Pork Chops with Apple Maple Sauce

dsc_0427

I really think pork chops are an under utilized meat.  I think they are so delicious and such a delicate meat that really takes to many different flavors. This time I made them with a maple syrup apple sauce that was really tasty and the right balance of sweet and savory.

Last night was James and my first night without any family around since  before Thanksgiving, and we were grateful to get an evening with just the two of us.  We had an amazing time over the holiday and were so lucky to have family around for almost two weeks. But as a young married couple in our new house, we really enjoy the nights we get to ourselves.

This time of year gearing towards the holidays is hectic! We have 2-3 events every week until Christmas, meaning we won’t be getting many evenings to ourselves for a while. We are so lucky to have so many great friends in a great community, but we are going to cherish the nights we get to spend just the two of us!

dsc_0424

What you need:

  • 1lb Pork Chops
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, cubed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of white wine (dry)
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Season both sides of your pork chop with salt and pepper.

If your pork chops are particularly thick like these, heat your oven to 325F to finish cooking them in the oven.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot.  Once sizzling, add in your pork chops.

Cook your pork chops for about 7 minutes per side until nicely browned.

Remove the chops from the pan and add in your apple, syrup, wine, broth and rosemary.

Add in about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper to taste.

Let your sauce cook down for about 5 minutes before adding your pork chops back into the pan.

Put the pan with the chops and sauce in the oven for about 5-8min until cooked through.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

We served ours with a tasty lemon roast potato, but you could serve it with anything you want. Make sure you have some wine left over to serve with dinner!

Buen Provecho!

Mexican Chicken Casserole

dsc_0377

Most of you have heard of King Ranch Chicken. It’s a delicious, creamy dish with chicken, corn tortillas, creamy soup, tomatoes, and cheese. It is such a great thing to make ahead and freeze, and an especially great thing to give to friends over the holidays. We cook non-stop during the holiday season, whether it’s baking or just marathon making of side dishes and appetizers, it feels like it never ends.

We have a lot of family in Texas that are unable to get around very much, and this is such a great dish to make as a fresh delivery for a warm winter meal. You can assemble it and freeze it or assemble it and refrigerate it, and your family or friends can just pop it in the oven for a warm, gooey, flavor filled dish.

In my version of King Ranch Chicken, I have reduced the amount of cream soup in half and have added in the tomatillo salsa. This makes it so much lighter, but maintains all of the flavor you are looking for!

P.S. This is also a great option to make with that leftover turkey!

dsc_0374

What you need:

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatillo salsa
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 28oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chopped green chilies (can substitute these two ingredients with two cans of Rotel chopped tomatoes with green chilies)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese, (cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

In a large saucepan over medium heat mix together your soup, tomatillo salsa, and 3/4 of your tomatoes. It is a bit of a funky color, but I promise it is delicious!

In a disposable foil tin or a glass baking dish lightly oiled, start layering your tortillas.  Pro-Tip: cut the edges of your tortillas to make more of a square shape for an easier fit in the pan.

Follow the tortilla layer with a layer of shredded chicken and green chilies.

Then spoon over the sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Repeat this layering process until your dish is full and you have used all of your sauce, chicken, chilies, and cheese.

Bake in the oven for 35-40min and enjoy warm and melty!

 

Coconut Curry Chicken Thighs

dsc_0369

James and I love curry in almost any form. Thai, Indian, you name it, and we probably love it! When I cook, flavor is the most important aspect.  I make healthy food, but it is so important to me that it be full of flavor! That is why we love curry, it is so full of flavor and depth.

This recipe is a new one for me, but I have to say it was really delicious and very light.  Often people associate curry with being a heavy meal, but this was a really nice way to do it and not feel as though we needed rolling out of the room afterwards.

dsc_0362

What you need:

 

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ground curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a dutch oven or cast iron pan, heat your tsp of oil over high heat.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper, and once the pan is warm, place them in skin side down, and cook them for 3-4min per side.

Remove the chicken from the pan.  If you find your pan has a lot of fat or oil in it, dump some out, so the sauce isn’t too oily.

Add in your garlic clove and cook for 1-2min.  Add in your seasoning, fish sauce, and lime zest, and then your coconut milk and chicken broth.

Scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom, simmer your sauce, and then add your chicken back to the pan.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25 – 30min until the chicken is cooked through.

Add your chopped cilantro on top and serve with basmati rice or naan bread.

