Dairy Goat Grub

On my journey to find greener pastures to replace cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and triple-cream brie, I’ve only encountered one or two trolls. But rather than resort to bland soy or tofu substitutes, I’ve happily swapped in goat cheese for cream cheese, goat milk yogurt for sour cream, and continued to indulge in addictive gourmet chevre that will dominate any cheese board. Burritos and bagels, rejoice!

For those of you trying to cross that bridge, here’s some of my favorite dairy goat grub:

Once you make the switch – oh, the places you’ll go! Here are my recipes featuring goats milk substitutions.

With that, I’ll leave you with a sleeping baby goat at Surfing Goat Dairy:

Corned Pork & Colcannon in the Crock Pot

I love a good Irish meal, but don’t love picking over the leftover processed and packaged corned beef in the grocery aisle. So I decided to try seasoning pork tenderloin with the same flavors as the traditional St. Patty’s meal. With potatoes, carrots and broccoli near expiration, I was in a decent position to emulate Colcannon to round out the meal.

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Here’s how:

Use a peppercorn grinder to coat all sides of each loin in the crock pot.

Make a paste of about 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and garlic cloves (I used 2 cloves, but feel free to go big). Spread the paste on all sides of each loin. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Shred the pork in the crock pot. Then, add a layer of peeled potatoes, baby carrots and broccoli florets. Cook for 2+ hours on low (at 2 hours in, the potatoes and carrots were still somewhat firm). Separate and mash the potatoes, carrots and broccoli with 1 cube of melted butter and 1 cup of heated almond milk. Salt as desired.

This Irish girl was happy with the flavors of the dish, but my non-Irish husband added BBQ sauce. Slainte!

Oscar Remix: Crock Pot Almond Milk Pulled Pork

In 2009, it was raining on Oscar Sunday, so I whipped up a milk-braised pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes dinner using ingredients on hand in our tiny SF apartment. Last year, same occasion, I swapped in almond milk and added pappardelle. Today, it’s act III, but the crock pot is now playing a lead role in my kitchen.

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To the crock pot, add pork tenderloin and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add about 1 cup of chicken broth and 2 cups of almond milk. Cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8), or until pork can be easily separated with forks.

Optional mashed potatoes:

Midway through cooking the pork, place 4 peeled russet potatoes around or on top of the pork. Cook for 2 hours, and flip halfway through. Remove potatoes and mash with melted butter and almond milk. Season with salt & pepper, and stir in green onions. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees, as needed.

Served pulled pork over a bed of mashed potatoes; ladle juices over the top.

Pin Real Life: Barley & Baked Eggs Brunch

It’s Sacramento Beer Week, so what better time to celebrate barley? Actually, that wasn’t really the motivation for this. The real story is that we’re going to be drinking a lot of beer to celebrate a certain Beer, so a healthy and hearty brunch is in order.

I’ve been wondering what to do with the pearled barley I was inspired to purchase at some point. So naturally, Pinterest provided a solution, Skillet Barley with Kale & Eggs.

I swapped in green onions for shallots, spinach for kale, and chicken broth for vegetable broth, in this adaptation:

Add 2 sliced green onions to 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat; cook for 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup barley; stir to toast for 1 minute.

Add 3.5 cups broth (I used organic chicken broth) and bring to boil; adjust temperature as needed to maintain active boil for 15 minutes, and ultimately you want the barley to soak up all the liquid.

Turn on the broiler with the rack 6 inches below.

Stir in a bunch of spinach (I used half a bag) until wilted. Add another swirl of olive oil to help the process along.

Crack 4 eggs over the top; season with salt, and broil until egg whites are opaque. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

I was very happy with the results, because I like grains any time of day, and the dish had the right amount of flavor. David isn’t as convinced about the barley. But the eggs were perfectly runny at least!

Embarrassingly Easy Meatball Lasagna

One of my favorite things about the Sopranos was how they didn’t mess around when it came to food. Feisty Carmella always served up hearty pasta dishes for the family, even when she and Tony were on limited speaking terms. But I digress.

Tonight I was looking for something similarly no nonsense. So I pulled meatballs out of the fridge, and found marinara sauce and lasagna noodles in the cupboard. Bada boom! Basic ingredients for an easy Italian dinner.

The only curve ball was that I had 6 lasagna noodles. Hardly enough for a typical layered lasagna. So here’s what I did:

-Butter the pan; add three lasagna noodles.
-Pour a layer of marinara sauce, followed by pre-cooked meatballs and spinach leaves. Cover with sauce and a layer of shredded cheese.
-Ideally, here’s where you repeat another layer or two.
-Top with final layer of noodles, sauce and shredded cheese.
-Bake covered at 375 for 45 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Finish by baking uncovered until cheese is adequately melted.

David ate a Tony-size portion, so I’d say it was a success.

Pin Real Life: Veggie Scramble

There’s Pinterest, and then there’s real life. There are farm fresh eggs and vegetable gardens, and then there are potatoes sprouting limbs and eggs about to expire. So today’s brunch creation was a marriage of fantasy and reality.

