Sunday, January 22, 2012

Maple and Brown Sugar Pork Roast

Sunday Dinner. It's the best dinner of the week...most of the time--unless we have something simply stupendous on Wednesday, or Tuesday, or get the picture? But, tonight was pretty stellar, if I say so myself. I made Maple and Brown Sugar Pork Roast, and served it with garlic and parsley roasted red potatoes and a vegetable medley of squash, carrots, and broccoli.

The recipe I have calls for pork loin...but they tend to be pretty temperamental when you are using a crock pot. (I have learned from many a sad and dry pork loin in the past!) So I picked up a couple of small tender pork roasts and used my handy-dandy crock pot to free up my Sunday afternoon without sacrificing the big dinner flavor. Prep time for everything=20 minutes, but tasted like at least 2-3 hours of work! I LOVE crock pots!!

Maple and Brown Sugar Pork Roast

2-4lbs pork roast
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 clove of minced garlic--(I cheat and use about 1-2 tsp of the store bought stuff that's in the jar ready-to-go)
4 Tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 T Balsamic vinegar (can substitute cider vinegar, but the Balsamic is tastier)
1/2 tsp dried /crumbled Thyme
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (, I used 2 T of Mrs Butterworth's...and it was still delicious ;)

I mixed everything together with a whisk right inside the crock pot and the put the pork roasts in. I like to drizzle them with some of the sauce before I put the lid on and call it good for 3-4 hours. I got off to a late start today and didn't start the crock pot until 3pm, so I set it on High. It was fork tender in 3 hours.

I doubled the sauce ingredients because I had 2 pork roasts. The roasts always seem to reduce in size and I wanted to make sure I had enough for the feast. Before I cut the meat into slices, I thickened the sauce with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water. The sauce is a little tangy and sweet...and very delicious. The kids slid their potatoes through the sauce to make sure that they didn't leave any on the plate. Clean plates are a sure sign of a winner!

For the roasted potatoes: I cut about 2 1/2lbs of baby reds in half and doused them with about 1/3 cup of olive oil. Then I added a heaping spoonful of the store-bought minced garlic, a spoonful of dried parsley, and a tsp of sea salt. I stirred it all up in a bowl, before pouring them onto a baking sheet. They roasted up perfectly at 375 degrees for one hour. These beauts are so easy to make and compliment any mouth-watering meat recipe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes

We had a heavenly dinner tonight! Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes...with a side of buttered broccoli. It was so noteworthy, in fact, that it is blog-worthy! The kids know that they have to stop eating and put their forks down when the camera comes to the dinner table. I didn't have very many photo opportunities before it was inhaled and gone.

For the last six years, I've been hosting and assembling recipes for Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) nights that mass-produce freezer meals in one grand feat. It's incredible to assemble and create enough meals to feed any family for 2-4 weeks--all in a short 3-4 hours of time. I generally pick a Friday night during the month and send out an invitation for all that are interested to come and create dinners from the selections I provide. I offer between 12-15 menu selections and have between 7-15 people come. Once, in a month we did a selection of 20 marinades, I had 33 people that signed up to come. So I dividied the group in half and hosted a day and a night assembling party.

Working moms are my most faithful attenders, quickly followed by moms with 4 or more kids. Freezer meals are LiFeSaVeRs for busy and chaotic lives. For every meal in the freezer that is already to cook and eat--you save one HOUR of time during the week, per meal. OAMC "buys" you time from your own schedule that is used doing what you are already doing--but now you don't have to figure out what's for dinner inbetween the all the running and activities. It also means you save, not only time, but money because we tend to eat more processed and fast foods when we are busier. Store-bought meals also contain loads more sodium and preservatives---which is not so great for your bodies. So this is the ultimate "fast food" because it's homemade and ready to go! (Can you tell that I'm a "pastor" for my passions? Preaching to the choir, right? I usually do my best sermons in the kitchen, wielding a fork.)

This month, I offered 15 dinner options, which included: soups, casseroles, marinades, and entrees. The chicken crepes were requested by one of my ladies that comes faithfully every month. They are a little more labor-intensive then I usually like to get for mass-production, but so worth it in the end! Because of the price of crepes in the grocery stores, I opt to make them from scratch. I had 14 orders for this entree...which meant I needed 112 crepes. I make them on a large griddle, two at a time, using a basic crepe recipes. It took several hours to make the crepes, and thankfully, this was the last meal assembled--with the last crepe coming off the griddle just in the nick of time.

This is one of the recipes that I added to the repertoire last year...and it's an absolute favorite amongst dozens of families now. And it received five stars and pleas to be made again very soon by my own family tonight. So here's the recipe for the great and wonderful Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes!

Basic Crepes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Whisk or blend everything except the flour together. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and mix in the wet ingredients gradually, until you have a thin and smooth batter. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or fry pan over medium to high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle--between 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on how large you would like your crepe. I tried to keep mine at a uniform size of 7-8 inches in diameter. I spread the batter into a level circular shape with the back of a spoon. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes and turn when barely starting to brown.

To make the quantity of crepes that we needed, I took this recipe and multiplied it by 6 to make each set of batter--of which we did four batches. Twenty four cups of flour, 4 dozen eggs, a pound of butter, a gallon of went a long ways! By the way--because this is a basic recipe, it would work fabulously for delicious dessert concoctions! Fill them with apple pie filling, fresh strawberries, cream cheese and berries, or just with butter and cinnamon sugar. Yum! But back to making a wonderful dinner....


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or cube (crushed)

1 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add in the flour and mashed bouillon cube. Stir and let cook for about 1 minute to incorporate the butter and flour together. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring this to a boil, constantly stirring to avoid scorching. It will thicken and have a nice smooth texture. Add the grated cheese and stir until it melts.

Crepe Filling:

2 cups cooked and cubed chicken
1/2 cup chopped ham--cut into bitty-size pieces
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese or 1 slice of Swiss cheese

For this night, I purchased the Swiss cheese slices. So the ham and chicken were mixed together and divided between 8 crepes. A slice of cheese was added to each crepe and then rolled and placed seam down in a greased baking dish. The sauce was poured over the crepes to complete the assembling. For the OAMC purpose--they are then placed in the freezer to use anytime during the month for a delicious, homemade meal. Just pull them out in the morning to thaw--baking at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. I inadvertantly cooked mine for 40 minutes and they were still perfecto!

Next time I will make enough for leftovers! With kids licking the pan and their plates, we didn't have a single bite left to savor. And just for kicks--the filling can be added to and adjusted to fit any tastes. I think that mushrooms, broccoli, and any variety of onions would be delicious as well. The cheese sauce is the great enhancer to anything you have on hand. I think that these would be so classy served with roasted aspargus and candid carrots. Enjoy!!