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Thin Pork Chops with Buttermilk Gravy

Thin Pork Chops with Old Fashioned Buttermilk Gravy

We all remember eating tough pork chops as a kid since Moms would deliberately overcook them to ensure nobody got sick from undercooked meat.  Consequently the chops would be bone dry, impossible to cut even if using a steak knife, and when it came to chewing, well imagine a tiny Chihuahua trying to eat peanut butter and you get the picture.  Don’t get me wrong, my Mom was a great cook, but pork chops were every Mom’s nemesis in those days.  Thankfully times have changed and you can buy thinly sliced pork chops that turn out tender, juicy, and full of flavor if prepared the right way.  What once took 90 minutes to prep and cook, now can be done in under 20 minutes.  The perfect recipe for dinner when you don’t have tons of prep time but still want a full-flavored home cooked meal!

Ingredients:

4 thin pork chops

Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp Onion Powder

1/2 tsp paprika

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh parsley (curly)

Method:

Place pork chops in a shallow casserole dish and pour over a cup of buttermilk until well covered.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Then remove to a plate and lightly pat off excess buttermilk.

Add onion powder, paprika, salt/pepper to flour and dredge the pork chops.  Add olive oil to non-stick frying pan and when smoking add the pork chops.  Brown on one side for 3 minutes then turn down heat to medium and flip the pork chops and brown the other side.  When fully browned remove to a plate and cover with foil.

Add 3 Tbl of the remaining flour to the pan and make a roux.  Add half the chicken broth and whisk till smooth and no lumps.  Turn heat down to medium and continue to whisk in broth. Finely chop the 2 cloves of garlic and add to the gravy, before slowly adding 3/4 cup of buttermilk – whisk vigorously while bringing it to a boil.

Add pork chops on top of gravy – cover pan and turn heat down to low for 3 minutes.

Pork Chops

Pork Chops

Chop parsley.  Remove pork chops from pan and top with gravy.  Sprinkle parsley on top and serve.

Servings: 4

 

 

 

Chicken with Cognac and Mushroom

Sunday dinner features chicken more often than not.  This afternoon I watched The Hundred-Foot Journey, a movie starring Manish Dayal which tells the story of an East Indian start-up restaurant right across the street (exactly One Hundred Feet) from a Michelin-starred French restaurant owned and operated by Helen Mirren.  A cute movie that made me want to cook some delicious Indian food right then, even though I don’t have a clue how to do it, nor do I have their amazing spices.  It did motivate me enough to get off the couch and make something traditional and tasty for Sunday dinner.  And yet….I have a feeling there will be Indian cooking lessons in my future!

Ingredients:

4 whole legs (leg and thigh)

12 large cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 Tbls Cognac

3 Tbls unsalted butter

1 Tbl flour

1 Tbl olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper

1.5 cups chicken broth (low sodium)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. On medium high heat, add olive oil to non-stick frying pan and place the chicken backside down first with fleshy part upright.  Lightly salt and pepper the chicken while in the pan.   Brown and turn chicken over and brown on other side after 4 minutes.
  2. Once  fully browned, remove to a plate and cover with tin foil.  Add 1 Tbl of butter to pan.  Trim and clean mushrooms; slice and add to frying pan along with minced garlic.  Over medium heat, brown the mushrooms – about 8 minutes.  Turn up heat to high and add the chicken stock – bring to boil and then turn back down to medium heat.  Mix 1 Tbl of soft butter and 1 Tbl of flour (called a slurry) and add slurry to the sauce (whisk so no lumps form).  Add a smidge of salt to the sauce.
  3. Take sauce off the burner and add the Cognac – blend into the sauce. Place chicken on top of sauce and put in oven for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 180 degrees.  Remove from oven and add 1 Tbl of butter on top of dish for richness – Serve!
Chicken with Cognac and Mushrooms

Chicken with Cognac and Mushrooms

Servings:  4

 

New Year Resolutions for my kitchen

I haven’t made a list of resolutions for the New Year in a very long time (like 25 years!).  Not all resolutions have to be aimed toward deprivation or total elimination of a food or a habit to be successful.  I have created a list that I intend to focus on for the first quarter of 2016.  Then each quarter I will revise/cut as needed –  my list is only 6 items long but feel they are manageable, which is important for my success.

Here goes..

