Pork Tacos

This is a meal that comes together relatively quickly & in terms of the family, one we all agree on, which sometimes is a rarity.

We use this kind of cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb. packages of pork stew meat
  • Canola oil
  • Tex Mex seasoning, 2-4 tsps, sprinkled over pork while cooking
  • Cheese sauce
  • Flour tortillas

Tex-Mex Seasoning (I keep this on hand & use it for nachos, beans, tacos, & all sorts of things:

  • 3 tbsp, plus 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

Preparation:

In a large skillet (I use a cast iron) heat oil to medium-high heat. Add pork, seasoning, & cook until no longer pink. While the pork is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce as directed on package. Add meat to flour tortillas & drizzle with cheese.

I serve this with beans, rice, chips, & guacamole.

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Oatmeal Scotchies

I’ve only had these cookies a handful of times with the last time being at least 15 years ago, if not longer. A few weeks ago, seemingly out of nowhere, I had a strong taste for them. I ignored it, but the taste persisted & today while grocery shopping I made my way to the baking aisle knowing full well I would succumb. I baked, ate several, and am sated for at least another 15-20 years. I bagged the rest up & am sending the remaining with Bri to take to work tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 11 oz package of Nestle Toll House butterscotch chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat the butter & sugars together until light & fluffy. Beat in the eggs & vanilla extract. Stir in the baking soda, salt, & cinnamon. Add the flour & stir until just incorporated. Lastly, add in the oats until combined & then stir in the butterscotch chips.

Use a large cookie scoop & drop onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-9 minutes & transfer to cooking rack.

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Books I Read in 2019

Even though I maintain this site as my digital recipe box, the annual post I look forward to most is the collection of books I read throughout the year. In fact, ever since I committed to reading 52 books in 2014, I’ve kept an ongoing list in the notes app on my phone of the books I’ve read. I have a life long love of reading. I was the kid who who would sneak in extra reading by the hall light after bedtime until I could hear my parents’ footfall on the bottom of the stairs prompting me to hurriedly feign sleep. During family road trips after dusk I would read what I could of the Sweet Valley High series & later books by VC Andrews (I’m dating myself, I know!) using the beam of head lights from the cars behind us. While in school for my undergrad when reading was primarily required, I have a hazy memory of my friend Jed in my dorm room, picking up Victor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning splayed across my stomach where I’d lain it before I dozed off. He gently picked up the book, laid it on my desk, and whispered, “You’re on page 83, Ang,” & then he turned the light off, slipped out the door, & closed it quietly behind him. Those are just a few of the memories I have that involve reading. It’s safe to say when someone has memories of reading, they’re likely a bona fide bookworm. I am what I am & if you’re still reading this chances are you are too!

Without further ado, the list:

  1. Educated, Tara Westover
  2. The Last of the Stanfields, Marc Levy
  3. Evidence of the Affair, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  5. Not Famous, Matthew Hanover
  6. Dracula, Bram Stroker
  7. Born a Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
  8. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  9. Kindred, Octavia Butler
  10. Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis
  11. The Upside of Falling Down, Rebekah Crane
  12. The Professor, Robert Bailey
  13. The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris
  14. A Curve in the Road, Julieanne Maclean
  15. Mother’s Group, Liane Moriarty
  16. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe The World, Admiral William McRaven
  17. The Eighth Sister, Robert Dugoni
  18. Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
  19. The Butterfly Garden, Dot Hutchison
  20. Pretty Girls Dancing, Kylie Brant
  21. The Short Drop, Matthew FitzSimmons
  22. The Practice House, Laura McNeal
  23. Last Summer, Kerry Lonsdale
  24. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  25. The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing, & Coming Out, William Dameron
  26. What You Did, Claire McGowan
  27. Heartland, Sarah Smarsh
  28. The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice For Making Life Decisions, Emily P. Freeman
  29. Thin Air: A Jessica Shaw Thriller, Lisa Gray
  30. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, Kelly Harms
  31. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, & Our Lives Revealed, Lori Gottlieb
  32. The Friend, Sigrid Nunez
  33. Room To Breathe, Liz Talley
  34. Toil & Trouble, Augusten Burroughs
  35. Heavy, Kiese Laymon
  36. Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don’t Know, Malcolm Gladwell
  37. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
  38. Emily, Gone Bette Lee Crosby
  39. The Like Switch, Jack Shafer, PhD & Marvin Karline, PhD
  40. The Obesity Code, Jason Fung, MD
  41. A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult
  42. A Beginner’s Guide To The End: Practical Advice For Living Life & Facing Death, BJ Miller, MD & Shoshana Berger

