Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sloppy Chops on a bed of Asparagus

Are you afraid of making pork because it can be tough and flavorless?
I think that is a common fear... here is a recipe you can't mess up. The end result with give you a tender pork chop full of flavor.

I was playing in my kitchen like a chopped contestant (as usual :) and I came up with this sloppy chops dish inspired by a recipe from my mother. She used to add water to a pan with seared chops and slow cook them until tender. Here is my take on the recipe.
Slice one medium-large onion and sauté in  a little butter with salt and pepper.
 Turn your stovetop to medium heat and spray a large pan with a little cooking spray.
Season your chops with salt and pepper and a dash of dried thyme powder on both sides, and add to the hot pan. Once you drop the chop DO NOT MOVE IT. The key here is to get a good crust by searing each side.

Note: I always use bone in pork chops because they have so much more flavor.

See that beautiful browning going on? OH YEAH

Next, take a large glass of water and add a few tablespoons of Instant Brown Gravy mix.
(I know what your thinking... add beef gravy mix to pork? Yes. It sounds crazy, but try it!)


Once you have browned both sides of your Pork Chops, turn the heat to low and pour the gravy mix over the top. (Its going to splash and steam a little from the hot pan but just keep pouring!)

Now add your sautéed onions on top and cover with a lid.

 Keep heat on low-med heat and let the pork chops simmer for at least 1 hour covered.

Next remove some of your juice add a little corn starch to it to make a thicker brown gravy sauce to go on top.
Now, start your asparagus. Wash them and chop the ends off. Add them to a hot pan with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Once they are softened, add some grated parmesan cheese on top. Toss consistently until cheese is lightly browned. Remove from pan and plate. Add your Pork chop and gravy on top.

Doesn't it look beautiful?

I hope this recipe inspired you try some pork chops for your family! It's a favorite at our house!
Note: This recipe can easily be made Gluten Free as long as the brown gravy mix you use does not contain any gluten.
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's the small things

 Today I had such a busy day. So many things to do and get done. This afternoon my son wandered in the kitchen and opened the drawer with all of my kitchen tools. He pulled out the whisk and said "Mama! chocolate cake, chocolate cake!" I let him help me mix a box of chocolate cake up last week and he just thought it was the greatest thing ever to see the whole process and then get the delicious slice of warm chocolate cake after.
To be frank, I just wasn't feeling like cleaning up the inevitable mess that happens when you cook with kids... BUT he gave me that sweet puppy dog face and I couldn't help it.
I flipped through my Betty Crocker cookbook and we agreed on some Apple cinnamon muffins that looked so delicious.
 As I found patience and let him pour the ingredients in the bowl (and spill) and slowly stir the mix and be so proud of himself, I couldn't help but feel like there was a little bit of divine intervention happening in my kitchen. Isn't it so important to enjoy the little things? Sometimes in life we think "in a few years, I will have more money, and things will be happier." or "someday when I have all the things I've dreamed of, I will feel content"
I am making a goal to enjoy small moments in every day, because some day, and someday soon, I wont be able to make messes in the kitchen with my 3 yr old.... SO- here's to messy hands and happy faces, and a delicious recipe that will warm your heart!
Recipe:                                                                               Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup milk                                                                        2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil                                                          1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg                                                                          1/4 cup flour
2 cups all purpose flour                                                      ( I used 1/8 cup flour and 1/8 cup quick
1/2 cup sugar                                                                        oats to add texture to the topping)
2 teaspoons baking powder                                                
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 medium  apple peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a Muffin tin. (I filled each tin almost full so it only made 9 muffins). Make streusel topping, and set aside.
Beat milk, oil and egg in a large bowl. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Do not over mix. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 medium peeled and chopped apple (I used pink lady's). Divide evenly in muffin cups.
Crumble streusel topping evenly over the tops of batter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Viola! Served warm, these little babies are packed with steamed chunks of apple and tasty goodness!

   I added a light glaze (I say light because its not frosting, and saying light makes it seem like its less fattening... right? RIGHT!)

Glaze: I added some powdered sugar in a small bowl, and just a tiny dash of milk... not too much, you can always add more. Mix it up and drizzle over the tops of the muffins.



 Enjoy this recipe and remember... It's the small things!
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spicy Lasagna Roll-ups

This dish was invented when I was in the middle of making lasagna, and realized half way through I wanted to switch things up a bit... make it a more interesting and visually pleasing dish. I thought, how can I make this more interesting, using the ingredients I already have in front of me...?
Maybe its just the chopped champion inside of me, but I like to think I had a little stroke of genius... How about ROLL-UPS?
They have a little more whimsy then just a big square slice of lasagna on your plate and they look like a fancy restaurant quality dish.
So here we have it... Spicy Lasagna roll-ups!
With this recipe I am not specific on measurements because you can add more of each ingredient depending on your family size and it cant be messed up... I promise.

