Friday, December 9, 2011

Not A Recipe!

Check out this pretty plate:

Looks pretty amazing, right?
Well, I'll share a secret with you.  I follow recipes occasionally.  I even have an entire page on my blog dedicated to recipes that I've tried & loved or made up and cook all the time. favorite way to cook is to make it up as I go.  

True Life Confession:  I.  Hate.  Recipes.

I love just putting random ingredients together and seeing what I come up with!  It is so easy to cook without a recipe.  I always follow these four, simple steps:  

Step One:  Determine what flavors you are in the mood for.  What are you craving?
Step Two:  Pull out the ingredients you will need to create the flavor and texture you want.
Step Three:  Let it all marinate for as long as possible.  
Step Four:  Cook & enjoy.

Last night, I cooked us up a delicious dinner and I wanted to share the steps with you so that you can see how easy it is to cook without a recipe.  Are you ready?

I wanted something that was just a little bit different.  I found this packet of seasoning in the cabinet, so this is what I started with.  Grill Mates Baja Citrus Marinade.  I love Grill Mates seasoning. Did you know that the reason why restaurant food tastes so good and flavorful is because technically, as in according to recipes, restaurants over season their food?  I try to always keep that in mind when I cook.  I "over-season" everything.  If I happen to be following a recipe, I always use more than the recommended spices.  :)  
Here is the back of the envelope.  I did not follow these instructions.  First of all, my goal is to always over-season, remember?  (1) Water has no flavor.  (2) Vinegar does not have a good flavor.  I assumed that all of the liquids were advised so that the spices in the packet would not be overwhelming.  Well, in my book, overwhelming flavor is a good thing.  However, in order for this to be marinade I needed to somehow create a liquid from this seasoning packet.  Here's what I did.  
I poured the seasoning into a gallon zip block bag.  

I picked balls out of my brown sugar and threw those into the bag to give some added sweetness.  I love cooking with brown sugar.  I put it in almost everything I make.  

This is so important.  If you are making an entree, add SALT AND PEPPER.  I don't care what you are cooking.  Trust me, it makes all the difference.  Salt and Pepper, people.

I poured some of this in the bag.  

Baja Citrus and Hawaiian Marinade seemed like similar flavors to me.  I've been holding onto this bottle of marinade for a while.  I added a few squirts of this.  We'll call it my water substitute since I refuse to water down a recipe at the beginning.  (Sure, if the flavors are too strong I'll water it down.  But I never start with water.  Get Real.)

Next, I added ketchup.

Ketchup has vinegar in it.  The seasoning packet called for vinegar.  My husband dips everything in ketchup.  The ketchup would help offset the sweetness of the Hawaiian marinade and brown sugar.  So I did it.  I squirted some ketchup.  We are HUGE ketchup fans, so I had to.  

I sealed the bag and mooshed it all together.  But it was not really very liquid-like.  So, I did add a little vegetable canola oil.  Sue me.

The recipe called for vegetable oil, which I refused to add because it has no flavor.  I refuse to buy vegetable oil because canola oil is cheaper and better for you.  I fry a lot of foods for my husband.  But canola oil has even less flavor than vegetable oil.  I added a touch of lemon juice to help it out.  :)  Again, all of this was just stuff I had in the fridge.  Nothing was purchased specifically for this meal.

I mooshed it all together again and it was a much better texture!  :)  I let it marinate for about 20 hours.  :)  So in honor of the time not spent in the kitchen, here are some precious pictures of my dear husband our our sweet, sweet fur child. 

How precious are they?!  Aren't they sweet?  :)  My husband is so hot...gah.  Love those tats.  Love that man!  And Zombie's floppy ears that only happen when he is sleeping SO good?  Stop it.  :)  If you love doggie pictures, go check out the tab at the top called "Zombie."  yep.  A chihuahua named Zombie.  Ridiculous.  Love it.  :)

So, thank you for waiting.  20 hours have passed and we are back in the kitchen!  

Pork chops take a minute to cook, so I put them in the skillet first.  I cooked them on medium heat for about 20 minutes.     

I opened a can of carrots and poured them into a small pot.  I added brown sugar (told ya!), ham boulloin, salt and pepper, and brought to a boil.

Meanwhile, I set the table.  I'll post a tutorial for the precious little centerpiece I pulled together later.  It took about 5 minutes!  

Check out these amazing bamboo silverware.  Pretty cool, huh?  Wedding gift!

I went back to the stove and tasted a carrot.  It was okay...but I hate mediocre food.  Sorry to go all Paula Dean on ya, but I added a butt-ton of butter.  

The pork chops were almost done at this point.  I cut them all in half and turned the heat up to high.  I let them sizzle and pop for about 5 minutes until my kitchen and stove-top was sufficiently messy.  While this was happening, I was cooking store-bought Texas toast.  Then, it all came together on these festive little plates!

They turned out so juicy!    

 And we ate by candlelight.  He drank beer and I drank wine.  It was our first candlelight dinner in our home.  :)  We loved it!  :)

So there you have it!  That is my little example of how to cook without a recipe.  And it all turned out very yummy.  My husband even ate it without adding salt or dunking anything in ketchup, which is nothing short of a miracle.  :)

How do you like to cook?  Recipes or no recipes?  Do you make things up?


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