Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions

Have you ever noticed that there are times in your life when you are staring down a pork loin (or a “beefy” 5 1/2 pound half pork loin) and your slow cooker, and you simply cannot stick it in there with a little salt and pepper, some onion, carrots, and potatoes, and call it a fix-it-and-forget-it day?

And, at the same time, been on an Asian (especially Chinese-ish) food craving binge?


Me neither.

Whistles oh-so-innocently.

Today found me in such a predicament.  I wanted to squeal over aromatic slow cooker pork with an Asian zing that didn’t taste completely processed.  Get it, squeal, pork?

I also wanted to challenge myself to use a Chinese hot mustard packet Josh picked up when he got Chinese a week or so ago.  Did I mention that this Chinese food craving binge has been going on for over a month?

At the same time, I felt the need to use up the remainder of green onions I purchased at Aldi yesterday.  I only needed two for Tuesday’s menu, and that left 10 or 12 more that would languish and eventually become oozy goo (trust me; it is not pretty!) in the fridge until is tossed after a week or so.

The solution?

Something I will only call “Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions.”

What do you do?

Wash out your new trusty slow cooker (or your old trusty).  Peel, cut in half long-ways, and slice into rings the quantity of one onion.  Separate the rings and scatter in the bottom of said slow cooker.


Trim, clean, and chop 10-15 green onions into 2-inch lengths (greens and whites).


Do you call them green onions, spring onions, or scallions?  To me, they are always green onions.  Scatter said green onions over the onion rings in the slow cooker.

Mix together the yummy paste ingredients with a plastic fork.


Go all slasher flick on the pork loin, gouging it repeatedly with your sharpest knife.


It’s very stress relieving and anger managing to do so.

With a pastry brush (or a barbecue brush), slather paste on the fatty side of the loin, making sure to fill the gouge-wounds with paste.  Place the loin fatty-side-down in the slow cooker atop the onions.  Pour the remaining paste over the pork loin, using the brush to smooth and spread the paste evenly.


Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve with rice and a veg.

The verdict?

It was so aromatically awesomesauce.  And, yes, that is the technical description.

Asian-Paste Pork Loin With Two Onions

Source:  My Brain


(It tastes so much better than it looks!)

half pork loin (mine was 5.5 pounds, but it can definitely be smaller)

1 onion, cut from pole-to-pole and sliced into half rings

10-15 green onions, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch lengths

1 cup brown sugar

sprinkle of cayenne or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake

2-3 tablespoons ground ginger

twenty grinds of freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

one lone packet of Chinese hot mustard

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

soy sauce to thin the mixture to a paste

Scatter first the white onion, then the green onions, on the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.  Perforate the pork loin in several places with either a skewer or a sharp knife.  Mix paste ingredients (stirring together dry ingredients first before adding the mustard packet and then the vinegar).  Thin paste to thick pancake batter consistency with soy sauce.

Using a silicone brush, brush the paste on the side of the pork loin (the fatty side).  Place the pork loin, fatty side down, in the slow cooker.  Pour and spread the remaining paste over the top of the pork loin.

Cook on low for six hours.  Serve with rice and appropriate veg.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July: On the Eleventh Day of Christmas in July…

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July Graphic

On the eleventh day of Christmas in July, Muffin’s Mama gave to thee…

A printable recipe for red nectar so sweet!

Click on the image above to access the recipe!

Click on the image above to access the printable labels.

This recipe for red nectar syrup (that originates in New Orleans) can be mixed with club soda to make a neat soda pop or poured over shaved ice to make a nifty snow cone.  Either prep it in either incarnation to serve at a Christmas party or bottle the syrup with the printable tag and give as a hostess gift at a Christmas party (or a neighbor gift).  Your sweet gesture will be much appreciated!

Here are some recipes you can use to add to your syrup.

The twelfth day of Christmas brings an end so apropos…you will love the gift of tomorrow though!

What is your favorite neighbor gift to give?

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July: On the Tenth Day of Christmas in July…

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July Graphic

On the tenth day of Christmas in July, Muffin’s Mama gave to thee…

A cover for a binder to hold all your recipes!

Click on the image below to access the PDF located in GoogleDocs.

