Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday at the Stahr's

So... I'm Linda. I'm an older sister. I don't think of myself as a "foodie", but I love cooking, and I love to create healthy things. If I lived in Alaska, I'd love to throw a Dinner Club + dinner. Since I don't, I'm just going to share what I would have if my sisters could come over for dinner, and perhaps sometime we can all get together and eat it.

Ordinarily, I cook things that are fast and easy. I cook on an antique wood cookstove, which can pose some complications time-wise (like every time I want to cook dinner for a friend from church... can never get the water to boil), but all in all is super easy to cook on. Today, I started cooking at noon for a dinner served at 4:30 PM. Really, not my standard, but...

Tonight, we had Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Roasted Corn, Oat Rolls, Cranberry Raspberry Jello and White Grape Juice. I took pictures, but only after dinner was completed... kind of forgot the camera part of dinner.

Part 1: The Roast
We like to cook our pork roast in milk in the crock pot. It makes it tender and delicious. Today though, I din't have enough milk to cook it as we normally do. Instead, I resorted to something I've never done before with incredible results.

Pork Roast. Any size for your family.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil for searing roast.

Heat Olive Oil in a cast iron skillet (I use cast iron because it has an even heat, but if you don't have one, just use what you have.). Season roast with salt and pepper to taste, sear on all sides in oil. Wrap tightly in tin foil. (I triple wrapped the roast) Place in kitchen dutch oven and cover. Bake at 400 for 1 hour, reduce heat to 300-350 and continue baking for 2-3 hours. (total cooking time for my roast: 1 hour at 400, 2.5 hours at 300-350). Remove Dutch Oven from oven and let sit while you bake the rolls... your roast will thank you. I stuck my meat thermometer through the foil to make sure it was at the proper temperature before unwrapping it. Serve hot.

Part 2: Cranberry Raspberry Jello
Fortunately for me, I have Cranberries in my freezer. I love cranberries. This jello just sounded delicious this morning. Unfortunately for me, I didn't have the right kind of pineapple for this recipe, so it never set. The children all went back for 6 servings though, so I know it was a hit. AND, it's simple.

1 (3 oz) pkg. Raspberry Jello (I used the generic brand)
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. whole fresh or frozen cranberries (I used fresh)
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, including juice

Bring water to a boil. Put everything into a blender and blend until the cranberries are in pieces, but not mush. Pour into your dish of choice, and refrigerate until solid.

Part 3: Oat Dinner Rolls
Fantastically sweet dinner rolls... surprisingly with some texture from the oatmeal.

2 1/3 c. water, divided
1 c. quick cooking oats
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
3 T butter
2 T. yeast (or 2 pkgs yeast)
5 - 5 3/4 c. flour

Bring 2 c. water to a boil. Add oats and simmer for 1 minute. Add remainder of water, sugar, salt, and butter. Let cool so you won't kill your yeast when adding it. Add yeast and mix well. Add 3 c. flour - and mix well. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough, turn onto counter and knead in remainder of flour until soft and elastic. (I just added all the rest of the flour into my dough and let the mixer do its thing until all the flour was blended in. THEN, I turned it out and kneaded it for 2 or 3 minutes.) Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Make into rolls - mine made 36 or so, the original recipe said it makes 24 - put onto greased sheet (I used parchment paper, no extra grease), let rolls rise until doubled in size, bake at 350 for 20-25 min. (My bake time was less - about 15 minutes) or until golden.

You can make your own mashed potatoes and gravy as you desire. Andrew is in charge of mashed potatoes around our house. He also makes the gravy, but today I used a mix. Roasted corn is just a little olive oil on our corn, sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted in the oven. The White Grape juice was from grapes we juiced this summer.

We didn't have dessert tonight, although LeGrand suggested brownies would be the perfect end to this dinner. He's right, you know. Brownies are great with just about everything. I'd make this dinner again for any of my sisters and their families. Next time you're in the area, I'll heat the stove up for you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Waffles. They're not just for Breakfast.

My children love Waffles. They love them, because I make them. I don't make them love them, I make the waffles, and it's eat or don't eat.... Well, anyway, you get the picture.

So one night, after much grumbling about not wanting anything I suggested I make for dinner, I threw my hands in the air and said, "I'm making waffles!"

And so, I did. These ones. And I served them with Hot Chocolate.

To make them extra tasty, they should be served BEFORE the canned whipped cream melts,and the snowman starts sweating chocolate. The recipe is simple:

1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. each salt and baking soda

Mix thoroughly.
1 c. milk
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 T melted butter or vegetable oil - whichever you want. I use the oil because it's faster.

Combine that well, then add 1 beaten egg.

Pour batter onto hot waffle iron, wait for the beep, take it out, put some canned cherry pie filling on top, squirt some whipped cream, and drizzle with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. The kind you make into Chocolate Milk.

If you want these to be exactly the way I made them, have your husband surprise you with a professional waffle iron like they have in hotels - because he just "brought it home from work - the people didn't want it anymore."

For the Hot Chocolate - it's a homemade mix courtesy of Dadola.

8 c. powdered milk. I use Morning Moos brand - it's tasty, and mixes well.
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. cocoa powder (you can add 2 c. if you want more of a dark chocolate type)
1 c. non-dairy creamer - I usually use french vanilla flavored, but plain is fine
1 large package chocolate pudding (you can substitute vanilla if you want).

Mix all that thoroughly and store in an airtight container. To make, mix 2-3 T powder with 8 oz. hot water. I add whipped cream and drizzle chocolate over the top. To add some fun, sprinkle cake sprinkles on the top. Any flavor is fine. 

The snowman mugs came in a set of four from Williams Sonoma YEARS ago, I haven't seen them since. I'm still looking though...

Enjoy this anytime you need to gain a few extra pounds. Or for any special occasion. The children dubbed this one, "THE BEST DINNER...EVER!"

 - Linda