If you want a thicker sauce, after the chicken is cooked, add in some flour or corn starch.

This curry is so flavorful and light, its a great week night option for  the family!

 

Thanksgiving Table

dsc_0380

In honor of our impending Thanksgiving celebrations, I thought I would share with you my table set up.  I am a big fan of mixing metallics and keeping things neutral and natural.

A lot of people put pressure on themselves to have the perfect table set up and you can really spend a lot of money on decorations, but I am a big fan of keeping things simple.  I kept those left over pumpkins from halloween and added in some dried corn from the supermarket to give it a rustic and natural feel.

dsc_0387

We registered for china when we got married, and have not yet had a chance to use it, so we thought this fabulous holiday would be perfect!  When we registered for China, I actually registered for 3 different patterns.  They are from Wedgwood and Vera Wang for Wedgwood, and they all have the same platinum edge detailing. Each pattern is different though, and being that they are the same color, they look so great paired together!

I then wanted to add in some gold details.  The table runner and napkins were awesome finds at Homegoods, and add in a subtle metallic element without being over the top. I also love these gold candle sticks and silverware from CB2. They are so minimal and simple, and really unique.

dsc_0385

I also love the play with levels with the different height candle sticks and the stemless glasses for water in contrast with the taller red win glasses. It really is the little details that make it.  It’s all about balance between high and low and ornate and simple.

All in all, it barely cost us anything to set up such a beautiful table, and I really want to emphasize the importance in using the things you already have.  There is no needed to go out and buy all new china or dining sets.  By going out and finding new napkins or table clothes from places like Homegoods, you can really elevate your dinnerware and table without breaking the budget!

El Bulli Sausage and Mash

dsc_0371

Sausage and Mash is a very stereotypically English dish, and on the face of it, it is a little meh… Unless there is a seriously good sausage on top, the dish can be a little boring.

I grow fresh herbs, and slowly, but surely, they are coming in. I admittedly have a brown thumb, so this is a feat! I also like to keep certain things in the freezer all the time: sausage, shrimp, picada and other sauces, tequila… you know, the important stuff! Anyway, the point is, on a night when I am trying to make something out of whatever we have, its nice to know we have sausage or shrimp or something as a good base for a dish and some fresh herbs.

I was flipping through the El Bulli cookbook that a friend of mine gave me for some inspiration, when I came across this sausage and mushroom dish, and decided to make it to top on mash.  This elevated version of sausage and mash is so tasty, easy to make, and warms you from the inside out!

dsc_0354

What you need:

  • 1lb of hot Italian sausage
  • 1lb of sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 cups of cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 large sprigs of rosemary
  • 4/5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/3 cup of sherry wine

Remove the sausage from the casing and form it into 1″ meatballs.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan over high heat, and when the oil is hot add in your sausage, garlic, and herbs.  You want to brown the sausage on all sides, so the pan needs to be nice and hot. Don’t worry about anything sticking, we will deglaze the pan later with the sherry.

dsc_0359

Once your sausage is browned on all sides, reduce heat to medium and add in the mushrooms.  Cook for 3-4 min.

Pour in your sherry carefully, and use a spoon to scrape off any bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Cook for 15min on medium heat for the wine to cook off and thicken, and for the sausage to cook through.

dsc_0360

Once done, serve over your creamy mashed potatoes and enjoy with a delicious glass of red wine.

This is a great winter dish because it is filling and really tasty, and really not unhealthy!

Turkey Chili – Indian Spiced

dsc_0347

Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and I am sure many of you are preparing for it.  I am making lists like a crazy lady of all of the things I need to do and all of the ingredients I need to buy to make the perfect meal.

Most of us have our family traditions, and all of our favorite items to make for the big day, but very often the over looked part is the leftovers.  As I mentioned before I can only eat so much of the same thing over and over again, and even though Thanksgiving is my favorite, even that can get old after 3 or 4 helpings.

You can make some pretty awesome loaded turkey sandwiches, Enchiladas, casseroles, omelets – you name it, and you can make it! Last Christmas, with my in laws in the UK, I made turkey chili using whatever spices they had in their pantry.  They happened to have a lot of Indian spices like curry, marsala, turmeric, etc.. so it took on a new life! It was so tasty, that my skeptical father in law went back for multiple servings!

I’ve recreated this dish here with ground turkey, but honestly, the leftover turkey made it so much more flavorful!

dsc_0332

What you need:

  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb of ground turkey or left over turkey
  • 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne or Indian Chili Powder
  • 1-2 cup of chicken or turkey stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven heat about a tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Once hot add in your onion and bell pepper and cook until translucent.