Inspired by this lovely pin, I was thrown a curve ball when I pulled some scary looking potatoes out of the cupboard. My plan B was to pull some frozen veggies out of the freezer, and go from there.

-Swirl some olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add one chopped clove of garlic
-Pour 3/4 quarters of a bag of frozen veggies, and a handful of frozen breakfast sausages into the pan and cover
-Note: Cut the sausages into slices either before they go in the pan, or after they’ve thawed a bit, like I did (PS – I really like Applegate)
-Once the veggies and sausages are cooked through, crack 4 eggs over the top, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low
-Once egg whites are opaque, remove lid, turn off heat; optionally, sprinkle with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, or salt and pepper as desired

Part Pinterest, part real life, and totally easy!

Happy 5th Blog Birthday to Me

5 years ago, I was sitting in my SF apartment with David, longing to write about food again. And so, Dinner with David was born. We’ve been through a lot together! Thank you for being a part of it.

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Technology has come a long way in 5 years!

A month before I started the blog, we had just purchased our very first iPhones, so the pictures in the early days were a little scary. I used a regular point-and-shoot for many meals, which required tedious uploading using a cord plugged into my laptop. The combination of iOS photo stream in the cloud, and Flickr’s iPhone app auto upload has changed everything! Not to mention Pinterest – a major source of inspiration and new readers.

I’ve cooked in 5 different kitchens in 5 years!

The size, lighting, appliances and age of my kitchens have evolved dramatically. From a tiny, modern shoe box in SF, where I didn’t even have an oven; to a Formica countered, fluorescent-lit cookie cutter apartment kitchen in Mountain View; to a larger, white-tiled 90s kitchen with wrap around counter in Santa Clara; to a lovely remodeled 80s townhouse with fancy appliances and lighting in Redwood City; to our turn-of-the-century, re-orchestrated down to every surface and fixture, midtown Sacramento kitchen that I anticipated for a whole year.

My favorite part of the whole thing – beyond having an outlet for creative self expression – is the feedback and suggestions I get from my readers. So keep ‘em coming!

I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years holds in store…

Easy Like Sunday Morning Crock Pot Pork & Mashed Potatoes

2014 is the year of the crock pot, in my book. But finding recipes that use my favorite staples, like pork tenderloin, without delving into canned this or processed that, can be difficult. So this morning, I borrowed from some basic crock pot concepts and added my own healthy spin, to attempt pork tenderloin and carrot stew with mashed potatoes. Fortunately, it worked!

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You will need:
- 1 onion
- Pork tenderloin
- Baby carrots (1 package)
- Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- Salt & pepper
- Optional: green onions, butter for mashed potatoes; flour for gravy

Slice a whole onion and spread evenly to create a layer on the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add two pork loins (from one package) on top of onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pour one small package of baby carrots on top of the pork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

For the final layer, add as many freshly peeled potatoes as you can fit on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Cook on low for 6 hours, and then keep on warm while you prepare the potatoes (or as long as needed).

For the mashed potatoes, remove the cooked potatoes one by one with a spoon from the crock pot (they will be soft). Then mash in an oven-safe casserole dish with desired ingredients. I used 1 cube of melted butter, 1 cup of almond milk, 1-2 chopped green onions, and salt & pepper to taste. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve.

For gravy, I ladled some of the juice from the crock pot into a small saucepan and whisked in about 1/8 cup of flour slowly. My gravy turned out pretty lumpy, so this part will require further refinement.

I may also add more liquid next go around, so there’s even more juicy goodness. But all in all, this was a hearty and health home style meal without a parade of dishes!

Pin Record Time: Grilled Cheese in a Waffle Maker

I’m sure you’ve seen food tricks on Pinterest that use basic kitchen appliances and tools to make otherwise mediocre meals look amazing. Well, 18 minutes after I saw this pin, David and I were gobbling up cheddar and mushroom grilled cheese (panini, if you’re feeling fancy).

A speedy brunch was the perfect solution to Saturday morning breakfast procrastination (triggered by last night’s pizza massacre perhaps?).

Just chop mushrooms into small pieces, and layer on top of cheddar cheese slices in between sourdough or your bread of choice, and press as needed while it cooks in the waffle maker. (I didn’t use butter, but if you’re inclined, go wild.) Done and done.

Valentine’s Day Pizza Massacre

In theory, homemade pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni sounds like a sweet gesture on this saccharine-soaked holiday. As with matters of the heart, timing is everything, and pizza dough is no exception.

I first cemented the steps last year with much less sophisticated cutlery and no proper pan or pizza stone. But this year, I still found myself staring into the oven wondering why the crust wasn’t fully cooking all the way through after doubling the time listed on the directions.

It still tasted good, once you got past the fact that it required utensils. (Still beats crowded restaurants and overpriced holiday menus!)

If anyone has the answer to avoiding a soupy mess, please let me know. Potential culprits: too much sauce? Mushrooms?

Maybe I’ll get it right in 2015.

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