  1. Use more fresh vegetables and fruits in every meal – (move the canned goods out to the garage and place in my disaster kit.)  And a good time to rotate the bottled water into the house to use and buy a fresh supply of bottled water for the kit.
  2. Grow and use my own herbs – I hate spending $4 every time I need a little fresh rosemary or thyme in a recipe. This is my new herb garden that I started in mid-November (a great investment).  See here on Amazon to order.
  3. Cut way back on the use of refined sugar.  I have gathered all my cake mixes, puddings, brownie mix (hate giving this one up!) etc., and boxed them up to bring to the local food bank.  Even so, I know that I will still consume sugar but at least a valiant effort will be made towards reduction!
  4. Create my own trail mix using only the nuts, berries, and seeds that I like and not someone else’s pickings (including Asian party mix).  Scoop them up in snack size baggies and take to work (no more potato chips at 3pm for me). Run over to Heather Christo’s blog and check-out her recipe for Homemade Party Snack Mix – looks delicious!
  5. Eat more vegetables and less beef – limit meat to once or twice a week.
  6. Follow the My Plate concept of meal preparation.  Fill one half of your plate with vegetables (or you can combine vegetables and fruits).   One quarter has protein (fish, chicken, lean meat) and the other quarter is a good carbohydrate (brown rice, whole grain breads, legumes). This one could be the biggest challenge yet!

If you are wondering why I chose a photo of Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory for this post, it’s because no matter how I do on the above resolutions, I will keep my sense of humor throughout – cuz that is my Number One resolution for 2016:  to laugh at lot and do it often!

How about you?  What New Year Resolutions have you made and want to share?

Creamy Hash Browns

Happy New Year Friends!  Am just finishing up a lovely break of 10 days off before returning to work tomorrow.  Breakfast had to be special this morning so I made a batch of Creamy Hash Browns.  You start with fresh shredded potatoes in a pan on the stove and finish in the oven.  Add whatever spices/herbs you like – I used fresh parsley and chives as I now have an herb garden in my kitchen and these herbs were plentiful.  To finish this dish you add a baked egg and small spoonful of black caviar.  A great way to start 2016!

Ingredients:
2 russet potatoes, shredded
2 whole eggs
3 Tbl heavy cream
1 Tbl chopped chives
1 Tbl chopped parsley
1/2 tsp black caviar
Paprika
Kosher Salt
Method:

Shred the potatoes or use packaged shredded hash browns from the store (usually found near the eggs.)  Add potatoes to a bowl and add cream, chives, pinch of salt, parsley.  Mix and pour into a non-stick pan.  Brown on one side, flip and brown the other side – you are just getting potatoes crispy on each side, so 5 minute maximum on the stove.

Split potato mixture between 2 ramekins and put in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Creamy Hash Browns

Creamy Hash Browns

Remove from oven and crack an egg into each ramekin (I crack into a small measuring cup first and then transfer, to avoid any shells falling into the potatoes.)  Add a touch of paprika on top of egg and put back in oven for another 6-7 minutes (I check it every 2 minutes as I don’t want the egg yolk to become overcooked and hard, yet want my egg whites to be firm and well cooked.)

 

When at desired consistency remove from oven and add a small bit of black caviar on top – serve!

Serves:  Two

Creamy Hash Browns

Creamy Hash Browns

 

 

Goat Cheese and Kalamata Olive Crostini

When I think of Weekend Football, hearty appetizers come to mind.  To me a good-sized piece of crostini is like eating a mini sandwich.  Except you get to see what you are eating and I fill up quickly on just 3 or 4 of these – okay maybe 5 or 6, cuz I like them.

I have a reputation for not being able to keep anything green alive (although green happens to be my favorite color).  I purchased one of those bags of fresh “living” basil that has roots and dirt attached and sits in a plastic bag.  This I knew would not be difficult to keep alive so quickly brought it home and placed it in a tall glass on my kitchen window ledge.  Needless to say I was pretty self-satisfied that I had a “live” plant that I could count on being around for a couple of months or so.  I didn’t realize I was supposed to take it out of the plastic and water it weekly. I went to get some fresh basil this week to make pesto, and found the leaves had turned black.  Imagine that!  Thursday was garbage day – and the basil found itself a new home. So in making this recipe I went to buy basil leaves in one of those sleek packs of pre-picked basil, but instead found a little container of “lightly” dried basil, that you keep in the fridge once you have opened it – and it keep for about 4 weeks.  My kind of gardening!

Baguette cut into think slices, on cookie sheet, with a little olive oil drizzled on top.

Baguette cut into thin slices, on cookie sheet, with a little olive oil drizzled on top.

A handy-size container of freeze dried basil so I have it when I need it.

A handy-size container of “lightly” dried basil so I have it when I need it.

