Yet ANOTHER episode of "What I have been up to in my kitchen...."
Before I get into the few things I have actually been up to in my kitchen, followed by a second blog recipe post, I just want to say I have Really Missed writing for you.  I am excited to have this opportunity - first time in nearly a month - to show you some of the simple but tasty dishes I have worked on when I have had time.  I am a teacher, therefore, my day is full of organizing, planning, teaching, grading and more, so by the end of the day, I do not always have the brain power to organize, plan and write above and beyond that. Working on it.  Alright, on to the dishes!
 Starting out of order, but the other day, I was craving pancakes.  I had found that I'd left my boxed pancake mix at my mom's, so I texted my partner in culinary crime, Miss Maria, and asked her for her from scratch recipe.  I used one cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, one egg and nearly a cup of 2% milk.  I normally use buttermilk, but, as this was an end-of-the-month pantry meal, regular milk came to the rescue!  I also added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  I did not have peanut butter, one of my secret ingredients, melted along with butter, honey and cinnamon, so a teaspoon of cinnamon had to do.  And do it did!  To my batter in a skillet over medium heat with melted butter, I added two teaspoons of my Rose Raspberry Reduction (fresh raspberries reduced in a White Zinfandel vino with lemon zest, lemon juice and honey).  

Flip, and Finally.........

My Drunken Raspberry Pancakes. I drizzled some of the raspberry reduction atop the hot pancakes and butter, and topped with fresh berries.  So good!  No syrup necessary!


  My Italian Burger stuffed with an egg and basil greens on top.  This may be a repeat, but it was good round two! The hamburger meat is mixed with fresh oregano, fresh chiffonad basil, diced red onion and garlic, Italian seasoning and a shot of zinfandel wine. It is topped with melted provolone and sweet Italian chile rings.  So good!
In addition to that.............

My King Cut Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops.  I served this with a simple almost meatless rotini bake.  Let's start with the chops.  I slit the chops (too much) and baked them at 400 degrees after seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Very simple seasonings, but perfect for pork.  I baked for 20 minutes, stuffed with the cheese and baked them for 20 minutes more.  The cheese began to ooze and bubble and the chops opened up.  I did not want them to open up, so lesson learned, do not cut them end-to-end, but make the incision deep enough to keep the filling inside.  Plus, if I'd had apples or sausage, I would have added the blue cheese to that, but alas, this is still a pantry dish, using what I had on hand, as going to the store was not an option.  My lesson for everyone IS:  you can still cook good meals with freezer and pantry items, stretch a buck, and enjoy your food!

I also made a simple rotini pasta bake with Manchego cheese.  This is a true thirty minute meal or less.  I began boiling water for my rotini.  Salted it lightly (for my mom, who is a heart patient, so very lightly, otherwise, I would salt it liberally, as it the only chance you have to season the pasta) and let it cook to al dente before straining.  Meanwhile, to a large high-sided sauce pan, I added a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, half a chopped red onion and 2 cloves garlic, diced and 6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonad. When the onions started to become translucent and soft, I added a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomato pure.  I brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to a low simmer until the pork chops finished so the flavors could marry.  The aroma of the sauce made me light headed....really simple and good. 

I sprayed a baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray and added a modest layer of sauce.  To that, I added the hot rotini I'd tossed liberally in the pasta sauce.  Atop that, I simply added a cup of shredded Manchego cheese (all I had on hand) and a cup of crispy diced bacon bits.  I baked for 18 minutes until the cheese was bubbly and began to brown.  Amazing aroma, I tell ya!  I removed that and chops and let them both rest. 

Here's my final plated product. 

And FINALLY.......................

Something I have done before, previously blogged, I believe, but this time in slider form:  My Taco Burger Sliders. Small tortilla wrapped burger patties topped with a green chile sauce and Oaxaca cheese. 

I had one pound of pretty lean ground beef, 85% lean, and some tortillas on hand.  I had been having tacos for a few days, LOVE the flavor of authentic Mexican tacos, but craved a burger.  Why not have a combinacion?  So, to the meat, I added 1 tablespoon of ground onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of ground pasilla chile and one teaspoon of smoked, ground chipotle powder (courtesy of my friends Kim and Morgan, of Sweet n Savory, whom you can follow on Twitter @sweetnsvry), two sprigs of my fresh oregano from my potted garden and two teaspoons of roasted green chiles for moisture.  I mixed the seasonings with the meat and made six little patties.  I fried them up.....

which smelled amazing.  Meanwhile, as the burgers were frying, I made my special sauce.  I had yogurt - yes, yogurt - in my frig, but not mayo, and to a half cup of plain Greek yogurt, I added the rest of the green chiles from my 4-0z can along with some chopped pickled jalapenos and finely chopped fresh cilantro.  I placed a taco-sized whole wheat tortilla on a cutting board, swirled a tablespoon of the sauce, placed the patty in the center, added a little more sauce and topped it with slivers of Oaxaca cheese.  Oaxaca is my favorite cheese, period.  It is the Mexican version of Mozzarella.  So good!  I folded the tortilla like an envelope, in a way, and pinned it together with specially placed toothpicks.  I believe, in my previous blog post, I used burrito-sized tortillas and fried them, which made it easier.  But, this was slider-sized, using whole wheat, low fat tortillas, using yogurt, so this was a bit healthier.  To continue, I baked the Taco Burgers on a baking sheet topped with parchment paper.  Made clean up a snap!
The baked taco burgers.  

Here's the final product. 

Hope you try these!  Simple, easy, flavorful party dishes!  Great for paper plates!


One of the last things I wanted to leave you with is, I have begun creating marinades and spice rubs for various uses.  I have begun marinating meats overnight and then freezing them until I want to use them.  That includes spice rubbed meats.  Here are some samples.  I label each gallon-sized zip-lock bag.  Just a good idea for busy families and for future reference!

Could this BE any easier?  

Thanks for your time, friends.  I appreciate your viewership more than you know! 
Please stay tuned for my next post...tonight!  It's an oldy but goodie!

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