    I used 3 parts lean ground beef, 1 part Italian sausage.
    1/2 of a chopped yellow onion
Cottage cheese (with 2 dashes of dried basil)
Shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded cheddar cheese
Prego tomato sauce
6-8 lasagna noodles (add 2 extra noodles to however many you need, in case one splits apart)
Brown your ground beef and sausage together. Season the meat with salt, pepper and a dash of onion powder. Add them to a bowl and add enough tomato sauce to bind everything together.
Chop 1/2 of a yellow onion and sauté until translucent. Add to the tomato sauce mixture.
Put the cottage cheese (with a dash or two of dried basil OR chopped fresh basil if you have it) in a bowl.
Shred your pepper jack and cheddar cheese and add to another bowl.
 Boil lasagna noodles until al dente. (You don't want to over cook them or they will split while rolling) After done cooking, carefully put the noodles on a plate covered with a kitchen towel to soak up extra water.
Grease a 9x13 pan and set it by your "roll up station" :)

UPDATE: A friend of mine who tried this recipe mentioned to me a great idea. She thought that if you use a couple of quart sized zip locks and cut the corner off, filling one with the meat and the other with the cottage cheese mixture, it may be easier to "pipe" the sauces onto the noodles making for a more even portioned and quicker assembly.
Light bulb!
Next, add some of the meat mixture on top of the noodle. Keep it pretty light because if you have too much, it will become hard to roll up.
Next, the basil cottage cheese.

And last, the pepper jack and cheddar cheese...

Ready for some MESSY BUSINESS? I don't know a good chef who never got her hands dirty... so let's get to work. ROLL ROLL ROLL. Try to keep the noodle as tightly wound as you can and don't worry about a litte fillin' spillin' out the sides :) Just keep rolling, just keep rolling... tight as you possibly can!
Place the lasagna roll in the pan, making sure the seam is on the bottom so it can't come undone. Place it against the edge of the pan, until you have a few more rolls to lean it up against.

  Keep rolling those little babes up until you have used all of your filling and noodles. I set each roll up against the edges of the pan, until I had enough to scoot them together and lean on each other to prevent un-rolling. Once you have them all together, sprinkle extra cheese on top.



Cover the roll ups with tin foil while baking so that the noodles don't re-harden.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake them for 30-35 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is bubbly and lightly brown on top... MMMMmmmmm yummy


 I like to plan on 2 for each adult.
Aren't they darling? TASTY TOO!

GLUTEN FREE VERSION: Everything can be made the same, just exchange the noodles for gluten free lasagna noodles!

Note: The Italian Sausage and the pepper jack cheese are what make this dish a little on the "spicy" side. We love a little spice at our house BUT, if you want to make a more mild version for your family, replace the pepper jack cheese for all cheddar cheese, and replace the Italian sausage with lean ground beef. Still really tasty :)
Enjoy this recipe and I hope you feel inspired to try new things!
Happy experimenting!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Country Buttermilk Cornbread


 I have tried a lot of different cornbread recipes. There are a few homemade from scratch that I like, but sometimes the short cut store bought, "just add water" are just as good... BUT IF YOUR'E GONNA DO IT RIGHT- give this one a try!
I came across a new recipe that includes buttermilk, and I cant believe the difference it makes in the moistness and chewiness of the bread. Most cornbread just crumbles apart... not this one. It is bouncy and bread like. The other thing I like about it, is it's not too sweet, so if you wanted, you could make it a savory corn bread and add jalapenos, corn or whatever other little goodies you want to make it a more hearty savory bread.
Today  I wanted sweet, so I made it with honey butter, and it was so tasty.
Recipe Country Buttermilk Cornbread:
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (Don't have any buttermilk? just add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and enough milk to make 1 cup... let stand for a few minutes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
(Any extra ingredients such as jalapenos, corn, cheese, craisens...etc.)
Mix all ingredients together with a wire wisk. Heat oven to 450 degrees, and pour into a 8x11" greased pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden on top.
3 Tablespoons (room temperature) butter
1 Tablespoon Honey
2 "shakes" ground cinnamon
Mix together and enjoy on warm Cornbread

 I cheat a little and drizzle extra honey on top :) This recipe is a wonderful and fast little side dish that your family is sure to love! I hope you enjoy it.
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