These are some of the recipes that are essential to the merriment of the season in LFam Land.  I always start early with these recipes (mid-October) in order to make them by the end of December rush.  Many of these make up part of the Christmas gifts that we create each year.  Included with the printable is a tag to label your goody plate, basket, bag, or egg carton (long story best saved for December).  Just remember to click the image below to access the tags.

I hope you enjoy day eleven’s present…a recipe for a delicacy from the City of Crescent (and it’s red…just in time for the holiday season).

What is your favorite Christmas goodie?

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July: On the Second Day of Christmas in July…

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July Graphic

On the second day of Christmas in July, Muffin’s Mama gave to thee…

A cream cheese mint recipe to make the breath so sweet!

If you click the image above, that will take you to a GoogleDoc PDF full page recipe card with the recipe included.  Enjoy, my lovelies!  My oldest nephew makes a version of these and they are always melt-in-your-mouth delish!  If you click on the image below, it will take you to the PDF file of a nifty tag to add.

Tomorrow’s gift will make your house shiny and new…even though I’ve already posted a few.

What is your favorite flavor at Christmas?

Cent Saving Saturday: The Canadian Edition and a Cranberry Punch Recipe

Cent Saving Saturday

Today we are in Canada, so we will be missing the U.S. sales on this sales cycle.  My mother-in-law receives the sales flyers for the week on Thursdays (With the exception of Fresh Co., all of the sales start on Friday and run through Thursday.  Fresh Co.’s sales cycle is Thursday through Wednesday).  So, in honor of Canada Day on Tuesday (and in honor of the fact that my mother-in-law’s town is having their big Canada Day celebration today), I bring you Cent Saving Saturday, Callander/North Bay, Ontario-style.  (I noted the items that were my cost point down there or below.)  All items are in Canadian currency, and several use the metric measurement system.  For the benefit of my readers below the border, I am going to try to translate into customary units as well (except for those that seem to be universal, such as 2 L sodas).

Fresh Co.

Tostitos tortilla chips $2

Tostitos salsa or salsa con queso $2

Seedless Watermelon (9-11 pound average) $3 each

Dempster’s Whole Grains or Garden Vegetable Bread $2

Ocean Spray Cocktail $2 (64 ounce size)

Minute Maid orange juice (frozen concentrate) $1

Hunt’s Snack Pack puddings, 4 count $1

Del Monte canned fruit $1

Cavendish frozen french fries $1/bag

8 ounce package Ontario White Mushrooms $1

Ontario Romaine Lettuce $1/head

Pom 100% pomegranate juice 236 mL (8 ounces) $1

Anjou pears $1/pound

Laughing Cow cheese $2

4 pound case Ontario tomatoes on the vine $3

Target (formerly Zeller’s)

50% off all pools, water toys, and swim accessories

select Minute Maid frozen juice concentrates 2/$1

Giant Tiger

Maple Lodge chicken wieners $1

Catelli pasta sauce, 700 mL (24 ounces) $1

Minute Maid orange juice, 1.75 L (59 ounces) $2


Minute Maid, Five Alive, and Fruitopia juice cartons 1.75 L (59 ounces) 94 cents

Neilson 1% chocolate milk carton, 1 L 94 cents

Blueberries, 2 pounds, $4.94

Gala apples, 3 pound bag, $2.94

Wholly Guacamole $1.94

Maple Leaf hot dogs 94 cents

English cucumbers 77 cents each (I paid well over a dollar for some the other day in Louisiana)

Grape tomatoes, 10 ounces, 94 cents

Great Value potato chips $1.24

Great Value candy/chocolate bags 94 cents

Food Basics

Nestle Pure Life water, 24 pack bottles, $1.88

Blueberries,pint, 3/$5

Coca Cola/Pepsi 12 pk. 355 mL (12 ounces) $4.77 (This seems to be the lowest price city-wide because it is cheaper than the 3/$10 most places are offering.)