Add in your garlic cloves and your spices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add in your turkey. If using raw ground turkey, cook for 8 minutes or so until cooked through, if using leftover turkey, cook for 3-4 min to warm and coat with spices.

Add in your tomatoes and stock and season with salt and pepper.

Let simmer for 30min to an hour for the spices and flavors to mix and the broth to thicken.

Add in your beans toward the end of cooking and mix it all together.

Serve with basmati rice or naan or whatever you like.  This is so delicious and such a great way to use that leftover turkey and give it a new life!

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

dsc_0344-copy

With a new and exciting week ahead, I had to do some major meal planning in advance.  My inlaws come into town on Friday so I planned out everything for this week that we would need, anticipated their breakfast desires, and wrote out a list of everything else we might need for Thanksgiving!

I would never be able to keep things straight without lists, no question! When it comes to planning ahead, I always try to make sure we get enough variety.  My husband could eat the same thing every day for lunch and dinner and would likely not need a change for months! I on the other hand, love to try new things, and very quickly get sick of eating the same thing. I don’t mind one day of leftovers, but any more than that and I am out!

Every week we try to eat fish, chicken and a red meat, and sometimes a vegetarian option. This keeps our bodies healthy, and ensures we get plenty of variety in what we eat every day.  This also means we aren’t relying too heavily on red meat for our main protein source. Though delicious, it’s important to have balance and eat light and fresh.

This pasta was a really tasty vegetarian option, and it was full of flavor!

dsc_0339

What you need:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

  • pinch of grated fresh nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp. each sea salt and pepper

  • fresh thyme leaves

  •  1/2 lb. fusilli noodles

  • 2 Tbsp. greek yogurt

  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

  • zest and juice of one lemon

  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

  • seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 425F

Onto a rimmed baking sheet, break up the head of cauliflower into small pieces.

Toss them with the oil, paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Make sure each piece has some seasoning and oil, and spread them evenly to roast.

Roast on a higher shelf for 25 min, stirring halfway through until browned and cooked through.

Cook the pasta noodles al dente in a large pot according to instructions.

Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Put the noodles back into the pot with 1/3 cup of the pasta water, the greek yogurt, butter, parmesan and lemon juice and zest and toss until everything is evenly coated.

Add a little more pasta water to loosen, only if needed.

When you serve your pasta, top it with some seasoned breadcrumbs and a little more parmesan cheese if you like.  The lemon juice and greek yogurt give this pasta a really light taste, and the cheese and breadcrumbs give it some decadence.

Enjoy with a nice white wine and some candles!

Peruvian Chicken

dsc_0353

I am super stoked it is Thursday. Meaning it’s almost Friday and almost the weekend! It is officially time to start counting down to thanksgiving because it’s two weeks away! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is amazing food, no pressure for gifts, and a day when it’s totally acceptable to start drinking around 10am.  All in the name of cooking and family!

As Americans we have a lot to be thankful for, and this year, James and I are hosting our family at our new house. My in-laws are coming in from the UK and my parents will fly up from TX.  The thing we most have in common is a love of food and having a good time. I am so excited to host the first of hopefully many holidays at our new house! James and I have had such an exciting year and it makes us very happy to share it.

You might be asking what Peruvian chicken has to do with thanksgiving, and the answer is… nothing! I just realized Thanksgiving was two weeks away and I got excited!

This recipe is great, and very easy to make.  It’s the perfect Sunday family dinner, and honestly if you wanted to throw out the thanksgiving rule book, it would be a great way to marinate and cook your thanksgiving turkey!

dsc_0327

What you need:

  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 large chicken breasts or a whole 4lb chicken
  • 1 medium onion, diced

Combine all of your ingredients together except for the chicken in a bowl.

dsc_0329

Put your chicken in a baking dish and cover it with the marinade. Rub it into the skin and the meat itself.  Cover it and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

dsc_0331

This is a great thing to make the night before as the longer it marinates the more flavor the chicken gets.

Heat the oven to 375F and cook the chicken for 60min. If your chicken breasts are smaller cook for less time, but the chicken will come out juicy and full of flavor!

I served mine with black beans and some fresh sliced tomato, but feel free to enjoy it with anything you want!