Ingredients:

1 french bread baguette

4 oz Cream Cheese

4 oz Goat Cheese

3/4 cup Grape Tomatoes

3/4 cup greek pitted Kalamata Olives

1/2 tsp Greek Honey

Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove, cut in half

Basil (fresh or lightly dried)

True Lime (this is a pulverized dried lime)

Italian Greco Crostini

Goat Cheese and Kalamata Olive Crostini

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1.  Slice baguette into 24 thin slices. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over the bread.  Put in oven and bake for about 10 minutes till golden brown.

2. Mix softened cream cheese and goat cheese with a fork in small bowl, till creamy.

3. Remove toasts from oven and rub cut garlic clove across them.

4. Rough chop the olives and tomatoes (drain tomatoes as you chop).  Add both to a bowl and pour small amount of olive oil, the Greek honey, and mix well.  The honey will cut some of the brininess of the Kalamata olives.

5. Spread cheese mixture on the toasts, and top with heaping spoonful of tomato/olive mixture on top.  Sprinkle chopped basil on top and teeny amount of True Lime, and serve.

 

Italian Greco Crostini

Goat Cheese and Kalmata Olive Crostini

Servings:  24 crostini

 

 

 

French Bread Pudding Soufflé with Grand Marnier

Days of fresh fruit desserts and long hot summers are gone and Fall has definitely arrived.  Loving it!   Time to switch gears and make warm, cozy desserts and a bread pudding soufflé makes that request easy to fulfill.  You can use all types of bread for this (Challah, Italian, Brioche, or any artisan-style bread) but I prefer to use to be traditional Sour Dough French Bread which adds a more acidic and tangy taste to the desert. It also helps to make the bread pudding rise similar to a soufflé, but without all that extra work and worry associated with it.  Same flavors, but a different texture from a bread pudding recipe where you end up with a very dense, moist pudding – this is light and airy, and lovely.  Make sure whatever bread you choose, that it should be at least a day old (up to a week).  Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, set a bowl of freshly whipped cream on the side, and you are ready for a lovely, cozy, dessert to enjoy cuddled up watching your favorite TV show, or reading that book you have meant to start.  Me?  I have just started the latest Janet Evanovich “The Scam” – along with a nice bowl of French Bread Pudding Soufflé

I soooo love Fall!!

IMG_1328

Ingredients:

Loaf of day old Sour Dough French bread, cut into 1″ squares

2-1/2 cups of milk

1 cup sugar

3 whole eggs

2 Tbl vanilla extract

Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

3 Tbl butter, unsalted

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
1. Butter the sides and bottom of a souffle dish.  Take day old bread and cut into 1″ squares and add to the souffle dish.

2 . Combine milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices, pinch of Kosher salt, and the Grand Marnier.  Whisk till thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Remove bread mixture from the refrigerator and let sit out for about 30 minutes.

Place bread pudding in oven and cook for 30-45 minutes.  The pudding is done when it starts to rise and the top and edges get brown.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve with some freshly whipped cream.

Now go cuddle up in your favorite chair and start that book that has sat on your night stand for a month!

 

IMG_1384

 

Check out these other great Bread Pudding recipes:

http://bijouxs.com/blog/2012/04/15/meyer-lemon-bread-pudding

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bread_pudding/

 

 

 

 

Steak and Pappardelle Ribbon Skillet Pie

Sundays and Comfort Food frequently go hand-in-hand, at least in my kitchen.  This skillet pie is relatively easy and only takes about 20 minutes prep time, with another 10 minutes in a hot oven so all the flavors meld together.  I prefer my steak to be medium rare, so the steak is quickly browned on the stove before adding to the pie, and then finished off in the oven.  Don’t overbake or the steak will be tough.

This is what you need to get started.

This is what you need to get started.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 lemon

6 large mushrooms, sliced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 cup grape tomatoes

2 cups sour cream

3 sprigs of Thyme

1 tsp Kosher salt

3 Tbl cognac

4 thin NY steaks

1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese

1 can whole water chestnuts, cut into 1/4

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Boil water and cook noodles per package directions in salted water.  I prefer to use Pappardelle noodles, which are flat ribbons of pasta you buy either fresh or dried (I used dried).  While the noodles cook for 10 minutes, add a small amount of olive oil to a non-stick pan and add the diced onion, garlic,  salt, water chestnuts, and mushrooms.  Saute till they start to brown and add in the 3 sprigs of Thyme (gently remove the herb with a quick “whoosh” down the stem.)  Add the Thyme, lemon zest and Cognac to the mushroom mixture and cook for about one minute and then remove pan from heat and set aside.

The mushroom and onion/garlic combo smells amazing! After you add the Cognac I want to stop and pour it over french bread and eat it right then!