Ragu pasta sauce 99 cents

Selection bacon 500 grams (1 pound package) $3.99


President’s Choice potato chips (including the poutine flavor) 3/$5

Foodland (I will be trying out and publishing recipes from their new circular shortly, including one my mother-in-law tried yesterday at the cookout)

Whole or sliced mini Bella mushrooms $1.99

Shopper’s Drug Mart (For people south of the border, think CVS)

Coca Cola or Pepsi 6 pack 710 mL bottles (24 ounces each) 2/$5 (Saturday and Sunday only)

No Frills (My personal fave…home of the No Name brand as a store brand–possibly the cheapest store brand product I know)

Cherries $1.88/pound

Top sirloin steak $3.88/pound

Coca Cola/Pepsi soft drinks 2 L 3/$2.88 (less than 99 cents a bottle)

Farmer’s Market mini cucumbers (pickling), 8 pack, $1.88

Dole Classic iceberg or cole slaw salads 88 cents

Old Mill bagel or Wonder+ English Muffins, 6 count 2/$2.88

No Name chicken broth 900 mL carton (30 ounces) 88 cents

President’s Choice 2 L frozen yogurt $2.88

Post Cereal 340-550 grams (12-19 ounces) $1.88

Fruitopia, Five Alive, and Nestea cartons 1.75 L 88 cents (Yes, it’s cheaper than Walmart.  Take those flyers and price match!)

*I did look at the Kroger and Albertson’s sales papers for the week online, but most of these put their prices to shame!

As promised, here is a recipe (from the Foodland recipe booklet) that has only 2 real ingredients, both of which are on sale this week.  My mother-in-law made this recipe last night for a cookout she hosted; she made one batch and realized that she probably could have doubled it.  A single of the recipe makes roughly one gallon/4 liters.  Ocean Spray cranberry juice is on sale at Fresh Co. for $2, and No Frills has 2 L soft drinks on sale for 3/$2.88.  The upshot is that this can be made for less than the equivalent amount of gasoline to fuel your vehicle (whether you are in Canada or the U.S.).

Cranberry Punch

64 ounce bottle Cranberry Cocktail or 100% Juice Blend Cranberry (My mother-in-law used the Cran-Raspberry blend which made it fabulous!)

2 L bottle club soda, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda (My mother-in-law used lemon-lime soda)

mixed fruit and/or herbs (My mother-in-law sliced up an orange and floated it in the mixture which flavored it nicely)

Chill both bottles thoroughly.  Soak fruit in the juice prior to making the punch.  Add the soda/pop just before serving as well as any herbs, if desired.  Ice may also be added to the pitcher/serving apparatus when the soda/pop is added.

page01By the way, this recipe was extremely Muffin Approved.  And everyone else approved.

What is your favorite punch to make?


Recipe Remix: 2-Minute SAVORY Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug

After the success with 2-Minute Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug, I realized that I should try a savory variety.  It happened yesterday morning.  I had made a sweet version with maple syrup and dried cranberries that was a bit too sweet.  I decided, since we were having brinner for supper last night, that I would make a savory version from some of the leftovers and ingredients that we were getting out anyway.

So, I scoured my Mother’s Day special magazines, and kind of combined some of the breakfast casseroles.

Into this lusciousness:

2-Minute Savory Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon mustard (your favorite variety–I used honey mustard, but I want to try Dijon the next time)

1/4 cup deli ham, shredded into thin ribbons or diced

1/4 cup cheese (grated or minced)–I minced up some sharp cheddar

1/4 cup veg, cooked (I didn’t use any, but I look forward to some sauteed onions and peppers next time)

1 teaspoon melted butter

1-2 teaspoons (total) dried herbs–I used chives and parsley (A tablespoon or so of fresh herbs would make it even better!)

cubed bread (torn by hand) (I used four slices of large sandwich bread), preferably “day old” or stale

salt and pepper, to taste (I used seasoned salt and freshly ground the black pepper)

1 teaspoon butter, melted

few splashes Tabasco

I fried my ham in a bit of leftover bacon grease for a few seconds–well, Josh did.

And shredded it to ribbons (think:  basil chiffonade)

And minced the cheese…and I do mean minced (the grater was in the dishwasher getting washed):

1.  In a small bowl, whisk mustard, egg, salt, pepper, herbs, and Tabasco until combined.  Add milk and whisk until fully combined.