 

Shrimp and Chorizo Stuffed Poblano

dsc_0343-copy

After last night’s historic election, we have an entire country evaluating what this means for our future. Whoever you supported in this election, the whole country needs to step back and analyze what kind of future we want for our children. America is at a fork in the road, and we need to decide which direction is best to propel our nation forward.

It is very easy to get caught up in the stress and the partisan arguments, but we must now unite and be positive, and teach our children by example how to work hard, be kind, and have integrity.

More importantly though, we must come together over a good meal and make sure no matter what, we continue to take care of ourselves and our families and eat delicious healthy food! As an extension of yesterday’s comfort food post, another comfort food for me is chile relleno, this time with shrimp and chorizo!

dsc_0336

What you need:

  • 1/2 pound Mexican-style chorizo
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup short-grain rice
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 large, fresh poblano chiles
  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar, shredded (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Remove your chorizo from the casing and break it apart.

In a saucepan cook your chorizo over medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until mostly cooked through.

Add in your bell peppers, onion, garlic and tomato and cook for another 5-7 min until translucent.

Add in your rice so it is coated in the oil from the chorizo and cook it for a few minutes to remove the raw rice taste.

Add in your liquids and bring to a boil. Then cover your sauce pan and cook on low or simmer for 20min.

After 20 min, put your shrimp in the rice mixture and toss it around, turn off the heat, and re-cover it for another 5 min or so. Shrimp will cook from the heat of the rice.

While your rice cooks, you will cook your poblanos in the oven for 15min or so. Remove them from the oven and put them in a plastic bag. Once they cool, you will be able to peel the skin off easily, thanks to the plastic bag steaming them a little further.

Peel the poblanos, cut off the top, and remove the seeds.

Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, and at this point you would sprinkle on the cheese.  Feel free to leave it out though.

Put the peppers back in the oven for about 10 min to get a slightly crispy top and to re-warm the peppers.

These are so tasty and warm you from the inside out!

Buen Provecho!

Spaghetti Bolognese

dsc_0326

Sometimes, like election nights, you just want a little comfort food. We have a lot riding on today, and James and I actually have a deal to not watch all of the coverage tonight. I fear we won’t truly know the results until midnight or possibly tomorrow, so rather than stress over something we cannot control, we will take our minds off it.

Spaghetti bolognese is James number one favorite meal.  Enchiladas verdes with chicken may be a close second, but I can say with confidence, spaghetti bolognese wins. So what better food to comfort us on this cold and stressful evening?

Over the summer we had one wedding in Florence and another in Cap d’Antibes a week apart.  We decided to rent a car and drive from Italy to France as they are really close together. One of our stops was to visit one of James cousins and her family in Bologna. The home of bolognese sauce.

His cousin is married to an Italian man from Bologna, so when he offered to make us pasta bolognese for dinner we JUMPED at the chance! Did I mention this Italian man used to be a chef?! Talk about an amazing opportunity! Anyway, he let me in on his technique for making bolognese sauce, so this recipe is an adaptation of the true Bolognese way.

dsc_0297

What you need:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 3-4 tbsp double concentrate tomato paste (this is VERY important)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 cup red wine (chianti or cabernet – full bodied)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil sliced thinly
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 16oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

One of the great things about spaghetti  bolognese is that you can make the sauce well in advance, in giant batches, and freeze it for later use.  The flavor locks in and it is great to make in advance!

In a large pot or dutch oven heat some extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.

Season your beef with salt and pepper and brown it in the pan.  Making sure to break apart the beef as it cooks.

Add in your garlic cloves and cook until fragrant.  To the pan, add the double concentrate tomato paste and cook it for a few minutes. This is the base of the sauce and gives it the smooth flavor you are looking for.

Once the double concentrate paste cooks for a few minutes, add in the red wine and cook down for 3-4min.

Add in the mushrooms if you are using them and cook for 5 min.

Then add in the can of crushed tomatoes and half a can of water. The tomato paste will balance the acidity from the can of crushed tomatoes.  Often you hear of people adding sugar to bolognese sauce, the double concentrate tomato paste prevents that from being necessary.

Season your sauce with salt, pepper, and the red pepper flakes and let it simmer for 30min to an hour on low heat.

At the end of your cook time add in your fresh herbs and stir them in cooking a further 5-10min.

Good bolognese sauce is a labor of love, and does take some time, but it is so worth it!

Eat it with your favorite pasta or veggie noodle and feel free to top it with parmesan cheese.

Oh and God Bless America, no matter what happens, this is one awesome country!