The mushroom and onion/garlic combo smells amazing! After you add the Cognac I want to stop and pour it over french bread and eat it right then!

Lightly salt the steaks on each side then slice into thin strips (same as if you were making Stroganoff).  Quickly brown the strips in a little olive oil in same pan.  You want to get the strips brown on outside, but still raw on the inside as you will bake the pie later.

Drain the cooked noodles and add 2/3 of the noodles to a cast iron skillet that you have added a small amount of olive oil and 1 Tbl of butter.  Brown the noodles, same as if you were making hash browns – you want to constantly turn the noodles so they are crisp, but don’t burn.

You now have your bottom “crust” of the pie and start to build the pie from here.  Place 1/2 steak strips on top of the noodles, add a layer of mushroom mixture, and the grape tomatoes (I quickly slice them into halves).

Add the remaining noodles on top, 2nd layer of steak strips, remaining mushroom mixture and then spread the sour cream on top of this layer.  Toss the shredded cheese on top of the entire pie and bake in a 400 degree for 10 minutes.

 

Steak Skillet Pie

Steak Skillet Pie

Serves: 6 to 8

Filet Mignon with Shallot Garlic Butter Buttons

Filet Mignon, considered the king of steaks and once relegated as a cut of beef only consumed on special occasions because of price, has now crossed over to the “healthy” side of beef and consumed in  larger quantities by steak lovers, since it has little to no visible fat. 

It is the most tender steak you can buy, but unfortunately not always the most flavorful. Because of that I have moved up the flavor a couple of notches by adding the herb butter buttons on top, along with a slight hint of Rosemary at the end.  Makes for a flavorful and tender bite!

Ingredients:

Two 4 oz filet mignons

Olive Oil

Hawaiian Salt

Fresh chives, chopped

1 cube butter

4 cloves of garlic

2 medium shallots, sliced

4 sprigs of Rosemary

Parchment Paper

IMG_4919

Method:

1. Take filet steaks from refrigerator and let them sit out for about 20 minutes – heat oven to 400 degrees at same time.

2. Remove skins from shallots and garlic and put in a garlic cooker or tin foil and pour olive oil on top – put in oven 20-30 minutes till golden brown and mushy.

2. Butter buttons:  Cream the cube of butter, add a dash of Hawaiian salt (or Kosher Salt), chopped chives, and the cooked garlic and shallots.  Using a piece of parchment paper, lay out the butter and slowly roll it jelly roll style – then put in freezer for about 20 minutes.

3. Wipe the steaks of all moisture and rub both sides of the steaks with Hawaiian Salt.  Add olive oil to a frying pan, add the steaks and grill for about 3 minutes.   Turn over and cook another 2 minutes on the other side.  Add two sprigs of Rosemary to the pan and place in the oven for 3-5 minutes depending upon the doneness you want.

4. Plate the filets, top with the herb butter buttons and shallots/garlic on the side and serve!

Serves: Two

IMG_4941

 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cognac Glaze

I found a new cooking pal this week Tiffani Thiessen, on the Cooking Channel’s “Dinner at Tiffani’s”, her new show. You probably remember her from the 90’s sitcom, Saved by the Bell.  Well she is all grown up, married with a 5-year-old daughter and another one on the way.  And she is gorgeous, as is her husband Brady Smith.  She invites celebrity friends over for dinner and they catch up in the kitchen as friends do while cooking.  Most of the cooking is done by Tiffani, but then it’s her show and she is the chef.  And a pretty good chef at that.  I did a little half-day “marathon” and watched all five episodes so far and cooked at least one recipe from each show, which is something I have not done before. But, you kinda feel you have to when you see her recipes and realize you can cook something great in a short period of time.  Her food looks amazing and when she and her friends sit down to eat, you really, really, really wish you were there eating too – it looks that Yummy!  I am having friends over later in the month so decided to try out her Roasted Acorn Squash with Spicy Maple Glaze.  I adapted it a bit (no Bourbon for me, but Cognac works, and I added some chives and chopped bits of bacon as that is how we had it as kids).  This took less than 10 minutes to prepare and then you are ready to serve a yummy vegetable for family and friends.  Try this, it’s really tasty!  And check out Dinner at Tiffani’s when you get a chance – you will love it!