2.  Toss with bread cubes in a separate bowl until all is eggy and herby.  (If those aren’t words, they should be)

3.  Use a pastry brush to grease the inside of a tall coffee cup with butter.

4.  Pack about 1/4 of mixture in the mug.  Sprinkle ham, cheese, and veg (if using) over the mixture (roughly 1/3 of “extras”).  Do not completely cover the bread layer.  Pack another fourth of the eggy bread in the mug.  Sprinkle with extras.  Repeat.

Pack the final layer in the mug, mounding the bread cubes a bit.  Sprinkle with remaining extras (I had a bit of cheese left).

(I covered mine with foil and refrigerated overnight)

5.  Cooking instructions (whether cooking immediately or from refrigerated):  Cook on HIGH in the microwave for two minutes.  Serve with ketchup, salsa, or au naturel (or however you want–It’s yummers!).

This actually makes two huge servings.  This recipe is actually Daisy…

and Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

The beauty of this recipe is how adaptable it is (as I listed the variations before).  Bacon, cream cheese, a variety of cheeses, veggies, meats, nuts, and other yumminess!  Different herbs, fresh herbs, spices…so much fun!

What would you choose?

Cent Saving Saturday: Making Homemade Cordials

Cent Saving Saturday

Now let me say from the very beginning that this is not Muffin Approved.  I am not the type of parent (Is any parent really the type of parent?) to advocate feeding my child homemade cordials, or any alcoholic beverages, for that matter.

But, if you cook with alcohol (baking, flambees, etc.) it is much cheaper to make liqueurs and cordials than to purchase them.  Also, they make great gifts for alky-minded friends.

The Pinteresting Blogosphere abounds with homemade cordial and liqueur recipes.  There are numerous tomes on them, as well.  I’ve had some success with the now out-of-print Classic Liqueurs by Cheryl Long and Heather Kibbey.  I’ve actually seen copies at garage sales and book sales throughout the years.  And our public library has it, as well.

Today’s recipe has been brewing in the back of my mind for some time.  I made it fairly sweet; I’ve only tasted the original in mixed drinks in the past, so I have no idea how sweet it is.  It’s one of the liqueurs that I consider to be “cost prohibitive,” like the Grand Marniers of the world.  I’m talking about St. Germain, or elderflower liqueur.  Mine came out a bit paler, but it may be because of what I started as a base.

Back when I was using my SodaStream with annoying frequency and so NOT in love with the sodamixes (except for the “naturals” which are more expensive per serving), I had purchased a bottle of elderflower juice concentrate from IKEA in Frisco, TX (outside of Frisco) which is very VERY tart when diluted to the suggested 1:6 with soda water.  Think just barely sweetened lemonade.  But with a lovely floral quality; don’t get me wrong.

The concentrate has sat, half used, in the door of my fridge mocking me.  Because, in the back of my mind, I knew what I wanted to do with it.  I wanted to try my hand at liqueur making again, with elderflower cordial.

With no recipe to go by.

Josh knows that usually means trouble.  Usually when I come up with a recipe for something, I pull the “Tyler’s Ultimate” approach of Tyler Florence fame.  I look at many available recipes, take the best parts, and mash them all up into one.

I couldn’t quite do that here.

And, usually, this means roughly a 60% failure rate.

Therefore, for months, the elderflower concentrate continued to mock me, every time I opened the fridge.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that I didn’t have enough vodka to make it anyway.  But, I owed my mom her major Christmas present (homemade Limoncello…which I will make…once I have enough lemons…I promise, Mom!), so I purchased the big “liter and a fifth” bottle at Albertson’s of vodka.  Their brand.  With the exception of homemade Grand Marnier, you want to use cheap hooch in liqueurs.  Some people recommend using diluted grain alcohol in cordial making; I don’t have the patience (or the chemistry degree) to figure that out.

(Both are probably reasons for my 60% failure rate)

The goal was to provide a liqueur of enough body to be roughly equal to others of that type.  The kind that when sloshed in a glass leaves resinous residue.  That meant making a syrup with the elderflower concentrate.  I figured on simple syrup proportions:  equal amounts concentrate to white granulated sugar.

I guesstimated (have I mentioned that this is my one and only attempt so far?) on half cup increments of each, half a cup of elderflower concentrate and half a cup of sugar.  Then, I decided to just say to heck with it and add roughly a quarter cup of water (after realizing the concentrate was already fairly resinous to begin with).

I cooked that over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the grains of sugar were no longer visible.

