Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Southern Staple

The hubs and I are trying not to be out of control with our eating. Thus, we have decided to try to keep dessert down to once a week, specifically on Sundays. That's not to say that we won't eat something that's put in front of us, but we're trying to be good a majority of the time. Hubs had a special request this weekend, and since I love him so much of course I acquiesced. I grew up with a mostly neutral to Northern family, while the hubs grew up decidedly Southern. I don't believe that I've ever had banana pudding before, but that is what we decided to make this past weekend.

We were feeling pretty lazy on Sunday, so we opted not to make our own pudding. You certainly could, and I'm sure it would be delicious. However, we enjoyed this dessert with instant box pudding as well. So no pressure, let this be something you can relax and enjoy on a Sunday evening with family and friends. I know we did!

Southern Banana Pudding

3 bananas (sliced)
Nilla wafers
1 box vanilla pudding
1 box banana pudding
2 c. whipped cream
4 tbsp. sugar

Mix the pudding according to package directions. You can do both in the same bowl, as we chose to do.

Make the whipped cream. Combine cream and sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a 2 qt. dish, put a layer of pudding. Follow that by a layer of bananas and a layer of Nilla wafers. Repeat this process until you have used all of the pudding. We got about three layers. Top this with whipped cream and add a few Nilla wafers in as a garnish.

Dig in and enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Favorite Summer Soup

I know soup in the summer time seems a little strange. Except when you really think about it, we spend most of our time in the nice, cool air conditioning (if you are lucky enough to have it!) anyway. AC is actually the perfect weather for soup! Still, I don't think I could handle anything too heavy. Even my beloved potato and leek soup is a bit much for the most doggiest days of summer. Minestrone is my go-to.

I'm not sure what actually makes minestrone minestrone. Most of the time I know it's supposed to be made with beans, more specifically garbanzo beans. I don't really like garbanzo beans, so I left them out. I could use white beans as a substitute, but I really like the soup the way it is, so I haven't been bothered to make any changes. The veggies are delicious in this, and I think the beef flavor is fantastic. Be sure to load it up with some parmesan on top, it definitely helps the flavor!

adapted from some old cookbook of my mom's!
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
8 c. beef broth (can use bouillion or Better than Bouillion)
1/2 tsp. dry basil (I have used 1 tbsp. fresh)
1/2 tsp. dry oregano (I have used 1 tbsp. fresh)
3 ounces pasta of your choice
1 package frozed, chopped spinach (thawed)
1/2 c. grated parmesan
In a large, 6-quart pan, brown the meat. Don't drain it once it has finished. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the beef broth, basil, and oregano. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat, and cover. Simmer for approximately 45 minutes. Add the pasta and spinach and increase the heat slightly to about medium-high. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Add 2 tbsp. of parmesan and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over soup in bowls. This should make about 6 to 8 servings. Slurp it up!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Favorite Summertime Dessert... Maybe?

I think strawberry shortcake is my favorite summer dessert. Or maybe it's blueberry pie. Or any pie, for that matter. But seriously, I think it's strawberry shortcake. What is it about fruit and pastry that is so delicious?! Add a little whipped cream or a little vanilla ice cream, and you've got perfection, in my humble opinion. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to find another excuse to make this today.

Every part of this is easy and delicious, even on it's own. Although you might garner some stares by eating an entire bowl of sugar berries by themselves. I won't say the thought didn't cross my mind. Originally I wasn't planning on making whipped cream, but I forgot to buy any at the store. I'm SO glad I did, because it was easy and way worth it to just whip (!) some up. Actually, I keep asking hubs if we can make more whipped cream to put on just about everything. He keeps saying no.

Strawberry Shortcake
slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

1 qt. strawberries
1 c. sugar

Mix the berries and the sugar in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.

1/3 c. shortening
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the shortening into the flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt using your hands, a pastry cutter (my preferred method), two knives, or a mixer until you get fine crumbs. Stir in the milk slowly until the dough just comes together. Smooth the doung into a ball on a lightly floured surface and knead 20 - 25 times. Roll it out to 3/4 to 1-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3-inch cutter. Place an inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Whipped Cream:
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar

Using an electric mixture, whip the cream and the sugar until stiff peaks form. Don't overhwip!
Spoon berries and whipped cream over the biscuits and savor for a perfect summer evening.

Dijon Pork Chops

Not a very creative title. After a long day of work, gym, and cooking I have to say the creative juices are just not flowing. So I will just let the title reflect the awesomeness of this easy and delicious meal. The hubby and I have been making this one for years. This was actually one of the first recipes we discovered and cooked together. It hasn't lost it's greatness over the years. We love this with simple sides, like potatoes or roasted veggies. It's easy on a weeknight and full of flavor. Enjoy!

Dijon Pork Chops
not really adapted from

4 pork chops, approximately 1/2 inch thick
4 tsp. dijon mustard*
1/2 c. Shake n' Bake pork seasoning coating mix

Preheat the oven to 375. Slather the chops with the mustard. We use quite a bit on this because we looove mustard, but do this to your taste. Cover the chops with the coating mix. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Note: We have always used Shake n' Bake for this, but I'm sure any other coating mix, breadcrumbs, or whatever you like to coat meat would work just as well!

*We used horseradish mustard tonight for a change and it was equally as delicious!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I know it's been a while since I posted. Life has been in the way, I suppose. We've still been cooking and doing lots of fun things in the kitchen, I just haven't been as good about writing it up. Or taking pictures, in some instances. But I've been enjoying taking it easy and hanging out with the hubby every chance I get. Because that's still fun!

Next up I'm hoping to do some home improvement projects as well. Since we have a brand new house there's really nothing that needs to be done to "fix" it. However, in the words of the hubby, it's a bit bland. We're planning on doing some decorating and some fun little projects in the next couple weeks. If we do anything exciting in the kitchen, I will be sure to post it! Since it's semi-related, and hey, it's just fun!

For the time being, I'm squeaking by with a cheat of a post, but at least I got something up here! I will post something more significant soon, promise! I thought I'd do a little update to the fish with ginger-basil butter sauce post, since I've been doing a lot with it lately (and no pictures necessary!).

-This is a very flexible sauce. I've successfully substituted garlic for the ginger and rosemary and/or thyme for the basil. Next I think I'll try some sage.
-It's also very easy to half the recipe. That makes plenty for the two of us.
- Don't use any lemon juice, even if you don't get a lot of zest off the lemon. It makes the sauce kinda funny!

Feel free to comment if you do anything different to this sauce with success!