Ingredients:
1 medium size acorn squash
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
Chives
2 strips crisp bacon
1 Tbl Cognac
Pinch of Kosher Salt
Dash of onion powder
Olive Oil
Parchment Paper

 

Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

Method:
1. Wash and dry acorn squash. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash in half, then halves into quarter, then quarter again, so you get half-moon circles.
2. Place parchment paper on a sheet pan and lay down your squash wedges. Lightly pour olive oil on the squash and move around till well covered. Add onion powder and Kosher salt then add to oven and roast for 20 minutes.
3. On stove top add maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, and bring to a boil then turn down to low immediately. Add Cognac carefully and let the alcohol cook off – set aside.
4. Chop the crisp bacon into bits and chop the chives.
5. Take out the acorn squash and paint with the Cognac glaze then put back in oven for 10 minutes. Take out and turn over and baste the other side and back in oven for last 10 minutes.
6. Plate the acorn wedges on a plate and sprinkle chopped chives and bacon on top and Serve!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cognac Glaze

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cognac Glaze

Serves: Two

Deconstructed: Beef Wellington Bites

I love Beef Wellington, but let’s face it, it can be complicated (getting the puff pastry wrapped around the tenderloin can be equal to the first time you tried to diaper a squirming baby).  It also takes a boatload of time to prepare, so I usually make it only on a holiday or special occasion. How sad – that’s like only using your “good” china and glassware at Thanksgiving, and we ALL know that has become a “No, No” since you never know if you will still be here for that next special occasion.

I decided to deconstruct the traditional recipe and make it a new and easier way without compromising the flavors.  This recipe still has the same flavor profile (beef, pâté, mushrooms, onion, sherry) but now I can make and serve it in around 30 minutes instead of 2.5 hours.  When I prepared the steak I used Hawaiian salt to season it.  Until about a month ago I had never used the stuff (even though I had a package of it in my pantry).  Thanks to my sister Judy (who happens to be a fabulous cook), I now use it religiously when seasoning steaks and seafood – thanks Sis!

Steak, onions, mushrooms, pate, baguete, lemon, garlic, and more... the start of a great Beef Wellington Bite!

Steak, onions, mushrooms, pâté, baguette, Gruyère cheese, and more… the start of a great Beef Wellington Bite!

Cut baguette in half, then into diagonal sections, and sprinkle olive oil on top. Into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Cut baguette in half, then into diagonal sections, and sprinkle olive oil on top. Into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Rub cut garlic on top after lightly browned!

 Serves:  Two

Ingredients:

1 pound Ribeye Steak (boneless)

10 medium size Cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, diced

1/3 pound Gruyère cheese, grated

1 clove garlic – cut in half

1 package Mousse Truffée (pork and chicken liver mousse with truffles)

1 french baguette

1 small lemon

Olive oil

Sherry, two splashes

Hawaiian salt

 

Method:

1. Cut the baguette in half and on the bias.  Place on baking tray and pour light sprinkle of olive oil and put in 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes till it starts to get crusty.

2. While crostini is in the oven, clean and slice mushrooms and add to a non-stick pan and do a round-about swirl of olive oil – sauté the mushrooms till lightly browned, add two splashes of sherry and then let it cook down to zero moisture – then transfer to a plate.

3. Using the pan you just used, add the diced onions to one side of the pan.  Add a swirl of olive oil and then add a sprinkle of Hawaiian salt to one side of the steak and place in the pan with the onions. Fry for about 3 minutes, salt the top side, turn over and continue cooking until medium rare.  Remove from pan to a plate and let rest before cutting into strips.

After you have rubbed the crostini with garlic clove, spread each piece with pate.

After you have rubbed the crostini with garlic clove, spread each piece with pâté.

4. The crostini is now done.  Remove from oven, place on rack and rub the cut clove of garlic across all the crostini, and then let cool for about 5 minutes.

5. Take warm crostini and lightly spread with the liver pâté.  Be sure and buy a creamy “mousse” type of pâté (as opposed to the hard and chunky type), so it spreads nicely on your bread.

6. Layer a piece or two of steak on top of the liver pâté, then top with mushroom/onion mixture.  Grate the Gruyère cheese and sprinkle on top of everything and pop under the broiler till cheese melts. Arrange the Beef Wellington Bites on a platter, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top, and serve!

These appetizers are hearty and great for a cocktail party or just while “watching the game”.  Or, serve them with a cup of tomato or french onion soup, and you have a great dinner, and didn’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy it!

The

Gruyère has melted nicely and the Beef Wellington Bites are warm, crusty, and gooey!

 

Steak, mushrooms, pate, sherry - all on a crusty baguette - YUM!

Steak, mushrooms, pâté, sherry – all on a crusty baguette – YUM!

 

All the flavors of Beef Wellington, but in half the time and effort.

All the flavors of Beef Wellington, but in half the time and effort.