One of my really good friends came over last night and the plan was to cook and drink some wine. Boy did we ever!
So here was the menu: Spaghetti with Glazed Onion and Gorgonzola, Greek Salad and then for dessert, Chocolate Banana Cream Pie. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine was!
Let me just say, my friend cuts onions with such a precision, I was jealous. Guess I’m not that patient. While she got those sauteing, I was working on the salad. The onions cook until they are caramelized, and then the garlic is added in, and then some balsamic and it’s mixed with 4 ounces of Gorgonzola and pasta. For the salad, I made my own vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and sugar. I read about a new trick that works really well – pour the dressing in the bowl first, then toss the goodies in it and it distributes more evenly! The salad had feta, Calamata olives and tomatoes on a bed of romaine, with just a splash of dried Italian seasoning and some extra rosemary.
So lets talk about dessert. Now my friend and I both have horribly amazing hankerings for sweets. So I had found a recipe way back when for a Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, that I had been dying to try. Here was my excuse. Well come to find out she’s an avid baker, and knows how to make a pie crust from scratch without looking at a recipe?? Again, I was jealous. This pie crust had a little extra sugar and some cocoa powder added in. We froze it for ten minutes, baked it with weights for 20 minutes, then without for another 10 minutes and let it cool. While she was making the crust, I was making the filling, which is just flour, milk and sugar, all stirred together until it boils, then reserve part of if and mix the other part with chocolate chips to make the chocolate cream part. Once the shell was baked and cooled, we pour in the vanilla cream, then top with sliced bananas, and then the chocolate cream, and then home made whip cream on top, and let it cool. Sara Lee ain’t got nothin’ on us! Given, by time we realized how long this pie was going to take, it was almost 10:30 at night by time we ate it. Oh well, definitely worth the wait 🙂
At the end of the night, we realized that we might just have to make this cooking extravaganza a weekly thing…because neither of us has time to cook this well on our own, and because it’s a great Friday night when you spend it with your best friends!
So I managed to get away with not working a double tonight…which meant I could finally cook in my kitchen again! For the first time in probably almost two weeks. It was a good feeling. I knew the roomie was going to the store, so I had her pick up a couple things and pull out the pork chops before I got home. And life was good.
So the menu tonight was garlic balsamic pork chops and a mixed greens salad. I took a little help from the store by using a bottled marinade, but oh my goodness was it tasty (thanks mom!). And the pork wasn’t overcooked, it was just perfect and juicy. I wish that there was some way to capture and upload a smell…because this apartment smelled amazing.
For the salad, I made up some candied pecans – from scratch! I actually picked the brain of the head chef at work to figure out how to do it. But then, go figure, I forgot to actually put them on the salad. That’s what I get for not pulling them out of the fridge with the rest of the ingredients. But the salad was a mix of fresh baby spinach, freshly chopped romaine – not that bagged stuff, this was so much more crisp and pretty – celery, sliced apples, dried cherries, feta cheese, and Parmesan. Topped lightly with Italian dressing. The chefs at work make a really tasty apple cider vinaigrette to go over ours…but I wasn’t in the mood to attempt that.
While I was making the pecans, I also decided to make some granola to go with my yogurt in the mornings. That was so stinking simple! I added in some coconut with some walnuts and oats. I think when I actually put it on my yogurt, I’ll probably throw in some fresh fruit too. Some of those dried cherries would probably be pretty tasty.
Find the recipes here.
I gave the boyfriend the equivalent of a Food Network Challenge, and told him he had pork chops, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes and seedless green grapes. The idea was that I wanted to make pork chops, but I didn’t want to do it the same way that I always do. His solution was to make a grape balsamic marinade for the porkchops.
He’s very good at adding a “sneaky spice” as he likes to call it, and he suggested adding cayenne pepper and oregano to the glaze. Overall, the glaze had a slightly spicy, smoky, and very gently sweet flavor to it. It was really very good. So I added it into the bag that my pork chops were in and threw it in the fridge overnight. Tonight, I put those in a pan on medium high heat with the marinade, and some red onions and garlic (about half a clove minced). I let those cook about 2.5 minutes on each side then put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes with a splash of balsamic and some diced tomatoes.
Final result? The marinade wasn’t strong enough to come through well in the flavor of the meat. But it did change the flavor from just that of basic pork chops. I think in future endeavors I would make the marinade stronger than I think it should be so that the flavor comes through well in the meat. I also made a sort of pico de gallo with tomatoes, red onions, cilantro and garlic to go on top. On the side, I used up some alfredo sauce on some pasta and made green beans for my veggie.