Pork Chop Casserole – A Comfort Food Favorite

Pork Chop Casserole – A Comfort Food Favorite

I love pork chops. They are inexpensive and delicious as long as you don’t cook the dickens out of them.

We grew up eating pork chops fairly often because of the low cost. My favorite way was with stuffing and applesauce on the side. I stumbled across a recipe from one of my most tattered cookbooks the other day that put the stuffing, apples, and pork chops all together for a very easy to prepare (and tasty) casserole of sorts.

I made a few alterations of my own which I explain below. For the original Betty Crocker recipe (which is hard to improve upon) you can visit their website which is probably a bit easier than borrowing my cookbook!

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Ingredients
1 Tbs butter
3 Granny Smith apples, sliced
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
salt, pepper, garlic, sage, paprika, thyme, all spice
4-6 pork chops

Your own recipe for stuffing or use mine: 
4-6 cups cubed stale bread (I prefer sour dough)
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage with sage browned and drained
celery and onion diced and sautéed in 3-4 Tbs. butter until soft
1-3 cups chicken stock (enough to moisten)
1/4-1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 egg, beaten
salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, sage, fresh parsley

Mix these ingredients together until moist (not mushy) and keep tasting for right amount of seasoning.

Directions

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Brush 1/2 teaspoon butter in bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Spread apple slices in dish. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over apples.

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Season the pork chops with whatever spices you prefer and lay on top of apples. I used a combination of salt, pepper, garlic, sage, paprika, thyme, and all spice.

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Cover pork shops with stuffing.

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Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer until you get a nice browning on the stuffing.

See how easy that is! Enjoy!

Spicy Chicken A La Diable Is A La Delicious

Spicy Chicken A La Diable Is A La Delicious

Le French Oven cookbook cover

Many thanks to a good friend who gifted me Hillary Davis’s “Le French Oven” cookbook for Christmas this year. The photos are gorgeous and I could not wait to dive in and try one of the recipes right away.

All I needed was a French oven (which I do) and a sous chef (that would be me). Most of the ingredients for this divine dish were already in my pantry and refrigerator.

Full disclosure: I know Hillary Davis’s version would be much better looking. But I intend to get better with practice!

Let me first say this chicken dish is divine. The flavors were so good I wanted to lick my plate. My dinner companions called it the most delicious chicken and biscuits they’d ever had.

Hillary Davis gets full credit for the recipe and the instructions. The photos are all mine!

Spicy Chicken A La Diable

Ingredients
1 whole chicken (organic preferred)
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 potatoes peeled and sliced into matchsticks (1/4 inch)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp stone ground mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I only used 1/8 tsp.)
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I wish I had made my own rather than using store bought)
2 Tbsp minced shallot
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Riesling)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 medium tomato diced (I used 2 Romas)

Directions

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Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil into French oven. Toss in potatoes with salt and pepper. Place cleaned chicken onto potatoes. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees 15 minutes per pound.

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While the chicken is cooking whisk together sone ground mustard, cayenne, honey, and thyme. (I misread the instructions and also whisked in the tarragon. It still turned out great.) Set mixture aside.

When chicken is ready, remove it from the oven and spread the mustard mixture all over it. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the mustard paste and pat them down.

Return the chicken to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes longer. The thermometer should read 165 degrees F. My breadcrumbs were starting to get too brown, so I put the lid on for the last 5 minutes.

Move the chicken and potatoes to a large platter.

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Place the French oven on the stovetop. Add the shallot, vinegar, wine, half the tarragon and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the stock, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp. cayenne, and heavy cream. Simmer 10-15 minutes longer.

Just before serving stir in the remaining tarragon and the tomato (seeds and juices as well). Cook 2 minutes longer.

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To serve, ladle sauce on a plate and top with chicken and potatoes. I served it with roasted brussels sprouts and biscuits.

I hope to try many more of the great-tasting recipes in this new cookbook. I’ll keep you posted!

Gnocchi and Sausage Soup Warms the Soul

Gnocchi and Sausage Soup Warms the Soul

The great thing about homemade soup is that it is such a forgiving meal. You can forage through your pantry, swag measurements, and make each pot your own creation. The downside is that I can never quite replicate the same pot twice!

That said, this pot of gnocchi and Italian sausage soup was delicious.

Gnocchi and Sausage Soup

Ingredients
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I used hot)
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)
1/2-1 bag spinach
4-6 cups chicken stock (See recipe for homemade.)
1 package gnocchi
1/2-1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Brown sausage in the bottom of a stock pot and drain off grease. You could use turkey sausage or links. If you do, remove casings before browning.

hot sausage, onion, pepper

Add diced onion, chopped bell pepper, and crushed garlic. Sauté 3 minutes longer. I had a homegrown tomato in the windowsill and chopped it up and added to the pot. It was not an essential ingredient, but like I said before, it’s soup so be creative!

