Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dijon Caper Pork Chops with Mushrooms

Dijon Caper Pork Chops with Mushrooms
2 boneless center cut pork chops (mine was ~ .6 lbs)
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
1 TB olive oil
1/2 TB flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
heaping 1/2 tsp grey poupon
2 TB white wine
1 tsp minced garlic
heaping 1/2 TB capers
1 TB lemon juice

1. Depending on what you're having as a starch, you might want to get that started while you're cooking the pork and its sauce. You probably don't have to worry about your steamed vegetables until your meal is almost all ready.
2. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over med-high heat. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the pork chops, and once the oil has heated, add the chops to the hot pan. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side and then for 3 on the second side. Take the chops out of the pan, put them in a glass dish and cover with foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.
3. Mix the flour and 2 TB stock together to make a thick liquid that will help thicken the sauce later on. Also add the grey poupon to this mixture.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raspberry Squares

My mom and I originally found this recipe in Fitness Magazine back in December 2004 - and it's become a go-to recipe for something easy to throw together for the both of us. You could make the squares different by using a different jam, but we like the raspberry best I think. Just last week I even made them right before work - that's how simply and quick they are!

Por la familia de mi novio en Argentina - Espero que te gustarĂ­a esos dulces!

Raspberry Squares
5 TB butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coconut (sweetened)
1/2 cup raspberry fruit preserves

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Calling all yogurt enthusiasts!

I never liked greek yogurt until this last year and even now I have a difficult time remembering which kinds I've tried and liked or hated. I love that you get a hefty serving of protein with greek yogurt since I don't always have a protein like chicken or shrimp or meat during other parts of the day. They are definitely not all equal - some are thicker than others, some are sweeter, some have fruit at the bottom. While I know it's sort of like comparing apples and oranges, I thought I would set off to actually keep track of the different kinds I've been trying and share my thoughts with you all on the 6 varieties below!

Dannon Oikos - Peach
Fruit on the Bottom, Greek Nonfat Yogurt (5.3oz, 130 calories, 12g protein, 19g sugar)
Tasting this yogurt is what made me write this post. I wanted a reminder to never buy this kind again. It tastes really artifically sweet, and even after adding some granola I still couldn't enjoy it. What a waste of good trader joe's granola! It's the usual greek consistency - pretty thick, and has chopped up peach at the bottom which seems to be in some sort of thick syrup that means you definitely need to stir well before adding anything. I think I decided to try this kind because it was on sale last week at the grocery store - maybe 10 for $10. Not worth it, sorry! I felt bad wasting and tried to force a few mouthfuls down, though didn't make it very far. Unfortunately I have another one of these sitting in my fridge - any takers?! Maybe I can use it for a smoothie and it will mask the flavor a bit. Update: I used it for a smoothie and it was fine for that use!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes

With blueberries on sale last week at the grocery store, I scooped up a package before the start of the weekend with the intention to make blueberry pancakes for a nice Sunday morning breakfast! I remember being little and hating blueberry pancakes - I always option for chocolate chip instead, anyone who knows my sweet tooth will not be surprised by that decision. I'd like to think that my taste buds have matured since those days - and now, bring on the blueberry pancakes or any other kind for that matter! This recipe came from my favorite Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes
1 cup white wheat flour
2 TB cornmeal
1 TB sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup sour milk*
2 TB oil
1 cup fresh blueberries
Optional: maple syrup, berries

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Old world Harvard Sq - Casablanca

40 Brattle Street, Harvard Square
Casablanca is one of those old institutions in Harvard Square, having been around since the 50's. It was where my former boss took me for my welcome lunch, and since then we've had a number of other goodbye and welcome lunches given it was so close to my old office. They have different menus for lunch and dinner, as well as small bites and tapas menus for different times of the day. When you go in the front door off of Brattle Street, the first room in the front has a lot of light and the back room tends to be more social (albeit darker). They brought a delicious bread basket to our table - with fresh pita and another softer sourdough bread. They also bring table salt and pepper to mix with oil for dipping - delicious!
As you'll see above and to the left, we shared the Grilled Calamari and Hearts of Palm Salad (w/ avocados, tomatoes, shaved red onion, cilantro and citrus vinaigrette) and the Pan Seared Salmon (served with shrimp and feta arancini, wilted pea greens, tzatziki and charmoula). Between the bread and these two dishes it was plenty of food for the two of us. The salad was dressed lightly, the way we like it, the avocado ripe and fresh, and the calamari tasted like it was really just grilled out back (and not too chewy). The salmon portion was a large one - and cooked just right, because I hate when salmon is undercooked. The arancini was the first thing we both tried - and liked, but they were heavy and fried. The pea greens weren't overcooked either - and were a nice change from other veggies you tend to find on the side of a restaurant main dish. There was a bit too much tzatziki on the plate for my liking. The charmoula is a marinade typical of this region used on fish/seafood - it's made of a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon, garlic, cumin and salt. It is the darker paste you see on top of the salmon here. Overall there was a lot of flavor in both of these dishes and we were happy with our choices!

In the past for lunch I've enjoyed their flatbread pizza with grapes (except the annoying seeds), their turkey breast sandwich (except the spicy aioli), and they have this unique stuffed baby eggplant dish that's great. Definitely check out Casablanca if you haven't been there before!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

South African Food Adventures

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for work - I know, not a bad job, right?! Before leaving I was really looking forward to learning more about what types of foods were traditional there. The only things I had heard about were this beef jerky like snack called Biltong, and that the 2nd city I was going to be in was Indian food central. Given that neither of those things were making my mouth water, I set off to try and find a local cooking class. I didn't have any luck there either! It has been just a couple of weeks since I returned from this trip and I would say that I had three unique, local food experiences and I'm glad to be able to share them with you here.

Hotel sushi, fruit and salad - this is what you get
when you try to be healthy on a work trip
I was surprised to see every type of cuisine possible in restaurant form, except ones that stood out as local African food. For the first few days the food I ate consisted only of salads, sushi, greek, and hotel continental breakfast. I was so excited to see one of my favorite DC casual restaurants, Nando's, all over Johannesburg - and yet, I sadly found no opportunity to actually eat there. The common phrase throughout my trip when I missed out on something was, "I have to leave something for next time" so Nando's was left for next time! I have also had my fair share of dinners at hotels, which I am all set with for the year.
On the fourth night of my trip I was graciously hosted by South African parents of a student of mine. It is common to have domestic helpers in their households, and so their domestic helper cooked an amazing, traditional African meal for myself and a number of other guests from my school that are spending their summer in South Africa! The white sphere in the front, called 'Pap', is a traditional porridge made from ground white maize that had a thick consistency. The only thing sort of close to that texture I can think of is polenta maybe. It doesn't have any sort of strong taste because it is meant to be served under another dish with lots of flavor on its own! On this night it was served with a spinach dish, a pumpkin and roast meat stew, and a couple of sides I opted out of because they were deemed spicy - a tomato relish/chutney sort of sauce, and another meat dish. One of the traditional appetizers they served was a grilled sausage, usually "braaied" (aka barbequed), and the dessert was to die for - a sort of bread pudding that has British ties and was served with fresh mango and ice cream. I could've eat the entire tray, and was so happy to find it on a menu a couple of nights later at a restaurant in Durban!