Pork Chops & Green Beans

It’s Tuesday morning at the end of August and it feels like its about 65 degrees outside! I couldn’t believe it when I took the dog for a walk this morning. I’m sad that this Summer seems to have flown by but I’ll be honest, I detected a bit of an Autumn chill in the air this morning and it got me thinking about hot apple cider, pumpkin cookies, hearty comfort food and cozy sweaters. Fall is my favorite time of year and I am looking forward to it but yes, I know, its still Summer and I have some easy and delicious recipes for you today.

Some of my favorite meals come together when I’m looking for something new and easy and this is what happened last week. I had just picked a large bowl of fresh green beans from our little garden and had picked up some beautiful pork chops at Central Market that day. I found a simple recipe for the pork chops, using fresh rosemary and garlic and was planning to steam the green beans as the side dish however I found myself wishing for a more exciting green bean recipe. I pulled out my phone and started searching on my Epicurious App and a I found a recipe for green beans that included bacon and garlic. Sold.

To make the pork chops, combine the minced garlic, chopped rosemary, salt and olive oil. Rub the mixture all over both side of the pork chops and allow them to sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

After cleaning and trimming the green beans, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes to get them to start cooking. While they’re cooking, heat up a saute pan on low and cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and it is crisp. The recipe calls for turkey bacon, to make it healthier, however I only had regular bacon and used that. Either one will work just fine, its up to your preference. Once the bacon is crisp, add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the blanched green beans to the pan. Toss to allow the flavors to combine, sprinkle with fresh oregano and season with salt and pepper.

Also, while the green beans are cooking, cook the pork chops. You can choose to either cook them under the broiler or on the grill. We didn’t feel like firing up the grill so we chose the broiler, however next time I think I’ll choose the grill; everything just tastes better on the grill.

Plate it up and voila! You’ve got a healthy, fresh and delicious dinner!

The pork chops had a lot of flavor and tasted great and check out a close up of those green beans, the bacon just calls to me… I may not make green beans without bacon ever again.

Both recipes came from Epicurious here are the links to both:

Green Beans with Oregano and Bacon

Rosemary Pork Chops

Beer Braised Chicken

I saw this recipe while browsing FoodNetwork.com and thought it looked great. Anything that uses beer and creates a stew is an automatic winner in our house. Although this Winter has been relatively mild compared to the last few years, I’m still trying to make as much stew as possible since it will soon be warm and stew is never as satisfying when it can’t warm you up.

To start the beer braised chicken, cook the cubed bacon in your stew pot until browned.

Using a slotted spoon, remove it to a plated lined with a paper towel. Add olive oil to the hot pot.

While the bacon was cooking, you should have seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and then dredged it in flour. (The recipe calls for chicken thighs here, but Eric loves drumsticks so I choose to get a variety of thighs and drumsticks. Since they are both in the dark meat family, you can easily substitute your favorite cut of chicken but I do recommend using bone-in chicken, it gives the dish alot more flavor.)

Cook the chicken in the hot oil until nicely browned and then flip over to brown the opposite side.

Yes, the one side of the chicken got a little dark. Hey, it happens! Perhaps this is an example of one of the very few bad reasons to have a TV in the kitchen…perhaps.

Once all sides of the chicken is browned, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. I used Yeungling Lager as my beer of choice simply because that’s what we had in the fridge. Next time, I would like to try something a bit darker simply for more depth of flavor, but it worked well. I also added carrots to this recipe as per some of the reviews and added it to the recipe, they add a great component that the stew was lacking.

Simmer uncovered for about 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot and whisk in a mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce, if desired.

Add the chicken back to the pot, top with fresh parsley and the cooked bacon.

Serve.

The stew was really flavorful and I liked the beer flavors along with the mustard and chicken. You can see the thyme and whole grain mustard seeds throughout the dish. This whole meal was ready in about 45 minutes on a week night and was low in fat! It’s definitely a keeper.

Here’s the recipe from FoodNetwork.com:

Beer Braised Chicken
Print
Author: Adapted from Food Network Kitchens
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1/4 pound slab or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (preferably brown ale)
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 1/2 pound small red-skinned new potatoes, halved
  • 1 pound sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon water plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Add the olive oil to the drippings in the pot. Add the chicken in batches and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes, then flip and sear the other side, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the beer, onions, potatoes, mustard, sugar, thyme and 1 cup water to the pot and stir, making sure the chicken is fully submerged. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard the thyme and stir in the bacon and parsley.
  4. Remove chicken from pot. Whisk in the water and cornstarch mixture for a thicker sauce. Add chicken back to pot and serve.

