I think I'm on retainer as live-in chef at my cousins' place now. It was my turn to cook last night. I decided to challenge myself and try not to follow a specific recipe. Here were the rules I set for myself:
1. A recipe can only be used for inspiration (i.e. cooking tips, suggested seasonings) but can't be followed exactly.
2. Don't use a flavor combination that's already been tried this week.
3. Make a dessert to follow the meal.
The result was pork chops on a bed of caramelized onions and mushrooms. I needed a little help figuring out how to cook the chops so they didn't dry out. I turned to foodnetwork.com for ideas and went with the following technique: sear the chops on each side for two minutes or until brown on both sides and finish in a 475 degree oven for 8-12 minutes ( my chops were smaller than most so they cooked in about 8 minutes).
For the onions, I used my imagination and did some shopping in the pantry. I found sherry, rosemary, garlic, and canned mushrooms and decided to see what I could do with those. The result was vidalia onion and mushrooms sauteed in sherry with garlic and rosemary. Yum.
For dessert, I didn't want to bake, I just wanted to dress up something simple a little bit. The result, chocolate raspberry pudding with toasted, slivered almonds. Instant pudding plus raspberry extract equals the easiest special dessert you'll ever make.
In the end, I think it turned out pretty well. Dawn and Howie seemed to share that opinion. Dawn keeps making jokes about "keeping" me. I think I'm ok with that...for now anyway.