My favorites (in no particular order):

“In society we do horrible things to one another because we don’t see the person it effects. We don’t see their face; we don’t see them as people. Which was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place: to keep the victims of apartheid out of sight & mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human they would see that slavery is unconscionable. We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them. If we could see another’s pain & empathize with one another it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”

*If you haven’t read this book, or even if you have, I urge you to listen to the Audible version. His style, accent, cadence is unprecedented. Also, you will find yourself pealing with laughter. I promise.

“Even in the best possible relationship, you’re going to get hurt sometimes & no matter how much you love somebody, you will, at times, hurt that person. Not because you want to, but because you’re human. You will inevitably hurt your partner, your parents, your children, your closest friend & they will hurt you because if you sign up for intimacy, getting hurt is part of the deal. But, what is great about a loving intimacy is that there is room for repair. Therapists call this process “rupture & repair.” And, if you had parents who acknowledged their mistakes & took responsibility for them & taught you as a child to acknowledge your mistakes & learn from them too, then your ruptures won’t feel so cataclysmic in your adult relationships. If, however, your childhood ruptures didn’t come with loving repairs, it will take some practice for you to tolerate the ruptures; to stop believing that every rupture that happens signals the end, & a trust that even if a relationship doesn’t work out, you will survive that rupture too. You will heal & self repair & sign up for another relationship full of its own ruptures & repairs. It’s not ideal, opening yourself up like this, putting your shield down, but if you want the rewards of an intimate relationship, there’s no way around it.”

 

“I would learn 15 years too late that asking for consent, granting consent, surviving sexual violence, being called a good dude, & never initiating sexual relationships did not incubate me from being emotionally abusive. Consent meant little to nothing if it was not fully informed. What & to whom were my partners consenting if I spent our entire relationship convincing them that a circle was not a circle, but just a really relaxed square. I’d become good at losing weight & great at convincing women they didn’t see or know what they absolutely saw & knew. Lying there on that floor, I accepted that I’d actually never been honest with myself about what carrying decades of lies did to other people’s hearts & heads.”

 

 

“This has been a book about a conundrum. We have no choice but to talk to strangers, especially in our modern, borderless world. We aren’t living in villages anymore…Yet at the most necessary of tasks we are inept. We think we can transform the stranger without cost or sacrifice into the familiar & the known & we can’t.”

 

A book worth mentioning:

While it wasn’t a favorite of mine, I do believe it’s an important and worthwhile book. I’ve been a hospice social worker for over 3 years now so the information outlined isn’t new to me, but for someone not in the field, this is an essential handbook to help guide people during a time when it’s often difficult to think straight.

“Only a small fraction of us, 10 – 20% maybe, will die without warning. The rest of us will have time to get to know what’s going to end our lives. As discomforting as that can be, it does afford us some time to live with this knowledge, get used to it, & respond. We do have some choice about how we orient ourselves to the inevitable: where we’ll die, maybe, or around whom. And most important, how to spend the time meanwhile.”

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White Velvet Sugar Cookies

It’s possible you’ve already retired your apron for the baking season because you are simply cookied out! I feel you, I’ve been there, read: may be there now. If however, you’re getting a late start or are on a baking extravaganza, I urge you to try these cookies. Afterwards, you might just decide these are your new go-to Christmas cutout cookies.

They are impressive in that you can roll them out thick & they keep their shape while baking instead of becoming a misshapen pool of dough. But more importantly, they taste so, so good! They stand alone on their own. Good enough to eat without any frosting, I know because I’ve eaten my fair share just that way.