Tip: If using a milder sausage, add 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper for some heat. If using your own chicken stock, add 1-2 chicken bullion cubes to intensify the flavor.

Add chicken stock and bring to gentle boil. Add gnocchi and cook 5 minutes or until gnocchi are cooked through. Add spinach and heavy cream. Stir until warmed through and spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

creamy italian sausage, gnocchi, spinach soup

Italian sausage is a great soup ingredient since it comes with its own built-in seasoning. I’ve also used kale instead of spinach. Of course kale needs to cook a bit longer so I add it during the sauté step. You could leave out the heavy cream or substitute with coconut milk and a tablespoon of red thai curry for a completely different outcome.

bowl of creamy hot sausage and gnocci soup

Serve with a warm slice of home baked French bread. Here’s my recipe!

Let me know how you like it.

Buon appetito!

I Hit the Jackpot! Expiration Date Lamb

I Hit the Jackpot! Expiration Date Lamb

Some people regularly hit the clearance racks at their favorite clothing stores, but not me. My stomping grounds are the local meat counters on the lookout for deep discounts. When meat is close to its expiration date, the price drops. I see it as a great opportunity to save money on groceries and try new recipes!

My most recent bargain – boneless butterflied legs of lamb. Since lamb is one of my favorites, I grabbed both pieces and gleefully brought them home as visions of stews and kabobs danced in my head!

I threw both packages in the freezer until I started craving some stew.

Lamb Stew à la Bradley Nierenberg

Ingredients

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
1-1.5 pounds lamb (trimmed and cubed)
Salt
Pepper
1 medium onion (halved and thinly sliced)
2 cups carrots (peeled and cut into chunks) (Full disclosure: I used two ginormous carrots in this stew…my chunks of meat are much larger than they appear next to the carrot coins!)
5-6 sliced baby portabella mushrooms
5-8 bay leaves
2 tsp. rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 cup chicken stock

Directions

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Trim and cube lamb. Season with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in heavy bottomed pot. Brown lamb.

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Sprinkle browned cubes with flour.

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Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring so that it does not stick. Remove lamb with slotted spoon and set aside.

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Add a bit more olive oil to the pot and saute onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Reincorporate meat.

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Add bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper. Stir.

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Add chicken stock. (Tip: As you can see in the photo, I added too much chicken stock and it never thickened up. I think 1 cup will be perfect. but, if you want more “gravy” then use 2 cups but add more flour.) Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered until lamb is tender. This takes about an hour. Uncover and continue to simmer until ready to serve.

Season as needed. Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or polenta.

What’s in your favorite lamb stew? Please share your recipe with us!

Japchae – You’ll Wish Every Day Was Your Birthday!

Japchae – You’ll Wish Every Day Was Your Birthday!

Mind-blowing is not really the right word. I wonder if “palette epiphany” is a phrase? I hope so because I had a palette epiphany a couple of weeks ago during a potluck lunch celebrating a friend’s birthday. Pot“luck” is an apropos name for such an occasion because as luck would have it, a Korean neighbor introduced me to Japchae.

Japchae is traditionally served in Korea during a birthday celebration I was told. I think I could eat it every day, “un”birthdays included! Twice since that fateful day, I’ve prepared my own versions, once with beef and the second time with turkey breast. My neighbor served a vegetarian Japchae which was “lick your plate” delicious. I will need a lot more practice to perfect the timing and flavoring. But if I say so myself, they were not too bad for first-time attempts.

Unfortunately I do not have an “after” photo of the beef version. To be perfectly honest, I was so excited to try it, the bowl disappeared before I remembered to shoot a picture.

Ingredients – Serves 4

Dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles)
Beef, chicken, pork, or turkey (optional)
Shiitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water)
Garlic, minced
Sugar
Soy sauce (Korean if available)
Sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Egg
Spinach
Green onions
White onion
Button mushrooms
Carrot (matchsticks)
Red bell pepper
Black pepper
Salt
Vegetable oil

Directions

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Slice into small bite-sized strips the meat and shiitake mushrooms. Place in a bowl. Marinate with 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp. sugar, 4-5 grinds black pepper, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil. Mix and place in fridge until ready.

Prepare the rest of your veggies as you would for any stir fry. Keep them separate from one another. They are all stir fried separately. I was lazy and bought a bag of carrot match sticks. Clean and slice mushrooms. Clean and cut bell pepper into matchsticks. Half a small white or yellow onion and then cut into thin slices. Clean and cut green onion into 1-inch sections.

