked good, so we gave it a try.  It was so good we weren’t even going to mention it to our server; however when she came up to take our entree order she noticed that what was delivered was not what we ordered.  We assured her that we were fine with what we had received and placed our entree order.

We were enjoying our Crispy Green Beans when our waitress arrived with a complementary order of the Spicy Green Beans.  She said, “I’m sure I’ll have to wrap most of this to go, but I wanted you to have what you ordered.”  Now that, my friends, is good service!  Even though we were happy with what we received, she went out of her way to make sure we weren’t disappointed by the mix-up.  That is what makes you remember the service and want to return to a restaurant. Oh, and we were definitely glad she brought the Spicy Green Beans because they were even better than the Crispy ones!!!!!!

Although it was difficult to choose from the varied menu, my mom chose the Seared Ahi Tuna Wasabi Salad.  It was a wonderful choice.  The dressing had that typical wasabi explosion for your sinuses, but was not too spicy and the tuna was cooked (if you want to call it that since it was rare) to perfection!  The salad was simple, but delicious and the serving was quite generous.

I settled on the Crab Fried Rice.  Ever since our trip to the Lancaster County Farmers Market last week, I’ve had a hankering for crab.  Although not the most flavorful fried rice I’ve ever had, it was still very good.  It was not at all greasy, which most fried rices cannot claim.  Once I added a bit of soy sauce (which itself was very good – just the right amount of salty), it was quite satisfying – especially the large lumps of crab meat, the little bits of bacon and the al dente asparagus.  Again, the serving was very generous – enough for dinner for Jeff and I tonight!

We left with full bellies, four to-go containers and memories of a good dining experience. Oh, and some purchases from IKEA – including the wine glasses on my list.  I’m not sure there’s another way to leave Central PA and visit Sweden and China in the same day!!!!!