 

 

 

Not you mother’s beef stroganoff

I grew up eating beef stroganoff a few times a year and always enjoyed it. The beef flavor along with mushrooms and sour cream, over pasta, sign me up! I recall even requesting it as a birthday meal once. It’s safe to say that I really do love the stuff. I think I grew up eating a very traditional and basic recipe for it which consisted of cooking the floured beef cubes, allowing them to simmer with the mushrooms and finally mixing in the sour cream right before it was time to eat. The first year I was married, I called up my mother, wrote down her recipe and proudly made my very first beef stroganoff.

Eric was less than impressed. Picture the wind in my sails going down, fast. He was not as into the eggs noodles covered in sour cream sauce as I had been. I mean, I still thought it tasted delicious, but I could tell he was forcing it down. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my childhood beef stroganoff only once or twice; I just can’t watch Eric try and eat it so I stopped making it, until last year.

While paging through an issue of Bon Appetit, I came across a new version of beef stroganoff in which I could leave out the egg noodles and instead serve it over toasted bread. It also used sherry and shallots, two things my old beef stroganoff was without. I made the recipe and quickly won back Eric’s heart. Admittedly, it was better than the stuff I grew up with and has become our beef stroganoff staple recipe.

The recipe itself is not complicated, but it does have a few steps, especially when it comes to assembling the final dish.

Start by prepping the ingredients and then cooking the mushrooms. Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until they release their liquid, about 6 minutes.**Try to get a mushroom medley or more than one kind of mushrooms, like white and cremini. The varieties add great flavor.**

Add the sherry or vermouth and simmer the mushrooms until the liquid reduces, about 1 minute. Take off heat and stir in creme fresh or heavy cream, season with salt and pepper. Let sit while you cook the beef.

In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook the beef for about 30 seconds on each side to sear it.

Transfer beef to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the sliced shallots to the skillet and cook until brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in flour and tomato paste and stir around, it will clump. Add in broth and paprika.

Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the beef cubes back into the sauce and remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream.

While the sauce is cooking, toast the sourdough slices. Mix together olive oil and tomato paste and spread on one side of the bread slice.

Toast about a minute per side under the broiler, on a large baking sheet.

To assemble, spoon some of the beef mixture onto the toast.

Top with a scoop of the mushroom mixture.

This dish is so good and I love the use of tomato paste on the toast, it adds such a great flavor to the dish. If you like mushrooms, you will love this recipe!

Here is the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Tri-Tip Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms on Sourdough Toasts
Print
Author: Bon Appetit
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry Sherry
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1 1/2-pound tri-tip roast, excess fat trimmed, meat cut against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, slices cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 6 5 x 3 x 1/2-inch slices crusty sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced wild mushrooms to skillet; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms release juices, about 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until mushrooms are tender and brown, about 4 minutes longer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Remove from heat. Let stand at room temperature.
  2. Add vermouth to mushrooms and boil until almost evaporated but still moist, scraping up browned bits, about 1 minute. Stir in crème fraîche; remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Cover; set aside.
  3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in another large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef slices to skillet and sauté just until brown outside but still pink in center, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer beef slices to plate; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Add sliced shallots to same skillet, reduce heat to medium, and sauté until golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour and 1 teaspoon tomato paste (mixture will clump). Add broth and paprika and whisk to blend, scraping up browned bits. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste in small bowl to blend. Arrange bread slices in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Brush oil-tomato paste mixture lightly over both sides of bread slices. Broil bread just until lightly toasted, watching closely to avoid burning, about 1 minute per side. Arrange sourdough toasts on large platter.
  5. Add beef slices and any accumulated juices to shallot mixture in skillet; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, then stir in sour cream. Remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Rewarm mushroom mixture over medium heat.
  6. Divide beef mixture among toasts, then top each with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

 

Dinner Club – February

A few weeks ago, we participated in our very first evening of dinner club and I can’t wait until next month’s already! We had so much fun with our friends and eating good food. I wish every night was dinner club!

Back in January, we were given the idea to start a dinner club from our friends we visited in Colorado, see that post here. They told us about their dinner club and I immediately told them we were stealing the idea. The “rules” of the club are to get 3 couples who live fairly close to one another. The evening is progressive, which means you eat each course at a different house and move from house to house throughout the evening. To add on to the progressive fun, we also chose a theme ingredient that had to be used in each dish.

