Shortcuts and Time Savers: Weekend Meals

Happy Hump Day! It may be Wednesday, but Ms. Foodie is already working for the weekend…

Ms. Foodie prefers quick and dirty for the weekend–that’s meals, not… get your mind out of the gutter!

As much as Ms. Foodie loves food, and loves the kitchen, I don’t want to spend all weekend there. So easy, one-dish meals, particularly ones that can be planned ahead of time, are always on the list. And as always, I’m not opposed to using other recipes as my launch pad.

My friend Terri Gibson posted this Pizza Casserole recipe on her Facebook page, and I immediately snagged it so that I could make it on Saturday. It looks complex, but like Pizza, it is sooo easy to prepare, and can even be prepared the night before, placed in the refrigerator, and cooked the next day. That might even be preferred, as the flavors get to merge and meld to make this already flavorful dish even better!

Pizza Casserole Collage

The original recipe is from Jinkyfer on her WordPress blog, “Recipes that Look and Sound Good“.  Jinkyfer doesn’t play, and all the recipes had me drooling. The only thing Ms. Foodie adjusted was the cook time. The recipe calls for 25 minutes, but I like my pizza and cheese crispy, yet gooey, so 45 minutes was a better measure.

For Sunday, AllRecipes.com was my go-to site, and Cheesy Pork Chop Casserole was on the menu. No measuring, no mixing, just real easy fixing, as the commercial goes. The most time took was peeling and slicing the potatoes–otherwise, gravy!

Desserts are also packaged into my weekend (unless I get a particular craving during the week), and this Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting from “Life’s Simple Measures” Blog could not be resisted.  Like the Pizza Casserole, it is extremely easy, even down to the Browned Butter Frosting. Ms. Foodie miscalculated on the Powdered Sugar, so I just added a bit of cornstarch to help the thickening.

Banana Bars Collage

Turned out beautiful, and the taste was scrumptious! It was moist and light, yet had that denseness that I love in Banana breads.

Saturday Night: Chili Lime Meatballs accompanied by Browned Butter Noodles with Parmesan and mixed Vegetables

Ms. Foodie had a packet of Chili Lime seasoning in her store, so I decided to whip up some Ground Pork Meatballs with Red Onion, then create some sauce from some of the seasoning using Orange Juice and Honey.

With some Browned Butter Egg Noodles, Parmesan and mixed Vegetables as a side, the evening meal was Yumdilitious!

Big Food for the Big Game

CIMG0371Ms. Foodie is by no means a sports fan–I just use any excuse to cook and party! SuperBowl Sunday is the perfect day to trot out some new recipes, or put a new twist on the old ones.

Ms. Foodie kept the nibbles few and simple: Potato Chips, Baby Carrots, Celery Sticks, and Toasted sliced mini Baguettes.  They were the perfect complement to the AllRecipes.com Garlic Feta Dip and the Egg and Avocado Salad found on the Never Homemaker site.

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Ms. Foodie liked this particular Egg Salad because of it’s simplicity and flexibility. Of course, changes were made: Ms. Foodie rarely does Mayonnaise, when Miracle Whip tastes better; and Salt and Pepper should always be to taste–a pinch just doesn’t do the trick.

CIMG0367But enough of the nibbles, it’s always the main event that gets me really excited!

Ms. Foodie has fallen in LOVE with Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili sauce, so she decided to sauce up her Pork Spare Ribs with it! I first seasoned the Ribs with some Sea Salt, Pepper, and a bit of Cayenne, then poured on the TJ’s Sweet Chili sauce (about half of the 10 ounce bottle for 12 ribs), sliced some onions to cover the ribs, and put the mix in a crock pot for about six hours.

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Once the Ribs were sufficiently succulent,  I placed them in a pan, basted them with the rest of the bottle of Sweet Chili sauce, then baked them uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

CIMG0374Ms. Foodie paired the Spare Ribs with my favorite Jasmine Rice–Man, were they tasty!

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That got us through two halves of the game, so for halftime, Ms. Foodie whipped up some sliders. Easy to do with pre-marinated Ground Beef, mini buns from Trader Joe’s (love that place!) and some sliced Cheddar.

I mixed the Ground Beef with chopped Onions, Garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Cumin, Basil, Thyme, Salt, Pepper, and a bit of Probiotic Yogurt. Ms. Foodie set the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours to meld these flavors. It also helps me form the mix into little balls, about an inch to an inch-and-a-half in diameter.

CIMG0378In lieu of a grill, I lined a pan with aluminum foil, then cooked them in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. While the Burger Balls were cooking, it gave me time to prep the mini buns by cutting the Cheddar Cheese slices in quarters, and putting those mini-slices on each side of the bun.

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Ms. Foodie placed the prepped buns in the oven midway through the Burgers cooking. Once the Cheese was melted, everything comes out, and the Sliders are ready to be put together.

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No matter who wins the game, these SuperBowl goodies make for a victorious feast!