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Separate egg yolk and save the white to use another day. Add a pinch of salt to yellow and stir in to break yolk. Heat nonstick frying pan. Turn off heat and add egg yellow. Roll in pan to thin it out. After the heat of the pan cooks it on one side, flip to cook other side. Takes about a minute per side. This egg garnish is called jidan. Let it cool and cut into very thin strips.

Blanch about 4 ounces of fresh spinach in pot of boiling water (a minute of less). I used bagged spinach so did not rinse it first. If you use un-bagged, then rinse it well before blanching. Run under cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze out the water and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in large bowl. Add 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil and mix well. Set aside.

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Use the spinach water and boil 4-6 ounces of noodles for about 8 minutes. Strain and rinse. They are super long so use a pair of scissors and cut them into shorter lengths. Not bite-sized, but long strands like boxed spaghetti length. Add them to the large bowl and season with 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar. Mix well. Set aside.

Time to stir fry! Heat your non-stick frying pan (or wok) to medium high. Add some vegetable oil. Judge your own cook times. The first time I made this I over-cooked some of the veggies.

Start with the onion and green onion. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add to the noodle bowl. Set aside.

Reheat the pan, add more vegetable oil, and stir fry mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add to noodle bowl.

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Reheat pan. Add more oil. Stir fry carrots for 20 seconds. Add bell pepper to the same pan and cook 20 more seconds. Transfer to noodle bowl.

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Reheat pan with oil. Stir fry the meat and mushroom mixture you marinated until meat is no longer pink. Transfer to the noodle bowl.

You are almost finished! Grab your noodle bowl and add another minced clove of garlic, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon sugar, ground black pepper to taste, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds. Mix everything together. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top to finish.

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I’m not sure what the Korean phrase for “dig in” is, but if I did, I would add it here! I’d love to hear from anyone who tried making this or has their own version to share! Leave comments below!

Chicken Pot Pie – The Perfect One Pot Meal

Chicken Pot Pie – The Perfect One Pot Meal

Many of my friends abhor cooking. I think one of the reasons is that home cooking makes such a big mess in the kitchen. Perhaps another reason is that they know I’ll take pity on them and invite them to eat at my house! lol Whatever the reason, it’s nice to have a few dependable one pot meals up your sleeve to cut down on the mess. Chicken pot pie is also among my favorite comfort foods. I’ve ordered it off menus and restaurants try to jazz it up. But honestly, nothing tastes better than the traditional version. Oh, and kids like it too!

If your traditional version differs from mine, I hope you’ll leave a comment with a link to your own chicken pot pie!

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Precook your chicken in the veggie remnants to add flavor before you use it in your pot pie.

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Thyme, dijon mustard, and black pepper are the only seasonings you need! Well, you may need salt if your stock is homemade.

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Chop up your veggies. Pictured is some chicken stock I made in advance. I always warm my stock before adding it to a roux to speed up the cooking process.

 

Saute your vegetables in butter for 4-5 minutes then sprinkle in your flour, stir, and cook 2-3 minutes more.

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Slowly add your chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened. Then remove from heat and add the chicken, peas, thyme, pepper, dijon, and salt (if needed).

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Roll out your dough and lay it over your chicken mixture. Cut small slices to vent. You may brush with an egg wash if desired.

 

Bake in a 250 degree oven for 30-4o minutes until crust is golden. Set, then serve.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 or so cups chicken stock (Hint: Make your own. As you will read below, you can even do it while you chop!) (Or use boxed stock, homemade from another day, or even some white wine and water!)
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt to taste – this will depend on whether you use your own chicken stock or boxed.
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken (Hint: I used boneless skinless breast because I was in a hurry. Use whatever you like. Even a grocery store rotisserie chicken would work!)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Prepared pie crust, thawed (Hint: I have not yet mastered making my own pie crust, but you could use homemade, or even a sheet of puff pastry.)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Precook your chicken before you cut it. I boiled mine on the stove top and added my vegetable peelings and some extra celery, carrot, onion, and peppercorns as well. This flavors the chicken before you use it and provides the stock you will need!
  • When cooked through, remove from stock and let cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Chop your veggies. (Not the peas!)
  • Melt butter in an oven-proof skillet.
  • Add your chopped vegetables and saute for 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over sauteed vegetables and stir for 2-3 minutes longer. Slowly add chicken broth and bring to a boil over low heat. Stir until thickened.
  • Remove from heat and fold in remaining ingredients (except for pie crust). (Hint: If you have fresh parsley on hand or other fresh herbs, this is the time to add it.)
  • Roll out one sheet of pie dough so that it fits over the contents in your skillet. Cover top of chicken mixture. Cut a few slices to vent the dough.
  • (Optional) Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown. This takes about 30-40 minutes.
  • Let set a few minutes before serving.

Make sure you comment below and leave a note about your favorite recipe for chicken pot pie! I look forward to trying some variations.