Battle of Ingredients #7: Easter/Spring Edition

Battle of Ingredients

Welcome to the next Battle of Ingredients. My co-host Starry Traveler Phoebe and I gathered this time with friends for a little Easter/Spring celebration.

Heres what we did!

Wine

Barefoot Sparkling Moscato

Tonight’s wine from our friends is the Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato. It was light and sweet. A more in depth talk will be in the wine recap next month.

Main Meals

Lamb Chops – Phoebe

Lamb Chops

Phoebe gets the big task of taking care of the meat dish this time around. We did research and realized that Easter usually revolves around ham or lamb and after some talk, she decided to take on making lamb chops. They were marinated and topped with salt and various herbs. It took about 2 hours to cook in the oven.

This one turned out pretty good. It wasn’t cooked through but I’ve had chops before and they usually aren’t plus it was marinated and seasoned just enough to have a lovely taste.

Ratatouille – Kim

Ratatouille

Recipe via Pinterest: https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/recipes/5312-ratatouille?epik=0DYovE_IWH0tx

Trying out a quick one pot ratatouille this time as our primary vegetable dish. I followed the recipe above fairly closely. Eggplants aren’t in season right now so they were hard to find good ones. So the portion for that was a little less. However, this ratatouille was both easy to make and tasted pretty good. I may have overcooked it a little and it would have benefited from having some pasta or something to serve with. In comparison to the original, I think I skimped out on diced tomatoes a little. Everything’s a learning curve and I certainly had fun making this one and would try it again particularly using a pot this time instead of a pan since there is a lot of vegetables to add in so it started getting a little crowded and that affected the cooking time.

The better version would be to slice everything thinly and then organize it and pop it into the oven to cook. Perhaps a future trial.

Dairy-free Scalloped Potatoes – Kim

Dairy-free Scalloped Potatoes

Recipe: https://veganinthefreezer.com/dairy-free-herbed-scalloped-potatoes/

Next up is something of a side thing which was the scalloped potatoes. I recently made scalloped potatoes for a Goodfoods box and thought about it for this meal as a dairy-free style and found the recipe above on Pinterest. Scalloped Potatoes were done in the afternoon in advance as to free up the oven space and then reheated. We used a mandoline to quicken the process. We used some unsweetened almond milk (unfortunately, I only had the vanilla flavor) and we took a chance with it to see if it would affect the taste. It did still have a slight vanilla flavor which felt a little weird but overall, the texture is still there. I’d redo this one with the herbs (as the recipe above indicated but I didn’t have any this time around) and also with some unflavored and unsweetened almond milk. We only ended up with one portion left over so I’d say it had a decent result.

Dessert

Marshmallow Wands – Kim

Marshmallow Wands

Recipe: http://www.twosisterscrafting.com/springtime-marshmallow-wands/

The ideas I went through for the dessert was numerous but with the two dishes above, I wanted to go for something a little simpler so I went with these springtime marshmallow wands which is basically skewering three marshmallows and then coating them with dark chocolate and adding sprinkles then letting the chocolate harden. Its times like these that I wish I knew how to temper chocolate before coating it so that it would have that lovely crunch when you bit into it. Anyways, I am still learning and these did turn out really great. I know that the coating could have been better but I learned a lot from this recipe as simple as it may seem. Marshmallows and dark chocolate is just yummy! It is a little on the sweet side so I only made enough so everyone had one.

This wraps up this Easter/Spring edition of Battle of Ingredients!
Not quite sure what is next one but might be a spring Farmer’s Market edition for 2018.
Its still in discussion right now 😉

Do you celebrate Easter and what foods do you make?

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Breakfast Recipe: Bacon and Egg Hash

We love breakfast food. I don’t think I can explain how much we actually love it. Its probably why you see breakfast food recipes where we just eat it for dinner as well. Breakfast style dinners are just fantastic. Anyways, with that said, I wanted to try something different for my husband’s birthday brunch since we’re quite traditionalists so we go with the separate bowls of bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and potatoes. However, I’d had breakfast casseroles and skillets and hashes and have loved it a lot so I went hunting on Pinterest for one that I liked which was relatively simple to make.