Typically, I make royal frosting, but as I mentioned before, I’ve fallen victim to the, “I’m done baking!” So, I made a traditional butter cream frosting & told the fam they could frost & decorate their own cookies, a sort of Christmas cookie assembly line, if you will. Give these a shot, I’m confident you will be happy with the results.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (16 oz) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter & cream cheese, until light & fluffy, 3 – 5 minutes, scraping down the sides & bottom, as needed.

Add the sugar, egg yolks, & vanilla. Mix well, another 1 – 2 minutes. Add the flour & salt. Mix until combined, being careful not to over mix.

Place dough in a Tupperware container, cover, & chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Longer is fine, of course.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters & cut into shape, placing 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until set, but not browned on edges or bottom. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Frost cookies or place unfrosted in a Tupperware container & freeze until you’re ready to frost or eat as is.

Source: melskitchencafe.com

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Caprese Salad – Take Two

The first time I posted about caprese salad it was for a serving of one. I would pack this for lunch during the summertime. It is no longer summer, but I don’t ascribe to the notion certain foods and/ or dishes are only to be eaten according to the calendar. With this dish, I can make a generous bowl of it, eat some now, keep it in the refrigerator, & eat some later.

The cast of characters:

Preparation is easy. I diced up the tomatoes & seasoned them with salt & pepper. Chiffonade the basil. Combine the tomatoes, basil, & fresh mozzarella pearls. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve & enjoy!

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Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

The moment the weather changes from a bright, warm sunny day to gray, cool, & overcast, you better believe I will be in the kitchen.

Ingredients

for the rolls:

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for handling

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted

for the caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted

Preparation

for the rolls:

Warm milk to 110 degrees (not more than 110 or it will kill the yeast) if taking milk out of refrigerator, heat in microwave at 30 second intervals, testing temperature each time. Whisk in the sugar & packet of yeast. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to proof, approximately 30 minutes.

Add egg yolks, one egg, cooled melted butter, kosher salt, & proofed milk/ sugar/ yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand up mixer & whisk together using the paddle attachment. Add flour, one cup at a time, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Remove the paddle attachment & add dough hook, knead for 5-7 minutes. The dough should be soft & moist, not overly sticky. Transfer the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl & cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, approximately 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast pecan pieces for 5-7 minutes, turning at least once. Allow to cool.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter, salt, brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, & cream. Stir until melted, remove from heat, & stir in 1 1/2 cup of the toasted pecan pieces. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Pour the cooled caramel/ pecan sauce into the pan.

Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer to a large, lightly floured surface & roll to a rectangle that is 18 or so inches wide (the side closest to you) & 12 or so inches long with 1/4 thickness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the softened butter over the rolled out dough. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, dash of nutmeg & 1/2 cup of the toasted pecan pieces. Spread evenly over buttered dough. Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight, 18 inch long spiral. Very gently, using floss and/ or a string (or even a serrated knife sawing gently) cut into 1 1/2 inch sections so that you have 12 rolls. Place rolls on caramel/ pecan sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes, or until thermometer inserted in middle reads 190 degrees. Remove from oven, allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes. If you have a dish long enough, invert pan so caramel/ pecan sauce is on top. I do not have one of these so when I served them I simply inverted a roll onto the plate. Whatever is not eaten the day baked, place in Tupperware container & store in refrigerator. Heat in 30 second intervals. Enjoy!

Posted in Bread/ Muffins, Breakfast, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swiss Steak

This dish was in regular rotation while I was growing up. It’s the perfect dish to use round steak with since it simmers & the end result is a super tender piece of meat that you can cut with a fork.

Ingredients:

  • Round steak
  • Vegetable oil
  • Flour
  • S & P
  • 1 envelope of Lipton Beefy Onion Soup mix
  • Brown or white rice

Preparation:

Add S&P to each side of the steak, cover each side in flour, & pound down to flatten. Using an electric skillet, heat to 275 – 300 degrees, add a thin layer of oil to brown each side of the steak, a few minutes on each side. Remove any excess oil. Add a packet of Beefy Onion Soup mix & 3-4 cups of water. Simmer for 2 hours, adding additional water as needed. Add rice 30 minutes before end of cooking time until tender & water is absorbed.

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