Challah French Toast is what’s for Breakfast!

An homage to my Jewish brethren commemorating Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, accompanied by unorthodox thick-sliced Bacon.  Raised by a Southern Baptist Mamma–what can I say?!

Covered in Maple Syrup, with the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack playing in the background, it’s all good….

Slow-Cooked Hoisin and Ginger-marinated Pork Roast

Ms. Foodie loves slow cookers!  They are wonderful tools in any season, but particularly during the hot summer months.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want to think about turning on an oven in 90 degree heat!  Slow cookers save you the trouble, and fit the category of one-skillet meals–except you replace the skillet with the crock!

I have six, including a baby fondue-style one.  Come to one of my holiday parties, and you’ll understand why…

But I digress.  The recipe begins, of course, with a good cut of meat.  A two-pound butt roast, with just a bit of marbling, did the trick.  I marinated it overnight in a cup of white wine (or wine vinegar), rosemary, basil, ground pepper, and sea salt.

The next day, an hour before placing it in the crock, I rubbed it down with Hoisin sauce and 1/4 cup of ginger root.

I sliced up four red potatoes and joined them with asparagus stalks and baby carrots.  I placed these in the bottom of the slow cooker, not only to help them cook more completely, but also to give them the benefit of all those yummy juices that will fall from the roast.

Then I placed the roast in, topped it with another 1/4 cup more of sliced ginger root, the remaining marinade, and some green beans.

I used the stalks and beans to maintain the subtlety of the Hoisin and ginger.  Depending on the flavors you wish to perfect, you can use more Hoisin, and pair it with a stronger green vegetable, like Brussel sprouts or broccoli.

I like to use the longer-cook method, as it makes for a more tender meat; Eight hours later, you have a complete, hearty, and stove-free meal.

Hubby gave it two-thumbs up!

What’s Cookin’?

Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs with Ginger-Chili Sauce.  The base recipe for the sauce can be found on recipestips.com–the addition of crushed ginger, molasses (instead of brown sugar), chili-garlic paste, and a touch of lemon juice  is all mine!

I also brine my ribs overnight in chopped ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce (in place of salt), rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and ground pepper.  After rubbing the brining into the ribs, I cover them with hot water (to melt the brown sugar) then some cold water and ice cubes to melt overnight and maintain the balance.

Once the ribs have basted overnight, I place them in a pan, pour some of the marinade over the top, cover with aluminum foil and braise them in a 250 degree oven for about three hours, give or take.

Depending on how much time I have, I either baste the ribs in barbecue sauce and oven grill them for 20 minutes, or I ask hubby to do the same on the gas grill–either way, they get that nicely grilled flavor!

These ribs are for a potluck tonight celebrating three college graduates from our church.  Bob McNelis, Hazel Morgan and Janette Knudson not only share the same graduation year, but they also graduated from the same school–California State University in Northridge!  They aren’t young whippersnappers either; These three are people like me, in the middle of their lives, who chose to make a change and better themselves by going back to school.  Hazel and Janette raised their kids while doing this–so they deserve a celebration and Ms. Foodie is bringing her best.

Not that anyone would expect anything less…

Savory and Succulent Red Cabbage with Ground Pork

So Ms. Foodie took another hiatus from food blogging, and I know some of you hang on my every recipe.  So sorry, but it’s been a busy time.

For my return blog, I present a savory, succulent summer dish that is deceptively hearty.  It doesn’t require turning on an oven, and if you cook it with my recommendations, it only requires two pans.

Unfortunately, my camera card also took a hiatus, so I lost some of the prep pics–but you’re smart, you’ll get the vision!

Take half a head of red cabbage, and coarsely chop it into square-like pieces.  Line a non-stick skillet with the cabbage.  In a cast-iron skillet, cook a pound of ground pork until done, and even a bit brown and crispy.  Take the pork out of the skillet, but leave the drippings.

Mince about a 1/4 cup of fresh ginger, a 1/2 cup of onion (yellow and white are mellow), and two cloves of garlic.  Sauté the onion and ginger in the drippings until onions are clear and soft, add the garlic, and stir it in for a few minutes, but don’t overcook.

Transfer the ground pork to the cabbage-filled non-stick skillet and place the sauteed onion, ginger and garlic on top.  Here’s where the succulent comes in:  add a 12 oz. can of diced red tomatoes, then take the empty can and mix 1/2 cup soy sauce and a 1/4 cup rice vinegar together.  Add this on top of the mixture.

Place on low heat and let it slow simmer for 15 minutes.  Here’s where the savory enters: take a 10 oz. can of mandarin oranges.  Take about 1/2 the juice and add it on top of your mixture.  Throw in a few orange pieces for good measure, but not too many, as they can overpower.

Cover your mixture, lower your heat even more, and cook for another 30 minutes, until the cabbage is softened and the flavors meld.

You have a mellow, quick, yet complex dish that goes great over Jasmine rice, bread or pasta!