Then I came across this recipe: https://cafedelites.com/cheesy-bacon-and-egg-hash/

And of course, its me so I modified the portions and some little bits here and there and came out with this:

breakfast hash

Bacon and Egg Hash

Ingredients

3 medium potatoes, scrubbed clean and peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
Bacon (I used about 4-5 strips)
4 cloves of garlic, minced/finely chopped
2 large eggs
Pepper to season

How to make it

  1. Dice potatoes in 3/4 inch cubes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in a skillet pan or an oven pan. Spray with a light coating of cooking oil spray.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Mixing them once halfway through cooking time.
  5. Remove from the oven, add the bacon and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and make two wells in the hash, crack the egg into each well and sprinkle the garlic around the eggs and over the potatoes.
  7. Put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes or until the eggs have been cooked to your preference.
  8. Remove from oven. Season with some pepper if desire and serve immediately

This is definitely  more than an inspiration. I honestly needed a recipe that would tell me the temperature to bake it in and yet again, I worked with what I had. We ran out of green scallions so I used garlic. I actually used a little too much but we love garlic here so its not a big deal for us. This is for a 2 person portion since we exactly had 3 potatoes left. Either way, this breakfast hash turned out pretty good. We also did remove the cheese but thats because we never do cheese on dishes since I’m lactose intolerant. My husband ended up sprinkling some shredded cheese on there afterwards to taste.

These meals are fairly straight forward and you can technically put anything you’d like that cooks fairly quickly. The efficiency of breakfast food is one of the reasons we like to make it on a lazy Sunday morning (evening). It was pretty tasty since it didn’t even need salt with the bacon already having the salt to season everything around it. It turned out pretty good. The potatoes weren’t as crispy as I had wanted but if you use a wider pan or skillet (which I couldn’t find), it will do the job. The single layer potatoes are the key here for having it crispier.

I have improvements I’ll work on for next time but overall, this breakfast hash turned out pretty good. 🙂

Dinner: One Pan Chicken & Veggies

My baking and foods section is now primarily dominated by Battle of Ingredients and Goodfood recaps and that is generally the moments in life I try new things. But, this past weekend was my husband’s birthday so since we’ve had a lot of expenses (and I did buy him more than usual Boxing Day hauls), I took it simple and took care of all the cooking this weekend. We did have some other experiences where we had to finish up leftovers from the week and went out with friends, but I ended up trying out three new recipes and this first one was a simple and efficient dinner meal: One Pan Chicken & Veggies.

One Pan Chicken & Veggies

One Pan Chicken and Veggies

Original recipe used as guidance via Pinterest: https://natashaskitchen.com/2015/11/23/one-pan-chicken-and-vegetables-recipe/

Ingredients

3 pieces boneless chicken thighs, sliced in thirds
1 tsp Piri Piri spices
1.5 lbs baby potatoes, halved
1 lb Nantes carrots, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt and pepper

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the chicken thighs with the piri piri spices. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate while preparing the vegetables.
  3. Take a large cookie sheet and line with aluminum foil (or parchment paper and if you don’t mind the mix, you can just grease the pan with oil). Combine veggies in a medium (or large) bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss. You can also toss in the lined cookie sheet with your hands, its your preference and saves on an extra bowl to wash. Pour the veggies into the cookie sheet, parting them in half so the middle third of the pan is reserved for the chicken.
  4. Take the chicken from out of the fridge and place it down the center of the cookie sheet in the reserved place mentioned before.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, then take it out to turn the veggies and the chicken and put back for another 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure your chicken is cooked through, to be sure the internal temperature should reach 165F and juices run clear.

We definitely changed up the recipe from the original quite a bit. I needed a recipe really to figure out around what temperature to bake the whole pan at and for how long. Chicken is one of the meats you can’t eat raw so that was pretty important. This is a very simple meal and you can switch the spices around to what you like and use whatever veggies you like. In my opinion, potatoes and carrots are pretty tough to cook through so other veggies should turn it decent. We also make zucchini in a pan on the side as well since we needed to it those. It saves on dishes and is a simple preparation and cooking method which leaves time to take care of the dishes you worked with during the time (unless you have a dishwasher) and do other things during the wait time. I don’t think its necessary to turn the veggies and the chicken but I wanted to make sure that it would cook well on both sides. The chicken turns out very tender and not dry at all. I honestly improv-ed a lot of the dish so the spices and S&P quantity in the ingredient list might be a little off.

Have you tried One-Pan meals?
What do you like to cook?

Dinner: Pork Chops & Potatoes in Tomato-Basil Sauce

We’re back again with another recipe.  I don’t do a whole lot of improvisation but you know, buying groceries are expensive and I’m trying to use what I have at home to work something out.  One thing my house has a lot of is potatoes.  My friend gave me a ton so now we’re working hard on finishing it all up.  We tried to mix things up a little last weekend and ended up with this little pork chops and potatoes dish.

Super uncreative name but here we go…

Pork Chops and Potatoes in Tomato-Basil Sauce

pork chops potato tomato-basil sauce

Ingredients

6-8 pork chops
(you  might want to use a bigger oven dish than this one)

5-6 medium potatoes

1-1/5 cups tomato sauce
(we used Classico Tomato-Basil and Sundried Tomato mix)

minced garlic
Italian seasoning

bay leaves, to garnish

How to make it:

1. Preheat oven at 400F.
2. Layer pork chops at the bottom.
3. Pour the sauce over the pork chops.
4. Layer sliced potatoes on the top.  Try to keep it basted in the tomato sauce.
5. Season on top with minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Put the bay leaves on top, if you choose to.
6. Place it in the oven to bake for about 45 minutes. Be sure to check whether the pork chops and potatoes are cooked through if you need to add a little more time.

Pork Chops Potato Tomato Sauce

I like quick dinner solutions.  Usually anything with baking is quick because preparation is about 15 minutes or something. Cutting the potatoes take the longest.  Unless you want to peel it, then it’ll take even more time.  Mine was in there for a little extra time so it ended adding a little bit of crispiness to the top of the potatoes.  It worked out pretty well. Honestly, I had my doubts especially because it didn’t look that appealing but the results worked good.  The pork chops flavored well with the tomato sauce.

For something thrown together with leftover sauces in the fridge and adding some meat and veggies, it was a really good mix. I was pleased with the results.

If I were to change it up, I suggest to use less pork chops and layer with more thinly sliced potatoes and only one single layer. Just little tips to think about when putting this together if you give it a go. Any sauce works as long as you like it.  If you change the sauce, you should go with some matching seasoning.

How do you like to make pork chops? What do you suggest to use up those potatoes?

Dinner: Oven-Roasted Potatoes

We’re back!!! Let’s hope cooking and baking segment stays alive! I do have another recipe coming up really soon.  I did both this one and the next one for one meal.

We’re getting back into gear with something easy.

I always find anything you can pop into the oven, set the timer and walk away and do other stuff is the easiest sort of meal. Prep time for this one isn’t long either and honestly, you can remove or add other ingredients as you see fit. That is the best part about it.

Ready? Let’s go!

Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Recipe from Spend With Pennies (via Pinterest)

Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients and instructions are on the link above! Just press on “Spend With Pennies”.

This one is all about herbs.  The husband loves herbs and I’m becoming a fan.  But I’m a boring one and when in doubt, I always use Herbes de Provence. So I decided to try out a recipe that mixes you know, individual types of herbs together and see the result.  I mean, we did buy a spice rack….would be nice to put it to some use, right?

Oven-Roasted Potatoes are really good.  It might have benefited from having some time to sit in the fridge and soak in the flavor a little.  Let it marinate through.  Unfortunately, I’m a spontaneous cook so here we are. Still, I thought it wasn’t bad.  The texture was decent and the herbs do stand out and are a lovely mix.

However, for a side dish, this is a lovely choice.  Its delicious, packs in some carbs, and adds a little flavor.  A good substitute for french fries so I’m guessing its a relatively healthier choice 🙂

Are you a fan of potatoes? How do you like to make them? What do you like to make in the oven for dinner?