Then, I poured the mixture through a funnel into an empty wine bottle (something to collect if you plan on cordial making…especially screw top wine bottles).  I then filled the bottle halfway with vodka, capped it, shook it, and then topped it up with the vodka, capped it, and shook it, trying to disperse the syrup.

To test the viscosity, I poured a tablespoon or so into a wineglass (that I purchased today at garage sales for 25 cents each!) and swirled it around.  To my utter delight, there was the telltale resinous residue!  Result!  I then did something you should never never do:  I taste tested it.  Most liqueurs take some time to meld and blend (coffee liqueur is notorious for this…imagine coffee-flavored mouthwash…well…minus the mint flavor), so the vodka flavor is usually very pungent.  To tell you the truth, it wasn’t that bad.  There is already (hiccup!) some evidence of the complexity to come.  If St. Germain is anything close to this, I can understand why liquor outlets feel confident charging upwards of $30 a bottle (that’s for less than a liter, by the way).

The cost breakdown of mine is (considerably) less.  I used a fourth of a bottle of elderflower concentrate (so $1.13 for that), a half cup of sugar (pennies…but lets just say ten cents to be obstinate), a quarter cup of water (I’m not figuring out the cost of filtered tap for this amount, sorry), and roughly 15 ounces of store-brand vodka that I purchased for roughly $10 for 1.75 liters (roughly $2.54 worth, give or take a penny).  Ultimately, the grand total for the homemade version was $3.77.  One of the prices quoted for St. Germain online was $33.99.  The “homemade” version would save you $30+…nearly 90%.

That’s the kind of math I like.

I’m glad it worked so well the first time out of the gate because I could now be upset about wasting $3.77 of materials, especially that last 1/4 of the elderflower concentrate that I had such great plans for…someday.  Here’s an (admittedly not very effective) shot of the tablespoon of liqueur in one of my new wine glasses!

(The important part is that you can see the resinous residue on the side of the glass!)


You may see the printable of the recipe here.

Tip Tuesday: Some Recipes from the Boxes of Baking Mix

Tip Tuesday

Happy April Fool’s Day!  The one day of the year (besides St. Patrick’s Day) that all teachers dread.

Tip:  Check the packaging of items that you purchase for recipes.

I have several recipes for baking mix in my very bloated Chrome bookmarks courtesy of the Pinteresting Blogosphere.  But I have bowed to convention (and convenience) and purchased baking mixes.  Yesterday purchasing some from Kroger would probably be my last batch.  I usually just make the biscuits mentioned on the back, but I noticed with the Kroger box (and my Pioneer canister where I store any that I buy because it has the neat lid), there are several other recipes.  I may have purchased the Kroger brand for the recipes.  Perhaps.

Here are the recipes from the Pioneer canister:

Pancakes and Waffles

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

2 cups baking mix (leaving out the brand name here but you get the idea)

Heat lightly oiled surface to 350 degrees.  Mix ingredients until smooth.  Add 2-4 tablespoons melted butter, if desired.  Cook pancakes 1-2 minutes per side (turn only once); cook waffles 2-3 minutes.  Yield 12-14 5-inch pancakes; 10-12 5-inch waffles.


2 cups baking mix

2/3 cup milk

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 qt. chicken or beef broth

Quick Beefy Fiesta Bake

1 pound ground beef

1.25 oz package taco seasoning mix (or use homemade)

1 cup baking mix

16 oz. can refried beans (or 2 cups of homemade)

4 oz. can chopped green chilies

1/4 cup water

1 cup thick and chunky salsa (or your own variety of salsa mixed with a bit of pico de gallo)

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Optional garnishes:  guacamole, sour cream, green onions, sliced olives, crumbled corn chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare meat to taco package directions (or how you normally prepare meat if using homemade).  Set aside.  Combine next 4 ingredients.  Spread in 2-quart baking dish.  Top with prepared meat, salsa, cheese.  Bake 25 minutes.  Garnish with desired toppings.

Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

1 2/3 cups frozen mixed veg, thawed

1 cup chicken, cooked and diced

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, or half of the recipe from Gimme Some Oven

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup baking mix

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix vegetables, chicken, soup, sour cream, and onions in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.  Mix remaining ingredients until blended.  Pour over chicken mixture in pie plate.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Fruit Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup baking mix

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2-21 ounce cans fruit pie filling

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix sugar and baking mix.  Cut in butter, mix in cream and vanilla.  Shape into ball and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Pour fruit into 7×11″ pan.  Heat 10 minutes.  Roll chilled dough out on floured surface.  Place over hot fruit.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden.  Brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Quick Marmalade Curried Chicken

1 cup baking mix

1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground!)

4 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon of vinegar/lemon juice and milk to fill the rest of a cup measure to the top)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix baking mix and pepper.  Dip chicken in buttermilk, then in dry mixture.  Heat oil in skillet.  Brown chicken.  Mix remaining ingredients.  Pour over chicken.  Cover.  Simmer 20 minutes or until tender.  Uncover.  Simmer 5 more minutes.

And here are the Kroger ones.  I must note (and my sister and mom will concur):  I will never again eat “Bisquick” pizza.  Long story.  I barely lived to tell about it.  Just kidding, Mom!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

1 1/2 cups baking mix

1/4 cup hot water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped or stripped (or shredded)

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 cup honey barbecue sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine baking mix, HOT water, and vegetable oil until a soft dough forms.  Beat dough about 20 strokes.  Let dough stand for 8 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine cooked chicken breast, red pepper, green onions, and barbecue sauce.

4.  Grease cookie sheet or 12-inch pizza pan.  Using hands dipped in baking mix, press dough into a 13-inch circle on cookie sheet, pinching up edges 1/2-inch or press into pizza pan.  Spoon barbecue chicken mixture onto dough and top with cheese.

5.  Place in oven on lowest rack and bake 12-15 minutes.  Refrigerate any leftovers.


2 3/4 cups baking mix

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine baking mix and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Add egg, milk, and melted butter or margarine.  Stir to form soft dough.  Turn onto surface lightly floured with baking mix.  Knead gently 8-10 times.  Pat or roll out 1/2-inch thick.  Cut with a floured 3-inch cutter.

Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes.

Separate shortcakes and fill with sweetened fruit or berries.  Top with more fruit and whipped topping.  Store any leftovers in tightly covered container.

Sausage and Gravy

1 pound pork sausage (preferably homemade)

1/3 cup baking mix

3 cups milk

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper (or more to taste, freshly ground please!)

In a 10-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until browned.  Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings.  Place sausage in a bowl and set aside.

Add the reserved drippings to skillet and stir in baking mix until blended.  Gradually stir in milk until smooth.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Return to heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in sausage.  Serve with biscuits.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Double Cornbread

1 cup baking mix

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

1 cup canned cream-style corn

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease 9x9x1 3/4-inch baking pan.

Sift baking mix with cornmeal, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, milk, butter, and corn.  Add baking mix mixture, stirring only until baking mix is moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared pan; bake 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester (toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean and top is golden brown.  Cut into squares and serve hot.  Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container.

Apple-Nut Coffee Cake

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups baking mix

1/3 plus 1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 medium apples, pared and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9x12x2-inch baking pan.

Beat egg; stir in milk, apples, and oil.  Stir in baking mix, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, stirring just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Pour into pan.  Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, pecans, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle mixture over top of cake batter and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container.

Chicken and Dumplings

3 pound cooked chicken or turkey, shredded, or cut into pieces (white and dark meat)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (or half of this recipe)

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 small onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups baking mix

2/3 cup milk

Heat broth in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the cream of chicken soup and mix thoroughly.  Add chopped onion and mixed vegetables and stir.  Mix in chicken or turkey pieces.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the milk and baking mix until a soft dough forms.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto boiling mixture to make approximately ten dumplings.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Cover with lid and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Remove lid and serve hot.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Hamburger Pot Pie

1 2/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1/2 ground beef, browned and drained

1 can condensed cream of mushrooms soup (or homemade equivalent)

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste–freshly ground!)

1 cup baking mix

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (finely shredded)

1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together vegetables, cooked ground beef, condensed soup, onion, and black pepper in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.  In a small bowl, stir together baking mix, milk, and egg.  Fold in cheddar cheese.  Pour over beef mixture.

Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  In a small bowl, blend melted butter or margarine and garlic powder.  Brush over top of baked pie.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

That’s a whole bunch of recipes to enjoy with baking mix!  What I love about recipes like this is that they are fairly basic, so you can change them up as you wish and make them your own!

The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge: Soft Pretzel Bites (The Slow Roasted Italian)

New Recipe Challenge

I may have mentioned already that I love The Slow Roasted Italian’s website, haven’t I?  Everything pretzel and buffalo, plus lots of sips and eats to warm the tummy.

I had originally intended to make this recipe Friday (when I wasn’t planning a new recipe and didn’t feel like cheating everyone), but the Homemade Hamburger Buns intervened.

Not to change the subject (at all), but I try to make sure that Muffin isn’t with me when I go to Walmart during midday to night because invariably I hear this plaintive cry, “I wanna prentz-ul!”  And, to save the ears of everyone in the tri-state area, I tend to give in WAY TOO OFTEN.

That’s why I was super jazzed when I ran across this recipe by The Slow Roasted Italian herself:  Soft Pretzel Bites.  A recipe that requires no rise time (the only one I’ve found that doesn’t), so if you have your game on (and I didn’t), you can finish the recipe, start to finish, in 30 minutes.  Seriously.  I did not have my game on, so it took closer to an hour, but if I can hold homemade pretzel bites over Muffin’s head (offer Muffin the option of helping me make homemade pretzel bites, I mean), we might leave Walmart without shelling out the big bucks to Auntie Anne’s (yes…an Auntie Anne’s inside Walmart…that’s cruelty to parents).

We all got into the action making these, and, as I said, if we had prepared a bit beforehand, it would have gone much faster.  I followed the recipe on The Slow Roasted Italian verbatim, but next time I would probably brush them with butter instead of egg wash for salting.  The eggy taste was a bit prominent.  We had these for lunch with pepperoni slices (I know; totally healthy, right?) and strawberries.  Josh and Muffin ate theirs with cream cheese (Josh discovered the joy of stuffing his with cream cheese) and I ate mine straight up with yellow mustard.  Here’s a picky of the yummy results.

This is Muffin’s plate.

…and my plate!

Makes ya just kinda want one right now, doesn’t it?

Here’s what I did (The Slow Roasted Italian does mention options for those without stand mixers, but I figure you want to learn from my mistakes):

By the way:  The recipe makes 64 bites.  After about five, I started to get full.  They puff up bigger than the pretzel bites at Auntie Anne’s.  And, if you do butter instead of egg wash (since it would be difficult to half an egg), you could easily half the recipe.

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used the yeast from Sam’s.  I have moved it to a zippy bag, so I’m not sure if it’s active dry or not, but it really worked.)

1 1/4 cups warm milk (110-120 degrees Fahrenheit)  I put mine in a Pyrex cup for one minute in the microwave on high.

2 tablespoons honey (remember:  local is best!)

3 1/4 cups flour (plus possibly more on standby if the dough is too sticky)  I only used 3 1/4 cups.

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup baking soda

1 large egg + 2 tablespoons water (or 4-6 tablespoons melted butter)

kosher salt for sprinkling on the pretzels

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a half sheet pan with foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Pour milk into the bowl of the stand mixer.  Add milk and honey.  Stir.  Allow yeast to much on the honey for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.  This is something good for your almost-four year old to monitor and give you status updates while you set the rest up.

Fill a Dutch oven or small stockpot with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  At this point either beat the egg and water together with a fork or melt the butter in the microwave.  Set either aside for now.

Add flour and salt to mixer.  Nudge it to the stir setting and allow the dough hook to work its magic until all of the flour is incorporated.  After that, kick the mixer into speed at 4 and allow the dough hook to do the kneading for you for three minutes.  At this point check to see if the dough is sticky (if it sticks to your fingers) or tacky.  If it is still sticky, add more flour in a tablespoon at a time until it becomes tacky.

Remove the dough from the hook and the bowl and form into a ball.  Use a pizza cutter or a butter knife to divide the dough into four equal wedges.  Roll each wedge into an 18-22-inch “snake” or rope of dough.  Cut this into four equal pieces.  Reshape the ends slightly and divide each of those pieces into four pieces.  You should have, after dividing all of the dough, 64 pieces.