Since we were getting together in the month of February, we all agreed on the theme ingredient of chocolate and then chose courses out of a hat. Eric and I chose the appetizer course, which meant we were kicking off the entire chocolaty evening, no pressure.

I had no clue where to start. First, I rarely make appetizers. I’m not sure why, but finding an appetizer that wasn’t too sweet and contained chocolate was a little daunting. After doing some searching online, I found a recipe for roasted parsnip soup that contained white chocolate and was topped with cocoa dusted croutons. It was perfect in every way, and it looked fairly simple; bonus!

Since the soup was rather simple and I didn’t have the burden of making a main course or dessert, I chose to have some fun and whipped up some chocolate butter (which we first ate at the Hershey Hotel and it was amazing!) for the bread and the chocolate drizzled popcorn that you saw in this post from last week. The popcorn would be the perfect precursor to the soup; we could eat it with drinks while everyone arrived.

To make the soup, start by roasting the parsnips in the oven after coating with olive oil, salt and pepper.

After the parsnips are roasted, saute the onion in melted butter.

Add chicken stock and a vanilla bean sliced lengthwise with the seeds scraped out and into the stock. You can find whole vanilla beans with the regular spices at the grocery store, however they are very expensive so be prepared to pay about $7 for 2 beans. (It’s totally worth it, I assure you.)

Add the roasted parsnips to the stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the parsnips are tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the white chocolate chips and remove the vanilla bean pod.

Using an immersion blender or a regular blender in batches, blend until the soup is smooth.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the soup and keep warm.

To make the croutons, slice some country bread. Drizzle with olive oil and then gently sift cocoa powder on one side of the bread.

Place in the oven at 400 degrees, just until crispy. Slice into cubes.

Garnish the soup with fresh dill, the croutons and a lemon wedge.

The soup was really good. At first I wasn’t sure about it, I’m not a big fan of vanilla or sweet flavors in my savory meals but this was a perfect balance so that it wasn’t actually very sweet at all. The lemon and dill really brought out the flavors of the soup and along with a slice of bread and chocolate butter, it was the perfect start to our evening.

Next we moved on to the second and main course and the second house. Here we were served a salad that boasted a home made chocolate balsamic vinaigrette. It was so delicious!

And next, we ate short ribs topped with dark chocolate an served over fresh pasta. It was out of this world delicious. The dark chocolate added such a nice sweet and subtle flavor to the dish.

These dishes were paired with a chocolate bread that had a swirl of chocolaty goodness through it. This was home made without a recipe so you’ll just have to look at the picture and wish you were there.

Following dinner, we moved on to the third and final house for dessert. Dessert was a decadent and beautiful chocolate and whiskey bunt cake served with ice cream and strawberries. We also enjoyed chocolate martinis!

Here’s a tutorial from our dessert couple about making the bundt cake. (Wasn’t it stellar of them to write me up a little blog post?!):

The following is the Brobst recipe for Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake, with help from Epicurious:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) plus 3 tablespoons for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup American whiskey (the original called for American, I used Jameson.)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Special equipment: a 10-inch bundt pan (3 1/4 inches deep; 3-qt capacity)
  • Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.

Butter bundt pan well, then dust with 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
Heat coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining cup cocoa powder in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, whisking, until butter is melted.

Remove from heat, then add sugar and whisk until dissolved, about 1 minute.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool 5 minutes.

While chocolate mixture cools, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then whisk into cooled chocolate mixture until combined well.

Add chocolate to flour mixture and whisk until just combined (batter will be thin and bubbly).

Pour batter into bundt pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

Loosen cake from pan using tip of a dinner knife, then invert rack over pan and turn cake out onto rack.

Enjoy with fresh berries and French Vanilla Ice Cream!

We had so much fun and our next club will be meeting on St. Patrick’s day. I’m sure you can only guess the possibilities for a theme for that dinner! I have to say thanks to our Colorado friends for this awesome dinner club idea and thanks to our fellow dinner club couples who have been so much fun and such great sports through our first dinner club. Food truly does bring people together!

Here is the menu from our evening and each item is a link to the recipe.

First Course:

Chocolate Popcorn

Chocolate Butter

Roasted Parsnip and Vanilla Chocolate Soup

Second Course:

Fresh Greens Salad w/ Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

Short Ribs Tagliatelle

Third Course:

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake