Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Mustard Herb Pork Rack December 31, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:26 pm
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Before we were married, Matt and I started a tradition of celebrating our Christmas a day or two before Christmas Eve. This way it could be the two of us and not combined with our families regularly scheduled festivities. The tradition grew to include preparing a meal, presents and then a special breakfast for the morning after.

This year we decided to change up our Christmas meal. For the last three years we have dished up an herb roasted lamb rack with mustard roasted potatoes and asparagus with a hollandaise sauce. Inspiration fell into my mailbox in early December from my butcher. In their weekly newsletter they listed a bunch of holiday dish ideas and one was a pork rack. I told Matt about the idea and he was on board. Since we like having leftovers, I ordered a rack for six people.

I had Matt pick up the rack after work the Monday before Christmas. When I got home, he asked me if I wanted to see the piece of meat. I was a little curious and said sure. He came out with a huge rack featuring 13 ribs! Definitely more than enough for six people.

Now I just needed to find a recipe…good thing we have the Internet. In one of the top five results for roasted pork rack, I found it. A rack of pork with an herb-mustard crust. The recipe called for only a six rib roast, so I cut the rack in half and freezed what was leftover.

We decided to keep our roasted mustard potatoes because they are delicious and rounded out the meal with honey-glazed baby carrots and broccoli. The recipe called for a gravy, but I opted not to make it and Matt and I both thought the roast was just right without it. We liked the meal so much we agreed to make it again today for New Year’s Eve.

Our NYE dinner

Our NYE dinner


Here’s my recipe adapted from Fine Cooking:

  • One 6-rib bone-in pork loin (about 4 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (about 2 oz.)
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 425°F. Season pork with salt and pepper to your tasting. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you have a flameproof roasting pan or a large ovenproof skillet, use that. Unfortunately, I don’t have one yet, so I just got my 12-inch All-Clad saucepan dirty.

With your skillet of choosing, brown the fat-covered surface of the pork until it turns a deep golden brown. This took me only five minutes. Then I moved the rack to my roasting pan and turned it so the roast rib side  was facing down in the oven. I basted with the remaining olive oil every ten minutes, for 30 minutes.

While the meat roasted I started on the bread crumb mixture. In a skillet I melted the butter and add the garlic and shallots until they were soft. Then I add the the cumin and smoked paprika and stirred until they were well mixed. Once ready, I removed the mixture from heat and stirred in the parsley and breadcrumbs. My bread crumb coating was ready!

After the pork had roasted for 30 minutes, I brushed the surface with the mustard and coated the roast with breadcrumb topping, pressing down so it adhered. Then I turned the oven down to 375°F and cooked the roast for another 30 minutes. Once my time was up, I took out our meat thermometer to make sure it registered at 145°F and it did!  We let the meat rest for 5 minutes by covering it with foil before we carved it, mostly so I have time to get the side dishes ready!

It’s a great holiday dish and I think this might be a new holiday tradition for us. Now we just have to pick the holiday!


Empanadas for St. Patrick’s Day! March 19, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:15 am
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Even though it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Dave and I strayed from the traditional corn beef and cabbage Saturday night and decided to try a new place called EmpanadUS in LaGrange.  I have seen it a few times on my way to my hair salon, but we have never stopped in and tried it until now.  We received a very warm welcome when we came into the shop.  Perhaps they were so friendly because we were the only ones there.  Too be fair though it was pretty late on Saturday night.  At first I was a bit worried- I always feel better about a restaurant if it’s well populated.  Let me curb your fears right now and tell you that as soon as I finished my meal, I was thinking about when we could come back next.  I don’t care if we are the only ones there every time!  We took a look at the menu which described all the ingredients in each empanada. Once we made our decision on what to order, the gentleman at the counter told us he had those empanadas made and in the warmer, but if we wanted them freshly made they could do that for us.  We decided to go with the fresh ones, and were happy we did because they were seriously delicious and took under 10 minutes to make.

We tried six different empanadas:
BBQ Pork, Bacon & Egg, Nutella & Banana, Italian Sausage, Beef, and Caprese

I’d say my favorite was the Italian Sausage, but the Bacon & Egg surprised me- I’m not usually that much of a breakfasty person but I loved that one.  What’s nice is most of the empanadas have the type of filling stamped in the pastry so you won’t be surprised when you bite into it. The Caprese and Nutella one did not, but they were a different shape and the waiter pointed out which ones were which for us.  Here you can see the stamps on these:photoI would definitely recommend this place to anyone wanting to try something new.  We also saw on their menu that they do catering!  I was seriously sitting there wracking my brain for party ideas just so I can have them again.  If you live in the area, or heck if you live far away you have to come try this place!  I looked on their website and learned they have a couple locations, the one in LaGrange that we visited and one in Riverside.  Here is their website if you are interested in more information….and I promise they haven’t compensated me in any way to say all this.  I just loved their food!  Here’s to trying new things!


Let the Grilling Begin! May 23, 2013

There are many things I love about summer: longer days of sunshine, warm weather, poolside drinks, eating outside…which leads me to grilling!  Summer is hot, which means I don’t often want to turn on my oven and heat up our apartment more.  More importantly, nothing can beat the taste of a grill.  You know what I mean?  It gives your food this unique flavor that screams summer time!

We love making burgers and kabobs in summer, but this summer I am determined to expand our grilling repertoire.  Here is a recipe we had for dinner tonight that turned out fantastic!  I loosely based it on a blog I found through Pinterest, but made many of my own adjustments based on what I thought might make it taste best.

Bruschetta Chicken

You will need:

  • 5 cloves fresh garlic
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/3 c. olive oil, plus a drizzle more
  • 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella
  • salt and pepper

First, make a marinade of the olive oil, balsamic, 4 cloves minced garlic, and about 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper.

ImageNow, separate a small amount (I filled a ramekin dish about 1/3 of the way) of your marinade for later use.  Put the rest of your marinade and the chicken breasts in a freezer bag, making sure your chicken is well-coated in marinade.  Marinade for at least 30 minutes for ideal flavor.

ImageWhile your chicken is marinating, make a bruschetta mixture of your chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, a drizzle of olive oil, your remaining clove of garlic (minced), plus salt and pepper to taste.  Mix this well and let it sit for awhile while your chicken marinates and you start your grilling.  This way that yummy garlic flavor will really saturate the bruschetta.

ImageGrill your chicken on medium-high grill heat about 4-5 minutes on each side, brushing the additional ramekin of marinade over it as it grills.  With about 2 minutes left, add a slice of fresh mozzarella to each chicken breast so it melts on top.

ImageOnce your chicken has been removed from the grill and is cool enough to eat, lay it on top of a bed of brown rice and spoon your bruschetta on top.


Honestly, this turned out to be one of the best non-traditional (as in non-burgers or chicken sandwiches) grill meals we’ve had.  I would highly recommend it.  My one tip would be to throw down on some decent balsamic not just off the shelf from your grocery store (we used the traditional 18-year aged balsamic from EVOO’s shop in Denver).  This will really enhance your cooking flavor!


Southwestern Chopped Salad April 30, 2013

I checked out my 2013 tracking spreadsheet the other day and was reminded that I still had a few goals to take care of for April.  A major one being that I hadn’t yet tried a new recipe.  So Saturday I pulled up my cousin’s blog, ‘Bake Away Girl’ and started perusing.  As the name suggests, she does a lot of baking, but she also likes cooking and since baking isn’t my strong suit I decided to try out a few of her savory dishes and forgo the baked goods.  I like her blog a lot because she is so passionate about baking and cooking.  And take it from someone who has enjoyed some of her creations…they are all made with love which makes them taste that much better!

The one I decided to try and I’ll share with you now is her Southwestern Chopped Salad.  I must say it turned out to be pretty tasty!  I did make a few tweaks, so if you want to use her recipe you can find it here.

1lb steak cut into strips
1 taco packet

1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½  green pepper
5-6 chopped green onions
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 fresh avocados, diced
1 head of red lettuce, chopped or shredded

½  cup (6oz container) plain Greek yogurt
¼  cup mayo
½ tablespoon taco seasoning
½ tablespoon ranch seasoning
Spritz lime juice

1.  Take whichever meat you’ve decided to use and cook it along with the taco seasoning according to the directions on the package. {I decided on steak because I am sick of chicken and I planned on trying her Chicken Gyros later in the week.}  Set aside.

2.  Meanwhile you can prepare all the salad items:
Open the corn and beans and rinse these with cold water in a strainer.  Add to a large serving bowl.  Cut up the green pepper, green onions, roma tomatoes, and avocado {I did not use cilantro although her recipe calls for because it makes me feel sick.}  Add all of these to the bowl.

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3.  I spritzed some lime juice in the bowl to stop everything I just cut from browning and stirred it up.  Set aside.

4.  Chop up some lettuce!  { I choose a red leaf lettuce instead of a iceberg head.  It’s just my preference.}  Set aside.

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5.  Measure and add all the dressing ingredients to a separate bowl.  Make sure it is thoroughly mixed and there are no grainy pieces from the two powdered ingredients.

6.  Take the veggie mixture and incorporate the dressing fully.  {After seeing how much dressing was yielded, I decided to only add only half at first.  It ended up being enough dressing for me so I saved the rest for another time.  The ingredients I’ve listed above are halved from my cousin’s recipe because of this change.  By all means do what matches your taste buds!}

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7.  Now you can take the lettuce you set aside and add that to the mixture.

8.  Serve right away with your prepared meat of choice on top.

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Doesn’t this look delicious?  I was even able to save some left overs for lunch the next day and it kept pretty well.  I don’t think you could eat it after that though, it would be too wilted and brown.  All and all I’d say its a pretty healthy meal.  You have a lot of protein {greek yogurt and steak} and a ton of veggies.  The only questionables are the mayo and season packets, but those are mostly just spices.  You could home make those if you don’t like the idea of processed food.  This recipe is definitely a keeper for my line up.  I’ve already added it to a recipe card!


CSA Inspired Dinner July 24, 2012

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:46 pm
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I have been picking up our CSA every Tuesday for eight weeks now.  Karla and I been pretty good about trying to use everything, but we’ve built up too much produce and eggs in our fridge for two people.  I decided it would be a great idea to host a CSA inspired dinner to use up some items and sneak in some girl talk while we’re at it!

I emailed a couple friends of mine with a link to a handy tool my friend Hollice introduced us to called Doodle.  It’s a website that helps you coordinate a date that works for everyone in a group.  All you do is go to www.Doodle.com, click the ‘Schedule an Event’ button and fill out your information.  Then you’re free to choose the possible dates for the event.  You can add the times you are thinking about and the site gives you a link to a poll with all the scheduling options.  It’s super simple to use and helps avoid everyone responding with what they can and can’t do leaving the host to piece together which date will work.

I feel like finding a date that everyone can attend is the hardest part of a get-together.  Once we settled on Monday the 23rd my next agenda was planning the menu.  I collected a lot of good recipes in my decision making, but in the end this is what was served:

Appetizer:  Veggies and Dip *Beets, Broccoli, and Cucumber

Main:  BBQ Chicken & Frittatas *Eggs and Potatoes

Side Dish:  Zucchini/Squash bake *Yellow Squash, and Basil & Coleslaw *Cabbage

Dessert:  Carrot Cake *Carrots and Eggs

 In all, I used 9 different items {I was impressed with myself} from the CSA deliveries.  Along the way I learned that the simpler, the better.  If I made the CDA ingredients the star of the dish, they didn’t need much dressing up.  Below is each item on the menu along with it’s respective recipe.

Veggie Dip

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • Pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together with a spatula.  This is a super simple recipe and flavor, but I felt it put the vegetables on display.  I cut up broccoli, cucumber, and a yellow pepper {not from the farm}, then I sliced up some beets placed them on a pan sprayed with olive oil and salted them a bit before putting them in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes {flipping them once at the 20 minute mark}.  These came out like potato chips…nice and crisp!

I don’t have a picture or recipe for the chicken or frittatas.  Pretty much just threw those two together.  I seared the chicken on the stove and then put it in a pan with BBQ sauce and baked it for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  The frittatas I did similar to the mini egg cups I talked about in this post.  Placed a little cheese and a bunch of veggies in a ramekin and added some beaten eggs with a little milk.  Those were in the oven for probably 20 minutes at 350 or until they solidify.

Zucchini Bake <–Original Recipe can be found on Kayln’s Kitchen Blog 

  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut in slices or half-moon slices
  • 2 medium-sized yellow squash, cut in slices or half-moon slices
  • 4 T chopped fresh basil
  • 4 T thinly sliced green onion {I upped this from 2 T}
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup shredded cheese {I used a mixed blend}
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan {I used a packaged find grated blend}
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8″x 8″ baking dish with olive oil or non-stick spray. Wash the squash and cut in slices or half-moon slices. Wash basil, dry and finely chop. Wash, dry and slice green onions.  Combine the sliced squash, chopped basil, sliced green onions, dried thyme, garlic powder, and 1/2 cup cheese and stir together until the veggies are coated with cheese and the herbs are well-distributed. Season with salt and black pepper. Put the mixture in the baking dish and bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes.  When the zucchini is nearly cooked through, take the casserole dish out of the oven and sprinkle over the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Put the dish back in the oven and bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and nicely browned and zucchini is fully cooked- Serve hot.

Coleslaw: <–Original Recipe can be found on A Southern Fairytale Blog

  • 1 small head of green cabbage {She used bagged stuff, which is simple, but I had this cabbage on hand}
  • 1/4 C white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (or 1/2 tsp if you don’t like a peppery bite)

Combine the vinegars, sugar, olive oil, spicy mustard, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle rolling boil, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved.  Place this mixture aside and allow to cool.  Once cooled, pour the vinaigrette over the cabbage and place in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours before serving {I left mine overnight and it was still delish}.

Carrot Cake <–Original Recipe can be found on Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed grated carrots {I added double}
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 6-cup loaf pan. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in carrots. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn cake out onto a wire rack, and let cool completely.  To make frosting: Using mixer, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy. Frost top of cooled cake.

I definitely enjoyed trying out some new recipes and can’t wait to find even more in the CSA book Hollice gifted me.  It’s an A to Z encyclopedia of sorts for items commonly found in CSA shares.  It is a great resource and gives information on the item like how to store it, along with recipes to try out.  I’m pretty sure that will come in handy for some of the things we find in our share.  I really did not know what to do with Chard until I read a bit about it in that book.



Meatloaf Muffins September 17, 2011

Last week upon leaving work, I was trying to think about what I should make for dinner.  Since work has been consuming my life lately, my creativity in cooking {or pretty much anything that occurs past 3 in the afternoon} has been stifled.  So I texted Jonathan to see what he had a taste for, and meatloaf was mentioned.  I thought, what a perfect time to try some meatloaf muffins!

Now, y’all know how intense my love for cupcakes is, and how cupcakes make me well…generally very happy.  Therefore, using my cupcake tin as the basis for an entire meal excited me.  I found a recipe from Rachel Ray online {it was the one with the best reviews}, and what really caught my eye about it was the sauce that you include both in the meatloaf muffins and as a garnish on top.  I’m a big fan of BBQ flavors with my meat, so naturally I gravitated toward this recipe. 

Baking...we can't wait!

I like my meatloaf with chunky veggies, so I avoided Rachel’s advice to blend or puree the onions and green peppers.  Instead, I just chopped them and mixed them in with my meat and additional ingredients.  At the end of the recipe is a recommended side dish of mashed potatoes made with vegetable cream cheese that looked yummy.  I decided instead of keeping the potatoes on the side, why not make them into a mashed potato frosting?! I enjoy mashed potatoes with the skins still in {red potatoes, of course}, so I opted to boil them with the skins on to add some color and texture to my ‘frosting.’

Ready to be 'frosted'

When all was said and done, the meatloaf muffins came out great and tasted pretty darn delicious.  It’s amazing what a simple twist of a classic can really spice up a weeknight dinner.  These will definitely be in my repertoire for future dinner favorites.

The finished product!


What’s cookin? April 7, 2011

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 7:45 pm
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I can never decide what to make when I cook dinner.  I get myself all hyped up about cooking, and then for some reason my mind goes completely blank of any recipe knowledge I had before I made my decision to cook dinner.  And when I go to the internet, I’m just overwhelmed.  Similar to searching for nearly any topic these days online, about a million and one websites come up when you search for dinner recipes.  To which I spend about an hour and a half searching for what I’m going to land on for meal choices, and suddenly I find myself so hungry because it’s much later than when I started my recipe search that I decide to give up and throw a frozen pizza in the oven.

So I decided to share with you some tricks that I have found to make my decision-making process less painful, and spare my stomach of the gorey details of online recipe searching through Google.  Below are some of my favorite (and generally new found) ways of narrowing my dinnertime options.

1) Ask a friend.  My friends happen to be an extremely creative, inventive bunch of ladies, but even if yours aren’t, I’m sure they have some good recipes to share!  Everyone has their favorite thing that they make really well frequently, and I’m sure it would flatter them if you shot them a text or email letting them know you need an idea for dinner!

2) realsimple.com.  Kelly turned me on to this one, because of her magazine and because I have eaten things from the site while enjoying dinner as a guest at Kelly and Karla’s abode.

3) Ask your parents.  Our parents are always saying that even as adults, it’s nice to know we still need them.  Well, why not call them up and ask them for the recipe for one of your childhood favorites?!  My mom was thrilled to share her homemade mac and cheese recipe when I called her for it from Denver in search of something for Jonathan and I to cook.

4) Put a twist on an oldie-but-goodie.  To spice up the mac and cheese, Jonathan and I tossed around the idea of throwing some crab meat or lobster meat in the casserole pan before putting it all in the oven.  We got this idea from the delicious lobster mac and cheese on the menu at Hugo’s Frog Bar (if you haven’t had it before, put going to Hugo’s and ordering it on your bucket list, for sure!).

5) midwestliving.com.  I get emails from them because one Christmas I wanted to try a cupcake recipe, and I found that they have a lot of good baking recipes.  But they often do special segments on comfort food, crock pot recipes, and best-loved treats.

So next time you’re in a lurch regarding what’s for dinner, feel free to give one of my tips a try.  Buon Apetit!

If you're looking for a BBQ recipe to get you grilling this spring, midwestliving.com features Kansas City Barbecue Recipes in their Must-try Midwestern Recipes


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