Add the baking soda to the now boiling water.  It will bubble explosively for a few seconds.  Enjoy the drama at this point. Place the dough bites in the water, 8 at a time, for 30 seconds each.  Evacuate with a slotted spoon to the prepared pan to cool.

After you have boiled all of them, arrange them on the foil so that they are not touching (with my trusty half-sheet pan, I just barely had enough room).  Brush egg wash (or butter) onto each one and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake 10 minutes until the tops are delightfully browned.  (The Slow Roasted Italian recommends 7-9 minutes, but I wanted a bit more brown on mine.)

Serve with your choice of sauce or mustard or cheese for dipping/spreading.

Muffin Approved

The Recipes for Date Night (Roasted Fowl and Poached Pears): The Spring Cleaning New Recipe Challenge

New Recipe Challenge

I am going to do another date night post, but I figured I would include the recipes that I cooked as part of a separate challenge post.  Both recipes I had my doubts about, but turned out superstar! fabulous (think the Molly Shannon skit and movie–I feel like doing that superstar! move after eating both).

I will explain the rationale behind each tomorrow in my date night post, but here is the lusciousness (as it seems date night is in two parts):

Roasted Fowl

Adapted from’s Geek Mom

6 chicken legs (but this recipe would rock the clock of any chicken parts–yes!  it’s that good)

olive oil

fresh rosemary leaves/needles, minced

basil, dried

oregano, dried

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

(I am not listing amounts for the seasonings because I put a random–nearly equal–amount of each in a bowl and sprinkled and rubbed my heart out)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Give the chicken legs a shower in the sink and path them dry with paper towels.  You want them as dry as possible at this point.  Think kale leaf dry.  On second thought, forget the kale chip disaster all together.

Rub the chicken legs with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture (I did roughly a teaspoon of each).  You want them to be really seasoned.

Line your half-sheet pan with foil.  Spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  For an aromatic touch of whimsy, I placed a spring of rosemary in the center of the pan.  Place the drumsticks in the pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes (or longer), turning halfway through so that more sides become golden brown and delicious.  The chicken is done logistically when the juices run clear.  Remember that dark meat is cheaper and more forgiving heat-wise than chicken breasts that tend to dry out fairly quickly.

Serve warm or cold.

Verdict:  This chicken was loved by all.  I would love to try it with thighs (my favorite selection of chicken) next time.  Date night spoiler:  this tasted VASTLY BETTER than the chicken I had that time at Medieval Times (although Josh insists we need to take Muffin).


Red Wine Poached Pears

Adapted from:

5 peeled, cored, and sliced pears (I used Anjou), fairly ripe (but not necessarily to the point of eating out of hand)

1 1/2 cups red wine (I used an Australian Shiraz that I purchased on clearance at Albertson’s for $2.99–a $10 wine!  Yay!)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

zest of one lemon (small)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used two small Sunkist lemons)

2 teaspoons vanilla (although I wonder what a vanilla bean would have done to this)

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground

Combine all ingredients, except pears, and bring to a boil.  Once the wine mixture is boiling, turn heat down to a simmer and add the pears (two pears at a time).  Simmer until they turn a shade of red that makes you happy (10-12 minutes before turning them and cooking for an additional 8010 minutes).  Remove pears and let them cool.  Boil the wine sauce until the liquid is reduced by half.  Avoid the overwhelming dictate by your taste buds to down the entire contents of the wine sauce.  Take a taste (to make sure it’s yummy).  Take another taste.  Ignore the voices telling you to down it all.  Pour sauce over pears and serve over ice cream.  Make sure that you spoon extra sauce on the ice cream and pears because that’s the best part.

Verdict:  I want to bathe in the sauce.  Seriously.  Or make sorbet from it.  Its siren’s song is calling me now.  Josh liked it over ice cream, but he felt that the taste of the poaching liquid was too strong by itself.  Whereas I could guzzle the sauce all down.  It might be good as a soda.  Or as a topping for the Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug.  Or by itself.  Really it’s worthy of anything.  I think it could do wonderful things to ham, in fact.  Did I mention that I ❤ the sauce?  It makes me happy.

So, date night spawned two great, repeatable dishes (even in different contexts).  I consider that a success!